The working politics of a Pragmatic Anarchist

I’m a Pragmatic Anarchist.Sometimes I call myself an Anarcho-Pacifist , yet
by doing so there is always the danger that my
ideas may become confused with some other
stereotypical sets of very rigidly defined
political or philosophical ideas.

It is because of this need to distance myself from
such stereotypical concepts that I wish to define
just what my views are, and why I am both a
radical thinker & activist.

Don’t Look Back.

The problem with many political philosophies is
that those who hold such ideas base there
actions, first & foremost, upon what has gone
before them.

Be they pacifist, socialist, or anarchist ideals,
there is always an historical reference point
which might be used.

I look first & formost upon the issues, & then upon
just what kind of solutions that there might be.

For me it is all a question of ends & means.

Now I am lucky enough to in a position whereby I
have read the works of the great 19th & 20th
century radicals, & appreciate just what they
have achieved for us.

Yet I live in the 21st century & have 21st century
issues to confront.

It is all very well to have a political set of values,
but one just can NOT always be asking how to
solve the worlds problems by always going back
to the roots of ones political ideas.

The problem with many political activists being
that they will try to fit a solution to any problem
by relating it back to their very rigidly based
political ideas, rather than asking what will
work in terms of a solution to a particular set of
By Way of Illustration.
I�ll give a few examples to illustrate this point.

Gandhi may of had some good ideas about local
solutions to self sufficiency, but he never
developed them in terms of globalisation.

Such great individuals as Emma Goldman , Errico
Malatesia, or Bakunin never wrote a word about
global warming.

None of them ever wrote about how new forms of
communication technology would give rise to new
problems & challenges for us all.

As to the Marxists & those who follow Marxist
idea, there is a fundamental problem here.

Marx was someone�s whose best writing is just in
the form of economic analysis.

As my old anarchist friend Otto has always said,
that what Marx spent many years researching &
writing about, any worker knows about by just
opening their pay packet at the end of the week.

Even without going into a political analysis upon
Marxism & all that is wrong with Marxist ideas,
there would still be one point I would want to

The bottom line being that Marx did not concern
himself with any ecological issues, or how they
might be solved.
In other words: – You can not expect to solve new
& very complex problems by looking back at a set
of 150 year old publications.
Real World Ideas.

As I have already stated, I am a Pragmatic

I believe in real world solutions to real world
problems, as long as they are consistent with
ends & means.

I will work towards solutions for any problem,
so long as they are consistent with being none
exploitative, ecologicaly sound, egalitarian, &
pacifist in nature.

My vegetarianism being both a manifestation of my
Nonviolent ideals, & an illustration of a very
pragmatic set of solutions to the kind of problems
which we all face within the modern world.

I did not just became vegetarian as an result of my
political or philosophical ideas, but because it is a
very pragmatic solution to some of the ecological
problems which we all face.

The reason just why I always insist in looking at
the world in terms of Ends & Means, is because as
the world & various issues become much more
complex, there can never be ‘just one solution’
which does not impact upon everything else we
have to deal with.

Perhaps that is why I like solutions with are
multifarious, such as the work which is being done
by Vegfam.*1.

Plant a fruit tree, and not only do you help to
counter air pollution & soil erosion, but you also
provide both food & shelter .

This is also consistent with a Nonviolent & none
exploitative Vegetarian way of life.

I am not sure if any of the above might be classed
as a political treatise, but it is not my aim to do so.

My aim is to show that the only way in which we
are ever going to solve the global mess we are in,
is by being very pragmatic, just as long as it is
consistent with ends & means.
Having said all that …..

It is important to know what has gone before one,
both in terms of placing ones ideas within an
historical context, & in terms of seeing how ones
actions are a part of a process.

In the same way it is very important to know about
the ideas & history of the people who helped to
shape society.

Thus as a pragmatist I see that it is important to
view ones radical actions within a historical
context in order to judge what an effect they
will have within the future.

Just in order to understand any social conflict
one must be able to look at its historical roots.

A good example of this being that of Northern
Ireland, or Israel/Palestine.

Then one should start to look at the ways in
which history has been re-written.

After that one can start to look for solutions
which will work for everyone, & which will cut
the historical baggage via which most people
blinker their own view of history.

This is not to say that one should abandon ones
cultural roots, but just those attitudes which are
harmful to one.
The re-writing of History,
& Heroes with clay feet. *2.

One of the major problems via which people
present political ideas is by making the
interpretation of history much more important
than by just giving the historical facts.

Much in the same way that the history of war has
always been written by the winning nations, so
the history of Nonviolent or radical history has
always been written by academics, & not those
who took a part in the work.

If you really want to find out about some aspects
of Nonviolent action, then they are to be found
within the military museums.

For example – There is a lot of material upon
British Pacifism which is the be found within the
Imperial War Museum. This includes people like
Nora Page, Myrtle Solomon, & Harold Bing. All
very remarkable people whom I knew !

I could also add people like Jim Peck, or toma Sik
to my list of remarkable people who have done a
lot of good radical work in order change the
world for the better.

Yet for all of these individuals good points, I think
one must add the fact that they all had their
individual faults. We all do.

Just because someone has done some remarkable
work over the years, it does not mean that they
are faultless.

To refer to our political heroes almost as though
they are saints is one of the major faults of many
radical activists.

To know & understand that they all had various
faults is to be able to see them as much more
rounded people, & so make us better able to
appreciate what they managed to achieve.
As for the rest, well I’ll write about it at some
other time.
Martyn Lowe


For more info on Vegfam see:


I�ll not describe what the individuals listed here
managed to achieve, as they are well documented
via various websites & publication. Just look them
up for yourself.

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