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By Alnoor Ladha
Excerpt from the Fall | Winter 2015 edition of Kosmos Journal
“We cannot deny that there is a metaphysical and moral code deeply embedded within all political philosophy, but one that can never be expressed without the admonition of rationalist judgment. The highest values in anarchism are the simultaneous upholding of freedom and equality. The traditional Right values freedom over all else (e.g., they champion property rights and fight against redistributive taxes), or at least they value the rhetoric of freedom.1 And the traditional Left values equality over freedom (e.g., they are willing to bear the costs of societal levelers and safety nets such as healthcare, welfare, etc. at the expense of some personal freedom). But for anarchists, both of these conditions must apply. True freedom is equality of choice and equality of opportunity for everyone to thrive in his or her own way. It has nothing to do with private property or ownership per se.
If we can decide on our own arrangements for how to live, the majority of us will not be subjected to the greed and wealth extraction of a tiny elite and, therefore, will not need to reduce our freedom or equality to compensate for this. This fundamental belief in the dignity of the human soul, the desire for collective liberation, the intuitive understanding of a shared consciousness, and the faith in a human creativity greater than any one individual are in many ways all recognitions of a greater ‘source’ in each of us.
The other two tenets of anarchism that have spiritual corollaries are disintermediation and consciousness. Anarchists don’t re- quire the mediation of the state, feudal lords, popes, imams, ayatollahs, sun gods, or any other arbitrary source of ordained power. ‘No gods, no masters’ as the famous dictum goes. Anarchists also believe in the conscious individual as the unit of free societies. This requires sovereign women and men who under- stand the structure of power, consent to rules they themselves have legitimized, and consciously choose to live within their own communities according to their shared principles and values.
Living as a conscious individual, of course, requires significant investment in time. It requires active and mindful consent. It requires the infrastructure for direct democracy. None of us ever consented to the way things are in the current system. We couldn’t—not only because it was built and calcified before we were born, but also because it requires learning and interest and patience and humility to study the vast power structures we have today. Anarchism offers a relationship to power that is grounded and consensual, which means power can only be so big and so distant. Power too easily and rapidly grows out of conceptual and practical reach left to its own devices. Anarchism believes in keeping group power under a shared, transparent, and democratic ‘system’ rather than putting society under the boot of a small group of elites and experts.”
Kosmos Journal subscribers have access to this complete article beginning November 4, 2015.