Anarchy in the UK?


ImageYeh, obvious photo I know. But I’m very fond of him.

Since a recent police briefing asked the general public to report anarchists to their local police I have been musing on anarchy, I didn’t even know what it meant. (Scotland Yard released an apology saying the intent was to gather information on “criminal acts”. So they define anarchists as criminals. Hmm.)

I asked on fb for people’s thoughts and realised there’s many different definitions, not to mention rules people apply to ‘anarchy’! Humans seem to love laws and categories- I can’t imagine life without them. But they should be to make our lives better, not to keep us as good little consumer cogs in the big marketing wheel.

Wikipedia says most individuals that self-identify as anarchists think it implies a system of governance that tries to avoid the use of coercion, violence, force and authority, while still producing a productive and desirable society. Sounds sensible, but power does seem to corrupt, so we have to find ways around that. I’ve always liked the idea (stolen from Kurt Vonnegut) that government should be by lottery – maybe for a couple of years each. Hopefully not long enough for any group to bond then make rules which favour themselves. I think schools would need to teach citizenship and co-operation to prepare everyone to possibly be in government.

Other people think anarchy means absolutely no authority or rules whatsoever. Nice idea, but I don’t want to be around if that suddenly happens. The trouble is we’re basically bald chimps and if the whole system of authority disappeared tomorrow I worry that it would descend into fullscale looting, killing and general mayhem pretty damn quickly. Not least because water supplies in cities could dry up within hours. A burst water main last year really made me think….

Spacehijackers call themselves ‘anarchitects’- opposing the hierarchy put upon us by architects, planners and owners of space. They’re ‘dedicated to battling the constant oppressive encroachment onto public spaces of institutions, corporations and urban planners. We oppose the way that public space is being eroded and replaced by corporate profit making space. We oppose the way that users of space are being put under increasing scrutiny and control by those who own or run it. Be this via CCTV installed to monitor us, or architectural elements designed to control our moods.’ Big Brother is alive and well and watching us.

I don’t think humans are inherently unable to live together without authority, but many people are programmed these days to be selfish, aggressive and fearful- not a great combination. And it seems to me that most people in power are interested in keeping power and amassing resources for themselves whatever the cost to everyone else. Blimey, think I might be an anarchist (or the antichrist, who can say?), as long as there’s several years of education and conditioning first.

Here’s a handy quiz from spacehijackers to help you decide if you’re an anarchist and what kind.

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