Issues in anarchism

Issues in anarchism

Anarchism is a heterogeneous philosophy with many different tendencies and schools of thought;[1][2][3] differences on questions of ideology, values and tactics are common. Ideas about how an anarchist society might work vary considerably, especially with respect to economics. There are also disagreements about how such a society might be brought about, with some anarchists being committed to a strategy of nonviolence, while others advocate armed struggle.


Definitional concerns

Anarchist schools of thought encompass not only a range of individual schools, but also a considerable divergence in the use of some key terms. Some terms, such as "socialism", have been subject to multiple definitions and ideological struggle throughout the period of the development of anarchism. Others, such as "capitalism" are used in divergent, and often contradictory, ways by different schools within the tradition. In addition, terms such as "mutualism" have changed their meanings over time, without spawning new schools. All of these terminological difficulties contribute to misunderstandings within and about anarchism.

A central concern is whether the term "anarchism" is defined in opposition to hierarchy, authority, the state or state and capitalism. Debates over the meaning of the term emerge from the fact that it refers to both an abstract philosophical position and to intellectual, political and institutional traditions, all of which have been fraught with conflict. Some minimal, abstract definitions encourage the inclusion of figures, movements and philosophical positions which have historically positioned themselves outside, or even in opposition to, individuals and traditions that have identified themselves as "anarchist."

Anti-capitalism is considered a necessary element of anarchism by most anarchists,[4] while anarcho-capitalists naturally disagree. The conflict arises from some combination of genuine differences of opinion on the merits of market economies, differing definitions of "capitalism," and the "package deal" character of some definitions. Usages in political circles have varied considerably. In 1894, Richard Ely noted that the term had "already acquired a variety of meanings." These included, in its most general sense, the view that society is "a living, growing organism, the laws of which are something different from the laws of individual action."[5] Several years earlier, in 1888, the individualist anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker included the full text of a "Socialistic Letter" by Ernest Lesigne in his essay on "State Socialism and Anarchism." According to Lesigne, there are two socialisms, and "One is dictatorial, the other libertarian."[6]

Ends and means

Among anarchists, there is no consensus on the legitimacy or utility of violence in revolutionary struggle. Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta, for example, wrote of violence as a necessary and sometimes desirable force in revolutionary settings. At the same time, they denounced acts of individual terrorism. (Bakunin, "The Program of the International Brotherhood" (1869)[7] and Malatesta, "Violence as a Social Factor" (1895)). Other anarchists such as Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi[8] and Henry David Thoreau have been advocates of pacifism.

Anarchists have often been portrayed as dangerous and violent, possibly due to a number of high-profile violent actions, including riots, assassinations, insurrections, and terrorism committed by some anarchists as well as persistently negative media portrayals.[9] Late 19th-century revolutionaries encouraged acts of political violence, called "propaganda of the deed", such as bombings and the assassinations of heads of state to further anarchism. However, the term originally referred to exemplary forms of direct action meant to inspire the masses to revolution. Propaganda of the deed may be violent or nonviolent.

While all anarchists consider antimilitarism (opposition to war) to be inherent to their philosophy,[10] anarcho-pacifists take this further, following Tolstoy's belief in pacifism. Although numerous anarchist initiatives have been based on the tactic of nonviolence (Earth First!, Food Not Bombs, etc.), many anarchists reject pacifism as an ideology, instead supporting a "diversity of tactics." Authors Ward Churchill (Pacifism as Pathology, 1986), Peter Gelderloos (How Nonviolence Protects the State, 2005), and Derrick Jensen (Endgame, 2006) have published influential books critical of pacifist doctrine, which they view as ineffectual and hypocritical. In a 2010 article, author Randall Amster argued for the development of a "complementarity of tactics" to bridge the pacifist and more militant aspects of anarchism.[11]

As a result of anarchism's critical view of certain types of private property, many anarchists see the destruction of property as an acceptable form of violence or argue that it is not, in fact, violence at all. In her widely cited 1912 essay, Direct Action, Voltairine de Cleyre drew on American historical events, including the destroying of revenue stamps and the Boston Tea Party, as a defense of such activities.[12]

Many anarchists participate in subversive organizations as a means to undermine the establishment, such as Food Not Bombs, radical labor unions, alternative media, and radical social centers. This is in accordance with the anarchist ideal that governments are intrinsically evil: only by destroying the power of governments can individual freedoms and liberties be preserved. Some anarchist schools, however, in theory adopt the concept of Dual Power: creating the structures for a new anti-authoritarian society in the shell of the old, hierarchical one.

Participation in statist democracy

Anarchist street art in Madison, Wisconsin, declaring "our dreams cannot fit in their ballot boxes".

While most anarchists firmly oppose voting, or otherwise participating in the State institution, there are a few that disagree. The prominent anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, stood for election to the French Constituent Assembly twice in 1848. Paul Brousse developed the concept of libertarian municipalism in Switzerland in the 1890s which involved participating in local elections.[13][dead link] Many anarchists oppose voting for three reasons. First, they believe it to be ineffective, at best resulting in minor reforms.[citation needed] Second, taking part in elections has historically resulted in radicals becoming part of the system they oppose rather than ending it.[14] Third, because some claim voting amounts to an acknowledgment of the state's legitimacy.[15] Most fundamental is the idea that representative democracy itself is fundamentally flawed. In essence, the state uses the theory that it is democratic to gain power over the populace, and then uses force to suppress any dissent. Nonetheless, the state in reality almost never serves the interests of the populace in general, but simply produces the illusion that it does this solely to gain power. Governments operate at the expense of the public good, and can serve no other purpose regardless of whatever form they take. During the 2004 US Presidential election, the anarchist collective CrimethInc. launched "Don't Just Vote, Get Active," a campaign promoting the importance of direct action, rather than electoral change. Anarchists in other countries often engage in similar anti-voting campaigns. Others advocate a more pragmatic approach, including voting in referenda,[16] while other prominent anarchists like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky have pledged their support for progressive candidates such as Ralph Nader.[17]

The individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner argued that voting was a legitimate means of self-defense against the state, and noted that many supporters of the state consider both voting and abstention to be acknowledgments of the state's legitimacy.[18] Spooner's essay "No Treason"[19] offers an individualist anarchist rebuttal to the argument that existing democratic governments are justified by majority consent.

Democracy in anarchism

For individualist anarchists, "the system of democracy, of majority decision, is held null and void. Any impingement upon the natural rights of the person is unjust and a symbol of majority tyranny."[20] Libertarian municipalist Murray Bookchin criticized individualist anarchists for opposing democracy,[21] and said "majority rule" is consistent with anarchism,[22] but he also preferred the term assembly rather than democracy. Bookchin has in turn been accused of "municipal statism"; i.e., non-anarchism.[23] Later, Bookchin renounced anarchism to identify himself as an advocate of Communalism.

Violence and non-violence

Anarchists have often been portrayed as dangerous and violent, due mainly to a number of high-profile violent acts including riots, assassinations, and insurrections involving anarchists. The use of terrorism and assassination, however, is condemned by most anarchist ideology, though there remains no consensus on the legitimacy or utility of violence. Some anarchists have opposed coercion, while others have supported it, particularly in the form of violent revolution on the path to anarchy or utopia.[24]

Some anarchists share Leo Tolstoy's Christian anarchist belief in nonviolence. These anarcho-pacifists advocate nonviolent resistance as the only method of achieving a truly anarchist revolution. They often see violence as the basis of government and coercion and argue that, as such, violence is illegitimate, no matter who is the target. Some of Proudhon's French followers even saw strike action as coercive and refused to take part in such traditional socialist tactics.

Other anarchists advocate Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication that relates to peoples fundamental needs and feelings using strategies of requests, observations and empathy yet providing for the use of protective force while rejecting pacifism as a compromising strategy of the left that just perpetuates violence.

Other anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin and Errico Malatesta saw violence as a necessary and sometimes desirable force. Malatesta took the view that it is "necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence which denies [the means of life and for development] to the workers" (Umanità Nova, number 125, September 6, 1921[25]).

Between 1894 and 1901, individual anarchists assassinated numerous heads of state, including:

Such "propaganda of the deed" was not popular among anarchists, and many in the movement condemned the tactic. For example, McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz, claimed to be a disciple of Emma Goldman, but she disavowed any association with him.

Goldman included in her definition of anarchism the observation that all governments rest on violence, and this is one of the many reasons they should be opposed. Goldman herself didn't oppose tactics like assassination until she went to Russia, where she witnessed the violence of the Russian state and the Red Army. From then on she condemned the use of terrorism, especially by the state, and advocated violence only as a means of self-defense.

Depictions in the press and popular fiction (for example, a malevolent bomb-throwing anarchist in Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent) helped create a lasting public impression that anarchists are violent terrorists. This perception was enhanced by events such as the Haymarket Riot, where anarchists were blamed for throwing a bomb at police who came to break up a public meeting in Chicago.

More recently, anarchists have been involved in protests against World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings across the globe, which the media has described as violent or riots. Traditionally, May Day in London has also been a day of marching, but in recent years the Metropolitan Police have warned that a "hardcore of anarchists" are intent on causing violence. Anarchists often respond that it is the police who initiate violence at these demonstrations, with anarchists who are otherwise peaceful sometimes forced to defend themselves. The anarchists involved in such protests often formed black blocs at these protests and some engaged in property destruction, vandalism, or in violent conflicts with police, though others stuck to non-violent principles.

Those participating in black blocs distinguish between "violence" and "property destruction": they claim that violence is when a person inflicts harm to another person, while property destruction or property damage is not violence, although it can have indirect harm such as financial harm. Most anarchists, do not consider the destruction of property to be violent, as do most activists who believe in non-violence.


Anarchist protesters in Boston opposing state-waged war.

Some anarchists consider pacifism (opposition to war) to be inherent in their philosophy. Some anarchists take it further and follow Leo Tolstoy's belief in non-violence (note, however, that these anarcho-pacifists are not necessarily Christian anarchists as Tolstoy was), advocating non-violent resistance as the only method of achieving a truly anarchist revolution.

Anarchist literature often portrays war as an activity in which the state seeks to gain and consolidate power, both domestically and in foreign lands. Many anarchists subscribe to Randolph Bourne's view that "war is the health of the state".[26] Anarchists believe that if they were to support a war they would be strengthening the state– indeed, Peter Kropotkin was alienated from other anarchists when he expressed support for the British in World War I.

Just as they are critical and distrustful of most government endeavors, anarchists often view the stated reasons for war with a cynical eye. Since the Vietnam War protests in North America and, most recently, the protests against the war in Iraq, much anarchist activity has been anti-war based.

Many anarchists in the current movement however, reject complete pacifism, (although groups like Earth First!, and Food Not Bombs are based on principles of non-violence), and instead are in favor of self-defense, and sometimes violence against oppressive and authoritarian forces which they in fact also consider as defensive violence.[citation needed] Anarchists are skeptical however of winning a direct armed conflict with the state, and instead concern themselves mostly with organizing.

Individualism vs. collectivism

While some anarchists favour collective property or no property, others, such as individualist anarchists of historical note (e.g. Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner) support private property. Tucker argues that collectivism in property is absurd: "That there is an entity known as the community which is the rightful owner of all land, Anarchists deny...I...maintain that ‘the community’ is a non-entity, that it has no existence..." He was particularly adamant in his opposition to "communism," even to the point of asserting that those who opposed private property were not anarchists: "Anarchism is a word without meaning, unless it includes the liberty of the individual to control his product or whatever his product has brought him through exchange in a free market– that is, private property. Whoever denies private property is of necessity an Archist." However, some of these individuals opposed property titles to unused land.

Identity politics


Early French feminists such as Jenny d'Héricourt and Juliette Adam criticised the misogyny in the anarchism of Proudhon during the 1850s.

Anarcha-feminism is a kind of radical feminism that espouses the belief that patriarchy is a fundamental problem in society. However, it was not explicitly formulated as anarcha-feminism until early 1970s,[27] during the second-wave feminist movement. Anarcha-feminism views patriarchy as the first manifestation of hierarchy in human history; thus, the first form of oppression occurred in the dominance of male over female. Anarcha-feminists then conclude that if feminists are against patriarchy, they must also be against all forms of hierarchy, and therefore must reject the authoritarian nature of the state and capitalism.[citation needed]

Early first-wave feminist Mary Wollstonecraft held proto-anarchist views, and William Godwin is often considered a feminist anarchist precursor. While most anarchists of the period did not take these ideas seriously, others, such as Florence Finch Kelly and Moses Harman held gender equality as a topic of significant importance.[28] Anarcha-feminism garnered further attention through the work of early 20th-century authors and theorists including Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre. In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres (English: Free Women), organized to defend both anarchist and feminist ideas.

Unlike marxist feminism and socialist feminism, anarcha-feminism does not necessarily adopt the historical model of patriarchy put across by Engels in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Rather, anarcha-feminists are likely to view patriarchy as a component and symptom of interconnected systems of oppression.[citation needed] In such a model, opposition to patriarchy is not the sole means of opposing authoritarian repression, but instead becomes a key component of a movement opposing all interconnected forms of oppression. Anarcho-primitivists see the creation of gender roles and patriarchy as a creation of the start of civilization, and therefore consider primitivism to also be an anarchist school of thought that addresses feminist concerns. Eco-feminism, although not exclusively anarchist, is often considered a feminist variant of green anarchist feminist thought.

In anarcha-feminist circles in the United States, the slang term "manarchist" is sometimes used, pejoratively, to describe male anarchists who are either inattentive to or dismissive of (anarcha)feminist concerns.


Black anarchism opposes the existence of a state, capitalism, and subjugation and domination of people of color, and favors a non-hierarchical organization of society. Theorists include Ashanti Alston, Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, and Sam Mbah. Some of these theorists have had past experiences with the Black Panther Party, and came to anarchism after they became critical of the Black Panther Party's brand of Marxist-Leninism. Anarchist People of Color, (or APOC), was created as a forum for non-Caucasian anarchists to express their thoughts about racial issues within the anarchist movement, particularly within the United States. Anti-Racist Action is not an anarchist group, but many anarchists are involved. It focuses on publicly confronting White civil rights activists, such as the KKK, neo-Nazi groups, etc.

Most modern and historical anarchists describe themselves as anti-racists. Many early Anarchists, notably Lucy Parsons - a person of color and formerly an enslaved American - viewed Racism as one of many negative side-effects of Capitalism and expected that it would vanish in a post-capitalist world. Among modern Anarchists, however, anti-racism plays a more prominent role and racism is typically viewed as one of several forms of social hierarchy and stratification which must be destroyed. No anarchist organizations has ever included racism as part of its platform, and many, particularly modern formations, include explicit anti-racism. For instance American Anarchists were alone in opposing racism against Chinese and Mexican workers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Since the late 1970s anarchists have been involved in fighting the rise of neo-fascist groups. In Germany and the United Kingdom some anarchists worked within militant anti-fascist groups alongside members of the Marxist left. They advocated directly combating fascists with physical force rather than relying on the state. Since the late 1990s, a similar tendency has developed within US anarchism. See also: Anti-Racist Action (US), Anti-Fascist Action (UK/Europe), Antifa Anti-Racist Action is one of the largest grassroots anti-fascist and anti-racist organizations in North America today and counts many anarchists among its members. Their tactics, centered around directly confronting neo-fascist and white-supremacist groups, are considered controversial both within the anarchist movement (where they are sometimes portrayed as well-intentioned but ineffective) and in mainstream society (where they are often portrayed as violent and disruptive).

Many anarchists also oppose the concept of race itself on that basis that it has no biological basis and is a social construction designed to divide the working class and preserve capitalism.

Black anarchism opposes the existence of a state, capitalism, and subjugation and domination of people of African descent, and favours a non-hierarchical organization of society. Theorists include Ashanti Alston, Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Sam Mbah, Aragorn! and Martin Sostre. Anarchist People of Color emerged in the United States as a tendency which theorized anarchism in the broader context of race. Founded by writer and organizer Ernesto Aguilar, an APOC email list became the basis for collectives composed of people of colour to form in several American cities. APOC held a conference in Detroit, Michigan in 2003. In 2005, the first APOC journal, Wildfire, was launched, but folded a few months later. In 2007, Roger White and the Oakland, California APOC group founded Jailbreak Press blog. [2]

A minority of historically prominent anarchists have been accused of racism: e.g. Proudhon[29] and Bakunin.[30]

A major[citation needed] area of conflict amongst anarchists is how honest to be about the racism which has existed within the anarchist movement since the days of Proudhon and Bakunin who were both noted Eurocentrists and anti-semites.[citation needed] Some anarchists[who?] dismiss this as being completely unimportant, suggesting for instance that racism was commonly accepted at the time. Other anarchists simply prefer to ignore the issue on the grounds that anarchism, unlike ideologies such as Marxism, is not defined by individual theorists, but by the concepts they developed, thus rendering perceived personal failings of individual theorists irrelevant to anarchism generally.


From Proudhon and Bakunin to the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists, most anarchists have questioned or opposed organized religion, believing that most organized religions are hierarchical or authoritarian and, more often than not, aligned with contemporary power structures like the state and capital. Nonetheless, others reconcile anarchism with religion.

Christian anarchists believe that there is no higher authority than God, and oppose earthly authority such as government and established churches. They believe that Jesus' teachings and the practice of the early church were clearly anarchistic. Some of them feel that the teachings of the Nazarenes and other early groups of followers were corrupted by contemporary religious views - most notably when Constantine I declared "Christianity" to be the official religion of Rome. Christian anarchists, who follow Jesus' directive to "turn the other cheek", are usually strict pacifists, although some believe in a limited justification of defense, especially defense of others. The most famous advocate of Christian anarchism was Leo Tolstoy, author of The Kingdom of God is Within You, who called for a society based on compassion, nonviolent principles and freedom. Christian anarchists tend to form experimental communities (such as the Catholic Worker). They also occasionally resist taxation.

Buddhist anarchism originated in the influential Chinese anarchist movement of the 1920s. Taixu, one of the leading thinkers and writers of this school, was deeply influenced by the work of Christian anarchists like Tolstoy and by the ancient Chinese well-field system. Buddhist anarchism was later revived in the 1960s by writers such as Gary Snyder; an incarnation of this school of thought was popularized by Jack Kerouac in his book The Dharma Bums.

Neopaganism, with its focus on the environment and equality, along with its often decentralized nature, has led to a number of neopagan anarchists. One of the most prominent is Starhawk, who writes extensively about both spirituality and activism.

In the late 19th century the Ghadar movement in India (see Har Dayal), influenced by Buddhist thought and by Swami Dayananda Saraswati (founder of Arya Samaj), saw anarchism as a way of propagating the ancient culture of the Arya (not to be confused with the much later appropriation of "Aryan" identity by German National Socialists).[31]

Discussing the anarchist movement in Britain in 2002, Adam K. has argued that it "has an especially ignorant and hegemonistic perception of the Muslim community", which he attributed to "the anglo-centric nature of the movement". Quoting the statement that "Islam is an enemy of all freedom loving people" from an anarchist magazine, he argues that this is "no different to the bigoted rhetoric of George Bush or even BNP leader Nick Griffin."[32]


Throughout most of its history, anarchism has been defined by its proponents in opposition to capitalism - which they believe can be maintained only by state violence.[33] Most non-capitalist anarchists follow Proudhon in opposing ownership of workplaces by capitalists and aim to replace wage labour with workers' associations. These anarchists agree with Kropotkin's comment that "the origin of the anarchist inception of society… [lies in] the criticism… of the hierarchical organisations and the authoritarian conceptions of society" rather than in simple opposition to the state or government.[34] They argue that the wage system is hierarchical and authoritarian in nature and, consequently, capitalism cannot be anarchist.[35]

Individualist anarchists, have historically advocated markets essential to a free society.[citation needed] However, most early individualist anarchists considered themselves "fervent anti-capitalists… [who see] no contradiction between their individualist stance and their rejection of capitalism."[36] Many defined themselves as socialists. These early individualist-anarchists defined "capitalism" in various ways, but often it was discussed in terms of usury:

"There are three forms of usury, interest on money, rent on land and houses, and profit in exchange. Whoever is in receipt of any of these is a usurer." [cited in Men against the State by James J. Martin, p. 208]

Excluding these, however, they tended to support free trade, free competition, and varying levels of private property such as mutualism and homesteading.[37][38][39] It is this distinction which has led to the rift between anarchism and anarcho-capitalism. The self-proclaimed descendents of such theorists,[40] variously called anarcho-capitalists, free-market anarchists, or simply individualist anarchists, support laissez-faire free market capitalism. Historically, anarchists considered themselves socialists and opposed to capitalism. Thus, anarcho-capitalism is considered by many anarchists today as not being true anarchism.[41]

Anarchist organisations, for example the CNT (Spain) and the Anarchist Federation (Britain and Ireland), generally take an explicitly anti-capitalist stance. In the 20th century, several economists began to formulate a form of radical American libertarianism known as anarcho-capitalism. This has met resistance from those who hold that capitalism is inherently oppressive or statist; many anarchists and scholars don't consider anarcho-capitalism to properly cohere with the spirit, principles, or history of anarchism.[42] However, other anarchists and scholars regard anarchism as referring only to opposition to the non-privatisation of all aspects of the state, and thus do consider anarcho-capitalism to be a form of anarchism.[43]


Many anarchists are actively involved in the anti-globalization movement, seeing corporate globalization as a neocolonialist attempt to use economic coercion on a global scale, carried out through state institutions such as the World Bank, World Trade Organization, Group of Eight, and the World Economic Forum. Globalization is an ambiguous term that has different meanings to different anarchist factions. Many anarchists use the term to mean neocolonialism and/or cultural imperialism (which they may see as related). Others, particularly anarcho-capitalists, use "globalization" to mean the worldwide expansion of the division of labor and trade, which they see as beneficial so long as governments do not intervene. Market anarchists and anarcho-capitalists see the worldwide expansion of the division of labor through trade ("globalization") as a boon, but oppose the regulation and cartelization imposed by the World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), etc. and "managed trade" agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA]). Many also object to fiat money issued by central banks and resulting debasement of money and confiscation of wealth.

Groups such as Reclaim the Streets,[44] were among the instigators of the so-called anti-globalization movement.[45] The Carnival Against Capitalism on 18 June 1999 is generally regarded as the first of the major anti-globalization protests.[46] Anarchists, such as the WOMBLES, have on occasion played a significant role in planning, organising, and participating in subsequent protests.[47] The protests tended to be organised on anarchist direct action principles with a general tolerance for a range of different activities ranging from those who engage in tactical frivolity to the black blocs.[48]


Anarchism has a long history of opposing imperialism, both in the core nations (the colonizers) and the periphery nations (the colonized). In general, anarchists have preferred to focus on building revolutions at home and doing solidarity work for comrades in other countries, e.g. Guy Aldred was jailed for printing Shyamji Krishnavarma's'The Indian Sociologist.

Another example of this was Rudolf Rocker, a prominent German anarchist and anti-fascist, who was particularly active amongst Jewish workers. In his Nationalism and Culture he argued for a "federation of European peoples" which would include Jews. Rejecting biological theories of race, and rejecting the concept of nation, he argued that since it was European States that had conquered and colonized the rest of the world, successful libertarian organization amongst Europeans was "the first condition for the creation of a world federation, which will also secure the so-called colonial peoples the same rights for the pursuit of happiness" (p554). Many modern anarchists and other anti-imperialists share this approach.[49]

Chinese anarchists were very active in the early Chinese nationalist movement and in the resistance to British and later Japanese colonization of China. Anarchists were also deeply involved in anti-imperialist nationalist movements in Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Ukraine, Ireland, Mexico, and all over Africa.[citation needed]

Anarchism is also an influence in the modern Indigenist movement.[citation needed]

The environment

The environment and sustainability have been an issue for anarchists from at least as far back as Kropotkin's 1899 book "Fields, Factories and Workshops", but since the late 1970s anarchists in Anglosphere and European countries have been agitating for the natural environment. Eco-anarchists or green anarchists often embrace deep ecology. This is a worldview that strives to cultivate biodiversity and sustainability. Eco-anarchists often use direct action against what they see as earth-destroying institutions. Of particular importance is the Earth First! movement, that takes action such as tree sitting. The more militant Earth Liberation Front, which grew out of Earth First!, also has connections with the anarchist movement. Another important component is ecofeminism, which sees the domination of nature as a metaphor for the domination of women.

Murray Bookchin's work on social ecology, David Watson's work with Fifth Estate magazine, Steve Booth's work in the UK publication Green Anarchist, and Graham Purchase's writings on green syndicalism have all contributed to the broad variety and scope of green anarchist/eco-anarchist thought and action. Green anarchism also involves a critique of industrial capitalism, and, for some green anarchists, civilization itself.

Most anarchists see class society as being the root cause of pollution. They argue that a small class of owners or controllers have the wealth to avoid the worst repercussions of pollution while a very much larger class of workers without such wealth have no say in the running of the workplace. Thus under capitalism and other class societies those who control workplaces are also those with the least interest in minimising pollution - indeed as most anti-pollution measures add to costs that class will have an interest in minimising such measures. Under capitalism pollution is often a product of externalising costs - that is a transfer of a pollutant from the property of the owner to a public river transfers the cost from the capitalist to society at large. The anarchist communist solution is to ensure that all those working and living within the ecosystem of a plant have control over all its outputs, including pollutants.[citation needed]

Primitivism is a predominantly Western philosophy that advocates a return to a pre-industrial and usually pre-agricultural society. It develops a critique of industrial civilization. In this critique technology and development have alienated people from the natural world. This philosophy develops themes present in the political action of the Luddites and the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Primitivism developed in the context of the Reclaim the Streets, Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front movements. John Zerzan wrote that civilization– not just the state– would need to fall for anarchy to be achieved.[citation needed] Anarcho-primitivists point to the anti-authoritarian nature of many 'primitive' or hunter-gatherer societies throughout the world's history as examples of anarchist societies.

Relations with the Left

On May 1937 the President of Republican Spain, Manuel Azaña, then living in the parliament house in Exposition Park, talked by telephone to the President of Catalonia, Luis Companys, who was in his office in the Palace of the Generalitat. The conversation had been going on for some time, when it was sharply interrupted by an anarchist in the Telefónica who said: "This conversation will have to stop. We have more interesting things to do than listen to your stupid conversations." The line was then broken.

Jaume Miravitlles[50]

While many anarchists (especially those involved in the anti-globalization movement) continue to see themselves as a leftist movement, some thinkers and activists believe it is necessary to re-evaluate anarchism's relationship with the traditional Left. Like many radical ideologies, most anarchist schools of thought are, to some degree, sectarian. There is often a difference of opinion within each school about how to react to, or interact with, other schools. Many anarchists however, draw from a wide range of political perspectives, such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the Situationists, "ultra leftists", Autonomist Marxism, various indigenous cultures.

A movement called post-left anarchy seeks to distance itself from the traditional "left" - Communists, socialists, social democrats, etc. - and to escape the confines of ideology in general. Post-leftists argue that anarchism has been weakened by its long attachment to contrary "leftist" movements and single issue causes (anti-war, anti-nuclear, etc.). It calls for a synthesis of anarchist thought and a specifically anti-authoritarian revolutionary movement outside of the leftist milieu. Important groups and individuals associated with post-left anarchy include: CrimethInc., the magazine Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed and its editor Jason McQuinn, Bob Black, Hakim Bey and others.

The term postanarchism was originated by Saul Newman, first receiving popular attention in his book From Bakunin to Lacan, a synthesis of classical anarchist theory and poststructuralist thought. Subsequent to Newman's use of the term, however, it has taken on a life of its own and a wide range of ideas including autonomism, post-left anarchy, situationism, post-colonialism and Zapatismo. By its very nature post-anarchism rejects the idea that it should be a coherent set of doctrines and beliefs. Nonetheless key thinkers associated with post-anarchism include Saul Newman, Todd May, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.[51]

Some activists, calling themselves "insurrectionary anarchists", are critical of formal anarchist labor unions and federations, and advocate informal organization, carrying out acts of resistance in various struggles. Proponents include Wolfi Landstreicher and Alfredo M. Bonanno, author of works including "Armed Joy" and "The Anarchist Tension". This tendency is represented in the US in magazines such as Willful Disobedience and Killing King Abacus.


While communism is proposed as a form of social and economic organisation by many anarchists, other anarchists consider it a danger to the liberty and free development of the individual.[52] Most schools of anarchism have recognized a distinction between libertarian and authoritarian forms of communism.[53] Proudhon said of communism, "whether of the utopian or the Marxist variety, that it destroyed freedom by taking away from the individual control over his means of production"[54] and "Communism is exploitation of the strong by the weak."[55] Mikhail Bakunin stated "I hate Communism because it is the negation of liberty and because for me humanity is unthinkable without liberty. I am not a Communist, because Communism concentrates and swallows up in itself for the benefit of the State all the forces of society, because it inevitably leads to the concentration of property in the hands of the State."[56] Bakunin was speaking of 'state communism' (authoritarian Marxism) as verified by the last line which mentions state property; anarcho-communists explicitly reject state property and authority, especially centralized authority.

Although Peter Kropotkin, one of the leading proponents of anarchist communism, while also opposing 'state communism', argued for an economic model of free distribution between all individuals, many individualist anarchists oppose communism in all its forms, on the grounds that voluntary communism is not practicable. Individualist such as Benjamin Tucker, Victor Yarros, and Henry Appleton have denied that anarcho-communism is a genuine form of anarchism.[57] They rejected its strategies and argued that it is inherently authoritarian.[58] In the opinion of individualist Henry Appleton, "Communism, being opposed to natural law, must necessarily call upon unnatural methods if it would put itself into practice" and employ "pillage, brute force, and violence."[59]

Anarcho-communists reject the criticism, pointing to the principle of voluntary association that underpins their theory and differentiates it from state communism.[60] Some individualist anarchists are also willing to recognize anarchist communism as a legitimate form. Kevin Carson writes that "free market, libertarian communist, syndicalism, and other kinds of collectivist anarchists must learn to coexist in peace and mutual respect today, in our fight against the corporate state, and tomorrow, in the panarchy that is likely to succeed it."[61]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kropotkin, Peter, "Anarchism", Encyclopædia Britannica (1911).
  2. ^ Malatesta, Errico, Note to the Article “Individualism and Anarchism” by Adamas
  3. ^ Bookchin, Murray, Anarchism: Past and Present.
  4. ^ anarchist survey highlighting a general opposition to capitalism
  5. ^ Richard Theodore Ely, Socialism: An Examination of Its Nature, Its Strength and Its Weakness (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1894), p.3
  6. ^ Benjamin Tucker, State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ
  7. ^ Works of Mikhail Bakunin 1869
  8. ^ [1] "The Message of Gandhi", Edgar Snow
  9. ^ Albert, Michael Anarchism?!, Z Communications retrieved 6 September 2006
  10. ^ Anarchists see war as an activity in which the state seeks to gain and consolidate power, both domestically and in foreign lands, and subscribe to Randolph Bourne's view that "war is the health of the state."War is the Health of the State
  11. ^ Amster, Randall, Anarchism and Nonviolence: Time for a 'Complementarity of Tactics', Waging Nonviolence, retrieved 14 August 2011
  12. ^ de Cleyre, Voltairine. Direct Action, 1912.
  13. ^ The Ethics of Voting by George H. Smith.
  14. ^ J.2 What is direct action?
  15. ^ *Peacott, Joe, "Voting Anarchists: An Oxymoron or What?" BAD Broadside #8, Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade 1992
  16. ^ Thinking about anarchism - Referendums Workers Solidarity No 69, published in March 2002 retrieved 7 September 2006
  17. ^ Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn Plan to Vote for Ralph Nader, by Greg Bates
  18. ^ Lysander Spooner, No Treason, no. 2, part 1.
  19. ^ No Treason, Lysander Spooner, 1867
  20. ^ Horowitz, Irving Louis. The Anarchists. Aldine Transaction 2005, p. 49
  21. ^ Bookchin, Murray. The Democratic Dimensions of Anarchism
  22. ^ Bookchin, Murray. Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm
  23. ^ Anarchy after Leftism (chapter 5), Bob Black
  24. ^ Fowler, R.B. The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4. (Dec., 1972), pp. 743-744
  25. ^ The Revolutionary "Haste"
  26. ^ War Is the Health of the State
  27. ^ Anarcho-Feminism - Two Statements - Who we are: An Anarcho-Feminist Manifesto
  28. ^ Marsh, Margaret S. Anarchist Women, 1870-1920. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.
  29. ^ Schapiro, J. Salwyn (1945). "Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Harbinger of Fascism". American Historical Review (The American Historical Review, Vol. 50, No. 4) 50 (4): 714–737. doi:10.2307/1842699. JSTOR 1842699. 
  30. ^ Bakunin, quoted by Shlomo Avineri, in Radical Theology, the New Left, and Israel, p. 245-246 [an article in Auschwitz. Beginning of a New Era? Reflections on the Holocaust, edited by Eva Fleishner], KTAV Publishing House, Inc.; The Cathedral Church of St. John Divine; Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1977, p. 241-254
  31. ^ Ghadar Movement: Ideology, Organisation and Strategy, Harish K. Puri, Guru Nanak Dev University Press, Amritsar: "The only account of Hardayal's short stay in that island Martinique, comes from Bhai Parmanand, a self exiled Arya Samajist missionary from Lahore, who stayed a month with him there. Har Dayal used that time, says Parmanand, to discuss plans to found a new religion: his model was the Buddha. He ate mostly boiled grain, slept on the bare floor and spent his time in meditation in a secluded place. Guy Aldred, a famous English radical and friend, tells us of Hardayal's proclaimed belief at that time in the coming republic "which was to be a Church, a religious confraternity . . . its motto was to be: atheism, cosmopolitanism and moral law' Parmamand says that Har Dayal acceded to his persuasion to go to the USA and decided to make New York a centre for the propagation of the ancient culture of the Aryan." (page 55) and "the ideal social order would be the one which approximated to the legendary Vedic period of Indian history because, as Har Dayal affirmed, practical equality existed only in that society, where there were no governors and no governed, no priests and no laymen, no rich and no poor." (page 112), referencing The Social Conquest of the Hindu Race and Meaning of Equality.
  32. ^ Anarchist Orientalism and the Muslim Community in Britain Accessed 3 May 2007.
  33. ^ Fernandez, Frank 'Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement' See Sharp Press (2001) p.6
  34. ^ Anarchism, p. 158
  35. ^ Morris, Brian, Anthropology and Anarchism, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (no. 45)"; Mckay, Iain, The legacy of Voltairine De Cleyre, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 44; L. Susan Brown, The Politics of Individualism
  36. ^ Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 107 and p. 104)
  37. ^ Madison, Charles A. (1945). "Anarchism in the United States". Journal of the History of Ideas (Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 6, No. 1) 6 (1): 46–66. doi:10.2307/2707055. JSTOR 2707055. 
  38. ^ Madison, Charles A. (1943). "Benjamin R. Tucker: Individualist and Anarchist". New England Quarterly (The New England Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 3) 16 (3): 444–467. doi:10.2307/361029. JSTOR 361029. 
  39. ^ Non-capitalist market anarchists support private possession along Warren's, Proudhon's, or similar lines. In contrast, anarcho-capitalists support private property along Lockean or similar lines.
  40. ^ Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 107 and p. 103)
  41. ^ As Peter Marshall notes in his history of anarchism "few anarchists would accept the 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp since they do not share a concern for economic equality and social justice." - Demanding the Impossible, p. 565
  42. ^ Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible; John Clark, The Anarchist Moment; Albert Meltzer, Anarchism: Arguments for and Against; Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, David Weick, Anarchist Justice; Brian Morris, "Anthropology and Anarchism," Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (no. 45); Peter Sabatini, Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy; Donald Rooum, What is Anarchism?; Bob Black, Libertarian as Conservative
  43. ^ 1) Perlin, Terry M. Contemporary Anarchism. Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ 1979, p. 7. 2) Sylvan, Richard. Anarchism. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, editors Goodin, Robert E. and Pettit, Philip. Blackwell Publishing, 1995, p.231.
  44. ^ Reclaim the Streets Donnacha DeLong, RTÉ News Online 2002 retrieved 5 September 2006
  45. ^ The New Anarchists David Graeber, New Left Review 13, January–February 2002 retrieved 6 September 2006
  46. ^ G8 Summit - J18: Global Carnival Against Corporate Tyranny, London, England C. L. Staten, EmergencyNet News journalist, writing for RTÉ's website in 2002 retrieved 5 September 2006
  47. ^ WOMBLES wandering free Josie Appleton, spiked-politics, 2002 retrieved 5 September 2006
  48. ^ Anarchism as a Scapegoat of the 21st century: violence, anarchism and anti-globalisation protests Thrall issue #21, 2001 retrieved 5 September 2006
  49. ^ Daily Kos, Euromayday website accessed 3 May 2007.
  50. ^ Clifford Harper, ed (1994). Prolegomena: To a Study of the Return of the Repressed in History. London: Rebel Press. ISBN 0946061130. 
  51. ^ Post anarchist clearing house
  52. ^ Kropotkin, Peter, Communism and Anarchy
  53. ^ Liberty (Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order) (1881-1908); 3 September 1881; 1, 3; APS Online, pg. 3; Tucker uses the terms "voluntary" and "compulsory" communisms. Some market anarchists reject the distinction.
  54. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica "Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph" (2006)
  55. ^ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. "What Is Property?" ISBN 1-4191-9353-8 p.221
  56. ^ quoted in Paul Thomas, Karl Marx and the Anarchists, Routledge (1980), p.303
  57. ^ For instance, Benjamin Tucker says, "Yes, genuine Anarchism is consistent Manchesterism, and Communistic or pseudo-Anarchism is inconsistent Manchesterism." (Tucker, Benjamin. Labor and Its Pay, from Individual Liberty: Selections from the Writings of Benjamin T. Tucker); Victor Yarros says, "There is no logical justification, no rational explanation, and no scientific reasoning has been, is, will be, or can be advanced in defence of that unimaginable impossibility, Communistic Anarchism." (Yarros, Victor S. A Princely Paradox, Liberty, Vol 4. No. 19, Saturday, April 9, 1887, Whole Number 97) Henry Appleton says, "All Communism, under whatever guise, is the natural enemy of Anarchism, and a Communist sailing under the flag of Anarchism is as false a figure as could be invented." (Appleton, Henry. Anarchism, True and False, Liberty 2.24, no. 50, 6 September 1884, p. 4.); Clarence Lee Swartz says, ""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 ones labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." (Swartz, Clarence Lee. What is Mutualism?)
  58. ^ Brooks, Frank H. (ed) (1994) The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881-1908), Transaction Publishers, p.76
  59. ^ Appleton, Henry. The Boston Anarchists. Liberty, Vol. 4, No. 3, May 26, 1886, Whole No. 81
  60. ^ An Anarchist FAQ: A.3.1 What are the differences between individualist and social anarchists?
  61. ^ Carson, Kevin, Mutualist FAQ: Getting There

Further reading

  • Gordon, Uri (2007). Anarchy Alive!: Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory. Sydney: Pluto Press. ISBN 9780745326832. OCLC 154769337. 

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