Anarchy At Work

By: Lessa Leigh

Portland, Oregon has had a rough winter, and like many areas caught in a vicious freeze-thaw cycle, the roads have taken a hit. Potholes are everywhere, and apparently the Portland Public Works crews can’t keep up on the repairs, so private citizens, in the name of anarchy, are doing the work.

What? Anarchists do more than burn flags and throw bricks through windows? Yes, actually they do. A standard tenet that all anarchists believe is how private citizens can do a better job of taking care of their community than the government can. The idea is that if we, the people, take charge of government’s responsibilities, we can free ourselves from government’s regulations and methods of harm.

Where I, as an anarcha-feminist, differ from many lines of anarchist thought is that while I want to dismantle patriarchal structures, like our entire system of government, and like capitalism, and like systemic oppression, our current world is too complex to simply get rid of a governing body and hope for the best. That stipulated, if we do want to free ourselves from the chains of big government, we do need to learn how to be more independent, more self-reliant, and more willing to help out in our communities simply because help is needed and we are able to offer it.

Everything from growing one’s own food to starting a community food pantry to helping neighbors install solar panels to filling potholes to mowing the grass on vacant lots to delivering meals to the housebound could be a possibility. Imagine a world where we were a little more engaged with each other, had a little more of a vested interest in taking care of each other, had a little more time to stop and notice the holes that needed to be patched and the bellies that needed to be filled.

In its purest form, this approach isn’t perfect, but I’d argue that no system is entirely perfect. They all have flaws. The trick is figuring out the best ways to have a lighter governmental hand in our lives, while still engaging in our communities.

Fixing potholes seems like as good a place to start as any. What do you think?

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