May 14, 2000
Anarchy has been in the news a lot this year especially since the WTO protests in Seattle and the IMF protests in Washington. So, what is anarchy anyway?
The word "anarchy" literally means "no ruler" or "without superiors." Although there is no official organization that decides exactly what anarchy means, generally anarchists are against the hierarchical structures that govern our lives. They believe that authority should be questioned and that any organizational structures that are created should be among equals without subordinates or superiors.
Since anyone who wants to can call themselves anarchists, there are a lot of different and subtle political philosophies that live under the same umbrella, sometimes in opposition to each other. Some anarchists are anti-corporate, some are anti-government and some are against the ownership of private property. A very small minority is willing to use violence to achieve their ends. Unfortunately, it is this last group that gets all the media attention thus giving a bad name to other anarchists. There have been some prominent anarchists that are widely respected today. Henry David Thoreau was an anarchist as was Oscar Wilde. Neither of them proposed violence as a good way to change things.
By and large, anarchy theory tends toward the decentralization of government and business. It is for individual freedom from outside control. It is for equality. Structurally, the Internet has something in common with anarchy. Everyone is potentially equal on the Web.
If you believe that government is too big and you worry about multi-national corporations taking over the world then you just might be an anarchist! For more information on anarchy and anarchists visit the Anarchy category at Zenzibar Alternative Culture.