Democracy of the 20th century got stuck in a perceived dualism of ‘left’ and ‘right’, with each side claiming the other was against freedom. In practice the politicians of both sides have mostly been against freedom and for different forms of authoritarian control, whilst the majority of voters mostly vote against the party that inhibits their personal freedom the most, choosing the lesser of two evils.
This dualism is starting to break down, particularly in democracies that have abandoned the out dated and unrepresentative ‘first past the post’ system that gives a huge advantage to the biggest two established parties and unfairly disadvantages smaller parties. Most modern democracies (as opposed to the older pre-modern democracies like the USA and UK) have, for all the failings they still have, at least adopted proportionally representative electoral systems of one kind or another and this allows voters to more accurately match their views to what they vote for. This gives greater opportunity for new parties to emerge and whilst this means populist parties with extreme authoritarian viewpoints that make the current governments look reasonable, it also allows for the emergence for new parties that actually challenge the top down authoritarian model in various ways.
The various Green Parties tend to be amongst, if not the least authoritarian of parties in countries where they exist. Australia recently saw the launch of the Australian Sex Party, campaigning against their countries introduction of internet censorship and with a platform very much against sexual censorship and decriminalising all drugs for personal use. Another new development has been that of the Pirate Parties International the various national Pirate Parties under its umbrella. These mainly seem to be about guaranteeing internet freedoms and preventing/opposing/reversing the criminalisation of copyright violation, although with the increasingly authoritarian stance of the failing music industry corporations and the pressure they put on governments through their lobbying efforts, this is also a much needed debate that will take much longer to happen in first past the post democracies than it is impact on proportionally representative ones. In fact the party has already achieved council members in local governments in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. This follows the success of the Pirate Party in Sweden which elected two Pirate Party MEPs to the European Parliament.
Rather than getting stuck in the trap of dualism found in the traditional view of the competing economic ideologies of capitalism verses socialism, these new emergent parties are challenging the increasingly authoritarian laws and policies that traditional parties of both the left and the right have been imposing on us.
Of course whilst I value the ability to vote and and take part in party political democracy, I still only see it as a stepping stone from our shared past of totalitarian governments to our potential future as a free collective of mutually respecting sovereign individuals. In other words I value current democracies only because they’re slightly better than the dictatorships they’ve replaced, not because I think its the best form of society humanity can achieve. In other words on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is dictatorship and 10 is the best we can achieve, I’d say FTPT democracies score 2 and PR democracies score 3. Both better than 1, but still a fail score in most exams. “3/10 Could do better. See me after class.”
In part two of this series I will examine why I think the left/right duality is an illusion and explore different ways in which we might attempt to map different political view points.
Are they compatible?
Q. Hi again Sally!
A. Oh hi there Sally! Is it time for another interview?
Q. Apparently so. Wait! I’m supposed to be the Questions!
A. Oh sorry, ask away then.
Q. Why do you ask if chaos and anarchy are compatible, aren’t they the same thing?
A. Well the might be, but the answer to that question is probably more complex than the basic assumption of both equalling disorder. In fact neither do. Or rather both are sometimes used that way, but that’s not the chaos and not the anarchy to which I refer. The anarchy I mean is the one Anton mentioned recently, quoting Proudhon, ‘Anarchy is Order’. Is that compatible with chaos? Now it seems less obvious.
Q. I see, but why the concern over compatibility?
A. I love the Chaos current. I’ve been influenced by Discordianism and Chaos magic on my journey and like them a lot. And yet I also like anarchism. I see both as representing the drive to individual freedom and autonomy. So it seems logical that both should gel, and yet their use of language seems to conflict.
Q. I see. So can they be reconciled?
A. I think so. I see in ‘Chaos science’ an expression of the natural order. I think this relates to ideas important to anarchy such as emergence. If chaos is a type of order, then might it not be the kind of ‘bottom-up’ order that anarchists are trying to create? An emergent order?
Q. Hey you’re asking questions again! Stop that!
A. Oops sorry. Anyway thats the gist of my thought. It would be interesting to see what others thought about this.
Q. I agree. I too would like to hear what others think on this.
A. Thats because we’re both me.
Q. Oh yes, I forgot. Anyway, thanks for your time Sally. Goodbye.
“If rulers inevitably become tyrants, then the only acceptable course of action is to stop installing rulers” ~ Mu’tazili thought
“Listen to me! Whatever path you take, you must believe it with all your heart. It is no good to simply follow others, do you hear? Do what you think is true!” – Sufi teaching
I identified with anarchy long before I came to a full understanding of the variety of opinion found within various anarchist factions. At first I found it hard to identify with any of them, but ultimately I realised I didn’t have to. Instead now I simply celebrate the diversity of thought found throughout anarchism and see them all as important pieces of the puzzle, each of value to the extent that they free individuals from tyranny and coercion and inspire people to refrain from such acts.
Therefore I celebrate Anarchist Islam for its power to revolutionise and free the Muslim world from the tyranny of rulers and religious elites who monopolise the right to interpret the teachings of that religion and impose their interpretation upon everyone else. Anarchist Islam, like anarchist Christianity bases its philosophy on the belief that one cannot serve God if one serves a fellow human.
Taqwacore, a name for Islamic punk, started life as a 2003 novel by Michael Muhammed Knight but soon inspired a real movement that adopted the name he gave it. Islamic punk existed before the novel, such as the UK punk group Alien Kulture formed in 1979, the novel has inspired a new wave of such bands, including the Komina’s, the Secret Trial Five, Al-Thawra, Diacritical and Sarmurst who feature in the documentary film Taqwacore: the birth of punk Islam. I have yet to see this as its only available for download in the US and Canada, and the DVD is region 1 only. I currently lack a multi-region DVD player.
Over the weekend just past however, Lolita and I did manage to see the film The Taqwacores, an adaptation of the novel. I haven’t read the novel so this was my first real exposure beyond listening to a bit of the music online. I found the film quite inspirational and saw my younger self in some of the characters, although my own struggles to unite anarchism and religion came from my upbringing in the Roman Catholic church rather than Islam. As happens when individuals unite anarchism with religion, the teachings transform from external rules that need to be obeyed, into a form of personal mysticism and at several points I saw this beautifully expressed in the film in ways that can communicate to all those open to mystical path, including to non-muslims such as myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found it anarchic, mystical and as punk as fuck. Its not afraid to offend, and only the most anarchic individuals will come out of this film not offended by something or other within it. This doesn’t mean that any of the characters have a full grasp of anarchist theory, instead it shows a diverse group of young Muslim outsiders each on their own distinct personal journey and with varying degrees of exploration of anarchist thought, united only by their love of punk music. Each attempts to reconcile that love with their Islamic faith to varying degrees and in their own personal ways.
I recommend watching if you get a chance…
- The Taqwacore Webzine: http://taqwacore.wordpress.com/
- On Becoming a Muslim Anarchist: http://ihsan-net.blogspot.com/2005/06/on-becoming-muslim-anarchist.html
“Anarchy is Order whereas Government is Civil War” ~ Proudhon
As a small youthful minority run riot, vandalising and looting a few areas of a small handful of UK cities I think it timely to draw a distinction between this kind of violence and ‘Anarchism’. No doubt the press are bandying about the word ‘anarchy’ as I type as if these riots are somehow examples of ‘anarchism’ in action, thus helping to perpetuate the authoritarian myth that anarchy means violence and disorder.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Disorder results directly from an authoritarian structuring of society, directly from the idea that a small group of people or a single individual, elected or otherwise, think they have a right to tell everyone else how to live, and to use force and coercion if they don’t comply. This assumed right of non-consensual control creates conflict and strife within the minds of all those they attempt to control, and all those who sympathise with those who the government or other authority attempts to control. The ruling elite create strife when they attempt to divide society, granting rights for themselves whilst denying them for those they seek to control.
Time and again, various individuals and groups of authoritarian persuasions attempt to use riots such as the ones currently occurring as proof that society needs even stricter authoritarian methods to deal with this resulting disorder. Even when such tactics work however, they only do so by suppressing the symptoms whilst exacerbating the underlying social cause by alienating the disaffected from society even further.
Only actual anarchism addresses the underlying cause. An anarchist society attempts to suppress and control no-one, only to prevent any one group or individual imposing non-consensual control over any other. As a result, whilst those with an authoritarian agenda of control may feel thwarted in their ambitions, they can still live their personal lifestyle the way they choose, within the boundary of consent, so will unlikely feel the level of resentment and strife that an authoritarian society generates.
Hence anarchism promotes a harmonious and peaceful society whereas an authoritarian approach directly causes disorder and strife. What authoritarians call ‘restoring order’, actually means ‘controlling the disorder’. If by ‘order’ they meant harmony, they’d abandon authoritarian policies of control altogether and pursue a path to anarchism. However their greed and power lust prevents them from seeking such a simple truth.
After all, the current one is all messed up!
Q. Hi Sally.
A Hi Sally!
Q. I’d like to ask myself if there is anything deeper in your above n.w.o joke.
A. Well, I’d welcome such questions from myself. Go ahead!
Q. What is a new world order?
A. A change in the worlds balance of power.
Q. Is that all? Why do I keep find loads of conspiracy stuff on the web about it then?
A. Because fundamentalist christians in the USA, such as Pat Robinson, used the term to describe their paranoid end-times fantasy of a secret Satanic conspiracy that planned to take over the world and bring about the rule of the anti-Christ. At the same time hard-right wing americans used the term to describe their own pet conspiracy theory of a secret communist plot to take over the world and build a totalitarian collectivist one world government. I personally see at as a grand insidious hoax on a par with the ‘rotocols of Zion’, which could if left unchecked and uncountered, lead to the mass extermination of pagans and occultists, in much the same way that earlier conspiracy theory lead to the mass extermination of anyone the Fascists and National Socialists considered as ‘Jewish’. If a large minority group like Europe’s Jewish population in the 20th century were unable to resist the hatred stirred up against them by people willing to spread hate propaganda, then the much smaller minority groupings of pagan’s and occultists won’t be able resist if people start believing the hate propaganda that fundamentalist christians are trying to stir up against them.
Q. Then why do politicians keep talking about a new world order?
A. They don’t. At least not in the sense the conspiracy theorists imply. Politicians have used term to describe any significant shift in the world’s balance of political and economic power.
Q. This is so confusing, how can we tell the difference?
A. Easy. The fundamentalist Christian propagandists capitalise all the letters, or even initialise them into a N.W.O. acronym in order to make it look like the name of an actual organisation.
Q. So when politicians talk about forming a new world order, you support them?
A. Probably not. Saying you want things to change says nothing about how you want things to change. Most politicians, including in democracies, tend towards a very authoritarian world view, and mostly look to change things in such a way as to benefit their own financial interests and increase their personal power base.
Q. So what kind of new world order do you want?
A. I want to see more bottom-up change, that slowly dismantles the means by which the few can hold power over the many, whether that few are elected or otherwise. Power to individuals and communities to chose their own way of life, not dictated to and controlled by politicians. My body, my mind, my choice.
Q. Thankyou Sally, its been good talking to me.
A. No problem Sally, thanks for asking these questions! It really helped me get my head around writing about the whole thing.