Words have power, they evoke emotions and convey ideas, one of which is fear, but it doesn’t need to be. I decided to write this article as an antidote to fear, because people are afraid of things they ought not to be – one of which is me.
I’ve been told that I scare people. While you might not guess from looking at me (I’m 170 cm, 57kg, and I look like a girl), when it comes to the ideas I believe in and the labels I wear unironically, it’s easy to see why people might find me a bit scary. However, what you demystify, you disarm, and what you daemonise, you attract the impressionable to. My beliefs are not as radical or nihilistic as they may seem, and I’ll explain why, by breaking down the actual definitions of several spooky labels that I wear.
Atheist – a person who lacks belief in any deities. Anyone who is not convinced that an actual deity exists is an atheist, and this definition certainly applies to me. This is a label that typically alarms religious people, because there is a common misconception that atheists are opposed to a belief in god, and while some atheists certainly do oppose any sort of religious belief, there is a different term that describes such a belief: anti-theism. All anti-theists are atheists, but not all atheists are anti-theists. Furthermore, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind American Christians that Madalyn Murray O’Hair did not take prayer out of schools, she took state-mandated prayer out of school, because it is a violation of the First Amendment for any public institution to show deferential treatment toward any religion. Prayer cannot be banned in school, because that too, would violate the First Amendment. For the most part, I take no issue with Christians, in fact I’m more likely to have disagreements with my fellow atheists. Just don’t try to convert me – that would not go well, because for everything that you may think requires a divine explanation, I have a secular answer, including morality.
Anarchist – a person who believes that government is not necessary for a functioning society. There is a common misconception that anarchists are violent, irrational and hell-bent on abolishing society as we know it. Again, some anarchists are violent, but an awful lot of self-described anarchists aren’t interested in abolishing government itself, they wish to abolish all vestiges of the current power structures and replace them with another system of government, albeit with a name other than “government.” At some point, the revolution ends, and the revolutionaries become the political establishment. Most self-described anarchists, especially the violent ones, are secretly totalitarians. This does not describe me. My desire is to promote greater individualism and slowly, peacefully, erode the government’s power until there is none left. Anarchism is the ultimate goal of true libertarianism (an ideology no longer promoted by the US Libertarian Party), that is to keep making the State as small and unobtrusive as possible – therefore, the logical conclusion is no government at all. I don’t think that this goal is achievable (certainly not in my lifetime), it is simply an ideal that we need to keep working toward if we value liberty. Unlike many of my fellow anarchists, even those with whom I ideologically align perfectly, I am willing to participate in the civic process (this includes voting) if there is a possibility that it will help to curtail government control. In other words, in order to create a society with the smallest amount of government interference possible, we must strive to eliminate it altogether, because it is the logical limit of the saying “he who governs least, governs best.”
Capitalist – a person who engages in Free Market activities and is able to keep the resources they earn and do with them as they see fit. Most capitalists know exactly what capitalism is, but most non-capitalists, socialists in particular (not every non-capitalist is a socialist; you can divest yourself of the free market but not believe in socialism), believe in a strawman parody of capitalism that is purely exploitative and reinforces entrenched power structures, such that western society is “socialism for the rich, dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest.” This is flat-out wrong, because wage slaves don’t engage in capitalism. Not only that, but there is a constant conflation of “capitalist” with “bourgeois,” “hierarchical,” “selfish,” and “greedy.” Not all capitalists are wealthy, not all believe in static class structures (in fact, most don’t, because capitalism is a system that enables social mobility, rather than stifling it), not all are selfish (some give quite generously to charity) and not all are greedy. Of course, if you are a socialist, then you probably think that “capitalism” is the same as “corporatism,” the latter of which I am opposed to as well. Furthermore, if you are a socialist, you probably believe that being generous makes a person a socialist – it does not. Socialism is a system of forced altruism, and forced altruism is false altruism, which is why socialism tends to foment resentment, rather than good will.
Liberal – effectively, a person who adheres to philosophy based on a “live and let live” attitude. This may seem like a contradiction, since I’ve already revealed that I’m an anarchist, but in this context, I’m not referring to political beliefs, but in social beliefs. Many conservatives, and also many self-described liberals as well, mistakenly believe that liberalism is “left-wing.” I’ve already discussed this at length, but having liberal views on social issues does not make a person left-wing. Liberal simply means “permissive,” which means that having “conservative” views on social issues simply makes a person an authoritarian, and what is “conservative” is completely arbitrary, and entirely dependent on the context of the culture that one is examining. Being opposed to discrimination based on ethnicity or gender is a liberal position, but it is in no way leftist. Being opposed to the criminalisation of certain substances (alcohol, marijuana, etc.) is also a liberal position, and in no way leftist. People who are familiar with the political compass may disagree, but while I like the political compass itself, I’ve already addressed the problems with political compass tests, and I plan to examine those flaws in greater detail some time in the future.
Conservative – in the context of finance, a synonym for “frugal.” I have already explained the paradox of how it is possible to be both a liberal and a conservative at the same time, even when the context is not limited to finance. My point is that I’m not a big spender as it is, I resent having to tighten my own belt because the government keeps loosening its own as it becomes increasingly bloated, and I’m sick of hearing that “socialism is the solution,” because anyone who understands economics knows it would actually exacerbate a lot of the current problems. Then again, people who are fiscally liberal, even those who aren’t outright socialist, are usually such because they can’t do basic math, and therefore can’t manage money.
Ex-Soviet – self-explanatory, at least in the ideological sense; I’m too young to have grown up in the Soviet Union. A lot of people that I’m ideologically aligned with currently get spooked when I tell them that I used to a communist, and not a fruity, woke anarcho-communist, but a tankie, an unironic Soviet, and a Stalinist specifically (I believed some weird shit as a teen-ager). In fact, the woke nonsense was the main reason I abandoned communism in the first place, because back when I still was a communist, I learned about the existence of social justice, and upon discovering that most SJWs, whom I have always despised, were also communists, I almost blew my lunch. Upon going further down the rabbit hole of communist philosophy (and I was already deep enough that I was a Lysenkoist before I had ever even heard of Trofim Lysenko), I realised that the soc-jus nonsense was simply the purest form of communism, and I was cured almost instantly. Mind you, there are still certain things about the Soviet system that I like – mostly having to do with public education and the arts – but they are the decidedly meritocratic, non-communist parts of it, some of which have actually been preserved in the modern Russian Federation. I didn’t immediately become an anarchist after abandoning communism, I was a bit of a milquetoast centrist for a while, then a libertarian, and ultimately I started to embrace the label of “anarchist” for the same reason I embraced the label of “atheist” – I learned what the terms actually meant.
I hope I have sufficiently demystified the spooky language, and put at least some readers at ease. I doubt my ideological opponents will think any better of me as a result, in fact, I suspect that the vicious ideologues out there will probably think worse of me for trying to calm people down, instead of riling them up. What do you think? Have I succeeded in making some of these labels appear less threatening? Have I changed your mind in any other way?