When I tell people I am an anarchist, most immediately think that I am for a society where there is no order, no peace, and no justice. Images of riots and looting pop into people's heads when they hear the word "anarchy." In short, they think anarchy equals chaos. You can imagine their surprise when I mention that I am a Roman Catholic as well, because they think that a belief system with a moral structure could not possibly co-exist with an anarchist philosophy. In my humble opinion, however, I believe my faith and my anarchist beliefs co-exist in perfect harmony.
First of all, let me clear up some of those ugly stereotypes about anarchist ideology. Let me start by saying that anarchy does not equal a society without morals, nor does anarchist philosophy encourage violence or disregard for the rights of others. An anarchist society is simply a society without laws. It has no laws because it doesn't need them. It is a place where everyone is moral enough to respect each others' rights. It is a society that does not accept a power structure that can impose its will over the masses. No matter how perfect a government, we all know that those in power can and will become corrupt and abuse their power. A government without corruption could only exist in an ideal world; but if we are talking about an ideal world, then why even bring government into it in the first place? Since government will always be corrupt in a less than ideal world, we should work to make this an ideal world so we can do away with government. We should not accept power structures that try to solve problems from lofty seats of authority. When we assign government leaders the duty of "fixing" society, we become lazy and apathetic. We may be able to pursue our temporal delights undisturbed, but in the meantime, the abuse of power becomes more severe, and the injustice that it brings about grows steadily. This is why we should not blindly accept the authority of the power structures around us, nor should we depend on them to solve society's problems. Rather, we should work from the ground up, on the individual level, to transform society as a whole so we can create a society where it is easy to be good and moral.
This is where the Christian aspect comes in. Christ taught that we should love our neighbor and treat him/her with respect. This spirit of charity has the potential to transform society. A society that practices charity is a society without injustice, and a society without injustice is an ideal world - a world that needs no government.
One might ask how someone could draw anarchist ideology from Christian idealogy. We can clearly see the answer to this in the life of Jesus Christ himself. Christ did not blindly accept the authority of the chief priests and scribes (who had most of the authority in Hebrew society); instead, he questioned what they taught and how they viewed the old laws. In so doing, He introduced an entirely new and revolutionary way of thinking that emphasized the importance of love over law. Christ saw that the chief priests and scribes were over-emphasizing the law itself and were using it to gain power for themselves. They had lost all sight of the original purpose of those laws. Thus, the laws had lost their effectiveness, because they had been corrupted. Form had taken precedence over function. Because of this, Christ used a new approach and directed his teachings more towards following a charitable life. By concentrating His teachings on charity, He put function over form. He knew that to make the world a better place, change had to begin with the individual's heart, so He taught us HOW to be good people instead of giving us laws that one had to follow in order to be good. Christ taught his revolutionary message not only by preaching, but especially by example, and it is by living by Christ's example that we can bring about the most positive change. Think about it: if everyone lived by Christ's example, would there be a need for governments?
While I realize that a world without governments is not likely, I still adhere to the belief that as believers in love and justice, we must always maintain a healthy cynicism when it comes to our dealings with the powers that govern our world. An anarchist philosophy has plenty of benefits for those living within a society with rigid structures and laws. Christian anarchist thought dictates that we always question, as Christ did, the powers that be. As in any situation, raising questions can only bring us closer to Truth.
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