Armchair Anarchism

14 Feb

When I was in college, me and my friends ran for student government as the Armchair Anarchist Party. We got the title from a song; at the time, it was oddly appropriate. But when everyone is an armchair whatever, who can tell the difference?

Mind you, calling ourselves “armchair anarchists” was appropriate for us. Our party platform was to disband the Student Government Association, whose primary duty was to teach students how to do student government. It was not the only one. The dorm students had their own council, the African-American students had their own council, hell… even the professors had their council–which students sat on!–which supposedly allowed staff, students, and administrators the ability to practice joint governance. So if we got rid of one student council, we figured, there was still plenty of opportunity for students to be involved.

This did introduce me to third party politics, something I’ve been involved with off and on since I could vote. I was one year too young to vote for Perot, the last independent presidential candidate that actually had a shot of winning. I first voted in the Reform Party Primary, the party that Perot actually founded (and was around for one election), but that did manage to get the governorship of Minnesota… but that might have had more to do with their candidate being Jesse “the Body” Ventura. He turned Republican for his reelection campaign, then turned conspiracy theorist after he left office.

The problem with any political affiliation is that people within it don’t believe it means the same thing. To take my own party, the joke with Libertarians is that they’re Republicans who like to smoke pot… and there’s some truth to that. There’s also disaffected conservatives, civil libertarians, followers of Ayn Rand, minarchists (like myself–look it up), and folks who should never be allowed near a microphone.

In the end, like any volunteer organization, people in political movements get burned out and become inactive. That doesn’t mean they’ve changed their opinions, they’ve just shifted to the armchair and will talk about it. They already tried to do something about it–let someone else carry the banner for a while.

The problem is that with social media, you don’t have to leave your armchair to spout your new world order. You can find your brand of crazy out in the world and there will be those who agree with you. There won’t be enough of you in one spot to do anything about it, but at least you can grumble together. Addressing that point, the Free State Project has been trying to get 20k libertarians to move to New Hampshire, figuring that would create a critical mass to change that state’s politics (which is already leaning in that direction). At time of typing, they’ve convinced 5,000 to actually move, with another 19k pledging they will. I wish them luck. I wish I could move to NH, but I need a job there (and convince my family to move there) to accomplish that.

So every so often, I feel motivated to do something to change the world. Inevitably, real life intervenes, and makes it difficult to carry the banner further, but we need to respect the attempt. And if we’re not living in my anarchist village utopia, at least I’m living in Arizona, not California. 🙂

What do you think? Are you armchair whatever? Are only the activists worthy? Let me know in the comments below!

4 Responses to “Armchair Anarchism”

  1. Silk Cords February 14, 2021 at 10:45 am #

    Amen about California. SOOOO glad to be free of it, LOL.

    The trouble with smaller parties is that the big two go out of their way to smear them and keep them down also, often with help of their media allies. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of propaganda about how Libertarians are nothing but potheads. The TEA party is another good example. The core group only wanted lower taxes and more accountability regarding our tax dollars. Every nut job on the fringe at any rally was all that was focused on though.

  2. seankfletcher February 14, 2021 at 4:34 pm #

    Very interesting! I tried a range of things where I am and then I decided a very long time ago to be involved in “public life,” but on the ground (so working within government institutions and even leading some here and there). As a result, I have been able to influence government policy at all levels and make a better life for some here and there. So, rather than be in a political movement, I have been able to work with many different political parties, whether they are in power or not to achieve some good outcomes. And no, I don’t live in Utopia. But, you have got to be in it to win it 😊.

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