Extending the Principles
Traditionally the above principles have been applied to the workplace and the notion of class struggle. Indeed, when defining anarchism it has been common to talk about class solidarity and the revolutionary workplace as being its core principles, because this is where anarchism found its strongest expressions for much of its development.
However the principles stand alone and can be applied to all sorts of situations. If one is arguing for an anarchist society then it must be a society that is anarchist in all its aspects, not picking and choosing when to apply the principles and when not, according to personal whim.
We argue that there are few aspects of society and behaviour that cannot be put under the anarchist spotlight and be challenged. Furthermore, doing this is just as important as any other aspect of the anarchist struggle. Some criticise this “lifestyle” approach to anarchism precisely because it removes the workplace from the heart of the anarchist struggle.
Thus there is an open question, of whether someone can be an anarchist in one aspect of their life but not in others. Green anarchism argues that the wider struggles all need to be incorporated into a more holistic approach. Taking a leaf from radical feminist theory, connections are drawn between the exploitations of capitalism, patriarchy, racism, etc. They are all inter-connected and we will struggle to remove one while permitting other forms of abuse and oppression to continue.
Another issue that green anarchism’s approach brings out is the critique of the workplace as a hidden source of human and ecological exploitation. A factory depends on access to resources in order to maintain its output. Yet what if the production of those resources is causing pollution elsewhere in the world? What if it is using so much water that it is affecting farmers in the locality? Who gets to benefit first – ecosystems, farmers, workers?
There are no clear-cut answers as each situation will be case specific, but the questions are central to the approach of green anarchism. Furthermore, they demonstrate that it is not possible to ignore wider local and global issues around particular struggles if a consistent analysis is to be applied. For if by supporting the existence of a factory we allow oppression to be facilitated elsewhere, are we really showing solidarity in the broad sense? How can we show solidarity simply on a local, immediate level without thought to the wider consequences?
This approach, inherent in anarchism, gives rise to many potential conflicts, that are for the most part ignored. It is of course not possible to change everything at once, but there is a need to develop a deeper analysis of the implications of what is being supported or demanded.