Neuro-anarchy and the rise of the Autistic Rhizome
Before we start, I want to go over some terms that will be covered here.
Neuro-anarchy: as conceptualised by Katie Munday, I use this to refer to to the decentralisation of hierarchy as it pertains to neurocultures such as that of the Autistic community. Munday and I co-authored an article on this here. Neuro-anarchists arrive at this position by existing on the fringes of their own communities and challenging the politics within them.
Rhizome: as conceptualised in the work of Deleuze and Guatarri. A network with no single point of origin. No part of the network depends upon the existence of another. I have introduced the idea of this in the context of community here.
When considering the nature of the neuro-anarchist, one could be forgiven for expecting to see Autistic people clad in post-apocalyptic garments decrying the existence of government. Some of us are like that. However, some of us look like this;
Neuro-anarchy as a concept is important. In any community built upon identity, identity politics come into play. Humans have this bizarre tendency to look for leadership, and when they find it, they will often defend it, even if it is overtly harmful. Neuro-anarchy, however, invites us to consider the nature of that leadership and whether the hierarchy of our own communities serves the greater good.
Allow me to elaborate.
Humans are fundamentally neutral. We are equally as capable of tremendous evil as we are of a beautiful good. We are not born naturally good or evil. That is an identity given to us by the sum of our actions. However, the tendency to create community hierarchy means that some members of the community sit in a position of power over others.
Neuro-anarchy seeks to rebalance the power dynamics of a given neuroculture, allowing for mutual exchange of knowledge and support.
Enter the rhizome.
On discord, there is a growing network of communities. I have lovingly dubbed this collective The Autistic Rhizome. They are an interconnected network of knowledge exchange, and mutual aid and support that have displaced the hierarchical nature of advocate/follower relationships.
We are equal in these spaces.
This doesn’t mean that all knowledge shared is useful in advancing the neurodiversity movement. Like any knowledge, some is good, some is bad, most is somewhere in the middle.
This growing network consists of communities that do not depend on each other to exist, but are still enriched by their interconnection. There is no starting or end point. There is no advancing through communities based on levels of knowledge. They just simply exist, and people come and go as they please.
I personally feel this is neuro-anarchy on action. We have decentralised the Self and become a collective. We are connected in the neutrality of our individuality.
There is somewhat of a liberated feeling within the Rhizome. It feels safe.
I strongly believe this might be the next step for growing our communities. A rhizomatic network of free thought that considers each member equal. The ethos of “do no harm” is a wonderful thing.
If you want to check out the Autistic Rhizome, you can join my server and no doubt explore into others!
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