So apparently a group of, so-called, “anarchists” swarmed a talk by the mayor of Athens during his visit to the London School of Economics. I read the news about it from a student-operated website, of dubious political affiliation (since “a revolution” is hardly a political position), and unfortunately it is not the first time something like this has taken place in foreign soil, causing nothing but harm to the image of Greeks abroad.
I said “so-called anarchists” for many reasons. In the past, especially in recent time where the economic crisis is what everyone seems to be talking about, I have found myself arguing with people from every point of the political spectrum, from the far right to the far left, to people who have declared apathy of all maters political, and with people who consider themselves “anarchists”. Unfortunately my experience every time I try to talk with someone who is part of a dogmatic position, be it of social nature or of economical nature, I have had trouble understanding their way of thinking for the simple reason that I always realise that these people are actually very ignorant of the significance, implications, and meaning of their own positions.
When it comes to anarchists, especially in Greece, the term has mutated into a feeling of political apathy and rejection. The people who call themselves anarchists simply are “against the government”, identifying it as the enemy and the only source of trouble and pain for the people. This is a far cry from the anarchy of Kropotkin and all the other academic anarchists, who are rarely understood or even read by these “anarchists”. I recently had a discussion with a professor of political philosophy, who called himself an anarchist, and claimed that anarchy is quite simply the ideology in which meritocracy is in no way a means or qualification for power or rule. In the case of my country, anarchism has been partnered with leftist ideology, sometimes even going as far left as communism (which in some sense is completely backwards, since anarchists want no social powerhouse and communism seeks to empower the state as much as possible, albeit under a specific pretext) making it appear as it they are the fighters who are at war for the liberties and rights of the people. The Robin Hoods to the King Johns personified by the government. And it has worked. Their numbers have increased in recent times regardless of the sometimes violent and chaotic actions (such as the one at the LSE) and I believe the reason for that is the faulty image they project which all comes down to their poor understanding of their own ideology.
Even if we ignore this fact, the question remains: what could they hope to achieve with their actions? How different was what they did from the football fans who scream at each other urging strangers to support their team and jeer at their opponents? They probably see their actions as a prequel to some form of social paradigm shift, a watered down version of the social revolution so many great thinkers have written about. In reality though, they miss a very important point. Their approach is actually hindering their own effort. The democracy which rules this country is the only political system that allows for the legitimization of a different ideology become the norm and alter our way of government. That’s how extremist regimes of the near past came to power, through the legitimization by the people by democratic voice. The actions of “anarchists” such as the one at the LSE can do nothing but harm to their cause, assuming of course the people really understand the significance of their ideologies. Unfortunately part of the blame belongs to the government for treating them as opponents and using rhetoric reserved for other situations. This stance by the government absolves them in the eyes of the public, who perceive this stance as “hurting the ruling class where it hurts”, making them think that they are actually succeeding in what they are after.
By ignoring this fact they will never manage to get the majority to join them, since their fight is not supported by all. I am grateful for that, for if they realise that will actually have to argue for their position they will be easily called out as ignorant and unbalanced, hardly the traits for someone who wishes to shape the world in any way that might affect others.