Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Anarchy and its Implications on the Occupy Movement

Let me begin by saying that I am an anarchist. While I would love for anarchistic principles to be an integral part of the occupy movement, I realize that in our current situation, it is far from ideal. I feel this way because until human beings are capable of separating themselves from their ego, base desires, and become more aware of the true implications of their actions, anarchy is currently not the best model. After having lived in an Occupy camp for 42 days, these flaws became glaringly apparent, and it is my opinion that anarchy, at this juncture, is impractical, but is certainly something to work towards.

Early in Occupy Dallas' encampment, chaos reigned. Everyone, myself included, felt they knew exactly what we should do, based upon their opinions, which were largely formed in a vacuum, without consulting others. What happened thereafter is a major reason why anarchy will not work at our current level of cultural sophistication. As I observed events unfold, I noticed the following things: People were making decisions that affected others based on emotion. People were unable to follow the golden rule, the cornerstone of humane anarchy, and people were unable to empathize with each other enough to actually know where the other person was coming from. I attribute these failings to several things.
First, we live and our psyches were developed in a society that places a large emphasis on individual desires with little to no regard for the needs of others. Additionally, our society is  largely based on the ideal of instant gratification, which has the effect of pushing people to do rash things with little to no regard to the future implications of their decisions. In addition to these very few of the decisions made were done by consensus, a concept I will discuss in more depth.

Right now, we are not prepared for true, moralistic anarchy. We, simply put, are not mature enough. A rational person would not give a shotgun to a young child, as they do not yet possess the judgment to use it properly, just as those that have not exhibited their capability to think not just of themselves, but of others cannot abide in anarchy. This issue is glaringly apparent in the current system; it is the very reason that we resist the 1%, as their insatiable greed is what brought us to this juncture. In order for anarchy to work, people MUST exercise better judgment than they ever have before. In order to say that we need no masters, we must first be able to honestly say that we have mastered ourselves.

Now this may seem authoritarian, but allow me to elaborate why it is not. The Occupy Movement has afforded us a rare opportunity. It has allowed all of us, of all different social backgrounds, ages, and all other things that make us who we are, to come together, united by common purpose, to enact positive change in the way that we are governed. We can use this solidarity we possess to explore each others perspectives, empathize, and to understand where our fellow man or woman is coming from; this is already occurring at occupy camps around the world. We can then use this knowledge, and our own character to realize that it is not what each of us wants, but about learning to compromise and achieving consensus, so that we all can get what we need. Only when we can move beyond our own individual desires towards what is best for everyone can we be entrusted with anarchy. Right now, our social system is in great peril; it is true reflection of what ails our society. Greed, selfishness, desire to dominate, and negligence are not just the traits of the 1%, they reside in us as well, and if we are to change the world, we need only begin by changing ourselves.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I value actions far more than words. We all see the the problems we face, but seeing the problem and doing something about it are two entirely different things. First, we must change ourselves, so that we truly are not just voices of dissent, but capable of providing the solutions. We do this by creating a forum in which we can freely exchange ideas with each other, peer to peer education. This, in essence, is what an occupy encampment is. As we educate ourselves on the plight of others, empathy is born. We use the information we have gathered, filtered through our empathy to answer questions like “How will my actions affect others?”, “Are my actions helping or hurting others?”, “Will my actions create or destroy suffering, especially for those that have no voice, our society's children and other creatures that call the Earth their home?", and, perhaps most importantly, “If this is the last decision I ever make, will I have a clear conscience about what I have done?” Only after this is done should a person take their perspective to others to share and integrate with their ideas. In doing this one eliminates the fallibility of individuals, and filter it through collective wisdom to create something new, humane, and a true reflection of the change we, the 99%, want to see in the world. Then, and only then, should we be entrusted with the most fragile and beautiful of human institutions, anarchy.

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