Anarchism : Core Themes

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  • Anarchism
    • Anti - Statism
      • The anarchist case against authority is simple and clear: authority is an offence against the principles of freedom and unrestrained political equality.
      • Based on assumption humans are naturally moral creatures drawn to freedom and autonomy
      • Preference for stateless society in which free individuals manage their affairs by voluntary agreement
      • The state is a sovereign body that exercises supreme authority over all individuals’ within a defined geographical area.
      • To be in authority is to acquire an appetite for prestige, control and eventually domination.
      • Authority therefore gives rise to a ‘psychology of power’, based on a pattern of ‘dominance and submission’,
      • According to Paul Goodman a society in which, ‘many are ruthless and most live in fear’.
      • Sébastien Faure defined anarchism as ‘the negation of the principle of Authority’. The anarchist case against authority is simple and clear: authority is an offence against the principles of freedom and equality.
      • damages and corrupts: both those who are subject to authority and those who are in authority.
      • Godwin, suggested that human beings are essentially rational creatures: with an educated mind and tolerant judgement to live in harmony with truth and universal moral laws. He thus believed that people have a natural propensity to organize their own lives in a harmonious and peaceful fashion.
      • Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously said that ‘Man was born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.’
      • In Godwin’s view it is the corrupting influence of government and unnatural laws that creates injustice, greed and aggression. GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF ORDER BUT ITS CAUSE!!
    • Economic Freedom
      • Anarchists believe the ruling class should not be based solely on strict, narrow economic guidelines as Marx did. This could be broadened to include = Bishops, Monarchy, police,  bankers, industrialists.
      • Collect anarchists support socialism, distaste for property and inequality. Economy based on cooperation, support and collective ownership.
      • Individual anarchists - support competitive capitalism - No state intervention, free market and private property. Market can function best without any regulation
      • Anarchists see ruling class as all who command wealth, power or privilege in society
      • Interested in challenging structures of social and economic life 19th Century – worked within working-class movement and socialist view on capitalism
      • Anarchists were also Bakunin argued that ‘political power and wealth are inseparable’.
    • Utopianism
      • A utopia comes from the Greek meaning ‘nowhere’ or ‘good place’. It is an ideal or perfect society
      • Most utopias are characterised by the abolition of want, the absence of conflict and the avoidance of oppression and violence.
      • Style of thinking critiques the existing order by constructing an ideal of perfect alternative.
      • Based on unlimited possibilities of human self development.
      • Can be used as a term to imply deluded or fanciful thinking, a belief in an unrealistic or unachievable goal.
    • Anti - Clericalism
      • Anarchists have sometimes expressed as much bitterness towards the church as they have towards the state.
      • Many religions have a form of compulsory authority, and as a backlash anarchism has prospered in many countries with religious traditions
      • Anarchist objections to organised religions serve to highlight broader criticisms of authority in general. Religion for example has often been seen as the source of authority itself.
      • The idea of God represents the notion of a ‘supreme being’ who commands with ultimate and unquestionable authority.
      • Anarchist political authority had to be regarded as free and independent, moreover anarchists have suspected that religious and political authority usually work hand in hand.
      • Bakunin : ‘The abolition of the church and state must be the first and indispensable condition of the true liberation of society’.
      • Anarchists view religion as one of the pillars of the state: it propagates an ideology of obedience and submission to spiritual and earthly rulers.
      • Religion seeks to impose a set of moral principles on the individual, and to establish a code of acceptable behaviour. These ‘goods and evils’ are defined and policies by priests, imams etc.
      • Under religion the individual is robbed of moral autonomy and the capacity to make ethical judgements.
      • Although anarchists hold s clear mystical strain, they can be said to hold an essentially spiritual conception of human nature, a utopian belief in the virtually impossible bonds that unite humanity, and all living things.
      • Some anarchists were influenced by millenarianism; political millenarianism is a main value of some anarchists.
      • Modern anarchists have been attracted to Taoism and Zen Buddhism which offers personal insight and preach the values of toleration, respect and natural harmony.
      • Millenarianism - A belief in a thousand year period of divine rule; political millenarianism offers the prospect of a sudden and complete emancipation from misery and oppression.
    • Against the State
      • Second Anarchism is, in a sense less of a unified and coherent ideology in its own right, and more of an overlap of liberalism and socialism that reach anti statist conclusions.
      • Anarchists have a preference for a stateless society in which free individuals manage their affairs by voluntary agreement, without compulsion or coercion.
      • First Moral Assertion rather than analysis and explanation as anarchism is based on the assumption that human beings at heart, moral creatures, instinctively drawn to freedom and autonomy.
      • The defining feature of anarchism is its opposition to the state and the accompanying institutions of government and law.
      • Energies have been directed towards awakening moral instincts than to analysing the system of state oppression and explaining how or should be challenged.


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