Anarchist F.A.Q (Anarchism For Beginners)

Go down

Anarchist F.A.Q (Anarchism For Beginners)

Post  Admin on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:25 am

Making Sense of Anarchism. Smile Very Happy

Anarchism for Beginners

Author’s Note:

This guide was written and compiled in order to give a basic understanding of anarchism, and to differentiate the different types of (social) anarchism. It should be noted that this guide does not venture into individualistic anarchism, although individualist anarchists are quoted. Individualistic anarchism may be added at a later date.

Further information may also be added at a later date.


What is anarchism?

Anarchism is a political theory which aims to create anarchy, "the absence of a master, of a sovereign." [P-J Proudhon, What is Property , p. 264] In other words, anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism opposes all forms of hierarchical control - be that control by the state or capitalist - as harmful to the individual and their individuality as well as unnecessary.

In the words of anarchist L. Susan Brown:

"While the popular understanding of anarchism is of a violent, anti-State movement, anarchism is a much more subtle and nuanced tradition then a simple opposition to government power. Anarchists oppose the idea that power and domination are necessary for society, and instead advocate more co-operative, anti-hierarchical forms of social, political and economic organisation." [The Politics of Individualism, p. 106]

However, "anarchism" and "anarchy" are undoubtedly the most misrepresented ideas in political theory. Generally, the words are used to mean "chaos" or "without order," and so, by implication, anarchists desire social chaos and a return to the "laws of the jungle."

This process of misrepresentation is not without historical parallel. For example, in countries which have considered government by one person (monarchy) necessary, the words "republic" or "democracy" have been used precisely like "anarchy," to imply disorder and confusion. Those with a vested interest in preserving the status quo will obviously wish to imply that opposition to the current system cannot work in practice, and that a new form of society will only lead to chaos. Or, as Errico Malatesta expresses it:

"since it was thought that government was necessary and that without government there could only be disorder and confusion, it was natural and logical that anarchy, which means absence of government, should sound like absence of order." [Anarchy, p. 12].

Anarchists want to change this "common-sense" idea of "anarchy," so people will see that government and other hierarchical social relationships are both harmful and unnecessary:

"Change opinion, convince the public that government is not only unnecessary, but extremely harmful, and then the word anarchy, just because it means absence of government, will come to mean for everybody: natural order, unity of human needs and the interests of all, complete freedom within complete solidarity." [Ibid., pp. 12-13].

Are anarchists socialists?

Yes. All branches of anarchism are opposed to capitalism. This is because capitalism is based upon oppression and exploitation. Anarchists reject the "notion that men cannot work together unless they have a driving-master to take a percentage of their product" and think that in an anarchist society "the real workmen will make their own regulations, decide when and where and how things shall be done." By so doing workers would free themselves "from the terrible bondage of capitalism." [Voltairine de Cleyre, "Anarchism," pp. 30-34, Man!, M. Graham (Ed), p. 32, p. 34]

(It must stressed that anarchists are opposed to all economic forms which are based on domination and exploitation, including feudalism, Soviet-style "socialism" and so on.).

Individualists like Benjamin Tucker, along with social anarchists like Proudhon and Bakunin proclaimed themselves "socialists." They did so because, as Kropotkin put it in his classic essay "Modern Science and Anarchism," "so long as Socialism was understood in its wide, generic, and true sense -- as an effort to abolish the exploitation of Labour by Capital -- the Anarchists were marching hand-in-hands with the Socialists of that time." [Evolution and Environment, p. 81] Or, in Tucker's words, "the bottom claim of Socialism [is] that labour should be put in possession of its own," a claim that both "the two schools of Socialistic thought . . . State Socialism and Anarchism" agreed upon. [The Anarchist Reader, p. 144] Hence the word "socialist" was originally defined to include "all those who believed in the individual's right to possess what he or she produced." [Lance Klafta, "Ayn Rand and the Perversion of Libertarianism," in Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, no. 34]

However, the meanings of words change over time. Today "socialism" almost always refers to state socialism, a system that all anarchists have opposed as a denial of freedom and genuine socialist ideals.

Social Anarchism

What do social anarchists demand?

To quote Rudolf Rocker, "in common with founders of Socialism, Anarchists demand the abolition of all economic monopolies and the common ownership of the soil and all other means of production, the use of which must be available to all without distinction. . . .the Anarchists represent the viewpoint that the war against capitalism must be at the same time a war against all institutions of political power, for in history economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression. The exploitation of man by man and the domination of man over man are inseparable, and each is the condition of the other" [Anarcho-syndicalism, p. 17].

What are the four different major trends of social anarchism?

Social anarchism has four major trends -- mutualism, collectivism, communism and syndicalism. The differences are not great and simply involve differences in strategy.

Anarcho-syndicalists, like other syndicalists, want to create an industrial union movement based on anarchist ideas. Therefore they advocate decentralised, federated unions that use direct action to get reforms under capitalism until they are strong enough to overthrow it.

Thus, even under capitalism, anarcho-syndicalists seek to create "free associations of free producers." They think that these associations would serve as "a practical school of anarchism" and they take very seriously Bakunin's remark that the workers' organisations must create "not only the ideas but also the facts of the future itself" in the pre-revolutionary period.

Mutualism (social) is based around a form of market socialism - workers co-operates exchanging the product of their labour via a system of community banks. This mutual bank network would be "formed by the whole community, not for the especial advantage of any individual or class, but for the benefit of all . . . [with] no interest . . . exacted on loans, except enough to cover risks and expenses." [Charles A. Dana, Proudhon and his "Bank of the People", pp. 44-45] Such a system would end capitalist exploitation and oppression for by "introducing mutualism into exchange and credit we introduce it everywhere, and labour will assume a new aspect and become truly democratic." [Op. Cit., p. 45] These banks are owned by the local community.

Anarcho-collectivists consider the end of private ownership of the means of production to be the key. Most anarcho-collectivists think that, over time, as production increases and the sense of community becomes stronger, money will disappear. They agree that, in the end, society would be run along the lines suggested by the maxim, "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs."

Anarcho-communists believe that the community should be the basis of society and is the communal ownership of means of production and of consumption. They also consider the abolition of money to be essential in an anarchist society. They also agree that, in the end, society would be run along the lines suggested by the maxim, "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs."

Anarchism in Practice

Looking at the theory is all very well and good, but what about its practical side? Has it ever been implemented? The following link looks at this question. – What are some examples of modern ‘anarchy in action’?

Extended reading

Anarchism and Marxism

Anarchism developed in constant opposition to the ideas of Marxism, social democracy and Leninism. Long before Lenin rose to power, Mikhail Bakunin warned the followers of Marx against the "Red bureaucracy" that would institute "the worst of all despotic governments" if Marx's state-socialist ideas were ever implemented. Indeed, the works of Stirner, Proudhon and especially Bakunin all predict the horror of state Socialism with great accuracy. In addition, the anarchists were among the first and most vocal critics and opposition to the Bolshevik regime in Russia.

Nevertheless, being socialists, anarchists do share some ideas with some Marxists (though none with leninists). Both Bakunin and Tucker accepted Marx's analysis and critique of capitalism as well as his labour theory of value. Marx himself was heavily influenced by Max Stirner's book The Ego and Its Own, which contains a brilliant critique of what Marx called "vulgar" communism as well as state socialism.

There have also been elements of the Marxist movement holding views very similar to social anarchism (particularly the anarcho-syndicalist branch of social anarchism) -- for example, Anton Pannekoek, Rosa Luxembourg, Paul Mattick and others, who are very far from Lenin. Karl Korsch and others wrote sympathetically of the anarchist revolution in Spain. There are many continuities from Marx to Lenin, but there are also continuities from Marx to more libertarian Marxists, who were harshly critical of Lenin and Bolshevism and whose ideas approximate anarchism's desire for the free association of equals.

Defining An Anarchist - What makes an anarchist...anarchist?

Vanguardism and Anarchism – What is vanguardism and why do anarchists reject it?

Black Bloc - Black Bloc FAQ


Posts : 19
Join date : 2011-10-20
Location : Earth

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Anarchist F.A.Q (Anarchism For Beginners)

Post  Admin on Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:40 am

Extended Anarchism

A list of 'advanced' anarchist bookmarks.

The Anarchist FAQ: Section I - What Would An Anarchist Society Look
A 271 page long description of the anarchist alternative to capitalism

The Conquest of Bread
by Peter Kropotkin
A classic description of an Anarcho-Communist Society

From Riot to Revolution
This was written for the situation in Argentina but most of the ideas can be generalized.

Beyond Resistence: A Revolutionary Manifesto For the Future
From the Anarchist Federation (Britain/Ireland)

A Modest Proposal for How the Bad Old Days Will End
Advocates Libertarian Communism

The Future Society

by Daniel Guerina
This is one of the more popular introductory books on Anarchism. Section Two contains a description of how an Anarchist society would function.

Common Sense Reasons For Worker Self-Management -- Recommended Reading
A short & simple introduction to self-management.

By Rudolf Rocker
This book is a basic intro to Anarcho-Syndicalism and contains a description of the kind of society they aim to achieve.

Anarchism, As We See It
Part Four Has a Short description of an Anarcho-Communist society

Aspects of Anarchism

After the Revolution
by Diego Abad de Santillan
A description of an anarcho-syndicalist society; comes close to being a blueprint

Programme of Anarcho-Syndicalism

Libertarian Communism
by Isaac Puente
Pamphlet from the 1930s

Anarchist Alternatives to Capitalism

There are many real life examples of anarchy in action, such as the Ukraine Revolution and the Spanish Revolution (you can read more about the Spanish Revolution at ).

There are also fictional books which portray anarchist societies - such as the Disposessed by Ursula Leguin.


Posts : 19
Join date : 2011-10-20
Location : Earth

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum