I am sympathetic toward anarchy as a social movement. Anarchy is typically described as a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies often defined as self-governed voluntary institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism opposes authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. People often equate anarchy with insurrection, chaos, lawlessness and violence because these dynamics have characterized several historical instances of anarchy. In this sense, anarchy has unfairly been given a bad name.
Characterizing anarchy as chaos, lawlessness and violence is not accurately representing what anarchism truly is. “Anarchism” and “anarchy” are undoubtedly the most misrepresented ideas in political theory. The word “anarchy” is from the Greek, prefix an (or a), meaning “not,” “the absence of,” or “the lack of”, plus archos, meaning “a ruler,” “director,” chief,” “person in charge,” or “authority.” In other words, “anarchy” is “the absence of a master, ruler, sovereign or ruling class.” Anarchy means more than just no government,” it means opposition to all forms of authoritarian organization and hierarchy. Anarchists envision a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals.
It’s not possible in this post to adequately convey what anarchy is as an idea, theory or philosophy, or to cover the historical origins and developments of anarchism. If you’re interested in exploring it further, here are a few resources that may be useful:
Some central figures to anarchy that you can explore further are: Peter Kropotkin; Mikhail Bakunin; Emma Goldman; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; and Errico Malatesta. If you’re into history, the most successful anarchy effort is typically considered to be be the Spanish Revolution from 1936-1939.
A few quotes from these well-known anarchists include:
“We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves.”
― Errico Malatesta
“The history of human thought recalls the swinging of a pendulum which takes centuries to swing. After a long period of slumber comes a moment of awakening. Then thought frees herself from the chains with which those interested — rulers, lawyers, clerics — have carefully enwound her.”
― Peter Kropotkin
“Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals.”
― Emma Goldman
I am sympathetic toward the idea of anarchy because I believe, as Charles Darwin pointed out in On The Origin of Species, that our capacity to cooperate is our most potent human survival characteristic. Human beings created the social technology of language to empower cooperative living. Our ability to effectively self-organize and take direct action precludes the need to establish rulers and hierarchies to sort things out for us. You could make an argument that even in the best of cases such as “democracy” (as opposed to totalitarianism) that hierarchical structures of power and authority become corrupt and seek to control people’s lives. Jesus is considered to have been an anarchist, evidenced by his denial of the religious and worldly power structures of his day, and lived in defiance of religion and government.
Shallow anarchistic thinking tends to equate the problems in our world with the rulers, authorities and ruling classes themselves. In other words, they see the people or groups of people as the obstacle or enemy. The root problem is deeper than this and lies in the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that rule people from within. That’s the real obstacle and enemy – not the people or groups themselves, but those beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies. Even anarchy can become an ideology and function in the same way if it is originating from that same poisoned well.
This is why I coined the term “inner anarchy” – because nothing truly changes until we tear down and dethrone those ruling powers in our heads. I raise this issue in the book Inner Anarchy:
Solving the crisis of our world is not a matter of removing certain individuals or groups from positions of power. It goes deeper than that. The enemy is not the people, but the attitudes, narratives, mindsets, and belief systems that have poisoned us all and rule in our minds. These are the principalities and powers that have cast a darkness over our world, and they must be challenged and struck down. If you want to get angry about something, get angry at the false myths and ideologies that are governing our existence. Here’s something else to get angry about—these ideas, myths, and ideologies are living inside your mind and ruling your life right now!…
We need anarchy! It’s time to revolt.
Yes, anarchy! Not political anarchy, but inner anarchy, in which we topple, dethrone, defrock, kick out, and cast aside the current ruling ideas that are programmed inside us. Those ideas have failed miserably. They were given plenty of time and opportunity to prove their legitimacy, and they have not succeeded. They cunningly and ruthlessly rule over us and continue to argue and fight among each other on the battleground inside us. This is the day of reckoning. Let all ideologies be put on notice. This is an indictment against all the bankrupt and powerless precepts that are governing our lives from within. They keep driving us relentlessly. Their authority must be decisively stripped away. They block us from being who we truly are. It is time to free ourselves from their power and control. It is anarchy or die!
Those ruling mental constructs must be expelled from within us. They are standing in our way. But they are not going to go easily. As futile as they are, they have become our security and our friends, and we fear striking out from them in independence. We have all built our little kingdoms and worldly statuses by using these beliefs, so they accuse the hell out of us if we try to drop them. We must get unreasonable to overthrow the current system that is ruling our world from inside our psyches. The old system is not going to fade quietly into the night without a fight. Our habitual way of reasoning has a titanic amount of energy driving our world and lives forward. We must unplug ourselves from the source of these powerless ideas.
We have to wake up! It is time to overthrow the system of ideas that rules our world and fills our heads.
The solution I offer in the book is to switch sources – to turn away from those false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies in our heads, and to turn to what is real in our deep feelings and what we know is true in our gut. Currently, all those beliefs and ideologies in our heads divide and separate us from each other. We know better than this. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs points out how all human beings essentially want the same things. Quantum physics obliterated the false view that human beings are separate from each other, and postulates a basic oneness of the universe. Spiritual leaders such as Jesus and Buddha taught that neither are human beings separated from God, the divine, or wholeness, well-being and liberation. It’s present inside each of us. All we have to do is get out of our head and turn within. We are too smart for our own good. Jesus said you have to become like a little child to find what’s real and true inside you.
Whereas most anarchists focus on the corruption of government, I have spoken out about the corruption of religion. In the book Inner Anarchy I give the Christian religion a bit of a lashing for hijacking the message of Jesus to serve its own self-interest.
The world has assumed that the Christian religion represents the life, message, and teachings of Jesus. But that view is changing. People are fed up and leaving the church, repulsed by its hypocrisy, irrelevance to the suffering in the world, greed, and fear-based doctrines of a wrathful God who saves a few chosen ones and sends the rest to eternal hell. In their heart of hearts, people are recognizing that many of the traditional teachings of the Christian religion are shams. The spirit of the times is shifting. People are no longer accepting the answers and explanations they have been given. They are becoming more confident in thinking for themselves and listening to their inner voice of truth…
The Christian church has preached a powerless gospel that has led countless people into a religious maze that goes nowhere. They have handcuffed the masses to a false God. The Bible has been misinterpreted and misused by religious leaders who claim to have spiritual authority, giving this bankrupt system a false air of legitimacy and credibility. I’m not pointing the finger; I was one of them. I was sincere, but I was sincerely wrong…
For the past two thousand years the Christian religion has been the immovable stone that has sealed off the tomb of the eternal life-giving Spirit within us. Christian leadership can’t even come to a unified agreement and oneness among themselves. Surely that fact alone gives us grounds to rethink a few things.
I was once one of those religious leaders. As I mentioned in the first chapter, I was the seminary graduate with a master of divinity degree. I was the successful senior pastor whom people turned to for truth. I was the religious leader and Bible expert whom people trusted. But I was the one who preached that powerless gospel, held up that carrot and the stick, handcuffed people to that false God, misrepresented Jesus, and misused the Bible—all the while claiming to be divinely anointed. I was sincere in doing all of these things, but I was sincerely wrong and ignorant.
This is an appeal to others out there like me. We are the “priesthood” that dropped the ball. We created quite the clusterfuck that has led people in circles for centuries. We have sufficiently buried the entire spiritual dimension that could have saved this world beneath layer upon layer of theological doctrines, worldly mindsets, and religious constructs that have no power. We have conditioned people into a dependency upon external things—Sky God (aka “Father”), the institutional Christian system (aka “church”), religious dogma (aka “Bible”), and religious gurus (aka “pastors,” “authors,” “spiritual leaders,” and “teachers”)—and have failed to connect people to the eternal, life-giving Spirit within them.
We cannot go back and undo the past, but we can courageously act now for the salvation of all humankind. We screwed up. That was then. This is now. And now we must be on the front lines, making things right. We have to remove every stumbling block that people are tripping over every day. We need to release the Spirit of Jesus into the world. That is what we have been appointed to do.
In the book I also mention how our world is on a crash course with extinction and doom, evidenced recently by the multiplication of terrorist attacks. To stop terrorism we must tear down the beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies within us that divide and pit human beings against each other. People who commit terrorist acts are pawns to those ruling mindsets and ideologies within them. It’s more than stopping individual people and groups; it’s those beliefs, mindsets and ideologies that must be rooted out. They must be supplanted by what we know is true and real in our deep feelings and gut. Right now those false beliefs, mindsets and ideologies are manifesting themselves in people and groups who self-organize to take direct actions to do harm, violence, and destruction in our world. The people who turn toward what is real in their deep feelings can’t sit back and be timid. We have to lift up out of ourselves what we know is real. We have to speak it to one another, and take direct actions to manifest a new way and a new world that is real. We have to lift that world up out of ourselves, and birth it into the here and now.
John Lennon was singing about that world when he sang Imagine, and Martin Luther King, Jr. described it when he said, “I have a dream.” His speech was not spoken from his head. It has the ring of power and authority to it because he was lifting it up out of his deep feelings. He challenged people to turn away from what was programmed in their heads, and to turn toward what was real deep inside them – that all human beings are equal brothers and sisters in one human family.
In the end, I wonder if inner anarchy leads to the other kind of anarchy anyway. As we turn away from those false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies in our heads, and turn to what is real in our deep feelings and what we know to be true in our gut, than we can birth a whole new world where those power structures and hierarchies won’t be necessary.
It’s actually quite simple. The world is a manifestation of what we are choosing to listen to inside us. Most people are listening to the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have been programmed into their heads. That’s the world we have. However, we can switch to a different source, which is what is real in our deep feelings and what we know to be true in our gut. That’s an entirely different world. It’s inside us. We have to lift it out.
So, Inner anarchists! I say to you that it is time to dethrone the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have ruled us from within and corrupted our present age. They have held power over our world for too long. No more! Their day is done! Over! A new world lies within us, and is waiting to be born. It is time for each of us to turn within to that inner fire that burns within our hearts and deep feelings. We are the beacons that must shine forth now! We must lift that new world up out of ourselves. This is the dawning of a new age. Rise up! Have the courage to follow the authority within yourself! No longer can we sit in silence. We must speak what we know is real inside us. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. We cannot go back to the world as it is, we must stand for the new world. We must speak and live that world into existence. Light the beacons of inner anarchy everywhere.