And so she asks: “What does it mean? ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest?’”
I take a deep breath and purse my lips a bit. I get asked this question a lot, especially by non-woodworkers, people who haven’t read “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and complete wankers.
The truth is, I eschew labels such as “libertarian,” “liberal” and “lemming.” While I am happy to explain my outlook on life, I do it without a whiff of political language. Instead of talking about the political landscape, I’d rather live in the real one.
So my basic response to the question goes like this: I dislike large organizations – governments, corporations, churches. When organizations get enormous, the humans in them tend to do inhumane things, such as start wars, burn each other at the stake or enslave people in factories.
I refuse to participate in those organizations as much as possible. I don’t vote. I don’t give money to churches. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, or really any other chain store. I admit it’s difficult to be Puritanical about this. Buying a car or a computer is difficult without somehow engaging with a large organization, but I do my best.
Most of all, I try to consume less and make more – and not be an a-hole about everything I’ve said above. The world has enough of those, and I’m surprised they don’t have their own organizing body.
If you are interested in American anarchism, or the particular branch that applies to woodworkers – aesthetic anarchism – I encourage you to read the following short bits.
1. The Wikipedia entry on Josiah Warren, the first American anarchist and the founder of the Cincinnati Time Store.
2. The 1906 book on Josiah Warren by William Bailie. It’s available for free here from archive.org.
3. Buy a copy of “Native American Anarchism” by Eunice Minette. Many libraries have the book. You can buy one from AbeBooks.com as well. The book is a bit mistitled. It has nothing to do with Native Americans. It is about anarchism that took root in America.
Most of all, if you think you are an anarchist, refuse to listen to the non-anarchists who dismiss your approach to life. That’s like listening to the factory owners who laugh at hand-tool woodworking as quaint.
The best response to the criticism is to close the laptop, sharpen a chisel and chop some dovetails. As George R.R. Martin writes over and over in his books, “Words are wind.”
— Christopher Schwarz