Key Anarchist Ideas

Common to all anarchists:

  • Total sovereignty of the individual
  • The individual is the best judge of their own actions
  • No indiviual / body should exert power over another
  • Total opposition to the existence of the political state - it is unnecessary & undesirable

Ideas that divide anarchism:

  • Some accept private property as inevitable / a necessary evil
  • Some are individualists; others are collectivists
  • Some propose common ownership; others propose a system of bartering / exchange
  • Some accept that a completely free market economy can have just outcomes
  • Some collectivist anarchists propose natural communities; others propose communities based on industrial / occupational groups
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The Anarchist View of the State

The State is Unnecessary

  • Humans do not need a state to maintain social order & harmony
  • The state will prevent spontaneous social order & harmony

The State is Undesirable

  • The state is untameable
  • The state is compulsory - we cannot opt out
  • The state is coercive - it can impose laws & regulations in individuals
  • The state is exploitative - e.g. taxation
  • The state is destructive - e.g. war

Objection to Constitutionalism & Consent

  • Both principles promise to limit & legitimise the power of the state, & the state is intinsically exploitative, coercive & destructive
  • Both principles recruit people into colluding with their own oppression by concealing the reality of state power
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Collectivist Anarchism


  • Envisage a radically decentralised society of small, egalitarian & self-governing communes which operate & interrelate on the basis of cooperation & communitarianism


  • More focused upon the collective ownership of industry & the economy by revolutionary workers' syndicates representing various sectors, but without a coercive workers' state at the top
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Individualist Anarchism


  • Envisages an absolutely unfettered free market without any punitive or oppressive state taxation, regulation & inteference.


  • Stirner's egoism argues that each person is the centre of his or her own moral universe in a stateless society where the rationalism of human beings will be the best guarantee of social order
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Proudhon's Mutualism


  • Theory of fair & equitabe bargaining, trade & exchange without exploitation or profiteering - somewhere between collectivism & individualism
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Anarchism vs. Marxism


  • Materialist theory
  • Scientific socialism
  • State is a mere superstructure
  • Explains state
  • Endorses proletarian state
  • State will wither away


  • Political theory
  • Utopian socialism
  • State is a primary target
  • Condemns the state
  • Rejects any state
  • State must be overthrown
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Anarchism vs. Liberalism


  • State is a necessary evil
  • State aids positive freedom
  • Favours constitutionalism & consent
  • Rule of law protects liberty
  • Reformist


  • State is unnecessary evil
  • State negates freedom
  • Believes both are a sham
  • All law infringes liberty
  • Revolutionary
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