Are We Anarchists?

9

December 8, 2008 by The Mormon Worker

Recently on our website we’ve had a number of people leaving comments claiming that we at the Mormon Worker are not really anarchists but in fact are socialists and should disassociate ourselves from the word Anarchism. One commenter concluded that we are an “embarassment to real anarchists,” and that these “real anarchists” are “watching our every move.” This is because we published an article encouraging people to vote for Ralph Nader, rather than for Obama. Apparently we overlooked the passage in the Anarchist Bible which says that anarchists can’t vote. To respond, the founders of the Mormon Worker (of which I am one) have been largely influenced by Anarchist writers, in particular Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Chomsky, and from a specifically religious persective Dorothy Day and Leo Tolstoy. We kept seeing aspects of Mormon Doctrine that were consistent with our understanding of Anarchism and from making such observations we decided to begin the newspaper. The other main impetus was frustration with LDS support for the Iraq war, despite the fact that such support contradicts Mormon doctrine condemning offensive war. Others that write for and contribute financially to the paper are not all anarchists in their world-view, some are democratic socialists, others progressive democrats, some are strict pacifists, while others are anti-militarists. Hence the articles we publish are from a variety of perspectives, though always from a generally non-authoritarian left point of view. If someone wants to say we’re not anarchists that’s fine with me. Being called a socialist is no insult, and we’re not looking for acceptance from anyone, whether from right-wing Mormons, the leadership of the LDS church, secular leftists, anarchists or anyone else. So even if we’re not “true” anarchists, we’ll continue to publish many articles from the anarchist perspective, for example, Tariq Khan’s article entitled “Obedience to Authority” in the most current issue, #5. At the end of the day what we’re concerned about is promoting ideas that we think will lead to less violence, less exploitation, less misery, less poverty and more freedom, regardless of what ideological label may come with them.

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9 thoughts on “Are We Anarchists?

  1. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m an anarchist.

  2. Grégoire says:

    Recently on our website we’ve had a number of people leaving comments claiming that we at the Mormon Worker are not really anarchists but in fact are socialists and should disassociate ourselves from the word Anarchism.

    Makhno, Bakunin and Kropotkin all called themselves “socialists” and “anarchists” simultaneously, so the idea that these are mutually exclusive terms is non sequitur.

    More importantly: Comments are a privilege, not a right. It’s your site, and I’m assuming it’s either your server or you’re paying for server space offsite. People are always free to disagree, but you people shouldn’t feel obligated to play host to the disagreeable at your own collective expense.

    Encourage the dissenters to get together and start a newspaper called “The Mormon Boss”. I’ll be the first to buy a subscription as soon as it rolls off the press, which as we’re all confident, will be *real soon now*.

  3. Blind Morton Henkin says:

    “Apparently we overlooked the passage in the Anarchist Bible which says that anarchists can’t vote.”

    Indeed you did.

    http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secJ2.html#secj22
    http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/7017/what_is_as.html#parliament

    __________________________________________________________

    Modern capitalism is wise. It knows that it prospers best under “democratic” institutions, with the people electing their own representatives to the lawmaking bodies, and indirectly casting a vote even for the president. The capitalist masters do not care how or for whom you vote.

    The main concern of the powers that be is that the people should continue to believe in and uphold the existing system. That is why they spend millions for the schools, colleges, and universities which “educate” you to believe in capitalism and government. Politics and politicians, governors and law-makers are only their puppets. They will see to it that no legislation is passed against their interests. Now and then they will make a show of fighting certain laws and favoring others, else the game would lose its interest for you. But whatever laws there be, the masters will take care that they shouldn’t hurt their business.

    The whole system of law and government is a machine to keep the workers enslaved and to rob them of their toil. Every social “reform” whose realization depends on law and government is already thereby doomed to failure.

    — Alexander Berkman

  4. Grégoire says:

    abstaining from a vote is, by definition, participation.

    it’s highly amusing to note that anarchists attempt to coerce other anarchists into behaving according to arbitrary norms. not being an anarchist, i didn’t know this happened.

  5. Blind Morton Henkin says:

    “Abstaining from a vote is, by definition, participation.”

    Wha…wha…what? Please explain how. Spell it out for me. Because I can’t see how you can possibly come to that conclusion.

    And, for the record, I’m not trying to “coerce” anyone. (Perhaps you need to look up the definition of *that* word, Grégoire.) Rather, I’m trying to *persuade* people that voting is not only a waste of time for anyone who opposes capitalism, but also counter-productive.

  6. Grégoire says:

    Wha…wha…what? Please explain how. Spell it out for me. Because I can’t see how you can possibly come to that conclusion.

    It’s rather simple and I’ll give an example. In the 1995 referendum on Quebec secession I cast a blank ballot. I didn’t want the country to dissolve, but at the same time I had sympathy for the secessionists. I was one of thousands of people who did likewise. Some stayed home, others drew graffiti, penned curse words or wrote nationalistic slogans on their ballots. We were participating, and sending a message, by not voting.

    Hope that helps, have a nice day, etc.

  7. Grégoire says:

    we’re not looking for acceptance from anyone

    It might amuse some to note that I have now been denounced by two different people for hanging out with folks who are outwardly religious. Apparently, my casual participation suggests the possibility of “excommunication” from the Marxist-Leninist club, the atheist club, and whatever other clubs folks imagine people like my own bad self to belong.

    I wouldn’t join any club that’d stoop to admitting me in the first place. Be that as it may, the back-n-forth has led to some interesting exchanges in e-mail which I might post here if it stays slow.

  8. Elijah says:

    Anarchism, by definition, is opposition to the Archist (ie. Hierachical and Exploitive) system. The Archists legitimize their authority through Elections. To participate in these elections is to lend credibility and legitimacy to the system you claim to oppose. Therefore, you are not Anarchists.
    Although I am genuinely interested in the great diversity of opinions (including your own) that exist,I must admit that you are not Anarchists. I say this out of concern for both the Anarchist and Josephite (“Mormon”) camps, and not out of malice or in the spirit of opposition.

  9. A Worker says:

    The real question is this: Is anarchism really just a form of federal, democratic socialism? Proudhon writes that law should be based on objective needs in What is Property? as opposed to based on will. Bakunin writes of the Republic-Federation and the Republic-Commune as being the political form anarchism would take, each with its own constitution. A constitution! Fundamental law! Bakunin! Would the Republic-Federation or Republic-Commune be just another workers’ republic, not too unlike Marx’s Volkstaat? The FAI participated in representative bodies in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War and supported the Spanish Republic. Anarchist organizations have usually had representative bodies, as opposed to the “folkmoot” spoken of by Kropotkin. I think there are Anarchists and then there are anarchists, with the Anarchists being far too dogmatic.

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