Anarchism for a Mainstream Audience

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by Logan Glitterbomb
Center for a Stateless Society
July 14th, 2016

If anarchism is to get anywhere as a movement, it requires us to build the world we wish to see. To paraphrase the classic wobbly mantra, our goal is and should be to “build a new world within the shell of the old.” In order to do this we must actually create the structures which will meet the needs of our communities once the state and capitalism are out of the picture. This is the reasoning behind many anarchist projects. The Industrial Workers of the World acts as an alternative to statist business unions, Food Not Bombs acts as an alternative to soup kitchens and similar charities, groups like Common Ground and Occupy Sandy provide an alternative to government and corporate disaster services, free schools and unschooling are alternatives to state and corporate school regimes, and so on and so forth. Anarchists have started farms, collectively run businesses, community defense groups, domestic abuse shelters, libraries, alternative energy systems, and a myriad of other useful elements of the “new world.” One of the most famous of such institutions — and certainly one of the longest lasting — is surprisingly Alcoholics Anonymous.

Co-founded by Bill W., an avid reader of Kropotkin and other anarchist philosophers, AA was inspired by and built upon anarchist praxis. But praxis is the keyword as the group itself never so much as utters the word ‘anarchy’ in any of its writings nor did Bill W. or co-founder, Dr. Smith, when talking about the group. However, even a cursory glance at the Twelve Traditions with this knowledge in mind makes it very clear that it is at least in line with such principles. If it is not explicitly anarchist in intention, it is in practice:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our Group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants – they do not govern.

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