You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Defintions’ tag.

 

Just who is anti-authoritarian and who isn’t?  Like most topics, the devil is in the details, as the cleavages between the various sub groups of anarachists creates a great deal of tension within the movement as a whole.

“Some anarchists are upset by the idea of taking any authority seriously; however this does not upset anarchists who are familiar with Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876), one of the most famous anarchists in world history.

Bakunin wrote: “Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker. . . . But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure.”

While Bakunin rejects all imposed authority, he recognizes the legitimacy of the authoritative. Authoritative has a very different dictionary meaning than authoritarian. Authoritative means being accurate, true, reliable, valid, and thus trustworthy. However, some anarchists see a downside to giving an expert, even an authoritative one, any authority. Anarchist thinker William Godwin (1756–1836) believed it was a bad idea to place one’s confidence in the superior knowledge of others and to rely on them, as this can weaken our own capacity to think, reason, and make judgments, and thus disempower us.

Perhaps the most well-known modern American self-identified anarchist is Noam Chomsky. For Chomsky, every form of authority has to “prove that it’s justified—it has no prior justification.” Chomsky gives an example of justified authority: “When you stop your five-year-old kid from trying to cross the street, that’s an authoritarian situation: it’s got to be justified. Well, in that case, I think you can give a justification.” However, for Chomsky, “Most of the time these authority structures have no moral justification . . . they are just there in order to preserve certain structures of power and domination.”

Anarchism is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free associations of individual groups.” Among anarchists, there is no monolithic view of anarchism though there is generally agreement that the state is an illegitimate authority.

There are anti-authoritarians, however, who are not anti-state. Thomas Paine and Ralph Nader are two of the most celebrated and maligned anti-authoritarians in U.S. history. Paine was initially celebrated for refusing to comply with Great Britain and later maligned for refusing to comply with Christianity; and Nader was initially celebrated for refusing to be intimidated by General Motors and later maligned for refusing to be intimidated by the Democratic Party. But both Paine (who helped create and perhaps even coined the name “United States”) and Nader (responsible for the creation of life-saving governmental regulatory agencies) are not anarchists.”

It has to be rough for some segments of the Anarchist community since our society is so segmented and specialized.  Littered with authorities that are often very hard to verify if they are indeed, legitimate or not.

Racism isn’t that easy to define.  There are two competing meanings and the new, more specific one, is quite controversial once examined.

The Pedagogy of the Meaning of Racism: Reconciling a Discordant Discourse Carlos Hoyt Jr.

 

“We do our students (white and not white) a disservice by indoctrinating them into a belief system that charges white people with being de facto racists (by virtue of being the beneficiaries of historic and present institutional race-based oppression) while providing an exemption to black people from being held accountable for racist beliefs (racism) or practices (race-based oppression). One of our basic charges as social workers is to affirm that discrimination and oppression based on the accident of one’s condition (whether the condition is one’s appearance (lookism), physical ability (ableism), sex (sexism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), place of origin (xenophobia/ethnocentrism), or socioeconomic status (classism) are patently and intolerably unjust.

In defining and describing the types of social bias and injustice we confront and aim to dispel, we are obliged to observe nuance when it is relevant to a thorough understanding of a phenomenon under consideration. The minute that one human being is treated unequally by another, without legitimate basis for the unequal treatment, there is injustice, but until the motivation for that unjust treatment is determined to be a belief in the superiority or inferiority of races, the mistreatment cannot reasonably be labeled as racist.

There are, unfortunately, many factors that can derail reason and lead to irrational unjust behavior (personal enmity, fear of the unfamiliar, the perception of threat, social conditioning, any of the isms listed earlier). When the flaw is a belief in race as a legitimate reason to discriminate, it is racism. When racism is enacted to subjugate or disenfranchise others, it is oppression; when the source of the power is systemic, structural, or institutional, it is race-based institutional oppression.”

I highly recommend reading the paper in its entirety as Hoyt Jr lays out the arguments for the redefinition versus the original meaning of racism.

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