I know almost nothing about anarchy, so don’t worry, this is not going to be a political blog post. I do know enough to recognize that the media, and most of the general public, has no idea what it means. (hint: anarchy does not equal chaos!) I’ve read a few books, had some general conversations about it, and while I am not even going to attempt to make any claim as to whether it is a realistic option, there are many aspects that appeal to me.
First is that if you want something done, you do it yourself, but “yourself” is just as likely to be you, the individual, as it is to be you, the community you live in. You don’t expect the State to do for you, instead you band together and do it as a group. No leader needed. Sure, it sounds somewhat idealistic, but I’m not really concerned with that at the moment.
What I have found interesting is that so many vegans/animal rights activists have anarchist leanings. Likewise when I hang out at the local infoshop, I know that a fair number (perhaps overwhelming majority) are vegans. When they provide food, it is always vegan. Or, at least, it has been in my experience so far. And not just at my local infoshop. When I go to Bluestockings, the anarchist bookstore in NYC, their attached coffeebar is vegan, or mostly so.
I started a correspondence with someone in prison, who was described to me as an “anarchist”. Turns out that he’s an animal rights activist as well, and anarchism was something he found through his AR work. He’s vegetarian in prison, not vegan, because…well, because it pretty well sucks for food in prison. (even those with a court order for vegan food find it difficult) I asked him what the connection was, in his mind. I’d read “Ecology of Freedom” and Murray Bookchin didn’t see an issue with exploitation of animals. I’d read “Vision On Fire” and it was clear that Emma Goldman hadn’t given animal exploitation a thought. I’ve read “Horizontalism” and again, animal exploitation was a goal to reach, rather than a goal to abolish. So clearly, it isn’t built into everyone’s view of anarchism.
Here is what my friend had to say:
I do see animal rights and anarchy as connected. I think animal rights issues are based on the belief of a universal right to happiness, and freedom from suffering inherent to all sentient beings, regardless of species or other measurements of classification, and that is also the basis for anarchism. The freedom not to be governed, told what to do or how to live, the freedom from exploitation and slavery, the freedom to find your own, and our own collective, happiness.
I find this interesting, maybe because it is pretty close to what I “feel” even though I’d have nothing to back it up with. That’s where I started with animal rights, though, with a gut feel of what seemed “right” or “best” to me. The more I educate myself on the issues, the better I am able to both communicate my beliefs as well as take a critical look at them. For now I’m interested in the connection that others are seeing between the two.