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consistent with what? some universal anarchist dogma? the social presumption that one must have a job; live a particular way; be "successful"?

for me, the first thing i would question is the desire for consistency. what does it mean to be "consistent"? consistent with what? and why? 

hypocrisy and contradictions (those words come to mind, they may not be precisely accurate) are an unfortunate reality for anyone that lives in this world - which is almost completely driven by economics and power struggles - and has radically different ideas about how they would like to live. such as anarchists. i personally seek to minimize those contradictions as much as possible, but i accept that i cannot avoid some of them. 

if you choose a life that requires a substantial and reliable income, then you will almost certainly need to hold a job of some sort (unless born rich). for sure, some jobs will be much more abhorrent to you than others, and if you have anarchist ideas about life, that will clearly impact your desires, if not your choices (hopefully both). 

my suggestion would always be to find/grow/learn/discover/create what are your desires and priorities, as well as (or as part of that) what it means to you to be an anarchist. of course some of that will come from interacting with others (human and otherwise), reading, observations, experiences, etc. but ultimately it has got to be yoursyour ideas, your desires, your life. only then can you know what you consider to be anarchistic, what goes against your anarchistic desires, and what other considerations will factor into your choices in life.

as dot mentioned below, this democrapitalistic shithole (modern society) is antithetical to most/all anarchistic ideas and desires (at least those i choose to associate with). that fact needs to be accepted and digested thoroughly. then an approach to dealing with it can be derived.

one choice is to do your best to live outside/away from it, minimizing the contradictions it requires (from those that don't buy into it - you?) as well as your interactions with it. another choice is to live within it, making the best of what it has to offer while trying to create an anarchistic life within it (which may be limited to intellectual exercises, writings and discussions). there are many other choices as well.


"What kind of job can an anarchist have?"  

an anarchist can have any job that anyone else can have - anarchists are people too. ;-)  if it is approval from other anarchists you are asking about, that is a different question, and you will no doubt get many different answers. some jobs may be more tolerable than others (and that will vary by individual), and some will require more in the way of compromise from an anarchist perspective. only you can decide where a reasonable balance is for you.

but to be clear: NO job is an "anarchist" job, so you either have to accept that and take a job that you can tolerate, or create a life where a job is not necessary (difficult, but not impossible). that in itself (the latter) will likely bring up its own set of compromises. but again, it is - or ought to be, imo - all about your needs and desires. 

"I understand that existing in such a manner contributes to capitalism but what other option do I have?"

if you are after that elusive "american dream" (which seems the case from a comment i saw), then probably none. if, on the other hand, you are open to exploring other ways of life (and there are many), you have virtually infinite options. to me, the key there is in figuring out what your priorities really are, based on your own needs and desires. and then setting about realizing them as best you can.

i guess that alludes to ba@'s question: what does "living better than most" mean?

damn, this funky dude can sure babble after a strong cup of coffee!

edit (just because this comment wasn't quite long enough), to more directly address the question:

being a teacher is a role that is well defined within a hierarchical structure. it also typically requires adherence to a curriculum that generally valorizes and perpetuates this entire system. on the other hand, it potentially provides some opportunity for exposing students to alternative ideas (with varying degrees of opposition from the hierarchy).

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What kind of job can an anarchist have? I work in a factory and I even belong to one of those mainstream lefty unions. I understand that existing in such a manner contributes to capitalism but what other option do I have? Right now I live better than most. Can I not be an anarchist, or at least have anarchist views on many things, if I continue living like this? Must I stop working, driving, consuming public water etc.? Do I need to raise my kids in a campground and eat out of dumpsters to be an anarchist? I don't know man, it's sounds like an even more miserable life than what I have under wage slavery.

i think you can work at a job and still call yourself an anarchist, but that doesn't make it "consistent with anarchy".

btw, i just camped the last week and loved felt far from miserable, even in the rain.

and i feel curious....what does "living better than most" mean?
what ba@ said.

my understanding of anarchism/y is antithetical to capitalism. therefore the things that we must do to live in a capitalist society are not anarchist. my understanding of anarchy is as a provocation to live a more intentional life, to not take things for granted that other people assume as reality/inevitable, etc.

your response, nogov, is sad to me. i'm not telling anyone to do anything. and the shortness of my response is in relation to the shortness of the question. (how do people expect us to answer questions when there is so little to go on?)

and i will say again that other anarchists will have different answers than this. i have been in fights with anarchists who think that being a professor is the most anarchist thing they can do... (and i'm ready to again! let me at 'em! ;) )


dot:  my understanding of anarchy is as a provocation to live a more intentional life, to not take things for granted that other people assume as reality/inevitable, etc.

i really like that description.


How could anyone live "consistent" with anarchy?

I'm sure camping can be fun for some, it's not fun for me. I certainly wouldn't want to trade my house for a tent and a fire pit and I'm pretty confident in saying that my wife and children would also not be willing to make such a trade.

When I say "better than most" I suppose I mean financially. I'm a homeowner, I drive a nice car, my family has access to health care and ample food. We take a couple vacations a year etc. I suppose I live a life that anarchists despise.

I hear what you're saying. Sorry if I insinuated that you were suggesting for anybody to do anything. For me, I'm so conflicted with these types of scenarios. I appreciate the dialogue.

i think it's a sound conflict to be in. we should be aggravated (if not tormented) by the gap between what we want and what we have; it should bother us that we are structurally unable to live the way we want. the fact that i have a fairly pat answer doesn't mean that my answer is acceptable.

if you see what i mean...

Perhaps the original poster could elaborate on the the issues they want addressed? I think that this question deserves more consideration, in that the act of teaching (especially children) presents unique challenges to me, re my anarchism. I have taught at the university level, and it broke my heart, but I think that at the best of times it can be an honorable activity, so it would be nice to see how other people address this.
geomancer, thanks. i read the question in a particular way and didn't note that (i'm irritated by the rash of one line, untagged questions that have been appearing over the last week, but no excuse).

teaching is a really interesting topic in general, and teaching for money does deserve more conversation. also as you and i both allude to, teaching at different ages--in and out of the system--are all different things.

i won't go on and on, but here is my condensed version of one aspect of this topic--teaching-for-pay allows room for people to do important social work, to intervene in fulfilling ways into the lives of other people who might (frequently do) really need things (a different perspective, more resources of various sorts). but, like all social workers (ie being an agent of the state, no matter how independent one's actions might be), teachers are a part of the system and any assistance they give strengthens the system (ie people see the system as being the thing that helped them). (there's a conversation on anews right now about voting. social work is far more pernicious than voting, at least along the lines of supporting the system.)

i write this as a long-term social worker,  fwtw.
Looking to be consistent with an ideology or way of thinking (or anarchism) will always end up being dissapointing, as funkyanarchy alludes to in the answer. It's foolish to try to ascribe to a certain form of thinking IMO, it's like trying to join a fan club.

I personally don't like the idea of being a teacher in general unless maybe under some university that gives you freedom for how to conduct a class. Being a teacher in elementary, middle, or high school will give you the most monotonous constrained things to indoctrinate your classes with, along with the role of disciplinarian, which means you will have to keep 20+ youngsters docile and obedient most of the time.
"Being a teacher in elementary, middle, or high school will give you the most monotonous constrained things to indoctrinate your classes with, along with the role of disciplinarian, which means you will have to keep 20+ youngsters docile and obedient most of the time."

i think that is one of the most useful statements regarding this question.

I actually think it's unfair and detramental to sanity/autonomy to have a little group of experts who decide, far away from people who are struggling to survive and enjoy their life before the grave, who get to decide which are the better jobs and worse jobs. It makes even less sense in todays economy where you have all these entrepenuers running around experimenting with people.

But that being said: i think teaching in a public school, and most private schools, degrades both the teacher and the students. Children do not learn from sitting in a desk and hearing a litany of words very well. SATs are a joke and don't measure anything.

I think a theoretical anarchist would want to have autonomy and be able to express themselves un-inhibited. Here are jobs that seem to facillitate this, here are ones that do not:



This spans a lot of different things...painting, music, programming etc.


There are certainly games that can be won on a long term basis and games that can't.

Small autonomous business:

Pretty much you can control entirely by yourself





corporate hierarchy

Anything that involves owning lots of properties

I also want to share my thoughts on being low on the totem's fine, but it's definetly not going turn you into some no non-sense revolutionary warrior. Bosses tend to be so irrational, and living expenses so high, now people go from job to job on a regular basis these days. Unions can be helpful, but i think a serious anarchist in the end would say "fuck unions" even if they are the union president.

i think a better way to talk about jobs and anarchy in general is, how hard is it to be anarchist in a job, rather than some list of jobs: pro or con.

i would say that prison guards and teachers, for example, would have a harder time being anarchists, unless they are stealing or sabotaging (etc) from their work places. gets back to what one considers anarchist behavior.

as does everything! ;)
sorry i keep playing hide and seek with that comment...however, i was feeling pretty bitter because you weren't even applying yourself in terms of how you responded to my sound like a teacher for a moment.

Yes, i do think an anarchist can be a teacher, as they can do anything they want, i think breaking things down in terms of "what works/what doesn't" is much more useful than outright rejecting an idea from the start. I personally don't like teachers, i never got along with them unless they were making the class interesting for me. However, there are un-official teachers (teachers who don't have jobs as teachers, who teach when the moment calls for it, sounds kinda silly but it's just as real as "anarchy"), and there are also private instructors, who are payed [hopefully an adult because i don't like it when kids are forced to do things by their parents] by someone who wants them to be there. If it's acceptable for anarchists boss people around, but not acceptable help them, then we're totally and irredeemably FUCKED and we might as well start bullying fascists, drinking motor oil, and shooting up marijuana.
I gotta say, the answer and the name of this site is deeply ironic.

dot, your answer and the one you picked as the best answer to the question seems to assume compulsory schooling and a job. Unfortunate. Are you suggesting people willingly going to a place to learn and discuss something with someone knowledgable in an area is not compatible with anarchism?
maybe i am misunderstanding, but the original question asked specifically about being a "school teacher". that would seem to imply both compulsory schooling and a job, no? neither of which qualify as anarchist. is there some context confusion going on?

learning from others - including those with great expertise in particular areas of interest - in the course of life is neither compulsory schooling nor a job. i did not take the original question to be referring to that scenario.
@funky: the criticism isn't about validating school, or learning from others, it's about the vagueness of the question itself, and the self-assured and pithy answer to that vagueness. The entire website is named in the style of a college course, and "anarchy" itself would etymologically imply that an online moderator wouldn't be telling people not to be school teachers. I think the only way forward to "be an anarchist" is to live our lives in a way that's the most consistent with what we want out of the world. An anarchist cop would seem like more of a problem than being an anarchist teacher: an anarchist teacher could maybe walk the tight-rope a little bit better as to not hurt kids in classrooms and show the little bit of support they can't get anywhere else. Also, i don't see anything whatsoever inconsistent about having non-compulsory schools and an anarchist teacher. Of course, in today's world you can't really have a non-compulsory school because there's all sorts of constraints that make it difficult, plus people have this tendency to be thought police with their rubbish "values" and whatnot.


So many schools, dying wildlife, no skills in terms of either relating to other people or getting food, so much fascism/bullshit in said schools. However, i don't have the authority to tell anarchists where they should be, especially when there's no explicit support from anarchist online projects in terms of making survival a little easier.

The answer that you gave to the question hits home in terms of the problem with the question itself...i somehow don't think that it's "bad", "wrong", a "violation of anarchy" for an anarchist to be a school teacher as the answer implies. There's all sorts of schools, the school of hard knocks is the most familiar one...
"etymologically imply that an online moderator wouldn't be telling people not to be school teachers"

that sounds fairly absurd to me. for one, no moderator was "telling people" not to be a school teacher. (see how you did that?)  they were answering the question, which asked about consistency. (granted, dot's answer may have been a bit terse.)

the only vagueness in the question is in how different people define "anarchist" and "teacher".

a "school teacher", in the context of this question as i see it, is absolutely an authority figure. so while any anarchist can take any job they like, that one reeks of authority.

if you are talking about an expert in some area sharing their knowledge in contextual and dynamic ways, that is not a school teacher in my mind.

so maybe you could get some clarification on terminology as others are using it, before you launch into defensive/attack mode.
also, you are clearly using the term "school" in a very loose (and unclear) way. while i have no idea what was in the mind of the original questioner, their use of "school teacher" implies teaching within the institution of compulsory education.

all your comments on ways that one might be called a teacher outside that context are fairly spot on. but there you have digressed greatly from my understanding of the question.

funkyanarchy: "the only vagueness in the question is in how different people define "anarchist" and "teacher"."

yes, and the only other words in the question other than "consistent", are "is, be, to, for, and it".

lets face it...the question sucks as written...and your original answer points that out.

bummer we can't post any more....just when i felt ready to write again! well, i'll miss it for sure....

"so maybe you could get some clarification on terminology as others are using it, before you launch into defensive/attack mode."

dot was also imagining that i had a "pro vs. con" list:

"i think a better way to talk about jobs and anarchy in general is, how hard is it to be anarchist in a job, rather than some list of jobs: pro or con."

I'll repeat myself again: I do not like the idea of supposed anarchists telling people that certain jobs are inconsistent "with anarchy". Jobs are inconsistent with anarchy anyway, because you normally pay taxes, plus things are structured in a way that you normally can't run a business how you want to, especially if you don't like authority. I would like there to be people like James C. Scott or David Graeber in this somewhat depressing and terrifying world we live in rather than obedient anarchists who don't do what they want or are only focused on the money aspect of living/eating/dying.

I've been on this forum for years and have read lots of anarchist books, maybe you should rethink the problem with ideology and anarchist bosses before going into attack mode. I don't see what hairsplitting has to do with anarchy. To me it's just a word game, "this is this and that is that, mind your p's and q's and don't be a rat" type of deal.

I've also been using anarchist news for years and it's still mostly just a place for cyber-bullying and distortions of other people's intentions. The anarchist bosses get a Z in my book.

dot seems to be feeling incredibly tolerant or apathetic or something, i appreciate it. Another comment: i don't care about whether someone "is a teacher". The problem is what they do as a teacher. I'm pretty adament about anarchist free schools and anarchist free markets, but of course there's always the possibility that some anarchist will run a free school or free market in a way that would irritate me, and i don't see a problem with that at all! Part of my irritation is this is a school of anarchy, and dot is the school teacher clearly, and in a sense anyone who posts here non-questioningly is a school teacher as well, so yes it can be consistent or else dot isn't allowed to have this website, and we are nothing but hypocrites for posting in the positive/affirmative. Ya'll may want school to just mean one thing forever so that you can rebel against it, but the english language is already multivalent, things have more than one meaning, and humans are perpetual creators of meanings!

I refuse to support empty protest and rebellion, i'm also pretty enraged by this weird anarchist voting >:-(. Votes are only a form of power brokering in both the larger and grassroots scope of things, I vote no to anarchist voting! Anarchist preachers, holy rollers, and demagogues like myself are also lame!

We are nothing!

Absolutely, the question is vague. I was hoping my comment would've got peeps to think more about what a school can be. dot gave a short-sighted, blanket answer of "no" on whether a school teacher is consistent with anarchism. I was a bit surprised it wasn't downvoted into oblivion since one word or vague answers, are more often than not, downvoted into oblivion on here. Anyways, since the site uses the American college course numbering system and is set up similar to online class, dot's answer would mean answering questions on this site is inconsistent with anarchism. People answering questions and discussing them fill the role of the teacher. People asking questions and discussing them fill the role of the student. For moi, I would be more of a student on this site since I've asked more questions than answered. 

I mean, how ya finna be like "no" on a site called anarchy 101 in which they run. Does not compute.

A school can be a formal or informal place/setting where one can learn and discuss something with someone knowledgeable in whatever area.  A teacher is one that helps guide or instructs the person on whatever the subject. The teacher doesn't necessarily have to be a person. Like is the school of hard knocks inconsistent or teaching a bunch of people that wanted to learn tiger-style kung-fu inconsistent? If it's always inconsistent, regardless of the context or situation, then I dunno. Sounds wack.

every time we communicate we use words that can mean various things. 101 doesn't have to be a hard connect to school. it could be a soft, mocking connect. brevity doesn't have to be hostile, it could be provocative (or both). subsequent comments that echo previous ones don't have to be *answers* to the previous ones, they could riffs on a theme.

some thoughts for the future for me, at least.