Cup of Squid
~musings and folly~

On Responsibility of Choice

Or, Why Anarchy Currently Isn’t Working

Ursula K. Le Guin said the following:

What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.

It is deeply related to the Spiderman quote from Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Having choice is itself a power, and becomes near limitless when you decide to adopt anarchy as a societal “structure”. The problem with peers that identify as anarchists, though, is that they deny the responsibility that comes with choice.

They want to make choices, but don’t want the responsibility of the outcomes. Part of growing into this movement is understanding that the freedom of choice often means also making hard decisions - and dealing with the consequences of all decisions you make, whether or not they are difficult in nature.

Adopting anarchy doesn’t mean society is without making hard decisions, without doing things you potentially don’t want to do, or without having to deal with the responses people make to your individual actions.

And yet, in my social circles, I see this constantly.

In one of the movements I’m a part of that adopts an anarchist mentality, the person handling the mobilization and execution of the movement is a known sexual predator. A friend of mine caught him grooming college students at a recent event.

Despite this, no one has done anything about it. Choosing not to do anything is a choice itself. No one is stepping up to confront this man on his behavior.

As a result, abstaining from the responsibility of choice, this movement is recreating the oppressive and violent structures that anarchy claims to escape.

It is unfortunate that we find ourselves yearning for change, and see a path forward, but cannot seem to grasp that it is more than just hard work to get there.

It is constant work - responsibility doesn’t take a vacation, especially in the early days of a movement. (Arguably, it doesn’t take a vacation ever, but none of us will be alive to see the fruits of our labor, if there are any. Thus I don’t feel comfortable making such an absolute statement.)

The constant work for anarchy is not only making space for it to exist as a separate entity from the capitalist structures we have now - which is a whole other post topic - but also reeducating the people involved about what it means to actually have choices.

So regularly we are told we have freedom in this country - and many people who are white do have the freedom really to do whatever they want. But it is not truly freedom - it is just allowed to be free from responsibility.

We have cops shooting BIPOC folx and walking free, for example. They can “choose” to shoot but don’t have to deal with the consequences of it.

In my example, we have a sex offender helping run a humanitarian movement claiming to adopt anarchist structures. But not one person has approached him on his continued behavior. He can “choose” to take advantage of people, but also doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of it.

Arguably the second example is not a true anarchist movement, because this man’s actions would have consequences if it was.

If we want anarchy to actually work, we need to address this nuance in making choices. And we need to do it now.

The longer we let it go on, the quicker anarchy becomes Capitalism 2.0.

In fact, I would not be surprised if it already has.