Unitarians taught me about small-scale democracy. Bonobos taught me about the naturalness of taking care of others. Midwives taught me about the availability of alternatives to the state and capitalist order. And pirates, those violent criminals from our bedtime stories, taught me about the violence of civilization itself.
Though they’re often used synonymously, civilization is not the same thing as culture. Many of the things that are attributed to civilization, such as art and healing, existed before civilization and outside of states. And many of the lauded “improvements” brought by civilization were not really improvements, or else they were improvements which came at a terrible cost.
According to many biologists, there is as much cooperation in nature as there was competition. The story we have been taught about our innate selfishness is only part of the truth. As such, it is capitalist propaganda, and something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We tend to reject hierarchy instinctually in some parts of our lives, while accepting it uncritically in others. Anarchists strive to eliminate all hierarchy, in every aspect of life.
The first time I met an anarchist, I think I rolled my eyes. After having learned more about anarchism since, I feel more than a little embarrassed about my earlier eye-rolling. Now I’m the one getting the eye rolls when I tell people I’m an anarchist.