There is a certain way of thinking about this phrase that would make of it an oxymoron. In our governed habitat, it is possible to assume that there is nothing practical at all about anarchism. To realize anarchism in your daily life is to be at a sort of odds with society, your environment, and even yourself. The choices of an anarchist are chock-full of varying degrees of compromise, opposition, and longing. At the same time, to become an anarchist is to recognize something fundamental about your own existence: that your capacity for liberty precludes all forms of domination. It is in this way that anarchism is precise and exacting in its practicality. With stubborn assertion, I am willing to state that to become an anarchist is to be as practical as possible; because, it is the only existential condition that admits the grandeur of ones’ own capacities. The conditions of existing as an anarchist are wholly life (if not self) affirming. The practicality of anarchism is within this very assertion that ones’ existence is ultimately in opposition to domination. It is possible to become an authoritarian from this existential realization; but, that is at the cost of comprehending the importance of the quality of ones’ everyday social life. An anarchist is definitively such because they know their own benefit to be bound up with the quality of the lives of those who they must relate to. The anarchist lives with the understanding that the quality of their own life is inevitably tied to the quality of the life of those around them. Thus, a move towards practicality from an anarchist perspective is a move towards practicing that which not only benefits ones private life, but all life…
From the mere observation of what anarchists focus on, it becomes obvious that the anarchist is fixated on the realization of life affirming values. Without regard to the fact that this affirmation is at odds with the predominant culture that surrounds the anarchist, the anarchist inevitably develops techniques on multiple levels that change such a condition. So what is practical for an anarchist are those techniques that allow the anarchist to realize these affirmative values. As disconcerting as the task may be, it is of utmost significance that anarchists are able to develop techniques that are in lieu of these values. Against such conditions, the manner in which an anarchist relates to those they love becomes a topic of analysis. Not because anarchists are born-cynics, but because the degree to which our lives have been utterly destined to misery requires such broad and sharp analysis. We recognize in our own relationship to ourselves numerous detriments to personal liberty and the list only accumulates exponentially with a wider scope of social life.
It is tempting to reduce the anarchist struggle to a struggle against alienation. But, even in the most immediate of relationships (the relationship to ones’ self) …alienation is one amongst many evils. The result of this potent assertion of potential has been series of techniques that aim to eliminate the force of domination (which often shows itself in an affective alienation). These techniques span the known categories of thought and action. This is because anarchists don’t demand their capacity for liberty, but rather exercise it despite consequence. God himself can not trick the anarchist (and neither can Lucifer). No matter the conditions that this ethical choice puts us in, we undermine any attempt at bondage. What we are bound to is the acute and ever-present knowledge that we are infinitely more capable than the underlying systems of domination that attempt to govern us want us to be. Even more, we are bound to the understanding that this governance must be abolished in order for the life we want to be realized. Because of this, we are quite literally re-writing the rules of life on Earth; and, what that means is that what is practical for us is ultimately any technique that subverts the domination we are subjected to.
If we don’t all know the curriculum, we at least know its’ telos. Some of us psychologically undermine the domination of our existence by identities, diagnosis, and cultures. Some of us physically undermine the power of Biopolitics and “rewild” or in some way take control of our own physical orientation to the environment. Some of us economically undermine capitalism with mutual aid. Some of us socially undermine Patriarchy through mutual respect, polyamory, feminism, and the emphasis on autonomy. Even ecologically anarchists have developed techniques that undermine or subvert the rule of domination (see my last post). And of course, we develop methods for fighting off the forces of domination: police, bosses, politicians, and even teachers.
Practical Anarchism is any technique that fits into this struggle. Whether it’s non-violent communication or a how-to guide for blowing the shit out of local forces of oppression, the practicality of these techniques has its place for us. We are those that know we will die and know that we can organize our own lives for our own sake. We are those that need to live, to fight, to heal each other (including non-anarchists), and to revolutionize the entire concept of what it means to be alive.