To what extent is anarchism a single doctrine?

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To what extent is anarchism a single doctrine?


  • All anarchists share: a belief in the complete sovereignty of the individual; belief that the individual is the best judge of his/her own actions; belief that no individual/body should exert power/force over another individual; total opposition to the existence of a political state
  • All anarchists oppose the state and all forms of political authority – it is evil and unnecessary (order and social harmony can arise naturally – the state is evil because, being a source of sovereign and coercive authority it offends the principles of freedom and equality) – Proudhon argued that the state removes freedom because “to be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorised, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished”
  • Optimistic view of human nature – people are rational enough to regulate their own freedom without having a higher authority to do it for them
  • All forms of anarchists endorse anticlericalism, as religion is deemed to be one of the pillars of the state – it  preaches obedience and submission to spiritual and earthly rulers – Bakunin argued that “the abolition of the Church and the state must be the first and indespensible condition of the true liberation of society” – it robs people of moral autonomy and the capacity to make ethical judgements as it seeks to impose a set of moral principles and establish a code of acceptable behaviour – enforced by figures such as priests, imams or rabbis
  • All anarchists desire an economy in which free individuals manage their own affairs without the need for state ownership or intervention


  • most anarchists oppose private property (anarcho-communists believe that all forms of private property are theft as they represent the exploitation of workers to generate wealth by employers who merely own it – inequality in ownership of wealth fosters greed , envy and resentment, and therefore breeds crime and disorder – Proudhon created the phrase ‘property is theft’), but some accept limited property as inevitable (anarcho-capitalists believe that property should be owned by sovereign individuals, who may choose, if they wish, to enter into voluntary contracts with others in the pursuit of self-interest;
  • some believe in common ownership and no system of exchanging goods, others propose exchange on the basis of mutual benefit (Kroptkin termed social solidarity ‘mutual aid’ – people are at heart social, gregarious and cooperative creatures) Individualist anarchists Warren and Tucker suggested a system of ‘labour-for-labour’ exchange, in which about is exchange for the promise of returning labour in kind, ‘time stores’. This system was endorsed by Proudhon in the sense that he devised a system of exchange that would assign values to goods based on labour hours to produce them.
  • some anarcho-capitalists accept that the completely free market can be just – they believe that the market can satisfy all human needs through competitive, privately owned, ‘protection associations’ and ‘private courts’ without the need for a police force or a state court system);
  • some anarcho-communists propose small, natural communities (Kroptkin – believed that such self-sufficient communities would keep greed and selfishness at bay due to principles of collective endeavour/sharing), while others believe that communities should be based on industrial or occupational groups  (Sorel, supported by fellow anarcho-syndicalists, believed that the ‘natural community’ was the fellowship of workers engaged in the same industries, which can be independent of any centralised state)
  • Collectivist and individualist anarchists disagree regarding the finer details of human nature – collectivists stress human capacity for sociable and cooperative behaviour, while individualists highlight the importance of enlightened human reason

Overall comparison

Single Doctrine to a large extent, however not completely in agreement due to minor differences in opinion regarding finer details of human nature leading to discrepancies in opinion regarding ideal structure of society


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