Anarchism: Anti-Clericalism

Key Ideas on Anti-Clericalism in Anarchism

  • Created by: Rose
  • Created on: 10-01-13 17:37

Criticising Authority

Although the state is the principal target of anarchist hostility, the same critiques apply to any other form of compulsory authority.

Anarchists in the 19th Century expressed an equal amount of hostility towards the church and the state. This could explain why anarchism has prospered in strongly religious countries such as Catholic Spain, France and Italy.

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Religion is the Original Authority

The idea of a God represents a 'supreme being' who demands ultimate and unquestionable authority.

For anarchists such as Proudhon and Bakunin, an anarchist philosophy must be based upon the rejection of Christianity, because only then could humans be free and autonomously independent.

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Religion works with Political Authority

Anarchists suspect that religion and political authority work hand in hand. Bakunin claimed that 'the abolition of the Church and the State must be the first and indespensable condition of the true liberation of society'.

Religion is one of the pillars of the state, as it promotes an ideology of obedience and submission to both spiritual leaders and earthly rulers. Some may quote the Bible on its saying 'give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's', with Caesar being nothing more than a man in power. Earthly rulers have often looked to tradition to legitimise their power, for example the divine right of kings.

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Religion Imposes Moral Principles

Religion seeks to impose a specific set of moral ideals upon the individual to establish an acceptable code of behaivour.

Belief requires conformity to standards of 'good' and 'evil' which are defined and policed by authority figures (i.e. priests, rabbis, imams). The individual is therefore robbed of moral autonomy and the capacity to make moral judgements.

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Mysticality in Anarchism

There is a clear mystical strain to anarchism. Anarchists can be said to hold a spiritual conception of human nature, especially in their faith in Utopianism and the virtual unlimited capacity for human development and bonds.

Early anarchists were also influenced by Millenarism, indeed anarchism was often portrayed as a form of political millenarism. Modern anarchists have been attracted to Taoism and Zen Buddhism due to their offrance of personal insight, toleration, respect and natural harmony.

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