I put down the process through which I ended up calling myself an Anarchist.
Broadsnark recently posted an interesting piece into how she became an Anarchist which is the kind of thing that I always find interesting to read, both from a political perspective but also from a religious (i.e. I like to read interesting deconversions). So since I found this interesting, I’ve decided to write my own story.
As far back as I remember myself, I have always been reactionary. People used to call me “the voice of opposition” just because I used to argue the opposing case, whether I espoused it or not, just so that my opponent would be forced to argue his position solidly instead of relying on the agreement of the “choir”. I was also inherently anti-authoritarian. I refused to recognize and respect authority just in order to achieve peace. Needless to say this brought me in a lot of friction with my peers (other students mostly) who wished the “alpha-male” position and demanded appropriate respect.
As a result I ended up getting into various fist-fights every few weeks or so, although I never initiated aggression. This didn’t make me a lot of friends as one would expect which further fed my introverted and apolitical personality.
As weird as it is, I never had big problems with institutional authority like my school teachers or my army officials (while in national service) for while I didn’t like it, I also knew I couldn’t change it or fight it and thus simply put my head down and went along with it for its limited time. I don’t know why this is so. I simply always considered myself to be very adaptable. Sure I had the occasional shouting matches with school teachers (one time getting expelled for it and getting the whole school taking one day of absistence from class in my defense) but all-in-all, I was on generally good terms with officials. I mostly had issues with peer authority.
My political views in those teen and post-teen years were non-existent. I didn’t care about any political party or affiliation. Even though much of my family was mostly on the communist side (Marxist-Leninist generally) and even though my mother was a generally a socialist, I never much cared for such stuff as long as I could get my gaming fix. This continued in my early adulthood at the time where most people start solidifying their views. Much like the current youth, I couldn’t care less.
When time came to vote, I generally voted white or black (i.e. canceled vote) because I considered all political parties the same corrupt shit. At 23 I started becoming much more social and much more interested in social issues. This was incidentally the time I started getting interested in GNU/Linux and the Free Software movement and when I discovered that Epicurism was the philosophy that most closely resembled my mindframe. Still, my political views remained agnostic as I simply supported measures that would increase freedom.
My political views started forming soon after I left Greece and ended up outside of my comfort zone of gaming friends and usual company. This and my increasing interest in blogging made me cut back on games and start reading more and more about social and economical issues. For some reason this in turn led me around that time to throw my support behind the a new Greek libertarian party, mainly because of its manifesto promoting various measures I supported such as drug legalization and anti-copyright measures. Back then I had a very limited understanding of economics so all their free market policies just went over my head. I saw someone supporting “Freedom” and I stood with them. Eventually of course, once I realized what kind of “libertarians” they are, I withdrew my support.
As lame as it may sound, I first started describing myself as LibSoc after taking the political compass test and then somehow ending in the Libertarian Socialism article of Wikipedia. I simply took on the name that described my current social views. I wasn’t however yet an anti-statist nor a revolutionary explicitly. I still believed in some of the common nonsense about human nature and how communism was not yet possible because of it and so on. So I was still as I was a few years ago, mostly apolitical but simply with a new label and a interest in learning more. And I did.
Believe it or not, what ended up radicalizing me more was when I started participating in Reddit. I first went to it as part of my interaction in the Atheosphere and as an experiment in increasing my readership. While there, I discovered the possibility of subreddits and on an impulse, I joined /r/Socialism. You see, I never really bought into any propaganda, anti-socialist or not. I always considered that Communism was like a perfect society, simply impossible, but I had never really bothered to learn about it and always wanted to, in order to know what I’m talking about. /r/Socialism gave me that chance. Due to the constant arguments in the comments there, I ended up being linked to various articles on the subject of which I can safely say that the two most inspiring where The Origins of the Family by Engels and The Two Souls of Socialism by Draper. These two texts served to both dispel much of the preconceptions of human history that school propaganda had forced into my head and also to clarify for me that Socialism does not have to equal Stalinism or Social Democracies. I had now become a revolutionary.
Unfortunately eventually I got turned off by some of the authoritarian bullies in there. Fortunately by this time I had already discovered /r/Anarchism and realized that this was about Socialism as well! It’s funny to think of this really but I still remember when I first got linked to /r/Anarchism that I felt kind of scared. I had the kind of mentality of “What am I doing here with these elements?”. If I remember, I had to will myself to subscribe to /r/Anarchism the first time.
Fortunately, as I started interacting with the crowd there, all such feeling dispelled very quickly. And this was in fact quite a strong event. I knew before that, that Anarchists were not necessarily violent but I still considered them immature based on personal experience with some Greek ones (as well as the persistent Greek anti-anarchist propaganda of course). This subreddit totally changed my impression of what Anarchism is, which in turn made it easier and in fact imperative for me to delve into Anarchist texts for a change.
And that was it. It didn’t take longer than an Anarchist FAQ and some Kropotkin to make me realize that this is where I belong. This is in fact where I’ve always belonged without knowing it. Once this dawned on me, the rest of the pieces fell in place. All my philosophical base, my distaste for authority, my materialism and my rationalism made finally sense as a complete whole rather than disconnected parts of my personality. I knew I was an Anarchist.
tl;dr: I was always an Anarchist but it took reddit to help me realize it and finally willingly call myself as one.
And now I’m done. I’m actually quite curious to hear how others ended up under the same label so I’m going to make this a meme just to get others to write about it. So the rules are simple. Write how you became an Anarchist and optionally link/notify 5 other Anarchist bloggers to do the same.