Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates the elimination of all forms of hierarchy and the creation of self-governing societies. Anarchists strive to create communities with collective decision making and no centralized authority. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a tool for creating intentional communities. This page will explore the core values, strategies, and challenges of anarchist community building.
Core Values in Anarchist Community Building
At the heart of anarchist community building are autonomy, mutual aid, decentralization, cooperation, and equality.
Autonomy: In an anarchist community, everyone should have the right to make decisions about their own lives without interference from any outside authority or power structure.
Mutual Aid: The focus is on cooperation instead of competition. This means encouraging people to help one another out without expecting anything in return.
Decentralization: Power should be evenly distributed among all members of the community rather than concentrated in one person or group. No one should have too much control over others or resources.
Cooperation: There should be a sense of unity and shared purpose among members of the community while still allowing individuals to pursue their own goals and interests.
Equality: Everyone should be treated with respect regardless of age, gender, race, class, or any other factor and everyone’s opinions and perspectives should be considered equally.
Anarchist Strategies for Community Building
Direct Democracy: All decisions should be made through direct democracy where everyone has an equal say in how things are run. Decisions can also be made through other democratic processes such as consensus decision making or majority voting depending on what works best for the group’s needs.
Decision Making Processes: It is important to come up with clear decision making processes that are fair and that everyone agrees on so that any disputes can be resolved quickly and easily without resorting to violence or coercion.
Conflict Resolution: It is important to understand that conflict will inevitably arise in a community and to have strategies in place for dealing with it. This could involve mediating disagreements or using other non-violent methods of resolving conflicts.
Consensus Decision Making: This is a process where all members of the community come together to discuss an issue and try to reach an agreement that everyone can live with. It requires patience and openness, but can lead to better outcomes than other methods as everyone has a chance to be heard and their opinions taken into account.
Participatory Economics: This is a form of economic system in which resources are managed in a democratic manner and everyone has access to the same opportunities. It seeks to eliminate exploitation and create an environment where everyone can benefit from the collective efforts of the community.
Challenges of Anarchist Community Building
Diversity of Perspectives and Opinions: Anarchism encourages diversity of opinion so it is important to find ways to create opportunities for dialogue between people who may not agree on certain topics.
Power Dynamics and Group Dynamics: In any group, there will be power dynamics at play which can lead to different levels of influence among members. It is important for anarchist communities to be aware of these dynamics and take steps to ensure that everyone has an equal say in decision making processes.
Navigating Conflict and Accountability: Conflict is inevitable when you have diverse perspectives coming together, so it is important for anarchist communities to have systems in place for addressing conflict peacefully without resorting to violence or coercion. Accountability is also essential; members should be held responsible for any actions they take that may harm others or disrupt the functioning of the community as a whole.
Bringing It All Together
Anarchist perspectives can offer valuable insights into how intentional communities should be built and managed. These principles encourage self-governance, autonomy, mutual aid, cooperation, decentralization, equality, direct democracy, consensus decision making, participatory economics, and more. In order to be successful, it is important for anarchist communities to be aware of the potential challenges that can arise and make sure they have strategies in place for addressing them.
Anarchist perspectives can be seen in action at many intentional communities around the world, including the Gaviotas community in Colombia which successfully turned a desert into a rainforest. It is also important to understand the importance of education and knowledge sharing when it comes to anarchist perspectives; by learning more about these principles, we can create more successful intentional communities that support the wellbeing of all their members.
If you’re ready to take your next steps towards building an intentional community, consider reading up on some of the core anarchist values and strategies discussed here and then visiting nearby intentional communities on ic.org in order to gain firsthand experience and understanding.