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What is an Anarchist?


This morning I received an Email from a person whom I don’t know nor never met. This person informed me that he enjoyed an online review I posted of The Anarchists Tool Chest. He then added that I do not know what an Anarchist is. He may be right. I sent him an email back to him telling him that very thing. I always thought that an Anarchist preferred or sought the right to govern oneself over official or social rule. My definition may have been hazy, so I checked the old standby, Merriam Webster, and this was what I found: An Anarchist is:

1: a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power
2: a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially:one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order

If you take my word for it, I think that my definition was fairly close to the mark. I copied and pasted this word for word from Webster’s website so I didn’t fudge the words in any way to my benefit. I am guessing that the fellow who sent me the email didn’t like that I mentioned in the book review that I didn’t think Christopher Schwarz was an Anarchist. He felt the need to subtly tell me that I was wrong. Tomato, Tomaahto. So while maybe I don’t know what an Anarchist is I think I might know what an Anarchist isn’t….feel free to jump in….

A person who walks to work rather than drives isn’t an Anarchist; He’s a person who may want to exercise, or enjoys walking to work.
A person who reads rather than watches television isn’t an Anarchist; She’s a person who would rather read.
A person who grows his food rather than buys it at the supermarket isn’t an Anarchist; That person is a farmer or gardening enthusiast.
A person who buys his tools at a flea market rather than new isn’t an Anarchist: He is thrifty, or cheap, or maybe he likes fixing old tools.
A person who makes is own furniture rather than buys it isn’t an Anarchist: I would call that person a woodworker who likes to build things.

I could be wrong about all of those things, but that is what I believe. I also believe that there are no real Anarchists in America. When you wake up in a country with a two million strong military, police and fire companies in every township, maintained roads and highways, WiFi, cable TV and public libraries and schools (I could go on and on and on but hopefully I made my point) and you enjoy some if not all of those benefits, you are not an Anarchist. Sorry, you aren’t, not in the least, not even a little. In fact, it’s somewhat insulting to some of history’s real Anarchists, some of  whom weren’t the best people who ever walked the planet, but others who risked all they had in the attempt for real change.

As Americans we are what we are, right or wrong. There are a lot of things that I don’t like about this country, but there are many things that I do. I don’t need to take my love for woodworking and slap some kind of whacked out definition on it for me to validate it. I don’t need to scare people by telling them that woodworking is dying,; last I checked there are millions and millions of woodworking hobbyists. Can’t we woodwork and just leave it at that? Is that wrong? Can’t we woodwork anyway we like without being called Anarchists or Conformists?  To paraphrase Elaine Benes: I don’t have any Anarchy, I don’t want any Anarchy, and I’ll never be an Anarchist. If you want to be an Anarchist, join the Taliban. Otherwise, just call yourself a woodworker.

Sic Semper Tyrannis



  1. Tired Doggie says:

    Lol, most self proclaimed anarchists don’t even know what anarchist means. I had a discussion about this with my English class when we read Nowtopia, by Chris Carlsson. I would not consider an “anarchist” who follows the leadership, or ideals, of another a true anarchist. Isn’t it contrary to the very definition? “a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power” lets see what authority means: persons in command; It sounds like this is a person in a leadership position….hmmm. Kind of contradictory here, I think.

    • billlattpa says:

      You made just about every point that I wanted to make. I can’t believe any person who has reaped every benefit of the “system” including the little things that we take for granted: education, infrastructure, ect., who then tells me that the system is horrible and holding him down as he goes to bed knowing his family is safe because of that system. I’m trying not to get all preachy here. My point was and is that we as woodworkers should just woodwork without turning it into a political statement.

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