It’s an emotion that we are taught to keep bottled up, to stuff down inside, or to find some way to ‘channel’ in a ‘healthy’ manner.
I’m an anti-authoritarian and I always have been. I’ve labelled myself in different ways as I went through different intellectual/political stages but a common vein has always been anti-authoritarianism; I cannot accept authority easily or lightly, most especially from those that would declare authority for themselves. And while I can (and have) come up with many intellectual descriptions and justifications for why I’m an anti-authoritarian; while I can intellectualize it and explain it and put it in terms that academics and armchair philosophers (I’m one of them, I’m not excusing myself) can nod their heads to and agree with, in the end there is a primary source, the well that I draw from, the fuel that I burn in the fire of anti-authoritarianism.
Raw. Fucking. Rage.
My anti-authoritarian attitude comes down to burning seething anger at every cop who harassed my friends and I when we were kids for the simple crime of being kids.
It’s for every teacher who tried to beat me down intellectually and emotionally, to make me conform and be the same as every other fucking drone they’d ever manufactured.
It’s for every time I’m considered ‘fringe’ because I don’t immediately buy the bullshit that I see on TV or hear on the radio.
It’s easy to dismiss all of the raw emotion, or to try to suppress it. There are great treatises written on anti-authoritarian thought, absolutely crystal and logical essays regarding the role relationship between the authoritarian and the subjugated. There are many, many reasons why those of us who call ourselves anarchists, anti-authoritarians, antifa, etc think the way we do.
And a good portion of people out there seem to think there’s something WRONG with raw emotion driving anti-authoritarianism, like it’s a BAD thing that my rage against authority drives me.
Again, bullshit. Intellectualism without emotional context is simply mental masturbation. To deny the rage that drives most anti-authoritarianism is to devalue the very philosophies that we claim to represent.
In the end, I find just as much inspiration through the expression of rage and contempt for authority in art, music, literature as I do for the logical reasoning by anarchist and other philosophers.
It’s expressed in music:
“Cops is anxious to put niggas in handcuffs, they wanna hang us, see us dead and enslave us, keep us trapped in the same place we’re raised in, then they wonder why we act so outrageous, run around stressed out and pull out gauges, ‘cause every time you let the animal out cages, it’s dangerous to people who look like strangers” -Dr. Dre
“Enough, I call the bluff. Fuck manifest destiny; landlords and power whores on my people they took turns, dispute the suits I ignite and then watch ‘em burn.” -Rage Against the Machine
It’s expressed in poetry:
“It had to be a large room full of murder
It had to be a mounted ass- a solid mass of rage
A red hot pen
A scream in the back of the throat”
-Allen Ginsberg, “Hadda Be Playing on the Jukebox”
It’s expressed in literature:
“In a way, they seemed to be arguing the case as if it had nothing to do with me. Everything was happening without my participation. My fate was being decided without anyone so much as asking my opinion.”
-Albert Camus, from “The Stranger”
Through all of this, the common theme is not intellectualizing the anti-authoritarian – it’s recognizing with gut wrenching certainty that at it’s base level, humanity is FUCKING TIRED of being in cages. I have degrees in philosophy and political science; I have read extensive treatments of anarchism, marxism, etc; I’ve argued with people I consider brilliant about the merits of arguments from some of the great thinkers of history.
In the end, all of that pales in comparison to one thing:
For all of the thought hoops we jump through, for all of the wonderful analysis we see of our current situation, and what we might do to change it, I think it’s vital that we don’t lose the fire that drives us. For every reasoned argument I can come up with, for every intellectual point I can make as to why I am anti-authoritarian – I’m not ashamed to say that a big part of it is as simple as screaming “FUCK YOU!” at a world that would cage me up and force me to conform.
*Thanks to PJC for the chance to do some writing here – if you like what you see here, follow me on Twitter @flogleviathan