What is Anarchism?

Photo by Terricks Noah on Unsplash

“Why are there no Black anarchists?”

“Why don’t anarchism highlight issues unique to Black people?”

“Why are there soooooo many pro-capitalist Black people!”

These are some of the questions I had about anarchism. I studied anarchist philosophy for about three years before, in late 2019, I finally decided to search for answers to my questions. I was shocked and excited at what I found.

I found that there are a ton of Black anarchist and Black anarchist literature. Some Black people are not obsessed with capitalism. Black people are creating spaces for Black anarchists to explore different theories and practical uses for anarchism that is unique to the Black experience. I just feel like I want to share the things that I have found so far because I know it could help a person like me that was, and is still, searching for this type of information. I just watched one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts, and his guest was Kevin Hart. Kevin said something that resonated with me, “…what people are most selfish with is information. Nobody wants to give information.”[1]

One of my aspirations is to make education and information as available and equitable as possible.

I studied to be a school teacher before I found my passion for Sociology. Even though I don’t want to teach in a traditional sense, I still feel like education and information are some of the most valuable things in the world. That means that if I wanted to find this information, I know there is someone just like me who is on the same journey. If you came to this article to deepen your understanding of anarchism, then this article is for you. If you came to this article to find more sources about Black anarchism, then this article is for you. If you came to this article because you thought this sound cool as hell, then this article is for you. Whatever the reason you came to this article I hope you find what you are looking for. So without further adieu, what exactly is Anarkata?

What is Anarkata?

Anarkata is the synthesis of classical and contemporary anarchism and radical Black liberation theory. If you are interested in a basic understanding of anarchism I recommend you read the first part of this series What is Anarchism? Part One: Just the Basics.

Part one of this series just establishes a basic understanding of anarchism that can be used for a fuller understanding of Anarkata. However, Anarkata rejects the state as a legitimate form of hierarchical domination, and it rejects the authoritarian forms of other leftist philosophies. Anarkata seeks to dismantle the neoliberal utopian myth that results in human and environmental subjugation.

“Anarkata emerges as a response to the political alienation that has been experienced by Black anarcho adjacent leftists who reject both the whiteness of traditional anarchism and the authoritarianism of some forms of Black nationalism.”

-Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas

Anarkata seeks practical ways to address the devastation of colonization and imperialism. Through an intersectional matrix of gender, race, ability, sexuality, and class, Anarkata focuses on the development of liberation theory and praxis.

Historical Praxis of Anarkata?

What is so fascinating to me is that Anarkata was a reality before it was coined. I tend to forget that people have been resisting systems of control and marginalization for centuries.

“Stateless Africans used decentralized methods to defy the reaches of African empires.”

-Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas

My research into stateless societies exposed me to the Balanta people of Guinea-Bissau. The mere structure of their society, during the Atlantic Slave Trade, made it difficult for European colonizers to influence the Kaabu (raiding warriors of the Mandinga state) to control the Balanta.[2] In the 1600s, European colonizers observed that the Balanta had no ruling class or families to exploit.[2] The society was composed of a decentralized and gerontocratic social order.[2] Their acephalous (without a leader or ruler, and yeah I just looked it up), nature is often correlated to their agricultural practices and unique social order.[2][3][4] Anarkata aims to fuse these principles, along with other stateless Afrikan societies — and societies of the Afrikan diaspora — to form pluralistic-ontological alchemy of anarchist thought.

“Slaves in the Americas fled from plantations and created their own localized maroon communities in their quest for freedom.”

-Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas

When I think of intentional communities I usually see the image of the White free-love hippie communes. Those communities are hype too, but I rarely hear about intentional communities started by Black people. There were intentional communities started by revolutionary Afrikans that escaped colonial enslavement in the Americas.[5][6] These people were called maroons, and they formed settlements in the Americas. The Black Seminoles or Black Freemen formed due to the revolutionary practice of marooning.[5][6] The Black Seminoles communities allied with the Seminole Indians to protect themselves from racist southern Americans who viewed them as a threat.[5][6] A more recent example of intentional communities is Cooperation Jackson located in Jackson, Mississippi. Cooperation Jackson seeks to dismantle systems of exploitation, exclusion, and the destruction of the environment through the rejection of the societal myths we have been socialized to believe.[7] Cooperation Jackson is a recent example of a cooperative network that embraces Anarkata philosophy.

“Black trans women in particular single-handedly birthed the queer liberation movements of the Twentieth Century.”

-Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas

There is another form of anarchism called queer-anarchism, and I will be adding that philosophy to this series. Queer-anarchism highlights the radical work that queer people have historically contributed to dismantling cishet patriarchy. Anarkata focuses revolutionary energy to dismantle that as well as reshaping modern queer liberation dominated by White queer folks. Western queer liberation has historically suppressed the ideas of Black queer people due to being overly concerned with White, middle-class issues.[8] Anarkata seeks to move Black voices and experiences from the margins of society into the public sphere. Marsha P. Johnson was a revolutionary transwoman who was a badass! Just to cement how badass I think she was, the “P” in her name stood for “Pay no mind,” and she would tell people that if they asked about her gender.[9] If that isn’t badass then I don’t know what is. Marsha played a key role in the Stonewall uprising, she helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), and she was an activist for HIV the group ACT UP.[10] People like Marsha P. Johnson and groups like STAR and ACT UP shows what radical solidarity looks like. Anarkata ideals flow through these people and the organizations that are vying for revolutionary change.

Afrofuturism

Since I began my journey to understand Anarkata the main theme I found over and over again is Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism infuses art, music, television and film, political action, novels, comic books, and many more elements to envision a future where Black people no longer live on the periphery of society. Black people are just as much a part of our worldly story as any other race would be. I like to view Afrofuturism with a postmodernist lens of critical analysis that puts an end to the subjugated knowledges and experiences of Black and Afrikan peoples. Anarkata seeks to shift the paradigm that has historically been dominated by patriarchy, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and many other oppressive intersections.

Anarkata is personified by Afrofuturism, and Afrofuturism is Anarkata praxis.

The goal of this series is not to convince you of anarchism. I’m writing this because it excites me to learn new things and apply them in the real world. I just hope the information and the sources I’ve provided helps you have a more informed understanding of anarchism.

I also want to share some cool videos I found about Anarkata and Afrofuturism.

References

[1] Joe Rogan Experience. 2020, May 25. Joe Rogan Experience #148-Kevin Hart.YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzx6h2sAGTU

[2]Hawthrone, W. (2001). Nourishing a stateless society during the slave trade: The rise of Balanta paddy-rice production in Guinea-Bissau. The Journal of African History, 42(1), 1–24.

[3] Fitzsimons, W. (2018). Warfare, competition, and the durability of political smallness. Journal of African History, 59 (1), 45–67.

[4] Temudo, M. (2009). From the margins of the state to the presidential palace: The Balanta case in Guinea-Bissau. African Studies Review, 52(2), 47–67.

[5] Seminole Nation Museum. (2017, March 17). Seminole Freeman. Seminole Nation Museum. https://www.seminolenationmuseum.org/blog/archive/m.blog/42/seminole-freedman

[6] Kai, N. (2015). Black Seminoles: The maroons of Florida. African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, 8(2), 146–157.

[7] Cooperation Jackson (n.d.). Who We Are. Cooperation Jackson. https://cooperationjackson.org/intro

[8] Black Rose Anarchist Federation. (n.d.). Patriarchy & Queer Liberation. Black Rose Anarchist Federation. https://blackrosefed.org/points-of-unity/patriarchy-queer-liberation/

[9] The Marsha P. Johnson Institute. (n.d.). About Marsha P. Johnson. https://marshap.org/about-mpji/

[10] Maxourls, C. (2019, June 26). Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, was a central figure in the gay liberation movement. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/26/us/marsha-p-johnson-biography/index.html

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Malik Shabazz Hampton

Malik Shabazz Hampton

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On a journey to uplift and transform society. Dr. Angela Davis has prescribed us to act as if it is possible to transform the world and I intend to do that.