Published August 9, 2010
Many years ago I was part of a group of anarchists who put together a list for upcoming parliamentary elections. The purpose of the “party” was to get the word and ideas of anarchism into the media and into our community. This was a mistake. Not that we gained power, the problem was that in this action, we played along in Iceland’s ‘four party democracy’ and even more people misunderstood our politics. We came across like anarchists were just another power hungry party seeking seats within the hierarchy of the state.
The state, being the most far-reaching oppressive element in our community, is of course the main enemy of any anarchist. But the state and other oppressing systems are not always units in themselves. They form out of how we interact with each other. We destroy those systems not only with various forms of protest action, but by learning to behave in other ways. By playing along in the game of the party politics we strengthened it instead of working on new ways towards real community.
In his book ‘About Anarchism,’ Nicholas Walter wrote that even though anarchists did not accept government in any form he would rather live under a government that allowed him to publish his book than under a dictator that would have him killed. I agree. But one of the reasons why I am an anarchist is that I find the idea of me having power over other people a very bad one. I can co-operate very well, but having me for mayor would be a disaster. However, since I am a nice fellow and love nature in its untamed form and believe in community and the ability of human beings to learn, I as mayor would be less of a disaster than a right wing wannabe dictator or a “sell-everything-now” capitalist.
Jón Gnarr is also a nice fellow. So are probably the other people who got elected alongside him. Jón is even an anarchist. But having a nice guy as mayor or Prime Minister is just a lucky strike. It is an accepted fact in party democracy that you never get what you vote for. Whoever you vote for, government wins. Meaning that whoever you vote for, we the public will still not able to take part in decision making in our own community. Even worse… having a nice guy in power supports the image of hierarchy, which places the public at the bottom as voter/consumer, as being beneficial for the community.
Jón Gnarr and the Best Party have supposedly scared the career politicians into behaving in the future. That does not satisfy me, because they will be in power again. I don’t want anyone making a career out of having power over my life. I do not only want the greedy bastards out of office, I want their seats eliminated so that no one can get voted into them. If I am to live in a democracy, I want it to be a real one, at least, with horizontal decision-making processes. It would be awfully boring, I know, but it would be real. I do not want to keep talking up to power. I want to learn and teach new ways of interacting within our community. Voting for the seemingly most harmless guy and then hoping for the best is not what we need; we need to work against hierarchy in all forms.