Why Do I Need to Adhere to Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles?

The reason we ask people to adhere to the Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles is that codes of conduct and statements of principle are important and necessary tools that human societies (and resistance organizations) have traditionally used to organize and protect themselves, and ultimately to survive.

All societies–including the most peaceful; especially the most peaceful–have understood the necessity of codes of conduct, which are nothing more than behavioral norms.

All serious organizations have codes of conduct by which people are meant to abide. The Spanish Anarchists did. So did the IRA. The Freedom Riders had a code of conduct, as did Nat Turner’s fighters. Codes of conduct are even more important in militant resistance movements who have a history of behaving badly.

There is a strain of modern anarchists who believe all codes of conduct interfere with their feral freedoms, or are otherwise inappropriate. These people have done a lot of damage to modern anarchism. And they’re ignorant of anarchist history and the history of social movements. Anarchists throughout history have understood the importance of codes of conduct. Emma Goldman for example. And the Spanish Anarchists. (The men were not allowed to drink, violence against women was unacceptable, men using prostituted women was unacceptable, brawling was unacceptable: they were to comport themselves with dignity and respect).

The modern, Western, individualist, capitalist, code of conduct is that there can be no such thing as a code of conduct other than what benefits an individual the most. Our movements can’t use this as a measure of liberation or as a model for our organizations or communities. Most human societies before the rise of civilization, were based on mutual responsibility and cooperation. That is how they survived. But freedom in a capitalist society is based on atomized, alienated individuals within a rights framework; as though we are not all interdependent. A society without a code of conduct is one that does not believe in relationship, because a code of conduct is simply a social compact. To reject the concept of a social compact is to reject all responsibility (which comes from the root “to give in return”) and ultimately all human relationships.

If you have further questions or concerns please let us know and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

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