Anarchists promise ‘To Change Everything’

By Sam Beard, @SamBeard_DE

Anarchism is usually characterized by violence, chaos and tear gas.

However, those are misunderstandings and tactical misrepresentations of the political ideology that come from those who want the word to evoke fear, anarchist Bea Traven said.

A panel of anarchists will take the stage at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Guyon Auditorium to discuss the promise of anarchism in the twenty-first century. 


The speaking tour will feature an international discussion by contemporary activists with focus on what anarchism means and why it will be useful in upcoming social struggles, panelist Vlasta Nikolic said.

“In a world in which we’re facing economic crises and widespread disillusionment with governments and political parties of all stripes, anarchism offers a new way of conceptualizing what human relations could look like: something that is radically decentralized, based in personal freedom and collective relationships of mutual aid and solidarity,” Traven said. 

He said anarchists oppose all forms of hierarchy that concentrate power into the hands of a few and anything else that limits human potential.

Nikolic will speak about how the language of democracy has been used against the anarchist movement and about what autonomy in a modern society could look like.

She said anarchist relations give people an opportunity to act upon their agency and directly address their own desires, needs and ambitions.

The presentation will be hosted by the Flyover Infoshop, Department of Anthropology and others.

Flyover, a radical clubhouse and community center at 214 N. Washington Street, teamed up with Crimethinc, an ex-workers collective, to bring panelists from three continents to the university, according to its website.

“The anarchist idea is that life is sweetest when no one can wield power over you,” Traven said. “Human relations are the best and are most ennobling for the participants when people relate to each other as equals.”

He said there are fundamental differences in the relationship one has with their employer and their friends.

“One of them is based on voluntary association and egalitarian interchange,” Traven said. “The other one is basically coercive. It is a result of the power relationship in which people need to be interacting but because of structural factors they cannot interact as equals.”

Anarchists aim to abolish violence and coercion, Traven said. They believe the primary source of violence in the world historically and today is the state, and that hierarchy breeds coercive relations. 

“Who is it that shoots the teargas? It’s not the anarchists — it’s the police,” he said. “Who is it that’s responsible for the bulk of the violence in this society? It’s the police.”

Nikolic said hierarchy exists through white-supremacy, sexism, capitalism and the government; the panel will be discussing how to move past those forms of oppression.

“It is important to talk about how to prepare for an uprising because we are living in the times of unrest,” she said. “And it is important that when unrest happens, we take part in it. Therefore, determining what action will come next.”

After Wednesday, the tour will continue making stops around the country. Flyover will host a barbecue Friday evening to reflect on the presentation.

Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SamBeard_DE.