If I had to put myself on a political spectrum, I’d identify as an Anarchist.
What does that actually mean? Most people think Anarchists are against any kind of rules. They want “anarchy”, a state of disorder.
Well, that’s not correct.
The problem are not rules, laws, regulations per se, but rather how they come to be. Anarchists reject rules that are forced on them without their meaningful participation, rules established by a ruling authority.
Our democratic system qualifies as such an authoritarian system. Public participation and influence in law making processes are a farce. Our representatives in parliament are bound by party interests, which in turn are consumed by corporate interests.
I don’t accept these rules, I don’t accept the political order of our society.
Anyway, the point of this write-up is not to discuss political systems. I’m not here to make a case for Anarchism. There are already plenty of articles doing that.
To be quite honest, I am actually not particularly interested in those debates. I loosely follow them, and I am of course always happy to discuss.
It’s just, all that doesn’t help me now, it doesn’t ease the pain I am feeling today. The pain of being forced to pay money to a modern-day kingdom. The pain of accepting a polished version of slavery, with, admittedly, better conditions, more possibilities, but at the end of the day still intolerable, still shit enough to rage against.
And – most importantly – the pain of contributing to a world with actual slaves, a world where exploitation of people, animals and land is not only accepted but in fact encouraged.
I mean, sometimes I do like to ponder about how a future, perhaps anarchist, society could look like. My main concern, however, is how I can live my life in freedom today.
And that’s what I’ll be talking about here.
I will share how I am able to live a somewhat anarchist life, despite not living in an anarchist society.
At best, you might find it useful, at worst you’ll hear about a different way of living, ie, relatively unbothered by men made laws.
Before I gradually changed my life I was often angry at the government, the “system”. I hated the inefficiency, deception and corruption. The bottomless hunger for power and money. The disparity between rich and poor.
It was a great source of frustration, mainly because I felt incredibly helpless to change anything, or, to be heard, even.
Yet, I was forced to participate.
When discussing with friends most agreed with me. Also, there were a number of institutions, initiatives, even political parties, actively working towards a better society.
But nothing ever changed fundamentally, quite the opposite, things got progressively worse (9/11 was a big turning point, ever since then governments have been expanding their power at an alarming rate).
Soon I came to the conclusion that the system is structurally flawed, which is why every effort to change it from within, is destined to fail. Mind you I have studied law, so my mindset does not come from a place of ignorance.
Desperate to continue my pursuit of freedom from governmental tyranny, I turned to the more radical side of the political spectrum.
I’ve encountered two groups:
People who vent their frustration with questionable acts of violence. Their goal is to shake up the public. Personally, I respect those people, as long as their actions are directed against stuff and not people (and generally somewhat reasonable).
While I don’t agree with their approach, their blunt actions are a fresh wind in our otherwise apathetic society, where people are quick to disagree with something, but mostly can’t get their asses up to actually take action.
Granted, their arguably, and in my opinion, misguided acts probably do more harm than good, but – hey -, as said, at least they stand up for their believes. They’ve endured years of repression and ridicule, so I do understand their need to let off steam (I prefer mindfulness).
Not my jazz, but you have to understand that these “troublemakers” are simply a symptom of our society, just like starving kids in Africa.
So let’s not hate on them, let’s hate on what allows them to exist.
Others seem to have already given up on any hope that things could move in their direction, or that they could do anything at all, to bring about change.
Their anarchist meetups consist of talking and drinking, mainly drinking because it’s all been said already. They act like a support group of sorts, a bunch of outsiders, ignored by society, finding comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their suffering and failure to successfully take on the injustices they perceive.
I am not slacking those people, quite the opposite, it all starts with them, nonetheless.
Ok, having read that again, I appreciate that I am not fair here. I am generalizing a singular experience with an isolated group in Australia.
There are in fact many awesome activists who organise, write, protest and educate, all in a peace- and meaningful way.
That doesn’t change my narrative, however.
None of these activities could bring immediate relief to my problems. I was still subject to, and greatly affected by, all the political nonsense, I still had to pay taxes.
So, further out I ventured, hoping for a light-bulb moment. And it came. By chance.
At that time I had just moved abroad, to be by the beach, really. Living in a foreign country I had to become acquainted with new sets of rules (just because I oppose them, does not mean I don’t want to know them, quite the opposite!).
I got a new driving license, bank account, etc. Basically, I had to go through many bureaucratic hoops to set up my life there. By the way, experiencing that in a country you didn’t grow up in, makes you realize even more how pointless, idiotic and cumbersome many of the things we are required to do are.
One day I happened to read an article about a so called “flag theory”. It describes the process of setting up a number of “flags” (bank accounts, citizenship’s, businesses etc..) in different countries, allowing for more freedom by way of geographic arbitrage, essentially resulting in more options in terms of money management, tax obligations etc…
Practically speaking, you build as many links to other jurisdictions as possible, you get to know them intimately, and then you navigate between them, taking advantage of loopholes, inefficiencies, and so on.
I am not talking about hiding assets in off-shore companies. Not that I am against that, it’s just, that’d come with the threat of jail-time – which is the antidote of freedom, so – naturally – something I’d like to avoid.
It’s a work in progress, but it’s done a lot for me already. It lifted a huge burden off my shoulders, and I am not only talking financially.
I don’t think about politics, I simply don’t care about what “they” are doing “up there”. They don’t have power over me anymore, or much less, at least, at a level I can actually tolerate.
Let me give you some examples:
1. I’ve hardly paid income tax the last years
It allowed me to work a lot less, which was great, but the biggest impact was emotionally. As said, most governments are inefficient, incompetent, or even blatantly criminal, and it annoyed the hell out of me having had to pay for their shit-show with a big chunk of my money. Fuck that.
Now I hardly pay a dime, and it feels fantastic.
2. I ignore laws I don’t agree with
A good example would be traffic rules. They are merely recommendations to me.
Oftentimes they do make sense, in which case I’d happily oblige, eg, speed limits around schools or in housing areas…
In many other instances, however, they are overly intruding, lack common sense, or even are just plain money grabs. I ignore those.
I appreciate this will rub many people the wrong way, so please hear me out:
I am a very careful and vigilant driver and I understand that breaking traffic rules requires my utmost attention and diligence.
But I am not an idiot (most of us aren’t despite over-boarding laws indicating the opposite), so I have trust in my ability to judge a situation correctly.
Let’s take an example:
Picture yourself in a car waiting in front of a red light, in the middle of the night, say 1am, on a weekday. You can clearly see that there is no other vehicle coming, neither pedestrians, like, you would be able to see them from miles away, such is the visibility of that crossing.
What would you do?
Chances are you’d still wait for a green light.
Better not risk it.
Rules are rules, after all.
It is just a minute anyway.
So you’d end up waiting, stopped in your tracks, because of a fucking red light in front of you.
We are so conditioned that we don’t even second guess situations like that, but when you think about it, isn’t it absurd that you let a red light dictate your behavior against your better judgment?
We’ve become accustomed to giving away our self-responsibility and in my opinion it is wrong and creates much more problems than it solves.
I wouldn’t wait for the green light.
I’d look left and right, probably 5 times more than usual, but eventually I‘d just pull the trigger and break that god-damn law.
Why wouldn’t I?
The chances of hitting someone would be virtually non-existent, which leaves fear of punishment. I don’t have that fear, because I have options. More often than not I’ll be able to get rid of the fines (which I receive in spades by the way), other-times I’ll just pay. It is a price I happily pay for my freedom.
In case it isn’t obvious, every situation is different, so each time I consider ignoring a rule I ask myself the following:
- Is it safe to do so, like, would I put anyone in danger? How likely is a negative outcome?
- How likely can I get away with it?
- If I do get caught, what are the consequences?
I am always prepared to deal with the consequences, should I get caught, regardless of my often successful efforts to mitigate same.
So yeah, regarding the red light example, as you might have guessed already, my above checklist makes running red lights a very rare occurrence. First of all, I am not out often at night, secondly most traffic lights do make a lot of sense.
It is not only traffic rules, however, in fact, I critically assess and question, and – if deem appropriate – ignore pretty much any rule. Illegal, legal, I genuinely don’t care and always try to make up my own mind, like outlined above.
At this point, I feel I need to clarify something very important.
I am not anti-social. I respect and care about others, so this is not about me getting my way and everyone else is left in the dust. Not at all.
It is actually quite the opposite, or rather, ignoring rules for your own, better judgment goes two ways.
Eg, if I am sitting on a smoker’s table but people eat on the table next to me, I wouldn’t smoke, out of consideration, even though, legally I could.
Or, I’ll always happily give up my right of way, if it makes sense in a particular situation.
I genuinely believe that our judgment, our common sense can do much better than any law.
This is not about being against something, out of principle, or breaking rules just because I can.
I am convinced that if we respect and notice each other, we will automatically also care about each others’ needs.
It is in our nature.
Much more so than letting someone else dictate what’s right or wrong.
Someone, who isn’t actually there to judge the situation firsthand.
Someone, who often does not have your best interest in mind.
Another major factor contributing to my Anarchist life regards my life goals
Oftentimes we don’t second guess rules, or, in this case rather social norms, because that’s in fact expected to progress on a certain path, often related to our career.
It significantly influences our behavior, and is one of the main source of our perceived inability to live the life we actually want.
We were sold this image, of how life should look like, how we will be happily and safe. Working on your career, accumulating wealth, buying a house….
Straying off that path, into uncharted territory, comes with risks. Risk of failure, without society’s safety net. Risk of ridicule, should we fail.
For that reason, many don’t bother and decide to learn to live with Uncle Sam’s firm, but familiar grip. Yes, there is a rock hard ceiling for your freedom, but hey, at least the downside limited as well.
Well, but guess what?
That safety cushion is an illusion. Nothing is certain, neither your retirement fund, nor your career path. Relying on all that doesn’t only affect your liberty, no, it actually makes you vulnerable and ultimately depended on a system that – historically – has proven time and time again, that it might no be able to hold its promises.
I believe life is not about having the perfect plan, having it all figured out. Rather is is about trusting in your ability to make the best of it, whatever the challenge; to overcome any obstacle you might face.
It‘s also about being able to be happy and see the light, no matter how dark.
And that’s something you have to figure out for yourself, no-one else can lift that off your shoulder.
Taking control of your life and future is the first step into real freedom.
Alright, enough of that jibber jabber, I’ll now briefly touch on how I actually do all that. Please understand though, that this isn’t some sort of guide. It is all highly depended on your individual situation, and also on how far you are willing to go, which ultimately depends on how much you are “suffering” today. How much you can tolerate working 40+ hours, all while being forced to give away a large part of your salary.
Depended on how normal a life is for you, where families hardly spend time together, because at least one partner has to slave away most part of the day.
I’ve answered these questions for myself, without doubt and hesitation and did what was necessary to break free. Just like everything in life, it was/is a trade-off, one that wouldn’t work for everyone, sure. But I love my life and I never (hardly ;))second guess the limitations I accept in one part of my life, so as to gain more freedom in another.
For example, to ease my tax burden, I had to quit a well paying, safe job – twice. I also moved countries more than once, and – generally – had to watch closely what I work where and for how long. Basically, the last 1.5 years I didn’t have a place called home at all, which has been pretty rough at times, I am not going to lie.
Personally, I think it is worth it, but I fully appreciate that these are extreme measures that wouldn’t work for everyone.
I’ve mentioned the “flag theory” before. In my case it roughly looks like this
- I’ve accumulated more than 2 citizenship/permanent residencies;
- I have more than 6 bank accounts in several different countries;
- I hold more than 4 driving licenses, again from different countries;
Basically, I’ve extended my global reach as far as possible in as many aspects as possible. I am everywhere and nowhere and that makes it hard to categorize me, do understand and predict my actions.
In our society everything is perfectly set up to coerce us into observing all the rules. It’s a dragnet of sorts, closely-knit of laws, social norms, governmental bodies, executive power.
However, for its effectiveness, that net relies on a certain picture of a model citizen.
The way I built my life, I don’t fit that picture, I am an alien of sorts and often governmental wheels grind to a halt when trying to handle me, allowing me to get away unscathed.
It is a fluid process, not something I can rely on permanently, something that requires my constant attention. Rules can change and I need to be one step ahead at all times.
It’s not that much of an effort for me though, because knowing laws that (try to) govern me is something I’d want in any case. I’ve learned to stay aware, avoid certain situations, and use others to my advantage, it became second nature to me.
Again, just to be clear here, I am not breaking the law, except I decide to, according to the assessment I laid out above. Consequently, most of my „illegal activities“ concern administrative offenses. First of all, because I like to keep out of prison, secondly, because most of the rules I don’t agree with don’t carry a prison sentence anyway.
As said, this might not be for you, but I suggest everyone to ask oneself, what is it, you really want.
And don’t let your judgment be clouded by fear.
Make up your own mind.
Before I forget, oftentimes people give me shit for not paying taxes, because … Roads!
Fair enough. I am not going to argue that the world would be a better place if everyone would live like I do. Frankly, I don’t know, albeit I do think it would rattle things up in a good way.
As said initially, this is first and foremost about my personal freedom, and secondly it is also a protest of sorts. I don’t see viable options to change anything from within, so – naturally – I just stepped out. Simple as that.
If everyone would do that, governments would actually have to offer something for the money they want.
Yeah, not all tax money is misdirected, but if you give your kid 100 Euro to go shopping and it spends more than half on stuff you don’t agree with, would you still give it 100 Euro another day?
I surely wouldn’t. So I stopped.