- Word 'anarchy' - comes from Greek - means 'without rule'.
- Anarchism refers to a collection of political movements which have emerged at various times and in various circumstances since the end of the 18th century.
- 'Anarchism' - been used since French Revolution - initially employed in a critical sens to imply the breakdown of civilised order.
- Defined by the central belief - political authority in all forms - especially the state - is both evil, and unnecessary.
- Therefore, they look to create a stateless society through abolition of law and government.
- Believe the state is evil - it is an offence against the principles of freedom and equality.
- A highly optimistic view of human nature - believe the state is unnecessary - order and social harmony can arise naturally and spontaneously. It does not have to be imposed from 'above' - through the government.
Origins and Development
- First and in a sense, classic, statement of anarchist principles - produced by Godwin in late 18th century.
- An unusual political ideology - in that it has never succeeded in winning power - at least at the national level.
- The nearest anarchists have come to winning power - during the Spanish Civil War - when they briefly controlled parts of Spain and set up workers and peasants collectives throughout Catalonia (1930s)
- Its appeal has been restricted by both its means and ends - overthrow of the state is largely utopian.
Core Themes: Anti-statism
- Authority is an offence against the principles of freedom and equality.
- Anarchism is unique - it endorses principles of absolute freedom and unrestrained political equality.
- To be subject to authority means to be diminished.
- To be in authority, even the so-called experts, is to acquire an appetite for prestige, control and domination.
- US Anarchist Goodman (1977) - 'many are ruthless and most live in fear'.
- Emphasise - authority of the state is absolute and unlimited - can interfere with all aspects of life.
- They reject liberal 'consent theory' - individuals instead become subject to state authority.
- The state is a coercive body whose laws must be obeyed - backed up by the threat of punishment.
- Goldman - government is 'the club, the gun, the handcuff, or the prison'.
- Optimistic view of human nature. However, believe people who would otherwise be cooperative, sociable and sympathetic - become oppressive when raised up above others by power or wealth.
- Believe power in any form will corrupt absolutely.
- The state is not only evil but also unnecessary.
- Godwin - humans are essentially rational creatures inclined by education and enlightened judgement to live in accordance with truth and universal moral laws.
- He therefore believed that people have a nutral prosperity to organise their own lives in a peaceful and harmonious fashion.
- It is the corrupting influence of government and unnatural laws rather than 'original sin' that creates injustice, greed and aggression.
- From this perspective - social order arises naturally and spontaneously.
- They regard human nature as 'plastic' - in the sense that it is shaped by the social, political and economic circumstances within which people live.
- The same criticisms of the state also apply to any other form of compulsory authority - sometimes expressed as much bitterness towards the Church as the state - particularly in the 19th century.
- Religion has often been seen as the source of authority itself.
- Usually suspected religious & political authority as working hand-in-hand.
- For anarchists such as Proudhon & Bakunin - an anarchist political philosophy had to be based on the rejection of Christianity because only then could human beings be regarded as free and independent.
- Bakunin - "the abolition of the Church and the state must be the first and indispensible condition of the true liberation of society".
- Rulers have often looked to religion to legitimise their power - most obvious in doctrine of the divine right of kings.
- Religion seeks to impose a set of moral principles on the individual and to establish a code of acceptable behaviour.
- Individual is thus robbed of moral autonomy and the capacity to make ethical judgements.
- Bakunin - "political power and wealth are inseperable"
- 19th century - Anarchists usually worked within working-class movement and subscribed to a broadly socialist philosophy.
- Capitalism was understood in class terms - ruling class exploits and oppresses the masses. (the ruling class - not the same as Marxist ruling class term - refers to all those who command wealth, power, or prestige)
- The economic structure of life most keenly exposes tensions within anarchism:
- Collectivist anarchists - advocate an economy based on cooperation and collective ownership.
- Individualist anarchists - support the market and private property.
- All anarchists agree about their distaste for the economic system that dominated much of the 20th century.
- All opposed the 'managed capitalism' that flourished in western countries after 1945.
- Collectivist anarchists - argued that state intervention props up a system of class exploitation and gives capitalism a human face.
- Individualist anarchists - suggest intervention distorts the competitive market and creates economics dominated by both public and private monopolies.
- All prefer an economy where free individuals manage their own affairs.
- Philosophical roots lay in socialism.
- Anarchist conclusions can be reached by pushing socialist collectivism to its limits.
- Stresses human capacity for social solidarity - or what Kropotkin calls 'mutual aid'
- Highlights the potential for goodness within all human beings.
- Humans are sociable, gregarious and cooperative individuals at heart.
- When people are linked together by the recognition of a common humanity, there's no need to be regulated/controlled by the government.
- Bakunin - 'social solidarity is the first human law; freedom is the second law'.
- Not only is government unnecessary - but, in placing freedom with oppression - it also makes social solidarity impossible.
Similarities between socialism and collectivist an
Number of clear theoretical parallels between anarchism and Marxism:
- Both reject capitalism - view it as a system of class exploitation.
- Both endorsed revolution as preferred means of bringing about political change.
- Both exhibit a preference for the collective ownership of wealth and the communal organisation of social life.
- Both therefore agree that humans have the ultimate capacity to order their affairs without the need for political authority.
Similarities between socialism and anarchism:
- Socialists believe in state intervention for redistribution of wealth. Anarchists believe in a stateless society altogether.
- Most socialists - only really against economic hierarchies. Anarchists reject hierarchies altogether.
Differences between socialism and collectivist ana
Differences between socialism and anarchism:
- Especially in relation to parliamentary socialism - anarchists see this as a contradiction - not only is it impossible to reform/humanise capitalism - through corrupt government - but also any extension in the role of the state can only serve to entrench oppression.
- Most bitter disagreement between collectivist anarchists and Marxists - their rival conceptions of the transition from capitalism to communism.
- Marxists have called for a revolutionary 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. This proletarian state will nevertheless 'wither away'.
- Anarchists on the other hand believe the state is evil and oppressive in its own right - by its nature, it is corrupt.
- The state cannot be allowed to 'wither away' as Marx puts it - it must be abolished.
Mutualism - Proudhon
- A system of fair and equitable exchange - in which individuals or groups bargain with one another - trading goods and services without profiteering or exploitation.
- Associated with Proudhon.
- In a sense - his libertarian socialism stands between the individualist and collectivist traditions of anarchism.
- Came up with famous statement 'property is theft'
- Condemned a system of economic exploitation based on accumulation of capital.
- Unlike Marx - he wasn't opposed to all private property - distinguished between property, and what he called 'possessions'.
- Sought to establish a system of property ownership that would avoid exploitation and promote social harmony - through mutualism.
- Social interaction in this system would be voluntary, mutually beneficial and harmonious - requiring no interference by government.
- Although mutualism and anarcho-communism exerted significant influence within broader socialist movement in late 19th/early 20th century - anarchism only developed into a mass movement in its own right in the form of anarcho-syndicalism.
- Syndicalism - a form of revolutionary trade unionism - drawing its name from the French word syndicat - meaning union or group.
- Emerged first in France - embraced by the powerful CGT union in period before 1914. Spread to Italy, Latin America, USA and most significantly - Spain.
- Syndicalist theory drew on socialist ideas and advanced a crude notion of class war. Workers and peasants were seen to constitute an oppressed class.
- Workers could defend themselves - organising unions.
- Short term - act as conventional trade unions - to improve wages and working conditions.
- Also revolutionaries - looked forward to overthrow of capitalism and seizure of power by the workers.
- Sorel - such a revolution would come about through a general strike, a 'revolution of empty hands'. - All workers participated, would bring down the state altogether.
- Syndicalists rejected conventional politics - pointless and corrupting.
- W.C power should be exerted through direct action, boycotts and strikes - ultimately a general strike.
- Saw the syndicate as a model for the decentralised, non-hierarchic society of the future.
- Although they enjoyed mass support, at least until the Spanish Civil War - they failed to achieve revolutionary objectives.
- Sociable human beings should lead a shared and communal existence.
- Labour is a social experience - people work in common with others and the wealth they produce should therefore be owned in common by the community.
- In this sense - all forms of private property are theft - it represents the exploitation of the workers.
- It encourages selfishness and, particularly offensive to the anarchist - promotes conflict and social disharmony.
- Anarcho-communism - rooted in highly optimistic beliefs about human capacity for cooperation - famously expressed in Kropotkin's theory of mutual aid.
- Whereas Spencer used Darwinism to support idea that humankind is naturally competitive and aggressive, Kropotkin argues species are successful precisely because they manage to harness collective energies through cooperation.
- Evolution therefore strengthens sociability and favours cooperation over competition.
- Kropotkin concluded - successful species (humans) - must have a strong propensity for mutual aid.
- Although Proudhon had warned that communism could only be brought about by an authoritarian state, anarcho-communists such as Kropotkin and Malatesta - argued that true communism requires the abolition of the state.
- Anarcho-communists admire small, self-managing communities.
- Kropotkin envisaged - an anarchic society would consist of a collection of largely self-sufficient communes - each owning its wealth in common.
- The communal organisation of social and economic life has 3 key advantages:
- 1) As communes are based on the principles of collective endeavour and sharing, they strengthen the bonds for compassion and solidarity - helping to keep greed at bay.
- 2) Within communes - decisions are made through direct democracy - this guarantees high level of popular participation and political equality. Popular self-government is the only form of government which would be acceptable to anarchists.
- 3) Communes are small-scale communities - allows people to manage their own affairs through face-to-face interaction.
- Lies in liberal idea of the sovereign individual.
- At the heart of liberalism - a belief in the primacy of the individual and central importance of individual freedom.
- Classical liberal view - negative freedom - absence of external constraints.
- Taken to the extreme - individual sovereignty - absolute and unlimited authority resides within each human being.
- Any constraint on the individual is evil - but when the constraint is imposed by the state - it amounts to an absolute evil.
- The individual cannot be sovereign in a society ruled by law/government.
- individualism and the state are thus irreconcilable principles.
Differences between individual anarchism and liber
Differences between individual anarchism and liberalism:
- Liberals accept importance of individual liberty but do not believe this can be guaranteed in a stateless society. Classical liberals argue a minimal state is necessary to prevent self-seeking individuals from abusing one another.
- Modern liberals take this further - defend state intervention on the grounds that it enhances positive freedom.
- By contrast - anarchists believe individuals can conduct themselves peacefully and prosperously without the need for government.
- Anarchists differ from liberals - they believe free individuals can live and work together constructively because they are rational and moral creatures.
- Liberals believe that government power can be controlled by development of constitutional and representative institutions - limiting power of the government - regular elections to force government to be accountable to the people.
- Anarchists dismiss the idea of limited, constitutional or representative government - regard constitutionalism and democracy as simply facades - behind which naked political oppression operates.
- All laws/states infringe individual liberty.
- Stirner - 'The Ego and His Own'.
- Stirner's theories are an extreme form of individualism.
- His view - egoism is a philosophy that places the individual self at centre of the moral universe. The individual should act as they choose - without any consideration for laws, social conventions, religious or moral principles.
- Humankind - driven by egoism. Believed notions of humans being naturally sociable and cooperative as false.
- Opposed the state - it denied people's egoism.
- 'The state and I are enemies. I, the egoist, have not at heart the welfare of this human society, I sacrifice nothing to it, I only utilise it'.
- Individualist movement - more fully developed in the USA by libertarian thinkers - Thoreau, Spooner, Tucker, Warren.
- Thoreau - in his most political work - Civil Disobedience - approved of Jefferson's liberal motto 'that government is best which governs least'.
- Adapted this 'that government is best which governs not at all'.
- Individualism leaves in the direction of civil disobedience. The individual has to be faithful to his or her conscience and do what each elides to be right - places individual conscience above demands of political obligation.
- Tucker - took libertarianism further - considering how autonomous individuals could live and work with one another without dangers of conflict and disorder.
- 2 possible solutions to this problem are available to the individualist:
- 1) emphasises human rationality - suggests that when conflicts arise, they can be resolved by reasoned discussion.
- 2) find some sort of mechanism through which the independent actions of free individuals could be brought into harmony with one another.
Extreme individualists - Warren and Tucker - believed this could be achieved through a system of market exchange.
- Warren - thought individuals have a sovereign right to property they produce themselves - but also forced by economic logic to work with others in order to gain advantages of the division of labour.
- Suggested this could be achieved by a system of 'labour-for-labour' exchange, and set up 'time stores' - through which one persons labour could be exchanged for a promise to return labour in kind.
- Tucker - 'genuine anarchism is consistent Manchesterism' - referring to 19th century free-trade, free-market principles of Cobden and Bright
Rothbard, Rand, Friedman - pushed free-market ideas to their limit and developed a form of anarcho-capitalism. They have argued - government can be abolished and replaced by unregulated market competition.
- Property should be owned by sovereign individuals - who may choose - if they wish - to enter into voluntary contracts with others in pursuit of self-interest.
- The individual thus - remains free and the market, beyond control of any single individual or group, regulates all social interaction.
- Anarcho-capitalists go well beyond ideas of free-market liberalism.
- Liberals believe the market is an effective and efficient mechanism for delivering most goods - but argue that it also has limits.
- Anarcho-capitalists however - believe the market can satisfy all human wants - no need for state.
- E.g. Rothbard -recognised in an anarchic society, individuals will seek protection from one another, but argued such protections can be delivered competitively by privately owned 'protection associations' and 'private courts' - without the need for a police force or state court system.