Qualifying Anarchism

We can qualify our use of anarchism, such as “organizational anarchism” or “pedagogical anarchism”… in which case we’re talking about, most likely, the absence of hierarchy within an organization or educational model (respectively, which may or may not be ideas within the broader context of political anarchism).

Without the qualification, anarchism, historically, has been about political systems (political anarchism), or rather, the absence of an imposed political system. Which is why it can be confusing and misleading to talk about (and oppose) hierarchy in the workplace (bosses) in the context of anarchism. Only “organizational anarchism” means “no bosses” in the workplace, or organization. “Anarchism” (which is shorthand for “political anarchism”) does not, rather, it means “no rulers” in the broader political context.

And if there’s political anarchism, then all other qualified anarchisms are less a matter of ethics, and more a matter of wisdom (effectiveness). Except, perhaps, familial anarchism, which I think is a type of political anarchism because of the unchosen dependence children have for their parents.


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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.