In a perversely satisfying bit of irony, I was slapped with a civic fine on the day that I had decided to go and do a bit of research on anarchy. I was actually on my way to the big downtown library to find books on this man’s reading list, and I had only stopped for ten minutes at the university when it happened.
I know next to nothing about anarchism, other than the basic definition, but I wanted to learn more based on an article I read in the Globe and Mail about this guy named Denis Rancourt. He’s a physics professor and self-described anarchist at the University of Ottawa who has been suspended from teaching, and banned from campus, for his alternative approach to education. His first crime was eliminating letter grades, because, as he explains, it is not his job to train students to be “information transfer machines, regurgitating facts on demand.” By giving everyone an automatic A+ he feels he would release students from the pressure of performance, freeing them to become “scientists, not automatons”. He went on to alter course content with the input of students, but not the approval of the university, a practice he calls “academic squatting”.
My curiosity is always piqued whenever an ivory tower insider dares to challenge mainstream ideas, so I checked out Professor Rancourt’s website. After his reading list I found this message:
Such are some bits and pieces that might distract you from the forced ingurgitation of your specialized program of study. May your discomfort grow and be amplified. May you be deeply perturbed and inspired to act. Or may these writings inform your actions and nurture your mid-action reflections. Otherwise, it’s wasted.
On that interesting note, I picked up as many of the books as I could find. I haven’t managed to crack any of them open yet, but I did find the time to scrape together some quotes from the internet:
- Anarchism, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.” ~ Emma Goldman
- “Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.” ~ Albert Einstein
- “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”
- “Anarchy is not chaos, but order without control.” »» David Layson
- We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” »» Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” 1963
- Anarchy is not just a desire to eliminate the State: it is a moral commitment to voluntary interactions and non-violent principles. »» Francois Tremblay
- Today, nobody sees, or wishes to see, that in our time the enslavement of the majority of men is based on money taxes, levied on land and otherwise, which are collected by government from the subjects. »» Leo Tolstoy
And from the online dictionary, this list of synonyms for rancour. Kind of fitting, I thought.