How I Went From Being an Anarchist to a Quaker

Quaker Ben Pink Dandelion joined Friends because they were working for peace and shared values with anarchists. Then he had a spiritual awakening.

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

10 thoughts on “How I Went From Being an Anarchist to a Quaker

  1. The only thing wrong with this video is that it is so short. I found it fascinating. I would like to have heard more of this journey. I am not a Quaker though I have had a great interest in Friends for years. I am familiar with Ben Pink Dandelion through his various writings.

  2. We all came to Quakerism from different paths. There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them . . .how has being a Quaker changed him, how has he made a change in the world? Not sure why this is on Quaker Speak, but happy for him that he found us. . .

  3. Please, please, if you’re lurking out there, Ben, share with us the spiritual experience on that Greyhound busride. I’ve had more than one long conversation with God during a cross-country journey. Something about the freedom from interruptions, and maybe the vehicle is such a good sound chamber that it makes it easier to hear that still small voice. C’mon, Ben, share your story with us!!
    Mariellen Gilpin, editor,
    What Canst Thou Say? — a journal for Quakers who have mystical experiences

  4. Unclear Ben. What does ‘We were being “talked through” in Quaker meeting’ mean? do you mean their was a Spirit in business meeting not present in anarcho circles? I always felt that anarchism had a strong spirit of love and peace, expressed in unique ways. Quakers tend to be less angry, or certainly angry in different ways…. the similarities are close, but yes, its more difficult to connect with ‘the Spirit’ within anarchic communities when you are surrounded by an anti brigade. That’s not absolutely conducive to harmony, but it does produce its own imaginative processes that are certainly rooted in love, caring and in peace. Anarchism also has less formal processes and group hierarchy.

  5. Since anarchism gives allowance for guided rules, but merely rejects a hierarchy of ‘rulers’, the question of ‘talked through’ brings the query challenge that perhaps rulers are applied at a subtle or hidden level.
    I think that is not the case. But it is a consideration at each locality as to that being a possible embedding or infiltration. Many interests could apply attempted influence. As archony, the polar opposite to anarchy, governments are well known for embedding spies and provocateurs in many movements, particularly those forwarding peace agendas.

    I don’t see a conflict between anarchism and Quakerism, and so the title here begs that differentiation. This really speaks to the process of consensus being one of mature cooperation and open discourse.

  6. I traveled in the opposite direction, from Quakerism to anarchism. Ben’s description of anarchism is shallow. As an anarchist, I live by the Non-Aggression Principle: that the initiation of force towards persons or property is immoral and wrong. Hence, anarchism is about freedom from involuntary relationships, freedom from theft by the government, freedom from aggression within our families of origin. Quakers don’t take a stand against such aggression. That’s what he calls working within the system – not living by principles and being too polite to take a moral stand. Moral relativists perpetuate evil and call it a virtue. And the me-ism of Quaker beliefs is superstition and irrationality.

  7. Hi Ben,

    Well, what you presented as “Anarchism”, was far too puril and individualistic.

    Please, take a deep look at Alan Ritter’s book, “Anarchism. A Theoretical Analysis”. In it, Ritter presents, not freedom”, but “communal individuality” as the goal of anarchists.

    The community is not identical with the individual; the individual is not identical with the community. Nevertheless, they are mutually interdependent, and involve mutual aid, cooperation, and participatory democracy.

    In stone age societies – hunters, gatherers, living in groups of, say, 20 people, forming tribes of 2-3000 people – people were living without hierachy. The highest value was “integrity”.

    Cheers, Björn Lindgren

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