The phrase “self-proclaimed anarchist” screeches on my mind like finger nails on a blackboard. It is used, even among Progressives such as Amy Goodman, as a pejorative, diminishing the value of anything a “self-proclaimed anarchist” might say or do.
How did this ethical judgement get embedded in our culture? Why aren’t Democrats, Christians, environmentalists, Progressives and Libertarians equally singled out as “self-proclaimed,” diminished in value compared to all the other “non-self-proclaimed” members of the offending group.
It’s a peculiar phenomenon, unique to discussions about anarchism, in company with images of the becloaked mad bomber of 19th Century government propaganda. Most peculiar is that it is thoroughly embedded in literature and popular thought, even among anarchists.
What is the opposite of a self-proclaimed anarchist, and who are they? Who is responsible for officially recognizing anarchists such that they are no longer self-proclaimed? The government? The media? Other anarchists?
An anarchist is one who seeks an end to central, oppressive government, an absence of rulers in a self-regulated community of rules. Anarchists are known by their lives and their actions. Anarchists, by their own actions, proclaim themselves anarchists.
There is no need to add a modifier to the anarchist identification. Action speaks louder than any words.