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Anarchism
An Overview
D. Allen Dalton
ECON 325 – Radical Economics
Boise State University
Fall 2014
What is Anarchism?
• anarkhia – contrary to authority,
without a ruler
• arkhia – authority, ruler
• Anarchy or anarchism?
• Dictionary definitions
– presuming the result
• Response to gulf of power and riches
What is Anarchism?
“the name given to a principle or theory of life under
which society is conceived without government –
harmony in such a society being obtained, not by
submission to law, or by obedience to any authority,
but by free agreements, concluded between the
various groups, territorial and professional, freely
constituted for the sake of production and
consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the
infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilised
being.”
- Kropotkin, “Anarchism,”
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1905.
The Great Anarchists
• William Godwin (1756-1836)
– Enquiry Concerning Political
Justice (1793)
• Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
(1809-1865)
– What Is Property? An Inquiry
into the Principle of Right and
Government (1840)
– General Idea of the Revolution
in the Nineteenth Century
(1851)
The Great Anarchists
• Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876)
– Statism and Anarchy (1873)
– God and the State (1882)
• Pyotr Kropotkin (1842-1921)
– The Conquest of Bread (1892-4)
– Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
(1890-6)
– Fields, Factories and Workshops
(1912)
Varieties of Anarchism
• Anarchist-communism
• Anarcho-syndicalism
• Individualist anarchism
– Mutualist anarchism
– Anarcho-capitalism
• Pacifist anarchism
– Christian anarchism
“…the ideal of a selforganizing society
based on voluntary
cooperation rather
than coercion is
irrepressible.”
- Ward, Anarchism:
A Very Short
Introduction, p. 10
Anarchist Moments
• Antecedents
–
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–
–
–
–
–
–
Medieval Iceland
English Revolution 1640s– Levellers
American Revolution
French Revolution (Enragés)
Revolutions of 1848
Paris Commune of 1870
Russian Revolution (Makhnovites)
Anarcho-syndicalism Spanish Civil War 1930s
State and Society
• Distinction between state and society
• Franz Oppenheimer, The State (1908)
– Distinction between the political and
economic means
“I propose in the following discussion to call one's
own labor and the equivalent exchange of one's
own labor for the labor of others, the ‘economic
means’ for the satisfaction of needs, while the
unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will
be called the ‘political means.’ “
-Oppenheimer, The State, p. 13
State and Society
“The State, completely in its genesis, essentially
and almost completely during the first stages
of its existence, is a social institution, forced
by a victorious group of men on a defeated
group, with the sole purpose of regulating the
dominion of the victorious group over the
vanquished, and securing itself against revolt
from within and attacks from abroad.
Teleologically, this dominion had no other
purpose than the economic exploitation of the
vanquished by the victors.”
- Oppenheimer, The State, p. 8
State and Society
•
•
•
Antecedents of welfare state in friendly
societies, mutual aid organizations, fraternal
brotherhoods
Alternative to the “managerial state” – rise
to prominence of professional technocrats
Ward’s Four Principles of Anarchist
Organization
1.
2.
3.
4.
Voluntary
Functional
Temporary
Small
Nationalism and Religion
• Sources of division and conflict that increase
the strength of the State in human relations
• Anarchist response
– Engagement or Abstention?
– Liberalism, socialism, communism all products of
the Age of Reason
– National socialism (fascism) – reaction
• The special case of Christian Anarchism
Anarchy and Prison Reform
• Nineteenth and early Twentieth century
anarchists were first-hand acquaintances with
the Prison system
– Political, anti-war and “free love” activities
– Kropotkin
• In Russian and French Prisons (1887)
• “prisons are the universities of crime”
– Alexander Berkman
• Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1912)
• Decriminalization
Anarchy and Workplace
• Authority in the workplace
– Many anarchist pioneers linked to early trade and
industrial unionism
– Confédération Générale du Travial (CGT) – France
– Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) – Spain
– Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) – US
• Small-scale economy
– Kropotkin’s Fields, Factories andWorkshops
– Economies of scale in industry
– Small businessmen
Anarchy and Education
• Central to the anarchist program has been
educational reform
– Godwin’s attempt to open a school (1783)
– Paul Goodman, Compulsory Miseducation (1964)
– Murray Rothbard, Education: Free and Compulsory
(1972)
• Against the nationalist system of socialism
and liberalism
– Godwin: “The true object of education, like that of
every other moral process, is the generation of
happiness.” The Enquirer (1797)
Individualist Anarchism
• Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural
Society (1756)
• Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own (1845)
• Henry David Thoreau, “Resistance to Civil
Government,” (1849)
• American Individualist Anarchism
– Tension with socialist/collectivist immigrant
tradition
– Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, Stephen Pearl
Andrews, Benjamin Tucker
Individualist Anarchism
“I heartily accept the motto, — "That government is
best which governs least"; and I should like to see
it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I
believe, — "That government is best which governs
not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that
will be the kind of government which they will have.
Government is at best but an expedient; but most
governments are usually, and all governments are
sometimes, inexpedient. “
- Thoreau, “Resistance to Civil
Government”
Anarcho-capitalism?
• Gustav de Molinari, “The Production of
Security, “ (1849)
– First argument for the private production of
defense and police services
– French laissez-faire tradition
– Disciple of Bastiat and Say
– Pointedly refused the appellation of “anarchist”
– Dispute with Proudhon over the nature of interest
Anarcho-capitalism?
• Modern Anarcho-capitalism
• Murray Rothbard
– Power and Market (1970)
– For A New Liberty (1973)
– The Ethics of Liberty (1982)
• David Friedman
– The Machinery of Freedom (1973)
• Long running dispute about whether Anarchocapitalism is anarchist!
– The problem of language and intent
Anarchy and Modern Society
• “Small” liberations of the 20th/21st century
–
–
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Fashion
Women’s movement
“Free unions”
Sexual Revolution
Ending of Corporal Punishment
“Free schools”
Gay and Lesbian movement
Internet
• WTO and IMF protests
Federalism and Anarchy
• How can self-organizing communities extend
to multi-regional issues?
• Federated communities
– Local interests and commonalities are a barrier to
tyranny
– Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin
– Individuals, communes, provinces, “nations”
– Importance of the right of secession – of
provinces, communes, and of individuals
– “Voluntary Outlawry”
Federalism and Anarchy
“Solicit men’s views in the mass, and they will return
stupid, fickle and violent answers; solicit their
views as members of definite groups with real
solidarity and a distinctive character, and their
answers will be responsible and wise. Expose them
to the political ‘language’ of mass democracy, which
represents ‘the people’ as unitary and undivided,
and minorities as traitors, and they will give birth
to tyranny; expose them to the political language
of federalism, in which the people figures as a
diversified aggregate of real associations, and
they will resist tyranny to the end.”
- Proudhon, The Principle of Federation
Green Anarchism?
• Anarchists have always been distrustful of
large-scale organizations
• In modern capitalism, anarchists see the
artificial support by government of “bigness”
as contributing to ecological problems
• Small self-organizing communities as a
solution
– E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as
if People Mattered (1973)
– Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1974)
Future of Anarchism
• Approach to political and economic
organization that continues to draw adherents
dissatisfied with hierarchy
• “Life-style” anarchism
– Wave of the future or a dead-end?
– Paul Goodman on autonomy (Ward, p. 68)
– Peter Harper (Ward, p. 96)
• Education and politics
• Is a federation of anarchists possible?

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