Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Creating an Anarchist Theory of Privilege

Privilege and the theory around it is a significant topic of debate at the moment among those interested in radical social change. Touching on many issues dear to the hearts of anarchists, it is hard to avoid.(i) Yet, the two are not fitting together as well as they should and there is a sense of unease about this. (ii) Much of this is because privilege theory has emerged from US academic circles rather than anarchist ones and, ironically, has been co-opted to protect middle- class privileges. (iii) This is a situation in need of repair if we are to maintain our links with feminist, anti- racist and other struggles against oppression. If we are to create a mass movement capable of social change then it has to be able to engage with everyone in the first place.

Solidarity cannot be built on blithe assumptions we are getting it right by virtue of being anarchists, or that every oppressed group is our natural ally. Nor is not sustained by being patronising or repeating forms of oppression in daily interactions. Anarchist should sidestep the mistakes of liberal NGOs and policies that are more about assuaging guilt than genuine mutual aid. That requires recognising privileges we take for granted. Often privilege theory is nothing more than a useful tool for pointing out unacknowledged assumptions and behaviours that liberal-capitalist-patriarchal society has instilled and which ultimately throw up barriers between those who should be allies.

Article continues hereCreating an Anarchist Theory of Privilege