Monday, 9 April 2012

Anarchism As Useless Political Philosophy

People say that anarchism is useless as a political philosophy: whether you hold it or not isn't going to change anything. Leaving aside the question of whether anarchism is, well, correct, I find it interesting that the charge of uselessness is leveled against anarchism in particular and not, say, socialism or a belief in representative democracy.

Political philosophy is practically descriptive, not prescriptive: it has no power to change the way things are. At its most influential, it might be seized upon as a fig leaf to cover up the machinery of power, like how feminism is used to justify the invasion of poor Muslim countries.  Usually, however, the great twin forces of money and violence roll on, forming and shaping our political systems, totally unhindered by the bloviating of philosophers or, god help us, bloggers.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a thought: maybe anarchism is (to slightly mix up what you said) useless political philosophy because no one really believes in it.

    As I see most people who categorize themselves as anarchists, what they're really saying is "I'm fed up with the present political status quo and I want those in charge of it to be swept away so that I might be let alone."

    They call themselves anarchists because that's the only term that adequately distances themselves from prevailing norms, but that also leaves them within the pale of political debate.

    Another reason they call themselves anarchists is to distinguish themselves from libertarians, who tend to be adherents of possessing private property - a notion to be eschewed by most "left-leaning" thinkers.

    I really don't believe that any proponent of anarchism could actually put his or her belief into practice. For starters it would be a world of contradictions, creating a huge governmental edifice whose sole purpose was to prevent the creation of huge governmental edifices.

    Further, once "established" I don't think people could possibly agree on its form, a state of affairs that would quickly lead to true anarchy, that is, a Hobbesean State of Nature.