The role of the outsider

One area not covered in my recent online interview about The Anarchist Revelation was the idea of the “outsider” and how that fits in with anarchism.

This has been pretty central to what I’ve been writing over the last few years and relates closely to the concepts of “antibodies” and “anarchangels”.

Society (or humanity, or the planet), faced with a serious threat to its health and existence, throws up individuals who feel deeply opposed to the direction it is taking and strongly compelled to do something about it.

The role is more of a burden or responsibility than anything, a (usually non-fatal) form of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the wider community, although also at the same time an essential path to take for the individual concerned, who will forever feel listless, useless and unfulfilled if he or she doesn’t go with the flow of what they have to do.

So it doesn’t imply any kind of elitism or proto-hierarchy. It’s also a temporary role in that it would cease to exist if society changed in the desired way.

Furthermore, the sort of “outsiders” I’m talking about are not the kind of people who would want to assume any power or leadership over others, whether formally or informally. They are poets, prophets and seers rather than directors, controllers and head honchos – that’s in their very nature.

There’s also the added protection (in my formulation) of an anarchist context to the outsider’s struggle. An anarchism that embraces (amongst other things) the outsider mentality can infuse the individual outsider’s vision with anarchist principles and effectively inoculate him or her against any slide towards elitism or hierarchical thinking.

In addition, I have made it clear that the “outsider” process only begins with that sense of despair and alienation rooted in the individual identity. In order to turn this raw material of primal revolt into the gold of useful resistance, a person has to pass through the alchemical stages of ego-shedding, self-purification and the realisation of belonging to a wider whole.

There is absolutely no room here for any egotism, vanity or sense of personal specialness. An initial sense of individuality, and a desire to go deeper into the self, leads us to the discovery that our individuality is in many ways illusory and we ultimately belong to something very much bigger than ourselves.

However, the sense of responsibility that this engenders sends us back towards our individuality again, in the knowledge that we have this very real gift of being alive and are physically able to act for the greater good in a way that an abstract collective entity simply cannot.

This time, as we return to our individuality, all that anxiety and confusion has been replaced by a calm acceptance and a resolve to make ourselves as transparent and clear as possible so that we can best detect and channel the requirements of the greater good (in whichever way we define it) and transform them into action on the physical plane.