Dakota Hensley an individualist anarchist and Christian anarchist from Southeast Kentucky. Follow him at @DakotaAHensley.
Can an anarchist be socially conservative? Yes. I see no reason why someone who is anti-abortion or has fundamentalist views on sex or drugs can’t be an anarchist. Anarchism of all types is about a society in which no one forces their beliefs on others. That is why we oppose the State. As long as that is respected, your personal views don’t matter.
There was a conservative anarchist. Her name is Dorothy Day, a Christian anarchist and anarcho-distributist who died in 1980 (about nine days before John Lennon, actually). She wrote extensively in her organization’s penny-a-copy newspaper, The Catholic Worker. Going through the hundreds of articles she wrote, one will begin to see a few topics that she wrote about often. She wrote about cooperatives and communes (especially farming communes), about the need to care for the poor, about her support for private property and collectives, and how she thought pre-marital sex was wrong and abortion and birth control was genocide.
In The Catholic Worker, in December of 1972, she wrote, “I feel that, as in the time of the Desert Fathers, the young are fleeing the cities–wandering over the face of the land, living after a fashion in voluntary poverty and manual labor, seeming to be inactive in the “peace movement.” I know they are still a part of it–just as Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers’ Movement is also part of it, committed to non-violence, even while they resist, fighting for their lives and their families’ lives. (They, together with the blacks, feel and have stated this, that birth control and abortion are genocide.)”
About pre-marital sex, she wrote in September of 1963, “I have been asked to express myself on these matters, especially since there has been a pamphlet published in England by the Quakers which is said to condone premarriage sexual intercourse “if the parties are responsible.” My reaction to this is that of a woman who must think in terms of the family, the need of the child to have both mother and father, who believes strongly that the home is the unit of society.”
Anarchist distributism would do well in Appalachia, an area that prides itself on its individualism yet has a strong sense of community. Combine it with an ardent social conservatism and it would explode here. Many forget that Appalachians don’t vote. Turnout is quite low here. Even if you, like me, aren’t a social conservative, you can alter your message and focus on the aspects of anarchism that could appeal to social conservatives
Many forget that most social conservatives would be okay with “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” My readers may think that I’m too sympathetic to the far right. I should remind you that only 7% of Americans use Twitter. The conservatives on Twitter (much like the liberals) are a small, small fraction. The average conservative is much like Dorothy Day. They hold conservative views on social matters but do support things that strengthen the individual and community and would be open to anarchism if it was presented to them in a friendly package.
Dorothy Day was a model for how one can be conservative and an anarchist. While I am not a social conservative, I know and am friends with many. I believe her work could appeal to conservatives, Appalachians, Southerners, Christians of all denominations, and the Right. If we ignore conservatives, we’ll doom anarchism.
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