The following letter was inspired by a discussion with a close friend who suggested that my dislike of anarchism was excessively hostile, because of my personal history with anarchism. I felt that it was time that I gave anarchism its due.
It’s not you; it’s me.
In some ways I’ll always love you. But it’s time that we both moved on.
I remember when we first met. It was while I was reading Daniel Guérin’s book about you, with its preface by Noam Chomsky. It was like love at first sight. All of my instincts led me to you and I saw you through perfectly tinted rose-colored glasses. Eventually, through our friend Noam, we came to a much deeper understanding.
I’ll always cherish our first few years together the most.
After our relationship developed, rather than stagnating, you led me to more exciting places than I had ever been. All of a sudden, I met other people who loved you in the same way that I did. I had unimaginable fun meeting your friends and spending hours with them just talking about how wonderful you are.
And it was those friends who showed me how I could see you differently.
They gave me different books about you and even called you by different names. I was exposed to your other pet-names, like “Council Communism” and “Insurrectionary Anarchism“. Your multi-dimensionality drew me in even more. You were all things for all people, but you were unique for me.
You gave me the tools I needed in order to see the world properly.
You introduced me to theory. Like really, over-complicated theory. For that I am eternally grateful, because you taught me to think. It was because of you that I began reading French post-structuralists and German critical theorists. It was because of you that I first interacted with radical feminists, queer activists, and people of color fighting against white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
Those were undoubtedly some of the best days of my life. I’ll always owe that time to you.
In the end, however, those days had to come to an end. And that ability to think eventually made us incompatible. I took off my rose-colored glasses and saw our relationship for what it was.
You see, I realized that despite my love for you and your friends love for you, it was impossible for everyone to love you. And that meant that your promises of perfect equality and anti-authoritarianism couldn’t be kept.
And, unfortunately, those promises meant everything to me.
My idealism faded and that left me ultimately dissatisfied in our relationship.
I’m sorry, Anarchism, but things just weren’t meant to be.
You’ll be fine, though, I’m sure. Others will meet you and fall in love in the same way that I did. You’ll draw more and more people in as time go on – I can guarantee that.
I end this relationship without bitterness, but with honest disappointment that things didn’t work out. I would have loved to stay forever. I ought to add that I’m sorry for all the times I misrepresented you or did a poor job of dealing with your friends. I tried my best and learned a lot from you.
And I’ll never forget the great times that we shared together.