I have often in the past had many people ask me what I thought about this or that Buddhist belief for this or that idea with an Anarchism, frequently the way I have answered is something like “well, all Buddhist believe…” or “what most anarchists will tell you”. Effectively I’m avoiding answering what I actually, personally, think about a particular issue or how I engage with a particular belief within my religion. As an Anarchist, Buddhist and a person one of my most prized values is autonomy. And what does it mean to have autonomy within your own head? Does it mean to always couch your ideas in the ways others have articulated them? I’m gonna say no actually, that part of achieving genuine Freedom and Autonomy within your own head is separating people from ideas and deciding genuinely for yourself what you actually think and believe and not relying on structures of identity, ideology or individual writers/philosophers. Letting go of what you should believe as an anarchist or a Buddhist or a Christian or a scholar and instead saying what do I, a freethinking autonomous human, believe?
We don’t need to look necessarily at tradition, history or status, we might be informed by the beliefs of the past or things that have happened before or important people. However I think it’s always important to seize those ideas from their originators and ask for ourselves “is this thing worthwhile” in the absence of allowing peoples status or place as a historical note or long-held tradition creating greater value than the idea has within itself.
Rather than saying, as Kropotkin says in the conquest of bread chapter 16 if we simply throw all the coats in a pile and hand them out then blah blah blah blah blah. We can instead understand this broader idea of expropriation and think about it in our actual, real context and think “what do I believe and how would I see this enacted?” I’ll state for myself on the record here that there’s more empty homes in America and that we should as a moral imperative seize them right now and redistribute them out amongst the people therefore totally eradicating homelessness. There is more steps to it than that, and that is still the broad idea. It’s not a totally original idea, it’s influenced by other peoples and the communities I associate with, however it’s not anyone else’s idea that they own, it’s my idea that I’m expressing it because it’s what I actually believe.
We can free ourselves from the idolization of historical and contemporary leftist/religious figures and instead seize autonomy within our own minds by making more and more independent decisions, separating out the ideas from the idealists and constructing our own narratives and belief systems free from the implicit dictates of another. It’s not a perfect thing, it’s a process of becoming free from the influences of other people and producing real Autonomy within our own minds. It’s becoming free of notions of status and tradition to examine beliefs, ideas and practices in their real context.
If anyone accuses this of being the Kalama Sutta, don’t. I see the parallels between this and many Suttas regarding skepticism. I’m informed by those texts and am not those texts. Those stories are not my own.