Autonomy is, to an extent, freedom, freedom over yourself. The right to self govern, make decisions, and follow through on them without asking an authority for permission.
Individual and collective autonomy are fundamental to anarchism. People choosing to come together and work towards a collective goal, whether that’s teaching each other self-defense, growing veg communally, or beheading the monarchy. Autonomy is not something we are dependent on a state or other authority giving us, though they can and often do punish us for practicing it. Autonomy starts on an individual level and grows. Instead of a top-down model as with hierarchy, it’s bottom up, with people choosing freely to come together make decisions and take action.
Every time we make a choice without being coerced we are practicing autonomy. Every time we make decisions and follow through without holding ourselves back and waiting for our boss/government/police/royalty to tell us we are “allowed,” we are being autonomous.
Waiting to be told what to do, or what you can’t do or think, is something that is drilled into us from an early age. Resisting this oppressive dynamic, even when you’re conscious of it, can be a challenge, but practice makes perfect.
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