Anarchism: the political philosophy

In a world where people struggle to ‘posh up’ their accents, there is one man who worked at getting rid of his to remove all traces of his privileged background.  That man is Carne Ross, who makes an interesting study. More interesting than the man is what he believes in: anarchism.

The most common reaction to the word ‘anarchy’ is to confuse it with a state of chaos. Anarchists protest this is an inappropriate pairing of the two words, yet this is how it remains in common usage. Oddly enough, the word ‘chaos’ is said to be obsolete, whereas a state of chaos is not obsolete at all. Witness Pakistan.

The reason for confusing anarchy with chaos is that anarchy means the state of not possessing a central authority, no authoritative governing body. And since a central authority, an authoritative governing body, is said to lead to a state of organised bliss, the opposite is labelled as chaos.

If science is based on the proof of evidence this label of ‘chaos’ is seen to be unscientific right away since while some authoritative governing bodies do dispel chaos, most contribute to it. As do authoritative bodies and hierarchal systems other than governments. Once again witness Pakistan, and this time its system of feudal hierarchy, a rigidly organised hierarchal system based on the ownership of land, that allots defined roles to every member of society to prevent chaos, but in fact creates it.  As Will Durant said, ‘Civilisation begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.’ True again. Witness the increasing absence of civilisation in this country.

Having by such negative means pointed out the failure of a non-anarchic state, what then is anarchism? What, for example, does Carne Ross have to say about it?

Ross was a British Diplomat who ceased to believe in the class system because he ‘felt that the system he battled for and believed in wasn’t working.’ So, although it had been his ambition to be a diplomat since he was a boy, he quit the diplomatic services in 2004. The main events that made him change his mind were the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq war. In fact, Ross gave evidence against the Blair government, regarding its role in misleading the British public about the threat posed by Iraq.  That is when he resigned as a diplomat, and founded the world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group, which is called Independent Diplomat. You wonder what that is.

Governments seek diplomats to advise them on various matters. According to Andrew Hudson, Executive Director of Crisis Action “Independent Diplomat fills a critical diplomatic deficit. Its advice and strategic counsel provides its clients – mainly those that struggle to be heard – with the tools to navigate the often closed world of diplomacy.” Describing itself, Independent Diplomat says that it ‘comprises experienced former diplomats, international lawyers and other experts in international relations. It has no allegiance or affiliation to other governments or institutions, and it works with a broad network of individuals and organisations, including law firms, commercial consultancies and universities, who support and assist our work on a pro bono basis. Independent Diplomat holds itself and its clients to strict ethical standards.’

Anarchism, as a political philosophy is ‘a condition of life’ based on principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In fact Independent Diplomat requires its client to be committed to those principles, which may sound like more of what already exists, politically speaking, only Ross feels that democracy has failed to deliver on its ideals, that it has ‘created conditions in which people are beginning to voice their disapproval of the status quo.’ In an interview with The Guardian, he said that ‘Aberrational political events such as Brexit and Trump, are functions of this frustration.’

Anarchism as a political philosophy recommends self-governed societies based on voluntary institutions, or groups. These are often described as ‘stateless societies’, or institutions based on non-hierarchal free associations. As far as anarchism is concerned, a State, in the conventional sense is an undesirable, unnecessary, and even harmful institution.

Just as one studies comparative religions for a better understanding of religion as an entity, it would be a good idea to study anarchism, to compare and contrast its ideas with the conventional models of politics in the world today, since the conventional models have clearly failed, not just in Pakistan but in many countries of the world. A system, for example, that can bring in an individual of the calibre of Donald Trump and place him in a position of power, a position and power that impacts on the entire world much to its distaste and horror has to be questioned. Whether anarchism provides solutions and viable alternatives poses an interesting question. Certainly it appears to be a system that requires greater education than this country possesses. But even an uneducated population can come up trumps, please excuse the pun.  Maybe it is better to say that even such a population can come up with a few pleasant surprises. That has been the experience of for example organisations that provide microfinance which are loans often to the poor uneducated segment of society, very often women. In this experience the loans have generally produced far reaching, positive change, alleviation of poverty, better education, and a resultant increase in earning power, sometimes by as much as 200-300 percent. The borrowers almost never default on their loans.

It may be interesting if nothing else to look into the work an organisation such as Independent Diplomat does around the world. The group has been involved in working with refugees by facilitating refugee participation in policy decisions regarding refugees around the world, by advising refugee activists and groups. They are trying to pave the way for peace in Syria by working with groups and individuals working for the advancement of human rights, democracy and accountability in that country, and by supporting the Syrian political opposition, and are involved in many other similar ventures around the world.

 

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/



5 Comments

  1. Imran Ahmed said:

    I see an inchoate glimmer of wisdom.
    Hopefully, this glimmer will assume a more clearly discernible shape with further reading.

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