“Put simply, anarchism is a political philosophy that aims to create a world in which people can freely cooperate together as equals. Anarchists struggle against all forms of hierarchical control, and champion freedom and egalitarianism.
“Anarchists believe that people can organize themselves fairly without systems of violence or power telling folks what they can and can’t do. They tend to think exploitative and oppressive systems like capitalism, government, racism, and hetero-patriarchy are both harmful and unnecessary, and that we should dismantle these structures and build a world of self-determined individuals and communities in their place. For over three centuries, this vision has inspired anarchist social movements on every continent in the globe (except maybe Antartica.)
“You may have heard anarchists put down as violent maniacs who want to destroy society and create meaningless chaos. Don’t believe the type. These accusations are often slung by the very people who are busy wreaking violent havoc on our communities for power and profit: bankers, bosses, politicians, cops and the media that always have their backs. To people like these, anarchists are threatening because they take action against the fear and brutality that maintains the halls of power.
“The word anarchy itself comes from Greek, where the prefix an means ‘not’ or ‘without,’ and the word archos means ‘a ruler’ or ‘authority.’ So anarchy literally means ‘without a ruler’ or ‘without authority.; Anarchism first emerged as an ‘ism’ in 17th century Europe, when revolutionaries of the time started using the word to describe their outlook on society and social change.
“Anarchism spread across the globe in the years that followed, and has since been applied in many different contexts. Anarchism’s rapid spread makes sense when you consider the struggles for equality, horizontal decision-making and bottom-up popular power are common to most societies across the planet.
“In that case, people can raise the concerns with the proposal in different ways. Participants can block the proposal, meaning they feel so strongly against it that they will prevent the decision from moving ahead. If even one person blocks, the proposal is prevented from going through, and discussion resumes until a new proposal emerges or the old one is modified. Alternately, participants can stand aside, meaning that they have qualms with the decision but won’t prevent it from being made. They can state their concerns to the group, which makes note of it for the future, and the decision moves ahead.
“Using a decision-making process with more options than simply ‘for’ or ‘against’ allows everyone to participate in the creation of proposals, and takes seriously everyone’s concerns with a particular course of action. Blocks make sure that group decisions don’t override the needs of individuals within the group, and stand asides allow the group to judge how strong the consensus behind a particular decision really is.
“Consensus processes can be fairly formal in large groups, or can happen organically in small groups with little added effort. Some large consensus processes may require two or even three blocks to prevent a decision from being made (‘consensus minus two’), while others may only require a proportion of the room to agree to a proposal for it to continue (‘2/3 consensus’). Still others may prevent a decision from going through if the proportion of stand asides is too high.
“The possibilities are endless, and can be customized to the needs of your group!”
Well, when you put it that way…