When “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” was released in 2011, I caught flack from people saying I didn’t know squat about anarchism. (It’s interesting to note that none of the assailants were anarchists.)
I know that the word “anarchist” stirs a lot of emotions, and I hesitated for years to use it. But it’s the correct word to describe who I am. Plus I’m old enough that I just don’t give a rat’s $#& what people say about me.
With the release of “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” I know this topic is going to come up again. So before you worry that reading my book is going to make you build bombs, you can do a little bit of reading and find out what North American Anarchism is really about.
In short: Anarchism is a tendency to avoid large organizations – governments, corporations and churches. It is not about violence. It is not about revolution. It is not a form of society that can ever be the majority. But it is, like I said, a tendency to favor the small over the huge. It favors individual over collective action. Self-reliance over consumerism.
Or, as I like to say: “To build rather than buy.”
It’s definitely not God-less. American anarchism has its roots in the foundation of Rhode Island over the principles of religious freedom. Read the entry on Anne Hutchinson at Wikipedia for a look at the pillars of anarchism on this continent.
It’s not anti-capitalist. The founder of American anarchism was Josiah Warren, an early 18th-century businessman and social experimenter. He dabbled in communism and socialism at New Harmony, Ind., before moving back to Cincinnati to found the Cincinnati Time Store. Personal property and the ability to own the fruits of your labor are at the core of aesthetic American anarchism. Read more about Warren here.
Or read his book “Equitable Commerce” at Google Books.
And if you really want to dig in, pick up a copy of “Native American Anarchism” (Loompanics Unlimited, 1983) by Eunice Minette Schuster – preferably at a used or independent bookstore.
Once you get through that reading list, then we’ll be ready to joust.
— Christopher Schwarz