It wasn’t a very good public lecture to be said. Been a while since I went to a public lecture held in a college ground so I wasn’t actually expecting much from it. In the end I’m still a tad bit disappointed. Nevertheless it’s still a nice refreshing experience.
To trace one statement from the Anderson’s lecture is how he find out that a decade ago anarchism is a bit falling behind. I have no words on this and this isn’t really the focus at all as we go on to the basic idea of anarchism as it understood by him. Going on the lecture went to how he is trying to reminds how anarchism is still, and perhaps will always be, prevalent in the political sphere. Although he doesn’t specificly state that an actual anarchy is needed now, especially in Indonesia.
“So what exactly is anarchism?”
In my attendance I also brought my own definition. And to be frank my own definiton stems from my introduction to Stirner. Meanwhile the lecture opens up with how anarchism stems from the political movement in post revolution France. Citing Proudhon as its author. Right from the start there’s this discourse of which anarchism is at play.
Thankfully in the beginning of the lecture an opening speech by one of the philosophy lecturer in the department introduces the distinction of anarchism in its own classes. In contrast of how the public often perceives anarchism as mere vandalism or criminalism. There’s this individual anarchism, pacifist anarchism, etc. Obviously the focus here is not the former, while the version of anarchism I brought IS the former.
I am willing to say that this individual anarchism and the political anarchism is a two differing entities itself. Individual anarchism leads to egoist anarchism—which may as well leads to criminalism but this is a different matter altogether—while the anarchism at this lecture focuses entirely on how it works in a social, or political, sphere…
…in fighting injustice.
We’ll come back to that later. There’s this interesting premise in this anarchism.
In Opposition to Nationalism
This is one idea I find worthwhile during the entire run of the lecture. As this is, what I may say, indeed stay true to the spirit of anarchism. The opposition of nationalism, or in longer extent the notion of nation itself—this is my own further interpretation.
I found this idea interesting because of reasons. One of them I’ve stated before and the other is if we brought this idea to the mainstream media. The actual event that is happening beyond our realization of what it means to be Indonesian. In contrast to juvenile bitching of one’s own country there’s this sense of profound nationalism that is, unfortunately, relies itself too much on the idea of nationalism itself.
Of course what is in problem with nationalism as stated in the lecture is when it turns into ultra-nationalism as done by the Nazis or early 2oth century Japanese. And thus why I pull the idea, deliberately in all its differences and whatsoever, into the contemporary of our mainstream popular media. As I myself pretty much more familiar with the scene. Also how I first found this nationalism disturbing is when I dwelve myself in it. It all begins with the buzzwords that is known as ‘local content’ in a media.
No, I won’t rant about it here.
But to put it simply there’s this form of nationalism in popular media that stems from such notion. Acknowledging how one’s own country has much more than other country and it leads to How I Love Indonesia. Is this good? No.
The problem with nationalism, in the lecture, is how it tends to focuses more on the -ism, on the state, instead of the idea of justice. And, according to the lecture, anarchism supposed to fight injustice. This I can agree as it’s in harmony with my first reason. The tendency to focuses more on the -ism or the state manifests itself on how instead of fighting injustice and bringing social justice the movement then focuses more on ‘how it should be’ as I would say, how the nation should be, how the community should, how people should be. This, in cosequences, may lead to another authoritarianism, and this is what 20th century “bad” nationalism has done.
Stirner proposed a more vague idea on this. But how vague it is reflects the more solid basis for what we should perceive as anarchism. An anarchism should mean an opposition to a system. When justice, and social justice in specific, turns itself into a system then anarchism should no longer play part in it.
This is where I decided to take part from the discourse over the lecture.
The Dumbing Down of Anarchism
Anarchism isn’t just about fighting injustice. It’s about fighting a system that, in nature, creates injustice. As injustice is an inevitable things that is bound to happen when there is a system. A governing agent will, in realization or not, oppress its governed community. Enforcing law is a form of oppression, law itself is a form of oppression. Giving oneself to law, or a system, is a ticket to oppress your own self.
A man should live only to itself. Anarchism should serve only itself. It may fights injustice when it sees fits but not fighting injustice as its job decription. That’s a human thing to do.
In case of an anarchism toppling down the system what would they do? A socialist would then continue rebuilding the system that maintains justice to the people. An anarchist would just go on. To then creates another system means that one is no longer an anarchist and there’s nothing wrong with that. You just cease to be an anarchist.
This is a note from attending Benedict Anderson’s Public Lecture on “Anarchism and Nationalism” (Indonesian, “Anarkisme dan Nasionalisme) in Faculty of Cultural Science of University of Indonesia, Depok, Thursday, 10 December 2015.
I have yet to read the book and so this is merely 2 cents on my attendance and its followup.