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Introduction to the Anarchist Movement

An Introduction to the Anarchist Movement
by Brian Crabtree

1 Introduction

2 Anarchist Principles

2.1 Anarchist Ideals

3 Anarchist Society

3.1 A Model of an Anarchist Community?

3.2 Technology and Anarchy

4 The Case For Anarchism

4.1 The Problem Exists

4.2 The Problem Is Inherent

4.3 Anarchy Will Solve the Problem

5 The History of Anarchism

5.1 Proudhon and the Mutualists

5.2 Bakunin and Collectivism

5.3 Peter Kropotkin

5.4 The Anarchist Movement

6 Anarchy As a Way of Life

6.1 Civil Disobedience

6.2 D-I-Y

7 Modern Anarchist Activism

7.1 Direct Action

7.2 Propaganda

8 Conclusion

9 Appendices: Getting Connected

Introduction

What comes to mind when you hear the word “anarchy”?

Chaos and disorder? Bomb throwers and assassins? Wearing black clothes and combat boots? None of these popular conceptions adequately describes anarchism or the anarchist movement. Over the years, there have probably been more nonsense and misconceptions about anarchism than about any other political theory or ideology. To this very day, if you look up “anarchism” in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, you will be told to “See also: Terrorism”. Anarchism is not terrorism, nor is it a fad or style of dress, nor is it necessarily chaotic or violent.

Anarchy is a viable system of non-hierarchical organization – a method of voluntary human interaction. The words “anarchy”, “anarchism”, and “anarchist” should be used to refer to this, not to be used as a catch-all term for “people and ideas that the government doesn’t like”. Dissenters have always been persecuted by the majority. In this book I will attempt to resolve some of the fears, misconceptions, and outright lies that have been propagated about anarchism. This is in no way an attempt to speak for all anarchists. It has been said that there as many definitions of anarchy as there are anarchists, and I want this book to reflect that. As you read this, be careful not to fall into the trap of classifying people with labels. Everyone has their own ideas and morals, and will behave differently. The purpose of this book is to promote a better understanding of anarchism.

Anarchist Principles

Government is an evil and unnecessary institution. The utilization of government as a control device for the population of an area is immoral and inefficient. Anarchy is the alternative to this artificially imposed order. Anarchists envision a libertarian and egalitarian society in which participation is voluntary and mutual aid replaces coercion as the binding force between individuals. Everyone must be allowed to judge for themselves wwhat is right and wrong, and act according to reason and ethics instead of laws and pre-packaged morality. Whose ethics? Each person’s conscience. My ethics are: If what you do infringes the rights of someone else, then it is wrong. Anything else is acceptable.

Some anarchists believe that anarchy is not disorderly – that it is a much more complex form of organization than the simple hierarchical structure imposed on us by government. Still others view organization as just another tool used my the state to control us.

Anarchist Ideals

Liberty. Freedom. Freedom of conscience, or as Thomas Jefferson said it, the right to “the persuit of happiness”, is said to be the basis for all other freedoms; freedom is the highest ideal of anarchists. With liberty comes equality. Liberty does not truly exist unless it exists for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual preference, or ideology. All people are born equal, it is existing society that forces us into groups and classes. Government takes away rights. If it did any less it would not be government. Our government takes away our right to bear arms, our right to persue happiness in whatever form we find it, our freedom of expression, and our freedom to choose what is best for ourselves. Government takes away our liberty. Government also denies us equality, another fundamental freedom, by separating us into classes and discouraging interaction between the classes. If you are born into a poor family, you will probably stay poor; if you are born into a rich family, you will probably be no worse off than your parents. The rich stay in control, and the workers continue to sell their lives to the system.

Government also prevents free association by placing arbitrary political barriers between members of different countries as well as economic barriers between members of the same country. Militarism is a tragic example of the barriers between countries. If countries would spend as much effort trying to get along with each other as they spend trying to keep their own affairs in order, there would be much less war. There would also be less war if we settled disagreements between countries by putting the leaders of the countries in the ring and let them fight it out themselves. I’m sure all of us would agree that that method of war is absolutely absurd, but this is almost exactly what we are doing by fighting wars in the first place. Brute strength is no way to settle an argument. By what logic is the more powerful country correct? More often than not, the citizens of one country have no grudge against the citizens of the opposing country, but their governments turn them against each other with propaganda and lies. Soldiers don’t stop to think that they are actually taking a human life. If every soldier in the world woke up one morning and decided that how many people one has killed is not really the best way to keep score, we’d all be a lot better off.

Anarchist Society

There are many differing points of view concerning how an anarchist society should be organized, including communist anarchy, collectivist anarchy, Proudhon’s anarchy (which consisted of a federal system of autonomous villages), and even capitalist anarchy (an oxymoron in itself). In a communist anarchy, all property is owned by everyone. Theft is therefore eliminated because everyone owns everything; everyone shares common property.

Some anarchists criticize all order and restraint, and that all interaction is good because good and evil are arbitrarily defined. Ontological anarchists believe that chaos is the solutionthat the hidden order inherent in human interaction will emerge when artificial barriers are completely eliminated.

I feel that the most probable and the most truly anarchic of all the systems is individualist anarchy. Individualist anarchists often criticize the tendency to place people into groups, such as blacks, whites, women, men, anarchist, feminists, homosexuals, etc., and expecting that all of the members of a defined group will think or behave in the same way. In fact, everyone is unique and no system will be right for everyone. In an individualist anarchy, people can form whatever kind of community suits them best. An anarchy in which every community was identical would be almost as coercive as majority rule.

A Model of an Anarchist Community?

There is no set model of an anarchist community. In an individualist anarchy, there could be many different systems. If you ask most anarchists, however, they will reply with words like “mutual aid” and “voluntary association”. The idea is that people should work with each other instead of for each other, and that an anarchist society would be organized in a more complex way than modern society. Instead of some people being leaders and others followers, people cooperate. Attempts to model anarchist communities before-the-fact cannot be only theoretical, so I will instead answer some questions about an anarchist society which will help to define what an anarchist society could be. The following is taken from Objections to Anarchism, by George Barrett, which appeares in The Raven (#12), an anarchist journal published by Freedom Press in London. Freedom Press can be reached at 84B Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX.

1. What will you do with the man who will not work?

First of all, let us notice that this question belongs to a class to which many others belong. All social theories must obviously be based on the assumption that men are social: that is, that they will live and work together naturally, because by so doing they can individually better enjoy their lives. Therefore all such difficulties, which are really based on the supposition that men are not social, can be raised not against anarchism alone, but against any system of society that one chooses to suggest. Questions 11, 12, 13 and 15 belong to this class, which are merely based on supposition. My opponents will realise how futile they are if I use a similar kind of argument against their system of government. Suppose, I argue, that having sent your representatives into the House of Commons they will not sit down and legislate but that they will just play the fool, or, perhaps, vote themselves comfortable incomes, instead of looking after your welfare. It will be answered to this that they are sent there to legislate, and that in all human probability they will do so. Quite so; but we may still say ‘Yes, but suppose they don’t?’ and whatever arguments are brought forward in favour of government they can always, by simply supposing, be rendered quite useless, since those who oppose us would never be able to actually guarantee that our governors would govern. Such an argument would be absurd, it is quite true; for though it may happen that occasionally legislators will sit down and vote themselves incomes instead of attending to the affairs of the nation, yet we could not use this as a logical argument against the government system.

Similarly, when we are putting forward our ideas of free co-operation of anarchism, it is not good enough to argue, ‘Yes, but suppose your co-operators will not co-operate?’ for that is what questions of this class amount to.

It is because we claim to be able to show that it is wrong in principle that we, as anarchists, are against government. In the same way, then, those who oppose anarchism ought not to do so by simply supposing that a man will do this, or won’t do that, but they ought to set themselves to show that anarchism is in principle opposed to the welfare of mankind. The second interesting point to notice about the question is that it is generally asked by a Socialist. Behind the question there is obviously the implication that he who asks it has in his mind some way of forcing men to work. Now the most obvious of all those who will not work is the man who is on strike, and if you have a method of dealing with the man who will not work it simply means that you are going to organise a system of society where the government will be so all-powerful that the rebel and the striker will be completely crushed out. You will have a government class dictating to a working class the conditions under which it must labour, which is exactly what both anarchists and Socialists are supposed to be struggling against to-day.

In a free society the man who will not work, if he should exist at all, is at least brought on equal terms with the man who will. He is not placed in a position of privilege so that he need not work, but on the contrary the argument which is so often used against anarchism comes very neatly into play here in its favour. It is often urged that it is necessary to organise in order to live. Quite so, and for this reason the struggle for life compels us to organise, and there is no need for any further compulsion on the part of the government. Since to organise in society is really to work in society, it is the law of life which constantly tends to make men work, whilst it is the artificial laws of privilege which put men in such a position that they need not work. Anarchism would do away with these artificial laws, and thus it is the only system which constantly tends to eliminate the man who will not work.

We might perhaps here quote John Stuart Mill’s answer to this objection:

The objection ordinarily made to a system of community of property and equal distribution of produce-‘that each person would be incessantly occupied in evading his share of the work’-is, I think, in general, considerably overstated . . . Neither in a rude nor in a civilised society has the supposed difficulty been experienced. In no community has idleness ever been a cause of failure. [1]

4. It is necessary to organise in order to live, and to organise means Government; therefore anarchism is impossible.

It is true that it is necessary to organise in order to live, and since we all wish to live we shall all of our own free will organise, and do not need the compulsion of government to make us do so. Organisation does not mean government. All through our ordinary daily work we are organising without government. If two of us lift a table from one side of the room to the other, we naturally take hold one at each end, and we need no government to tell us that we must not overbalance it by both rushing to the same end; the reason why we agree silently, and organise ourselves to the correct positions, is because we both have a common purpose: we both wish to see the table moved. In more complex organisations the same thing takes place. So long as organisations are held together only by a common purpose they will automatically do their work smoothly. But when, in spite of conflicting interests, you have people held together in a common organisation, internal conflict results, and some outside force becomes necessary to preserve order; you have, in fact, governmental society. It is the anarchist’s purpose to so organise society that the conflict of interests will cease, and men will co-operate and work together simply because they have interests in common. In such a society the organisations or institutions which they will form will be exactly in accordance with their needs; in fact, it will be a representative society.

Free organisation is more fully discussed in answer to Questions 5 and 23.

5. How would you regulate the traffic?

We should not regulate it. It would be left to those whose business it was to concern themselves in the matter. It would pay those who use the roads (and therefore had, in the main, interests in common in the matter) to come together and discuss and make agreements as to the rules of the road. Such rules in fact which at present exist have been established by custom and not by law, though the law may sometimes take it on itself to enforce them. This question we see very practically answered to-day by the great motor clubs, which are entered voluntarily, and which study the interest of this portion of the traffic. At dangerous or busy corners a sentry is stationed who with a wave of the hand signals if the coast is clear, or if it is necessary to go slowly. First-aid boxes and repair shops are established all along the road, and arrangements are made for conveying home motorists whose cars are broken down.

A very different section of road users, the carters, have found an equally practical answer to the question. There are, even to-day, all kinds of understandings and agreements amongst these men as to which goes first, and as to the position each shall take up in the yards and buildings where they work. Amongst the cabmen and taxi-drivers the same written and unwritten agreements exist, which are as rigidly maintained by free understandings as they would be by the penalties of law.

Suppose now the influence of government were withdrawn from our drivers. Does anyone believe that the result would be chaos? Is it not infinitely more likely that the free agreements at present existing would extend to cover the whole necessary field? And those few useful duties now undertaken by the government in the matter: would they not be much more effectively carried out by free organisation among the drivers?

This question has been much more fully answered by Kropotkin in The Conquest of Bread. In this he shows how on the canals in Holland the traffic (so vital to the life of that nation) is controlled by free agreements, to the perfect satisfaction of all concerned. The railways of Europe, he points out, also, are brought into co-operation with one another and thus welded into one system, not by a centralised administration, but by agreements and counter-agreements between the various companies. If free agreement is able to do so much even now, in a system of competition and government, how much more could it do when competition disappears, and when we trust to our own organisation instead of to that of a paternal government.

7. If you abolish competition you abolish the incentive to work. One of the strangest things about society to-day is that whilst we show a wonderful power to produce abundant wealth and luxury, we fail to bring forth the simplest necessities.

Everyone, no matter what his political, religious or social opinions may be, will agree in this. It is too obvious to be disputed. On the one hand there are children without boots; on the other hand are the boot-makers crying out that they cannot sell their stock. On the one hand there are people starving or living upon unwholesome food, and on the other hand provision merchants complain of bad trade. Here are homeless men and women sleeping on the pavements and wandering nightly through our great cities, and here again are property-owners complaining that no one will come and live in their houses. And in all these cases production is held up because there is no demand. Is not this an intolerable state of affairs? What now shall we say about the incentive to work? Is it not obvious that the present incentive is wrong and mischievous up to the point of starvation and ruination. That which induces us to produce silks and diamonds and dreadnoughts and toy pomeranians, whilst bread and boots and houses are needed, is wholly and absolutely wrong.

To-day the scramble is to compete for the greatest profits. If there is more profit to be made in satisfying my lady’s passing whim than there is in feeding hungry children, then competition brings us in feverish haste to supply the former, whilst cold charity or the poor law can supply the latter, or leave it unsupplied, just as it feels disposed. That is how it works out. This is the reason: the producer and the consumer are the two essentials; a constant flow of wealth passes from one to the other, but between them stands the profit-maker and his competition system, and he is able to divert that stream into what channel best pleases him. Sweep him away and the producer and the consumer are brought into direct relationship with one another. When he and his competitive system are gone there will still remain the only useful incentive to work, and that will be the needs of the people. The need for the common necessities and the highest luxuries of life will be not only fundamental as it is to-day, but the direct motive power behind all production and distribution. It is obvious, I think, that this is the ideal to be aimed at, for it is only in such circumstances that production and distribution will be carried on for its legitimate purpose-to satisfy the needs of the people; and for no other reason.

9. Under anarchism the country would be invaded by a foreign enemy.

At present the country is held by that which we consider to be an enemy -the landlord and capitalist class. If we are able to free ourselves from this, which is well established and at home on the land, surely we should be able to make shift against a foreign invading force of men, who are fighting, not for their own country, but for their weekly wage. It must be remembered, too, that anarchism is an international movement, and if we do establish a revolution in this country, in other countries the people would have become at least sufficiently rebellious for their master class to consider it advisable to keep their armies at home.

11. If two people want the same piece of land under anarchism, how will you settle the dispute?

First of all, it is well to notice here that Questions 11, 12 and 13 all belong to the same class. No. 11, at least, is based upon a fallacy. If there are two persons who want the exclusive right to the same thing, it is quite obvious that there is no satisfactory solution to the problem. It does not matter in the least what system of society you suggest, you cannot possibly satisfy that position. It is exactly as if I were suggesting a new system of mathematics, and someone asked me: ‘Yes, but under this new system suppose you want to make ten go into one hundred eleven times?’ The truth is that if you do a problem by arithmetic, or if you do it by algebra, or trigonometry, or by any other method, the same answer must be produced for the given problem; and just as you cannot make ten go into one hundred more than ten times, so you cannot make more than one person have the exclusive right to one thing. If two people want it, then at least one must remain in want, whatever may be the form of society in which they are living. Therefore, to begin with, we see that there cannot be a satisfactory way of settling this trouble, for the objection has been raised by simply supposing an unsatisfactory state of affairs.

All that we can say is that such disputes are very much better settled without the interference of authority. If the two were reasonable, they would probably mutually agree to allow their dispute to be settled by some mutual friend whose judgement they could trust. But if instead of taking this sane course they decide to set up a fixed authority, disaster will be the inevitable result. In the first place, this authority will have to be given power wherewith to enforce its judgement in such matters. What will then take place? The answer is quite simple. Feeling it is a superior force, it will naturally in each case take to itself the best of what is disputed, and allot the rest to its friends.

What a strange question is this. It supposes that two people who meet on terms of equality and disagree could not be reasonable or just. But, on the other hand, it supposes that a third party, starting with an unfair advantage, and backed up by violence, will be the incarnation of justice itself. Commonsense should certainly warn us against such a supposition, and if we are lacking in this commodity, then we may learn the lesson by turning to the facts of life. There we see everywhere Authority standing by, and in the name of justice and fair play using its organised violence in order to take the lion’s share of the world’s wealth for the governmental class.

We can only say, then, in answer to such a question, that if people are going to be quarrelsome and constantly disagree then, of course, no state of society will suit them, for they are unsocial animals. If they are only occasionally so, then each case must stand on its merits and be settled by those concerned.

12. Suppose one district wants to construct a railway to pass through a neighbouring community, which opposes it. How would you settle this?

It is curious that this question is not only asked by those who support the present system, but it is also frequently put by the Socialists. Yet surely it implies at once the aggressive spirit of Capitalism, for is it not the capitalist who talks of opening up the various countries of the world, and does he not do this in the very first instance by having a war in order that he may run his railways through, in spite of the local opposition by the natives? Now, if you have a country in which there are various communes, it stands to reason that the people in those communes will want facilities for travelling, and for receiving and sending their goods. That will not be much more true of one little community than of another. This, then, not only implies a local railway, but a continuous railway running from one end of the country to the other. If a certain district, then, is going to object to have such a valuable asset given to it, it will surely be that there is some reason for such an objection. That being so, would it not be folly to have an authority to force that community to submit to the railway passing through?

If this reason does not exist, we are simply supposing a society of unreasonable people and asking how they should co-operate together. The truth is that they could not co-operate together, and it is quite useless to look for any state of society which will suit such a people. The objection, therefore, need not be raised against anarchism, hut against society itself. What would a government society propose to do? Would it start a civil war over the matter? Would it build a prison large enough to enclose this community, and imprison all the people for resisting the law? In fact, what power has any authority to deal with the matter which the anarchists have not got?

The question is childish. It is simply based on the supposition that people are unreasonable, and if such suppositions are allowed to pass as arguments, then any proposed state of society may be easily argued out of existence. I must repeat that many of these questions are of this type, and a reader with a due sense of logic will be able to see how worthless they are, and will not need to read the particular answers I have given to them.

13. Suppose your free people want to build a bridge across a river, but they disagree as to position. How will you settle it?

To begin with, it is obvious, but important, to notice that it is not I, but they, who would settle it. The way it would work out, I imagine, is something like this:

We will call the two groups who differ A and B. Then-

  1. A may be of opinion that the B scheme would be utterly useless to it, and that the only possible position for the bridge is where it has suggested. In which case it will say: ‘Help our scheme, or don’t co-operate at all.’
  2. A may be of opinion that the B scheme is useless, but, recognising the value of B’s help, it may be willing to budge a few yards, and so effect a compromise with B.
  3. A, finding it can get no help from B unless it gives way altogether, may do so, believing that the help thus obtained is worth more than the sacrifice of position.

These are, I think, the three courses open to A. The same three are open to B. I will leave it to the reader to combine the two, and I think he will find the result will be either:

1 That the bridge is built in the A position, with, we will say, the half-hearted support of B; or 2 The same thing, but with letters A and B reversed;

or

3 The bridge is built somewhere between, with the partial support of both parties;

or

4 Each party pursues its own course, independent of the other. In any case it will be seen, I hope, that the final structure will be representative, and that, on the other hand, if one party was able to force the other to pay for what it did not want, the result would not be representative or just.

The usefulness of this somewhat dreary argument will be seen if it be applied not merely to bridge-building but to all the activities of life. By so doing we are able to imagine growing into existence a state of society where groups of people work together so far as they agree, and work separately when they do not. The institutions they construct will be in accord with their wishes and needs. It will indeed be representative. How different is this from the politician’s view of things, who always wants to force the people to co-operate in running his idea of society!

14. What would you do with the criminal?

An Introduction to the Anarchist Movement

There is an important question which should come before this, but which our opponents never seem to care to ask. First of all, we have to decide who are the criminals, or rather, even before this, we have to come to an understanding as to who is to decide who are the criminals? To-day the rich man says to the poor man: ‘If we were not here as your guardians you would be beset by robbers who would take away from you all your possessions.’ But the rich man has all the wealth and luxury that the poor man has produced, and whilst he claims to have protected the people from robbery he has secured for himself the lion’s share in the name of the law. Surely then it becomes a question for the poor man which he has occasion to dread most-the robber, who is very unlikely to take anything from him, or the law, which allows the rich man to take all the best of that which is manufactured.

To the majority of people the criminals in society are not to be very much dreaded even to-day, for they are for the most part people who are at war with those who own the land and have captured all the means of life. In a free society, where no such ownership existed, and where all that is necessary could be obtained by all that have any need, the criminal will always tend to die out. To-day, under our present system, he is always tending to become more numerous.

15. It is necessary for every great town to have a drainage. Suppose someone refuses to connect up, what would you do with him?

This objection is another of the ‘supposition’ class, all of which have really been answered in dealing with question No. 1. It is based on the unsocial man, whereas all systems of society must be organised for social people. The truth, of course, is that in a free society the experts on sanitation would get together and organise our drainage system, and the people who lived in the district would be only too glad to find these convenient arrangements made for them. But still it is possible to suppose that somebody will not agree to this; what then will you do with him? What do our government friends suggest?

The only thing that they can do which in our anarchist society we would not do, is to put him in prison, for we can use all the arguments to persuade him that they can. How much would the town gain by doing this? Here is a description of an up-to-date prison cell into which he might be thrown:

I slept in one of the ordinary cells, which have sliding panes, leaving at the best two openings about six inches square. The windows are set in the wall high up and are 3 by I l/2 or 2 feet area. Added to this they are very dirty, so that the light in the cell is always dim. After the prisoner has been locked in the cell all night the air is unbearable, and its unhealthiness is increased by damp.

The ‘convenience’ supplied in the cell is totally inadequate, and even if it be of a proper size and does not leak, the fact that it remains unemptied from evening till morning is, in case of illness especially, very insanitary and dangerous to health. ‘Lavatory time’ is permitted only at a fixed hour twice a day, only one water-closet being provided for twenty three cells. [2] Thus we see that whilst we are going to guarantee this man being cleanly by means of violence, we have no guarantee that the very violence itself which we use will not be filthy.

But there is another way of looking at this question. Mr Charles Mayl, MB (Bachelor of Medicine) of New College, Oxford, after an outbreak of typhoid fever, was asked to examine the drainage of Windsor; he stated that:

In a previous visitation of typhoid fever the poorest and lowest parts of the town had entirely escaped, whilst the epidemic had been very fatal in good houses. The difference was that whilst the better houses were all connected with sewers the poor part of the town had not drains, but made use of cesspools in the gardens. And this is by no means an isolated instance.

It would not be out of place to quote Herbert Spencer here:

One part of our Sanitary Administration having insisted upon a drainage system by which Oxford, Reading, Maidenhead, Windsor, etc, pollute the water which Londoners have to drink, another part of our Sanitary Administration makes loud protests against the impurity of water which he charges with causing diseases -not remarking, however, that law-enforced arrangements have produced the impurity.

We begin to see therefore that the man who objected to connecting his house with the drains would probably be a man who is interested in the subject, and who knows something about sanitation. It would be of the utmost importance that he should be listened to and his objections removed, instead of shutting him up in an unhealthy prison. The fact is, the rebel is here just as important as he is in other matters, and he can only profitably be eliminated by giving him satisfaction, not by trying to crush him out.

As the man of the drains has only been taken as an example by our objector, it would be interesting here to quote a similar case where the regulations for stamping out cattle diseases were objected to by someone who was importing cattle. In a letter to the Times, signed ‘Landowner’, dated 2nd August, 1872, the writer tells how he bought ‘ten fine young steers, perfectly free from any symptom of disease, and passed sound by the inspector of foreign stock’. Soon after their arrival in England they were attacked by foot and mouth disease. On inquiry he found that foreign stock, however healthy, ‘mostly all go down with it after the passage’. The government regulations for stamping out this disease were that the stock should be driven from the steamer into the pens for a limited number of hours. There seems therefore very little doubt that it was in this quarantine that the healthy animals contracted the disease and spread it among the English cattle. [3]

Every new drove of cattle is kept for hours in an infected pen. Unless the successive droves have been all healthy (which the very institution of the quarantine implies that they have not been) some of them have left in the pen disease matter from their mouths and feet. Even if disinfectants are used after each occupation, the risk is great-the disinfectant is almost certain to be inadequate. Nay, even if the pen is adequately disinfected every time, yet if there is not also a complete disinfection of the landing appliances, the landing-stage and the track to the pen, the disease will be communicated . . . The quarantine regulations . . . might properly be called regulations for the better diffusion of cattle diseases’.

Would our objector to anarchism suggest that the man who refuses to put his cattle in these pens should be sent to prison? …

18. We cannot all agree and think alike and be perfect, and therefore laws are necessary, or we shall have chaos.

It is because we cannot all agree that anarchism becomes necessary. If we all thought alike it would not matter in the least if we had one common law to which we must all submit. But as many of us think differently, it becomes absurd to try to force us to act the same by means of the government which we are silly enough to call representative. A very important point is touched upon here. It is because anarchists recognise the absolute necessity of allowing for this difference among men that they are anarchists. The truth is that all progress is accompanied by a process of differentiation, or of the increasing difference of parts. If we take the most primitive organism we can find it is simply a tiny globule of plasm, that is, of living substance. It is entirely undifferentiated: that is to say, all its parts are alike. An organism next above this in the evolutionary scale will be found to have developed a nucleus. And now the tiny living thing is composed of two distinctly different parts, the cell-body and its nucleus. If we went on comparing various organisms we should find that all those of a more complex nature were made up of clusters of these tiny organisms or cells. In the most primitive of these clusters there would be very little difference between one cell and another. As we get a little higher we find that certain cells in the clusters have taken upon themselves certain duties, and for this purpose have arranged themselves in special ways. By and by, when we get to the higher animals, we shall find that this process has advanced so far that some cells have grouped together to form the breathing apparatus, that is, the lungs; others are responsible for the circulation of the blood; others make up the nervous tissue; and so on, so that we say they form the various ‘organs’ of the body. The point we have to notice is that the higher we get in the animal or vegetable kingdom, the more difference we find between the tiny units or cells which compose the body or organism. Applying this argument to the social body or organism which we call society, it is clear that the more highly developed that organism becomes, the more different will be the units (ie the people) and organs (ie institutions and clubs) which compose it.

(For an answer to the argument based on the supposed need of a controlling centre for the ‘social organism’, see Objection No. 21.)

When, therefore, we want progress we must allow people to differ. This is the very essential difference between the anarchists and the governmentalists. The government is always endeavouring to make men uniform. So literally true is this that in most countries it actually forces them into the uniform of the soldier or the convict. Thus government shows itself as the great reactionary tendency. The anarchist, on the other hand, would break down this and would allow always for the development of new ideas, new growth, and new institutions; so that society would be responsive always to the influence of its really greatest men, and to the surrounding influences, whatever they may be.

It would be easier to get at this argument from a simpler standpoint. It is really quite clear that if we were all agreed, or if we were forced to act as if we did agree, we could not have any progress whatever. Change can take place only when someone disagrees with what is, and with the help of a small minority succeeds in putting that disagreement into practice. No government makes allowance for this fact, and consequently all progress which is made has to come in spite of governments, not by their agency.

I am tempted to touch upon yet another argument here, although I have already given this question too much space. Let me add just one example of the findings of modern science. Everyone knows that there is sex relationship and sex romance in plant life just as there is in the animal world, and it is the hasty conclusion with most of us that sex has been evolved for the purposes of reproduction of the species. A study of the subject, however, proves that plants were amply provided with the means of reproduction before the first signs of sex appeared. Science then has had to ask itself: what was the utility of sex evolution? The answer to this conundrum it has been found lies in the fact that ‘the sexual method of reproduction multiplies variation as no other method of reproduction can.’ [4]

If I have over-elaborated this answer it is because I have wished to interest (but by no means to satisfy) anyone who may see the importance of the subject. A useful work is waiting to be accomplished by some enthusiast who will study differentiation scientifically, and show the bearing of the facts on the organisation of human society.

19. If you abolish government, you will do away with the marriage laws. We shall.

20. How will you regulate sexual relationship and family affairs?

It is curious that sentimental people will declare that love is our greatest attribute, and that freedom is the highest possible condition. Yet if we propose that love shall go free they are shocked and horrified. There is one really genuine difficulty, however, which people do meet in regard to this question. With a very limited understanding they look at things as they are to-day, and see all kinds of repulsive happenings: unwanted children, husbands longing to be free from their wives, and-there is no need to enumerate them. For all this, the sincere thinker is able to see the marriage law is no remedy; but, on the other hand, he sees also that the abolition of that law would also in itself be no remedy.

This is true, no doubt. We cannot expect a well-balanced humanity if we give freedom on one point and slavery on the remainder. The movement towards free love is only logical and useful if it takes its place as part of the general movement towards emancipation.

Love will only come to a normal and healthy condition when it is set in a world without slums and poverty, and without all the incentives to crime which exist to-day. When such a condition is reached it will be folly to bind men and women together, or keep them apart, by laws. Liberty and free agreement must be the basis of this most essential relationship as surely as it must be of all others. …

22. You can’t change human nature.

To begin with, let me point out that I am a part of human nature, and by all my own development I am contributing to and helping in the development and modification of human nature.

If the argument is that I cannot change human nature and mould it into any form at will, then, of course, it is quite true. If, on the other hand, it is intended to suggest that human nature remains ever the same, then the argument is hopelessly unsound. Change seems to be one of the fundamental laws of existence, and especially of organic nature. Man has developed from the lowest animals, and who can say that he has reached the limits of his possibilities?

However, as it so happens, social reformers and revolutionists do not so much rely on the fact that human nature will change as they do upon the theory that the same nature will act differently under different circumstances.

A man becomes an outlaw and a criminal to-day because he steals to feed his family. In a free society there would be no such reason for theft, and consequently this same criminal born into such a world might become a respectable family man. A change for the worse? Possibly; but the point is that it is a change. The same character acts differently under the new circumstances.

To sum up, then:

  • Human nature does change and develop along certain lines, the direction of which we may influence;
  • The fundamental fact is that nature acts according to the condition in which it finds itself.

The latter part of the next answer (No. 23) will be found to apply equally here.

23. Who would do the dirty work under anarchism?

To-day machinery is introduced to replace, as far as possible, the highly paid man. It can only do this very partially, but it is obvious that since machinery is to save the cost of production it will be applied to those things where the cost is considerable. In those branches where labour is very cheap there is not the same incentive to supersede it by machines.

Now things are so strangely organised at present that it is just the dirty and disagreeable work that men will do cheaply, and consequently there is no great rush to invent machines to take their place. In a free society, on the other hand, it is clear that the disagreeable work will be one of the first things that machinery will be called upon to eliminate. It is quite fair to argue, therefore, that the disagreeable work will, to a large extent, disappear in a state of anarchism.

This, however, leaves the question only partially answered. Some time ago, during a strike at Leeds, the roadmen and scavengers refused to do their work. The respectable inhabitants of Leeds recognised the danger of this state of affairs, and organised themselves to do the dirty work. University students were sweeping the streets and carrying boxes of refuse. They answered the question better than I can. They have taught us that a free people would recognise the necessity of such work being done, and would one way or another organise to do it.

Let me give another example more interesting than this and widely differing from it, thus showing how universally true is my answer. Within civilised society probably it would be difficult to find two classes differing more widely than the University student of to-day and the labourer of Western Ireland nearly a hundred years ago. At Ralahine in 1830 was started the most successful of the many Co-operative or Communist experiments for which that period was remarkable. There, on the poorest of bog-soil, amongst ‘the lowest order of Irish poor, discontented, disorderly and vicious, and under the worst circumstances imaginable’, an ideal little experimental community was formed. Among the agreements entered into by these practical impossibilists was one which said that ‘no member be expected to perform any service or work but such as is agreeable to his or her feelings’, yet certain it is that the disagreeable work was daily performed. The following dialogue between a passing stage-coach passenger and a member of the community, whom he found working in water which reached his middle, is recorded:

‘Are you working by yourself?’ inquired the traveller. ‘Yes’, was the answer. ‘Where is your steward?’ ‘We have no steward.’ ‘Who is your master?’ ‘We have no master. We are on a new system.’ ‘Then who sent you to do this work?’ ‘The committee’, replied the man in the dam. ‘Who is the committee?’ asked the mail-coach visitor. ‘Some of the members.’ ‘What members do you mean?’ ‘The ploughmen and labourers who are appointed by us as a committee. I belong to the new systemites.’

Members of this community were elected by ballot among the peasants of Ralahine. ‘There was no inequality established among them’, says G. J. Holyoake, [5] to whom I am indebted for the above description. He adds: ‘It seems incredible that this simple and reasonable form of government [6] should supersede the government of the bludgeon and the blunderbuss-the customary mode by which Irish labourers of that day regulated their industrial affairs. Yet peace and prosperity prevailed through an arrangement of equity.’ The community was successful for three and a half years, and then its end was brought about by causes entirely external. The man who had given his land up for the purposes of the experiment lost his money by gambling, and the colony of 618 acres had to be forfeited. This example of the introduction of a new system among such unpromising circumstances might well have been used in answer to Objection No. 22 -‘You can’t change human nature’.

1. J. S. Mill, Political Economy Vol. I, p.251.

2. Women end Prisons Fabian Tract No. 16.

3. The typhoid and the cattle disease cases are both quoted in the notes to Herbert Spencer’s The Study of Sociology.

4. The Evolution of Sex in Plants by Professor J. Merle Coulter. It is interesting to add that he closes his book with these words: ‘Its [sexuality’s] significance lies in the fact that it makes organic evolution more rapid and far more varied. ‘

5. History of Co-operation.

6. I need not, I think, stay to explain the sense in which this word is used. The committee were workers, not specialised advisers; above all, they had no authority and could only suggest and not issue orders. They were, therefore, not a Government.

Technology and Anarchy

Some anachists, such as “anarcho-primitivists”, denounce technology as slavery. I firmly believe that technologyusing tools to improve quality of lifeis a basic characteristic of all human beings. While we must not completely rely on technology and government-funded research for survival, technology and its advancement are important parts of any society. Government is not responsible for scientific advancement. Almost all of the great historical scientific discoveries were made without the “benefit” of government grants. Government funding only allows scientists to be exploited and made to do science to suit the state’s purposes. Science should be done for the good of humanity, not the good of the governmentyou can always depend on government to find a way to make a weapon out of any new technology. When resources are readily accessible to everyone, technology will be free to advance as rapidly as it does now.

The Case For Anarchism

To prove a need for change, one must prove that a problem exists with the status quo, that the problem is inherent in the status quo, that the harm is sufficient to cause concern, and that the proposed change will solve the problem and eliminate the harm. In the following paragraphs I will show that a change to anarchy is preferable to the status quo: coercion.

The Problem Exists

There are many problems with government as a foundation of society. Aside from coercion being unethical, there are many practical reasons why anarchy will work better.

  1. Power corrupts. Anyone put in a position of power is highly likely to use that power to use that power to their own ends, and will not be able to fairly represent the interests of everyone that he or she is supposed to “represent”.
  2. The majority does not necessarily know better than the minority. Truth does not change simply because 51% of the people think differently. The majority, who simply think along with the most popular opinion of the day, cannot possibly be placed in charge and expected to look after the rights of the minority. The only way everyone’s rights can be protected is if every person is his or her own government, and be restrained only by conscience and reason. We are perfectly capable of making our own conscious choices, and have our decisions made for us by someone else. In this age we have been conditioned to blindly accept coercion as the only way of life.
  3. The class system restrains the rights of indivisuals by forcing them into positions in society that they may not be best suited for. Someone who is born into the working class will, in all likelyhood, do no better than their parents. People born into the upper class can afford to do no work at all while depending upon the exploitation of the working class to support them.
  4. Capitalism is a zero-sum game. Capitalism is a pyramid sceme, based on the assumption that property accumulated by the rich will “trickle down”, eventually reaching the even the poorest citizen. it is also based on the assumption that people are by nature competitive, and that a community will be better off if everyone is continually fighting everyone else and no one cares about anyone but him or her self. This is about as foolish as putting thirty people into a locked room with thirty baseball bats and telling them that to “win”, they have to hit everyone else harder than they get hit. It won’t take them long to realize that they would really all win if no one hit anyone else at all: if they cooperate rather than compete. Capitalism assumes that for one person to be happy (by a capitalist definition, read: rich and powerful), someone else must be made miserable (read: poor and powerless). For the anarchist, happiness does not come from having the most money (dollars, gold, cattle) or having the most control over others. In an anarchist society, no one has to be stepped on in order for everyone to profit. In a capitalist society, everyone does as little work as they possibly cantime is money, after all. An anarchist society, in which everyone is equal and no one can profit from the slavery of others, would be much more efficient.
  5. Government is a wasteful bureaucracy. Government and the ruling class waste the products of the working class’s labor, through taxes, enforcement of unnecessary laws, and the rich living in luxury while the poor suffer. The American government pays social security to old rich people, while young poor children are dying on the streets of easily treatable illnesses.
  6. Supply/demand economics doesn’t work. The pyramid scheme must eventually collapse. If capitalism works, then why are there people struggling to earn or steal enough to buy enough shoes for all of their children when shoe store owners are complaining that they can’t sell enough shoes?
  7. Government creates crime. The government prohibits, and prohibition creates crime. The status quo creates poverty and poverty creates crime. The government artificially increases the prices of drugs by criminalizing them. As Emma Goldman said, “The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the state itself is the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the terrible scourge of its own creation.” The government only protects those in control, and cares little about the lower classes. Do you feel that you are protected when you walk through the streets in the “bad” part of town? The government places little value in the poor and inner-city youth.

There is harm in the status quo, and certainly they are enough to cause concern. Society is degrading every day because of classism, racism, ageism, sexism, and innumerable other -isms. Every day, the government seizes more power, supposedly for our own protection. We don’t need to be protected from ourselves and we don’t need to be protected from each other.

The Problem Is Inherent

These problems are inherent in any system based on coercion or competition. They cannot be solved within the present system, partly because of people’s attitudes and partly because of the structure of authoritarian government itself.

  1. Power is always corruptive, no matter if the power is in the hands of a dictator, a congress, or a majority.
  2. While we agree that the majority does not have any more right to rule than the minority, a system of minority rule would still by tyranny. No individual or group should be given the right to control any other.
  3. The class system does not have to be imposed directly. Under a capitalist, democratic, “free” society, classes are imposed more subtly, by allowing certain people to accumulate more property than others and allowing them to use it to exploit the rest of the people.
  4. Not just capitalism, but any money economy is based on the passing around of a fixed amount of money. Even if the value of a country’s monetary unit gains value, that money is coming from somewhere. Specifically, the money is either coming from other countries or people are doing more work for less money. Any time anyone makes money, they are indirectly taking it away from someone else.
  5. All governments require the expenditure of wealth to operate: to feed their armies, to build killing machines, and to hire police to control their citizens and extort money from them. In an anarchist society, the workers get to reap all the benefits of their labor, without their employers and government taking it away from them.
  6. Poverty is a problem in every country. In an anarchist community, people would trade freely with each other and with the local shoe-makers, and every person would have everything he or she needs. When money and the accumulation of property have been abolished, so too will poverty.
  7. Crime is created by government because all authority causes us to substitute laws for ethics and act only according to what is legal rather than what is acceptable by our conscience.

Anarchy Will Solve the Problem

Will anarchy solve these problems? Yes. Power will not be corruptive because power will not exist. Neither the majority nor the minority will rule because each person will govern themselves. Class will finally be eliminated forever, and equality will finally be realized. Political and economic slavery will be abolished. A capitalist society would not simply spring up again because the only people who would want to become members of such a society are the rich, and a capitalist society depends on the exploitation of the working class for its survival. Poverty would be resolved. There are enough goods to go around; the problem not is that the upper 1% of households control more of it than the lower 90%. In an anarchist society, people would not have to be exploited in order for people to profit and society to advance. Voluntary association and mutual aid are certainly preferable to force. Humanity’s full potential may finally be realized if we only stop fighting each other and trying to control one another. Anarchy will solve the problems of the status quo, eliminate the harm, and open up immeasurable possibilities.

The History of Anarchism

The rejection of authority dates back to the Stoics and Cynics, and has been around for millenia. However, the terms anarchist, anarchism, and anarchy, from the Greek “an archos” (without a rule), were used entirely in a negative manner before the nineteenth century.

Proudhon and the Mutualists

In 1840, in his controversial “What Is Property”, French political writer and socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon became the first person to call himself an anarchist. In this book, Proudhon stated that the real laws of society have nothing to do with authority, but stem instead from the nature of society itself. He also predicted the eventual dissolve of authority and the appearence of a natural social order. “As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks justice in anarchy. Anarchythe absence of a sovereignsuch is the form of government to which we are every day approximating.” He was a ‘peaceful anarchist’; he believed that within existing society, the organizations could be created that would eventually replace it. Proudhon was born in 1809, originally a peasant, the son of a brewer. His “What Is Property” and “System of Economic Contradictions” established him in the socialist community. Later he went on to write “The Federal Principle” and “The Political Capability of the Working Class”.

Although he declared in “What Is Property” that “property is theft”, he did not support communism, and regarded the right of workers to control the means of production as an important part of freedom. He never considered himself the originator of a movement, but he did propose a federal system of autonomous communes. He had many followers, but they preferred the title ‘Mutualists’ to ‘Anarchists’; anarchism still bore a negative connotation. Proudhon and the Mutualists, along with British tradeunionists and socialists, formed the First International Workingmen’s Association.

Bakunin and Collectivism

“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion”These words would accurately summarize the position of Mikail Bakunin and the Collectivists. Bakunin believed that anarchy was only possible through a violent revolution, obliterating all existing institutions. He was originally a nobleman, but became a revolutionary and joined the International in the 1860’s, after founding the Social Democratic Alliance and modifying Proudhon’s teachings into a new doctrine known as Collectivism. Bakunin taught that property rights were impractical and that the means of production should be owned collectively. He was strongly opposed to Karl Marx, also a member of the International, and his ideas of a proletarian dictatorship. This conlict eventually tore the International apart in 1872. He died in 1876, but the next International that he and the Collectivists started in 1873 lasted for another year. Later, his followers finally accepted the title of ‘anarchist’.

Peter Kropotkin

In 1876, when he became a revolutionary, Peter Kropotkin renounced his title of Prince and became successor to Mikail Bakunin. He developed the theory of anarchist communism: not only should the means of production be owned collectively, but the products should be completely communized as well. This revised Thomas More’s Utopian idea of storehouses, “From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.” Kropotkin wrote “The Conquest of Bread” in 1892, in which he sketched his vision of a federation of free Communist groups. In 1899 he wrote “Memoirs of a Revolutionist”, an autobiographical work, and “Fields, Factories, and Workshops”, which put forward ideas on the decentralization of industry necessary for an anarchist society. He later proved by biological and sociological evidence that cooperation is more natural than coercion (“Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution”1902). Kropotkin’s writings completed the vision of the Anarchist future, and little new has been added since.

The Anarchist Movement

Even before Proudhon entered the scene, anarchist activism was going on. The first plans for an anarchist commonwealth were made by an Englishman named Gerrard Winstanley, who founded the tiny Digger movement. In his 1649 pamphlet, “Truth Lifting Up Its Head Above Scandals”, he wrote that power corrupts, that property is incompatible with freedom, and that men can only be free and happy in a society without governmental interference, where work and its products are shared (what was to become the foundation for anarchist theory in the years to come). He led a group of followers to a hillside where they established an anarchist village, but this experiment was quickly destroyed by local opposition. Later another Englishman, William Godwin, would write ‘Political Justice’, which said that authority was against nature, and that social evils exist because men are not free to act according to reason. Among Italian anarchists, an active attitude was prevalent. Said Errico Malatesta in 1876, “The insurrectionary deed, destined to affirm socialist principles by acts, is the most efficacious means of propaganda.” The first acts were rural insurrections, meant to arouse the uneducated citizens of the Italian countryside, but these were unsuccessful. Afterward this activism tended to take the form of individual acts of protest by ‘terrorists’, who attempted to assassinate ruling figures in the hope of demonstrating the vulnerability of the structure of authority and inspiring others by their self-sacrifice. From 1890- 1901, a chain of assassinations took place: King Umberto I, Italy; Empress Elizabeth, Austria; President Carnot, France; President McKinley, United Stated; and Spanish Prime Minister Antonio C novas del Castillo. Unfortunately, these acts had the opposite effect of what was intended- they established the idea of the anarchist as a mindless destroyer.

Also during the 1890’s, many French painters, writers, and other artists discovered anarchism, and were attracted to it because of its individualist ideas. In England, writer Oscar Wilde became an anarchist, and in 1891 wrote “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”.

Anarchism was a strong movement Spain. The first anarchist journal, “El Porvenir”, was published in 1845, but was quickly silenced. Branches of the International were established by Guiseppe Fanelli in Barcelona and Madrid. By 1870, there were over 40,000 Spanish anarchists members; by 1873, 60,000, mostly organized in workingmen’s associations, but in 1874 the movement was forced underground. In the 1880’s and ’90’s, the Spanish anarchist movement tended toward terrorism and insurrections.

The Spanish civil war was the perfect opportunity to finally put ideas into action on a large scale. Factories and railways were taken over. In Andalusia, Catalonia, and Levante, peasents seized the land. Autonomous libertarian villages were set up, like those described in Kropotkin’s ‘The Conquest of Bread’. Internal use of money was abolished, the land was tilled collectively, the village products were sold or exchanged on behalf of the entire community, and each family recieved an equal share of necessities they could not produce themselves. Many of these such communes were even more efficient than the other villages. Although the Spanish anarchists failed because they did not have the ability to carry out sustained warfare, they succeeded in inspiring many and showing that anarchy can work efficiently. Although two of the greatest anarchist leaders, Bakunin and Kropotkin, were Russian, totalitarian censorship managed to supress most of the movement, and it was never very strong in Russia. Only one revolutionary, N.I. Makhno, a peasant, managed to raise an insurrectionary army and, by brilliant guerilla tactics, took temporary control of a large part of the Ukraine from both Red and White armies. His exile in 1921 marked the death of the anarchist movement in Russia.

Throughout American history, there has been a tradition of both violent and pacifist anarchism. Henry David Thoreau, a nonviolent Anarchist writer, and Emma Goldman, an anarchist activist, are a couple of examples. activist anarchism, however, was mainly sustained by immigrants from Europe. In the late 1800’s, anarchism was a part of life for many. In 1886, four anarchists were wrongfully executed for alleged involvement in the Haymarket bombing, in which seven policemen were killed. President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a Polish Anarchist.

Especially since 1917, anarchism has appealed to intellectuals. In 1932, Aldous Huxley wrote “Brave New World”, which warned of a mindless, materialistic existence a modernized society could produce, and in the ‘Foreword’ of the 1946 edition, he said that he believed that only through radical decentralization and a politics that was “Kropotkinesque and cooperative” could the dangers of modern society be escaped. After World War ][, anarchist groups reappeared in almost all countries where they had once existed, excepting Spain and the Soviet Union. In the 1970’s, anarchism drew much attention and interest, and rebellious students often started collectives. Still published is a monthly British publication, called “Anarchy”, which applies anarchist principles to modern life.

Anarchism, although often mistakenly thought of a violent and destructive, is not that at all. Anarchists, though some may advocate a swift and violent revolution, envision a peaceful and harmonious society, based on a natural order rather than an artificial system based on coercion.

Anarchy As a Way of Life

At first glance, you’d expect that people living in a society would be happier if they agreed with the way they were being governed. Quite the opposite is actually true, howeveranarchists refuse to let the state get them down. To prepare for the revolution, which can only be by changing popular opinion, we must live anarchy every day.

We must remain committed to our ideals no matter what the circumstances. Every time you laugh at a discriminatory joke, every time you don’t speak up when you shouldyou contribute to the problem. Intellectual freedomthe freedom to think for one’s selfis one of the foundations for other freedoms. Freedom of expression is integral to art and creativity. Anarchists should oppose the idea of intellectual property and copyrights, as these only block the free flow of information. Express yourself freely and don’t copyright your work.

No one, least of all government, has any right to control you. Show the anarchist spirit in your attitude and actions. Perhaps most importantly, don’t follow the crowd. Be yourself.

Civil Disobedience

Many laws are around todat because no one will stand up and break them and say, “this law is unjust!” Practice civil disobedience in your daily life; don’t let the government’s arbitrarily defined guidelines confine you.

D-I-Y

Do-it-yourself rather than relying on government or large corporations whenever possible. If you are a musician, consider recording independently. If you are a writer, consider publishing independently and not copyrighting your work.

Modern Anarchist Activism

Direct Action

Anarchists, for the most part, are opposed to voting. Not only are you, by voting, agreeing to having someone make your decisions for you, but you are contributing to the illusion that voting actually makes a difference. The best way to effect real change is by direct action. Direct action may take the form of strikes, protests… anything that directly fights coercion. To quote the I.W.W.: “It [the General Strike] debunks the myth that power flows downward, and proves instead that all teal power still resides at the grassroots level, if we only choose to excersize it.”

Anarchists are often present at political marches and protests. The gay/lesbian march for equal rights in Washington, D.C. drew about a hundred marching with the anarchist contingent.

The I.W.W., an anti-capitalist labor union, supports sabotage in the workplacenot necessarily destructivem just a concious slowing down of production.

The most direct for of direct action is shown in clinic defense (the protection of women’s clinics from anti-choice groups such as “Operation Rescue”)actually, physicalls fighting coercion.

Food Not Bombs is another direct action group working for rights for the poor in San Francisco. They distribute free, hot, vegetarian meals to the homeless, and many of them were arrested because they had no permit (when in fact it would have been impossible for them to get a permit in the first place). Propositions have been introduced that would make Food Not Bombs illegal. In October 1993, a ruling was made that allowed FNB to continue distributing free food, but the individual charges against the members were not dropped.

Propaganda

Propaganda is an important part of anarchist activism. Some anarchists believe that a revolution now would be pointlesspeople today have been so indoctrinated with authoritarian dogmas that a revolution now really would cause chaos. A revolution can only take place when a significant portion of the population are tired of being told what to do and decide that they aren’t going to obey the government anymore. As Bakunin said, “The end justifies the means, but the means determine the end.” An anarchist revolution must be by the people and not by a vanguard. Others believe that freedom is a precondition for the development of the maturity necessary for freedom. Either way, one of the most revolutionary things we can do right now is to encourage people to think for themselves. Posters, flyers, and articles about anarchism help to spread the word and get people thinking. Effective flyers get the point across as quickly as possible, but allow the reader to come to his/her own conclusions, without forcing ideas on anyone. Here is the text of a general purpose anarchist flyer I put together.

Are you a patriotic American?

Do you believe in the “American Way”?

Just what is the “American Way?” America supposely represents freedom and equality. Patriots continually praise the American system for giving rights to everyone. The fact is that basic human rights are the same whether we have a government or not. All governments can do is try to take rights away from us.

The “American Way”

What is free about democracy? Why should 51% of the people, who have been almost completely brainwashed by the power elite, get to impose their will on the remaining 49%, and have their views enforced by police and the military? Truth is not dependent on whether or not the majority agrees with it. To wish to think along with the majority, simply because the majority is the majority, only proves that one is unable think for oneself. Democracy has been compared to two wolves and a sheep trying to decide what’s going to be for dinner. It would be more accurate to compare it to two wolves, a sheep, a bird, and a fish. The sheep can form a coalition with the fish and the bird to beat the wolves, but there’s really no reason they should all be eating the same thing in the first place. Democracy is a way of giving citizens the illusion that they have control while opressing them behind their backs.

Class Struggle

What does free market capitalism have to do with equality? “Free” indeed. Capitalism is just as tyrannical as feudalism. Some ninty thousand hours of your life will be sold to someone elseto someone who has accumulated more wealth and property than you have and will use it to exploit you every chance he/she gets. The working class does all the work and the upper class profits. A member of the poorer class is only trying to survive, while a member of the working class spends all of his/her time trying to become a member of the upper class, so that s/he can in turn exploit his/her fellow workers. All of this is presented to you as equality. If you still insist that we are equal under democracy and capitalism, ask yourself: when was the last time we had a poor president? A poor governor? A mayor? The reason for this is that only the rich have the money to do the extensive campaigning necessary to win an election, and many make a career out of politics. What’s more, the rich control the media, and have a great influence over the ideas of the masses. If you don’t think there is a definite ruling class in America, think again.

Where To From Here?

What is the answer? Socialism? Communism? The problems of America are the same problems that are inherent in any government system based on coercion and enforcement by police. Simply put, power corrupts. No person should have control over any other person. The solution is a completely new society, based on mutual aid, cooperation, and voluntary association, rather than force and government authority. Peaceful cooperation can only exist when people are free to act according to reasonaccording to ethics instead of laws. Crime exists only because the government prohibits. For example, how many thousands of robberies, shootings, and deaths each year would be prevented if drugs were legalized, normalizing their artificially inflated prices? The state is the greatest criminal of all, violating our individual liberty by stealing in the form of taxes and property seizures, and murdering in the form of execution and war. Despite this fact, government has come to a complete standstill in coping with crime. We don’t need a government to protect us from ourselves and we don’t need a government to protect us from each other. Government is a completely artificial institution which restricts human interaction.

What You Can Do To Help

We’re not ready for a revolution yet. People have grown too accustommed to having their decisions made for them. They don’t know how to live without government intervention. Government restrictions have caused them to substitute laws for ethics. They’ve lost the ability to make their own choices. The most revolutionary thing we can do right now is to encourage people to think for themselves. Get involved.


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