Anarchists, rebels, revolutionaries and insurgents; or, in my novel’s case, Autonarmies. The consensus of meeting one used to prompt eye-rolling and the metaphorical layering of one’s defences. Anarchists are ‘punks’ who socially exclude themselves; they’re hyper-sensitive; they have nothing-better-to-do; they’re sensationalists, right?
Who are we to deconstruct and disrupt civilisation? Who can be bothered? What’s the worst that can happen? Um….
Recent events suggest we should challenge and question, and people are incited enough to do just that. The seemingly questionable and irresponsible fiscal decisions made by our Head of State (and wider family), as detailed in the Paradise Papers, is a timely example of people in a position of power and leadership advocating one thing, but their actions demonstrating another. Add to that the recent reports about sexual aberrations of power in Westminster, and the shady tactics employed by our Government to avoid public scrutiny, perhaps more so than ever before, the tide is turning on those who govern us with controlled narratives and questionable objectives. But where will it take us, if anywhere at all?
At one time, being an anarchist was a dirty word. Arguably for the first time, the line between anarchy and activism is undergoing a forensic examination. In many countries, of course, that’s just not possible yet, but there’s a surge that’s been gradually developing, and we’re riding on it right now, praying it won’t break too early.
People are standing up as individuals or united in a collective, global rallying cry saying I will no longer sanction this behaviour and belief. Whether that’s socially through #MeToo, #HimThough or #EverydayRacism call outs; physical demonstrations such as US NFL players kneeling protests, or lobbying of Trans rights and campaigning to end modern slavery, the penny has finally dropped. As with Howard Beale’s character on the adapted-for-stage Network cries, ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,’ and neither is the world. If you want something done, you better get on and do it yourself, and the time is now.
Where will this charge of challenging assumptions and conventions (that have kept so many cosy) lead?
It’s a theme I explore in my book, Adaptive Consequences. We’re a few years into the future, and a series of global crises and evolutions mean society, as we understand it, broke. Underneath the prevailing veil of fear, the global socio-political United Adaptive emerged, to cope when others couldn’t. They galvanised the world and patched it up, but now at some point, the lines blurred between their support of society and exploitation of it. When is the right time to call out consequentialism, versus making sure the previous (dangerous) circumstances, aren’t repeated?
Adaptive Consequences explores the balance and shifts of power; when power is gifted and goes unchallenged, who’s responsible if that power goes awry?
Early on in the story the reader learns the main protagonist, Jun, joins an ‘activist’ group. Initially, she doesn’t quite appreciate the ‘challenging of power’ statement her involvement in the group makes. As the plot develops, she’s pushed to find out how far she’ll go to preserve ‘what’s right’ from a human/moral point of view, versus her own goals and objectives.
There’s no doubt that the reverberations of the above stories will continue for the time being, and fingers crossed to these moving beyond cultural movements to something actionable. But, how wide do the lines between activism and anarchism need to be, to force fundamental, systematic change? How wide is the line for you?