OP-ED | I am an anarchist. This is what i believe

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JAMIL RAGLAND
JAMIL RAGLAND

My journey to become an anarchist began in front of 23 third graders. I worked as a student teacher and the kids kept asking me questions. Despite my supposed status as an authoritative source of knowledge, most of the time I had no idea the answer. I faked it by hastily grabbing a book on the subject and saying, “Why don’t you read this to find out?”

To say that teaching goes through the seat of your pants while nearly two dozen people are asking for your advice suggests the incredible work teachers do. But something was bothering me about the arrangement. I knew I was barely keeping things together, yet I was entrusted with the power and authority to shape these children in a profound way. It didn’t seem logical.

I left teaching during the pandemic for a safer and less stressful virtual office job. I have had plenty of time to read and watch the federal government’s totally ineffective response to Covid. I was overflowing with testimony from Congress, expert writing and talking heads podcasts. Most of them seemed to be saying the same thing: the federal government had to do more. But because the man at the top of the pyramid denied the gravity of the situation, the federal response was almost nonexistent. One person could cripple the whole nation. Again, it just didn’t make sense.

Maybe I was a bad teacher and President Trump was a bad president. Although we are both out of our positions of authority, the fact remains that someone like us could fit into the exact same structure and inflict the exact same kind of damage. The concentration of power at the top of the hierarchies is as much of a problem as the person who exercises power.

I started looking for systems that made sense to me. After months of reading and studying, I finally landed on anarchism. My problem, with education and government, was the pyramid structure of power. The top of the pyramid can’t stand without the bottom, so why does the person at the top deserve more power, recognition and money than everyone else?

More importantly, it seemed that these unequal power structures were supported by coercion and force. The state literally has security forces reporting at the top of the pyramid, not at the bottom. Schools enforce order through a variety of coercive means, from detention to expulsion. For most of my life, I’ve accepted the premise that sometimes you have to force people to do things they don’t want to. Anarchism was the first thing I studied that said, “You actually don’t. People can choose what they want and come together voluntarily. “

Sounds like a libertarian fantasy, right? But with the evidence of what hierarchies might be playing out all around me in the pandemic, I started to take the idea much more seriously.

First, let me start with what I don’t believe in. I do not believe in violence or the overthrow of governments by force. In fact, my rejection of violence is what drove me towards anarchism in the first place. I am very skeptical of anyone who has to assert their point of view or apply their worldview through violent coercion. This includes both states and so-called revolutionaries.

I also don’t believe that anarchism means that there is no law or order. Anarchism attempts to organize society in a form other than a pyramid. There are still rules and expectations, but these rules are accepted by everyone and everyone is held equally accountable. We are constantly seeing examples of how people closer to the top of the pyramid have a different set of rules than the rest of us.

What I believe is that people should be free to live their lives the way they want, where they want and with whom they choose. I believe that work, government and education are collaborative and require the unforced buy-in of the people these institutions are meant to benefit from. I believe that the concentration of military and police power and surveillance capabilities in the hands of very few people is a major problem. Deconcentration of hierarchies is a potential response to these problems.

I know anarchy is not a perfect system. To paraphrase Charles Krauthammer’s statement on libertarianism, anarchy can be a critique of governance, not a true philosophy of governance itself. But I think that’s a criticism that more of us need to impose. More power and money are concentrated every day at the top of these hierarchical pyramids. At the very least, we need to think about why some people have so much and others so little.

Jamil Ragland writes and lives in East Hartford. You can read more about his writings on www.nutmeggerdaily.com.

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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