More often than I care to reminisce, people refute an actual anarchist’s definition of anarchism with the dictionary definition of the word. They will tell you:
a. absence of government.
b. a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
c. a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government
Etymologically, the letter “a” is correct. But then, what anarchism is is not as simple as the definition of some word. Because we can do absolutely the same thing to any other form of government - simplify it down to its definition.
a. government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
Government by the people? Is this so? Who among you can claim to have any kind of direct hand in government? The only thing we may directly elect are representatives (because, contrary to popular belief, the president is NOT elected by the people. The presidential candidate who has the minority of the popular vote very often wins) and even then, you have no control over his or her actions once in power.
This is not even to say about the history of this disgusting word. We have seen this word used many times, all with different definitions of who exactly “the people” are. There have been times when certain groups were not even considered people at all. And in more recent history, particularly in the middle east, Haiti, and some minor Asian countries, America has spread “democracy” through a gun and placed leaders in power without real elections. Chomsky tells us of these events countless times in his books.
Then there is this business of people exercising powers directly which is not even legitimate enough to address. But through representatives, OK, we see this in America. Elected representatives make decisions, including who will be president. We can elect these representatives directly but once they win the election, who controls or limits their power? That responsibility is reserved to… well, THEM! This kind of activity causes the electoral process to become a popularity contest and is not based in fact, promise, or issues. All a representative has to do is convince enough people that he is not who he actually is and get more votes. Once that is accomplished, he is home free.
This MINORITY group of individuals rule the country unquestioned with an iron fist. In cooperation with their business investments to keep them and their immediate constituency rich and prosperous using the common “people”, as it were, as their pawns; mere tools of their success.
To get back to anarchism then, we can address this definition with the same logic. If in the definition of “democracy” the words hardly mean what they appear, we can address what THE ANARCHISTS think of the words in their definition.
If we were to reassess the meaning of the word “government” I would not have many quarrels with this albeit oversimplified definition of a very complex political structure. For really, what is government? Merriam-Webster says:
the act or process of governing; specifically : authoritative direction or control
“Authoritative direction or control”. If the simple definition of anarchy says I am opposed to this, then I say “AYE!” with every ounce of fervor I can muster.
The problem with defining a political ideology based on its etymology is the simple fact that language cannot possibly hope to describe ideas perfectly and accurately. If this were the case, there would not be volumes upon volumes of text describing the ideologies of the world.
“Language is simply not up to the task,” my tri-lingual French teacher used to tell us.
If you want to understand ANY political ideology, talk to a person who classifies them-self as one. You cannot rely on such incomplete doctrines as the dictionary to hope to encompass all of political thought. Read, have conversations, and keep an open mind.
~ Kisses and Anarchy