Anarchism

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ANARCHY

Don't Tell Me What To Do!!
—Graffiti.[1]

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates some form of political anarchy as preferable to active government. Modern anarchists argue that all governments exist only to perpetuate their power and apply this maxim equally to both democracies and dictatorships. While most anarchists have a specific conception of how a stateless society should be organized, some instead seek to replace the current system with what is sometimes called "Panarchism", which is basically a system where individual communities are free to create their own political system.[2] Under Panarchism a community could be Anarcho-Communist, and bordered by Anarcho-Capitalists and Anarcho-Primitivists. Theoretically, a fascist state which allows people to enter and leave freely could also be considered Panarchist. The question is, would anyone other than the fascist dictator join the state at all, and would fascist states really let people go free?

Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.[3]

Anarchism was historically associated very strongly with the labor union movement, as many anarchists saw organized labor as being an ideal tool for the overthrow of the twin evils of the state and capitalism; however, the success of the Russian Revolution, the failure of several attempted anarchist revolutions, and the active suppression of the anarchist movement throughout much of the 20th century devastated their support among organized labor (especially in Spain, where the CNT, formerly the largest anarchist organization in the world with nearly two million members, was outlawed and its members executed, imprisoned, or forced underground). Most anarchist trade unions have either collapsed or abandoned all traces of their former anarchist politics, though there are several exceptions.

Contents

[edit] Types of anarchism

The anarchy symbol. If you see this, there may be dangerous anarchist ruffians out and about.

Anarchists differ from Marxists, who believe that the state and class rule are synonymous, and a tool of the enforcement of one class' rule over another. Marxists feel a transitional state (the "dictatorship of the proletariat") is necessary to safe-guard the revolution until it has been finalized and will then wither away to a stateless, classless society, or communism. Anarchists by contrast favor going directly to a stateless society, arguing that a dictatorship of the proletariat will inevitably be a repressive, self-perpetuating state and will not wither away. Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian anarchist who founded the anarcho-collectivist tendency, engaged in an ideological struggle with Karl Marx and his supporters in the 1870s inside of the International Workingmen's Association (the First International.) Marx won control, but the criticisms Bakunin leveled at Marx (such as its "transitional" absolute state becoming very permanent, with the danger that (pseudo)scientific "socialists" would become a new ruling class), have obviously proven extremely prescient.

Anarchists, like many ideologues, spend an inordinate amount of much time arguing over how many precisely-delineated strains of anarchist thought can dance on the head of a pin.

[edit] Mutualism

Mutualism was the anarchist school of thought starting with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first to call himself "anarchist" (though earlier thinkers had ideas much like his) and he wrote the book What is Property? in 1840, a critique of property-rights ideas, which contains the famous declaration "Property is Theft," though he also stated that property is freedom, rationalizing it by distinguishing two kinds of property: property earned by labor, which he stated was justified and essential to liberty, and property earned by coercion, which he stated was unjustified and would lead not to liberty but to tyranny, and seeing as the state is by his definition inherently coercive, it made the state illegitimate. Proudhon advocated mutual banks or a Bank of the People (similar to a credit union) for wage workers and independent craftsmen (in his time being driven out by mass production) to fund themselves. His mutualism supports what he called the "anti-capitalist free market" one with cooperative businesses competing and trading, while having a different conception of property based on the labor theory of value, namely possession, or active occupancy and use instead. This definition of property led him to mark the state and income through loans, investments, and rent as illegitimate. Even though it is based on the same theory of value that communism has, it stands alone in the field with its stance on private property, as mutualist Clarence Swartz said: "One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of one's labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." Mutualism has thus been revived as sort of a middle position bridging the gap between anarcho-socialist tendencies on the left and the market anarchism of the libertarian movement, with Kevin Carson as its best known modern theorist.

[edit] Egoist anarchism

Egoism originated with Max Stirner in his 1844 book Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (in English, The Ego and Its Own; another translation might be The Individual and His Property) which argued for an extreme though moral rational self-interest, rejecting conventional morality and values besides this along with the usual opposition to hierarchies, the state, capitalism, organized religion, etc. Stirner's work was little known in his time (though he was a friend of Marx and Engels, who critiqued The Ego and Its Own in their early book The German Ideology,[4]) being rediscovered later in the 1890s. Some have theorized he influenced Friedrich Nietzsche. Very few anarchists are egoists or Stirnerites. Egoism tends toward a might makes right philosophy and is rejected by most anarchists on that ground alone. More recently Ayn Rand appropriated the Egoism label for her own philosophy, which she later named Objectivism. Rand's egoism has little to nothing to do with Stirner's and in any case she was outspokenly opposed to anarchism of any sort. It's probable that Stirner would have scoffed at her in turn.

[edit] Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism was originated by American thinkers in the mid-19th century, around the time Proudhon and Stirner were writing. They held similar ideas to mutualism, although being more anti-collectivist than Proudhon. They were primarily supportive of independent craftsmen in opposing rising industrial capitalism, which at that point had not yet fully taken over so much as in Europe. Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Greene, Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner were the prominent thinkers here. Historians locate individualist anarchism as a mainly American phenomenon and the two classic histories on the subject[5] trace its roots back to early American experiments in utopian living such as Modern Times and New Harmony, and further back to the thought of people like Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Jefferson.[6]

[edit] Anarcho-collectivism

Anarcho-collectivism was begun by the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (mentioned above). While naming Proudhon as "the father of us all" he felt mutualism was not a step far enough, particularly as capitalism expanded in the time since, along with the state. Bakunin was also opposed to religion, declaring that "the idea of God denies humanity. God being everything, man is nothing," and "if God really existed it would be necessary to abolish him" turning Voltaire's dictum on its head. More generally, he opposed organized religion, one of his most notable works being God and the State (1882), a position held by many anarchists since who view the church as another oppressive hierarchy alongside the state. Bakunin's anarcho-collectivism criticized Marxism as something that would lead to a new ruling class party hierarchy, while advocating full collective worker management of production, a doctrine later expanded on by the anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists.

[edit] Anarcho-communism

Anarcho-communism was founded by Prince Pyotr Kropotkin of Russia (who dropped his noble title at the age of twelve). His vision was of a moneyless, gift economy made up of free communes in an equal society, following the same dictum as Marx of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" though in a voluntary, democratic manner. Other thinkers like Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta expanded upon anarcho-communism. Kropotkin's anarcho-communism refers more to voluntary communal living in communes and free sharing of everything, as opposed to the Marxist-Leninist conception of a dictatorship of the proletariat. Kropotkin's book Mutual Aid: A Factor In Evolution posits an equal role for cooperation in driving evolution as opposed to competition alone, and can be seen as a salvo against social Darwinism. Stephen Jay Gould felt he was onto something here.[7]

[edit] Christian anarchism/anarcho-pacifism

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian known for writing great literature such as War and Peace, was also a dedicated anarchist who helped to organize peasant communes (mirs), and free, democratically-run schools for their education, among many other things. His book The Kingdom of God is Within You set forth his own radical interpretation of the Christian Gospels, believing that Jesus wished to liberate people from oppression peacefully and redistribute wealth back to the hands of its creators, essentially an earlier version of liberation theology. However Tolstoy also opposed violence absolutely, even in self-defense or to defend others, which influenced Gandhi later. Other anarchists, while admiring Tolstoy's great work in helping Russian peasants and his compassionate moral code, believe this is an overly idealistic view that would require a "community of saints", arguing that failing to protect innocents by force if absolutely necessary is itself a moral evil. Many would agree that nonviolence is still a good tactic, even that it should be the first used, but do not go so far as Tolstoyans. Some groups such as the Anabaptists (Hutterites, Amish and Mennonites) are very similar in their beliefs to Tolstoy-pacifist along with holding possessions in common. They are not strictly anarchist, however, and usually believe the state is legitimate and ordained by God but that Christians are to be a separate people and not participate in its functions except as strictly required (i.e. paying taxes, etc).

[edit] Anarcho-syndicalism

Anarcho-syndicalism is an Anarchist school of thought which believes that direct democratic trade unions could overthrow capitalism and the state (possibly with a general strike), afterward federating among themselves freely to create a non-hierarchical society. Anarcho-syndicalists view industrial unionism as the vehicle through which the state can both be overthrown, and around which society would be organized after the revolution. Production would thus continue without disruption, with workplaces democratically managed by workers and collectively owned. Anarcho-syndicalism has some similarities to De Leonism, with the main difference being that De Leon rejected anarchism and would have the state re-organized as a "dictatorship of the proletariat" rather than abolished entirely. The Mondragon corporation is a co-operative in Spain with over 80,000 employees (2012) that presents some idea of how workers can manage their workplaces successfully and competitively in a capitalist economy. Another example is the John Lewis chain of department stores in the UK, which had 84,700 employees in 2013. Neither of these last two examples have much to do with anarcho-syndicalism however, as they are hierarchical cooperatives with substantial pay differentials and managers having the power to hire and fire underlings. Better examples of modern anarcho-syndicalism are the CNT and CGT in Spain, CNT in France and IWW in the USA - still highly active though numerically diminished compared to their heyday. The anarcho-syndicalist strategy is to form workplace resistance groups amongst employees in workplaces controlled by capitalist firms, not to form cooperatives, although most anarcho-syndicalists would not be hostile to the cooperative idea, seeing it as a useful complement, especially for blacklisted workers.

[edit] Anarcha-feminism

Not a separate tendency per se, this was partly based on the works of Emma Goldman, herself a dedicated feminist who advocated rights to birth control, abortion, free love and open relationships along with equality for women in general long before such issues were considered acceptable for discussion, let alone to enact. Goldman argued prominently that voting rights for women by themselves would change nothing, that equality had to come along with a broader social revolution. Anarcha-feminists have followed her reasoning, critiquing sexism as simply another form of hierarchy (patriarchy here) while struggling for the same goals as other anarchists, especially devoted to making sure women have the same rights in anarchist movements and the idea of gender equality receives focus along with the rest. Free love advocacy and women's liberation have a long history within anarchism, going back to individualist anarchists Ezra Heywood and Moses Harman, whose freethought periodicals The Word and Lucifer the Light-Bearer were persecuted by Anthony Comstock under the Comstock Act for their open discussions of birth control and denunciation of marital rape,[8] and continued to be influential through the writings of Emma Goldman and Ben Reitman, who were also prosecuted under the Comstock Act, with Reitman sentenced to prison for advocating birth control.[9]

[edit] Green anarchism

Green anarchists believe an ecological society living in harmony with the earth is incompatible with either capitalism or the state. They often look to Kropotkin's communal ideas as a potential model for an ecological society, absorbing other influences as well from individualist anarchism to anarcho-syndicalism to distributism. Most green anarchism divides between those following Murray Bookchin's Kropotkin-influenced writings, and those who tend more toward Edward Abbey's less well defined (and probably more libertarian and individualist anarchist) preference for direct action over theory. This is sometimes portrayed as a divide between the "garden" or "urban village" model of environmentalism (Bookchin), and the "wilderness" model (Abbey).[10]

[edit] Anarcho-primitivism

Primitivists go even further than green anarchists, viewing civilization itself (from modern labor-saving technologies to language) as anti-ecological hierarchical institutions. They advocate the complete abolition of industry, capitalism, and even agriculture, returning to a hunter-gatherer mode of life which they argue is more leisurely, free, and in tune with nature. They believe wilderness and wild life have a right to exist for their own sake, therefore such a lifestyle is least destructive by humans. John Zerzan is probably the most prominent thinker of the primitivist tendency, although Bob Black also contributes greatly. The methods of how to achieve this primitive back-to-nature society are contentious. The British primitivist magazine Green Anarchy once praised Unabomber Ted Kaczynski (arguably close to primitivism in his views) and the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan who released Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. Needless to say, most green anarchists and those of other tendencies reject primitivism.

[edit] Insurrectionary anarchism

Insurrectionary anarchism is a recent innovation and seems to be influenced by postmodern philosophy, nihilism, guerrilla warfare tactics, and anarcho-primitivism with some Kropotkin and Stirner thrown in. It is a murky area difficult to understand for those not already steeped in postmodernism. Insurrectionary anarchists tend to define themselves in contrast to organizational anarchists such as anarcho-syndicalists. Any form of organization at all is suspect, probably at least proto-statist if not explicitly so, and deserving of deconstruction through the lens of postmodernism-so a permanent revolution, in the form of ever-shifting affinity groups that never coalesce into anything permanent and never-ending guerrilla insurrection, is needed.

An obscure insurrectionary anarchist manifesto from France, The Coming Insurrection, became an unlikely best-seller in the U.S. because of Glenn Beck mentioning it several times and calling it the most evil book he has ever read. Glenn Beck's sneaky promotion-through-denunciation of this book probably has something to do with the fact that he agrees with its profoundly nihilistic opposition to liberalism, though not with its proposed solution.

[edit] Post-left anarchism

Post-left anarchism is a philosophical tendency within anarchism that takes the idea of rejection of all authority and hierarchy to its extreme conclusion and rejects all forms of social organization and economy altogether, including all other forms of anarchism. It is mostly defined in terms of what it stands in opposition to, rather than what it supports. Post-leftism opposes all forms of industrial production, all forms of economics and exchange (including both market capitalism and socialism), all forms of mass social organization including democracy, all forms of religion and morality, and all the various flavors of identity politics-feminism, gay and transgender rights movements, civil rights movements for racial minorities, class-struggle narratives, etc. This rather adversarial outlook on the world generally makes them extremely unpopular with other anarchists of all stripes, with the occasional exceptions of the insurrectionary anarchist and anarcho-primitivist communities, both of whom overlap somewhat with post-leftism.

Due to their rejection of organization and political participation, they have a fairly minimal presence in the wider anarchist movement, though there are always one or two of them at every anarchist book fair.

[edit] Modern anarchism

A few modern anarchists believe that humans can best live their lives without being told what to do by anyone, and oppose democracy. They generally have no idea how things like abortion and scientific-based policy would be decided, and oppose all rules. There is also a "lifestyle anarchist" tendency for whom anarchy has more to do with punk, veganism, shoplifting and squatting as radical acts etc., and a more puerile "kiddie anarchist" tendency for whom anarchy means things like the The Anarchist Cookbook, hacking and phreaking, and the Unabomber manifesto. Both tend to appeal mainly to teenagers, who either eventually make the leap to more serious anarchist theory or just grow out of it.

The reality is that the various military industrial complexes have filled the world with AK 47s and the like make it much more difficult to achieve those ends because one warlord heavily armed can make it very difficult for 1,000 anarchists to do their own thing. But, as Bloody Mary sings in South Pacific, "If you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?"

Some are called "anarchists without adjectives" not desiring to follow any one tendency but claiming to welcome all ideas. "Anarchism without adjectives" was founded as a response to the sectarian infighting among other schools of anarchist thought and began with the premise that all anarchist tendencies are equally valid. Most modern "without adjectives" anarchists have abandoned this and instead argue that only their conception of anarchism is valid. People who subscribe to any other school of thought can expect to be told that without-adjectives anarchism is the only 'true' anarchism. "Anarchists without adjectives" generally focus on de-legitimizing the state rather than on one particular conception of anarchist society, believing that all else will naturally follow and a world without government will likely be heavily mixed.

Because most modern anarchists are not interested in forcing their ways on others they tend frequently to blend into the background, living their anarchist lives happily out of the spotlight. Well, except for the free skool movement and various communes and revolutions. The prime example would be the establishment of anarchist communes starting in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, in which production and innovation were reported to have increased fairly dramatically. Workers seized control of the factories, peasants the farm land, free schools were set up to teach in new ways and universal literacy began to be achieved. They were eventually undermined by lack of funding due to a hostile Soviet Union controlling their money supply, attacks by the Stalinist-controlled Spanish Republican government and finally the victory of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, supported by many in the West. This was helped by infighting of the groups on the Republican side, plus lack of support. The 19th century anarchist belief in the "propaganda of the deed" (such as tossing a bomb or shooting some Royal Person) has largely fallen into disrepute, though it was very common at the turn of the last century with several heads of state assassinated this way, giving us the "bomb-throwing" anarchist stereotype, which is unfortunate.

[edit] Not types of anarchism, though adherents and apologists think they are because they're very stupid

[edit] Anarcho-capitalism

See the main article on this topic: anarcho-capitalism

Some people call themselves "anarcho-capitalists", and wish for capitalism without a government. Anarcho-capitalists believe that an anarchic system of competing private contractors can perform all of the functions of government better than a coercive government can. Anarcho-capitalism is a form of extreme laissez-faire capitalism. Most anarchists dismiss it as not being a type of anarchism, and being instead an oxymoron, since anarchists usually reject capitalism as another form of hierarchy and as something that exists only because of the state.[11] [12] Many anarcho-capitalists also seem to be obsessed with replicating the most coercive functions of government in the market via private defense agencies and private courts and prisons, whereas other anarchists view "national defense", police, and prisons as the most heinous aspects of the state and things they most want to abolish.

There is a "market anarchist" tendency on the left wing of the modern libertarian movement who agree with this model while rejecting the capitalist label. They may use terms like autarchist, agorist, or mutualist to describe themselves. For them, a completely laissez-faire free market (which would emerge in the absence of the state) is not the same thing as capitalism (which exists by the grace of the state through such things as corporate personhood and gunboat diplomacy). Many market anarchists also reject trying to replicate the most coercive functions of the state in the free market.

[edit] National anarchism

See the main article on this topic: national anarchism

National anarchism is a batshit crazy ideology which seeks the same aims of fascism but argues that a stateless society would achieve them better than a state ever could. National anarchists seek the establishment of 'National Autonomous Zones' which would be 'racially pure', 'traditional' in terms of gender relations, anti-capitalist and ecologically sustainable. Unlike most other anarchists, national anarchists do not oppose hierarchy. Rather they seek a hierarchy that arises 'naturally', not the current hierarchies of the capitalist system, which are based on exploitation. National anarchists share some common ground with panarchists as they argue that 'if you don't like it, you can just leave'. They said you can just join an existing society based on other values or even start your own own. For the most part, National anarchists are despised by other anarchists. That is provided they have even heard of them. National anarchism is a fringe movement even compared to anarcho-capitalism. They have a habit of showing up uninvited to anarchist bookfairs, getting run off by angry Antifascist Action affinity groups, and whining on the Internet about it.

[edit] Anarchist organizations

Those who make no effort to understand anarchism generally suppose that the very term "anarchist organization" posits a hierarchical structure which is anathema to the egalitarian virtues of the anarchist world view. This is not the case. Anarchists believe that human beings can organize themselves along non-hierarchical lines. Anarchists are not against organization, but rather oppose hierarchy, and do not advocate the 'lawlessness' and disintegration of society which the term 'anarchy' conjures. Anarchist organizations strive for a maximal degree of direct democracy and the accountability of officers to the rank and file.

[edit] North America

[edit] Canada

[edit] Mexico

[edit] United States

[edit] Europe

[edit] Australasia

  • ASF Australia

[edit] South America

[edit] Africa

[edit] See also

  • Anarchy
  • Socialism
  • Mobocracy
  • Libertarianism, a term originally used by anarchists, such as "libertarian socialism" to distinguish it from authoritarian versions. Now used by radical classical liberals and supporters of laissez-faire capitalism. The former use is now ironically seen as an oxymoron by them, just as anarchists feel about such "right"-libertarian ideologies.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. [1]
  2. Also known as 'exactly the same system we already have', if you consider countries to be communities.
  3. This is a joke in reference to the Westminster, U.K. police issuing a memo stating just that.
  4. Marx, Karl, and Engels, Friedrich: The German Ideology, 1846
  5. Native American Anarchism by Eunice Minette Schuster and Men Against the State by James J. Martin
  6. Schuster (but not Martin, who as an Egoist rejected Christianity out of hand as being in any way compatible with anarchism) also finds its roots ultimately in non-conformist Christian groups during the colonial era who went in the same anarcho-pacifist direction later taken by Tolstoy. The anarcho-capitalist theorist Murray Rothbard tends to agree with Schuster here and points to the few successes in people living peacefully without government in early American history mostly being Quakers.
  7. Gould, Stephen Jay: "Kropotkin Was No Crackpot", Natural History 106, June 1997, p. 12-21
  8. McElroy, Wendy: XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, St. Martin's Press, 1997
  9. PBS American Experience, People & Events: Ben Reitman (1879-1942)
  10. Bookchin, Murray and Foreman, Dave: Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman, South End Press, 1991
  11. Anarchy 101
  12. Are anarcho-capitalists anarchists?
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