“The thin and precarious crust of decency is all that separates any civilization, however impressive, from the hell of anarchy or systematic tyranny which dwell wait beneath the surface.”
Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), British writer
I. Overview of Theories of Anarchism
Politics, altogether its forms, has failed. The notion that we will safely and successfully fork over the management of our daily lives and therefore the setting of priorities to a political class or elite is thoroughly discredited. Politicians can’t be trusted, no matter the system during which they operate. No set of constraints, checks, and balances, is proved to figure and mitigate their unconscionable acts and therefore the pernicious effects these wear our welfare and longevity.
Ideologies – from the benign to the malign and from the divine to the pedestrian – have driven the gullible humanity to the verge of annihilation and back. Participatory democracies have degenerated everywhere into venal plutocracies. Socialism and its poisoned fruits – Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism – have wrought misery on a scale unprecedented even by medieval standards. Only Fascism and Nazism compare with them unfavorably. the thought of the nation-state culminated within the Yugoslav succession wars.
It is time to significantly consider a much-derided and decried alternative: anarchism.
Anarchism is usually mistaken for left-wing thinking or the advocacy of anarchy. it’s neither. If anything, the libertarian strain in anarchism makes it closer to the proper. Anarchism is an umbrella term covering disparate social and political theories – among them classic or cooperative anarchism (postulated by William Godwin and, later, Pierre Joseph Proudhon), radical individualism (Max Stirner), religious anarchism (Leo Tolstoy), anarcho-communism (Kropotkin) and anarcho-syndicalism, educational anarchism (Paul Goodman), and communitarian anarchism (Daniel Guerin).
The narrow (and familiar) sort of political anarchism springs from the assumption that human communities can survive and thrive through voluntary cooperation, without a coercive central government. Politics corrupt and subvert Man’s good and noble nature. Governments are instruments of self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement, and therefore the reification and embodiment of said subversion.
The logical outcome is to involve the overthrow of all political systems, as Michael Bakunin suggested. Governments should therefore be opposed by any and every one means, including violent action. What should replace the state? there’s little agreement among anarchists: biblical authority (Tolstoy), self-regulating co-opertaives of craftsmen (Proudhon), a federation of voluntary associations (Bakunin), trade unions (anarcho-syndicalists), ideal communism (Kropotkin).
What is common to the present smorgasbord is that the affirmation of freedom because the most fundamental value. Justice, equality, and welfare can’t be sustained without it. The state and its oppressive mechanisms is incompatible with it. Figures of authority and therefore the ruling classes are sure to abuse their remit and use the instruments of state to further and enforce their own interests. The state is conceived and laws are enacted for this explicit purpose of gross and unjust exploitation. The state perpetrates violence and is that the cause instead of the cure of most social ills.
Anarchists believe that citizenry are perfectly capable of rational self-government. within the Utopia of anarchism, individuals prefer to belong to society (or to exclude themselves from it). Rules are adopted by agreement of all the members/citizens through direct participation in voting. almost like participatory democracy, holders of offices are often recalled by constituents.
It is important to stress that: ” Anarchism doesn’t preclude social organization, social order or rules, the acceptable delegation of authority, or maybe of certain sorts of government, as long as this is often distinguished from the state and as long because it is administrative and not oppressive, coercive, or bureaucratic.”
(Honderich, Ted, ed. – The Oxford Companion to Philosophy – Oxford University Press, New York, 1995 – p. 31)
Anarchists aren’t against the organization, law, and order, or the existence of authority. they’re against the usurpation of power by individuals or by classes (groups) of people for private gain through the subjugation and exploitation (however subtle and disguised) of other, less fortunate people. Every social arrangement and institution should be put to the twin acid tests of private autonomy and freedom and moral law. If it fails either of the 2 it should be promptly abolished.
II. Contradictions in Anarchism
Anarchism isn’t prescriptive. Anarchists believe that the voluntary members of every and each society should decide the small print of the order and functioning of their own community. Consequently, anarchism provides no coherent recipe on the way to construct the perfect community. This, of course, is its Achilles’ heel .
Consider crime. Anarchists of all stripes agree that folks have the proper to exercise self-defense by organizing voluntarily to suppress malfeasance and put away criminals. Yet, is that this not the very quiddity of the oppressive state, its laws, police, prisons, and army? Are the origins of the coercive state and its justification not firmly rooted within the got to confront evil?
Some anarchists believe changing society through violence. Are these anarcho-terrorists criminals or freedom fighters? If they’re opposed by voluntary grassroots (vigilante) organizations within the better of anarchist tradition – should they fight back and thus frustrate the authentic will of the people whose welfare they claim to be seeking?
Anarchism may be a chicken and egg proposition. it’s predicated on people’s well-developed sense of responsibility and grounded in their “natural morality”. Yet, all anarchists admit that these endowments are decimated by millennia of statal repression. Life in anarchism is, therefore, aimed toward restoring the very preconditions to life in anarchism. Anarchism seeks to revive its constituents’ ethical constitution – without which there are often no anarchism within the first place. This self-defeating bootstrapping results in convoluted and half-baked transitory phases between the nation-state and pure anarchism (hence anarcho-syndicalism and a few sorts of proto-Communism).
Primitivist and green anarchists reject technology, globalization, and capitalism also because the state. Yet, globalization, technology, (and capitalism) are the maximum amount con to the classical, hermetic nation-state as is philosophical anarchism. they’re manifestly less coercive and more voluntary, too. This blanket defiance of everything modern introduces insoluble contradictions into the idea and practice lately twentieth century anarchism.
Read More: The Liberator who tarnished his Freedom
Indeed, the term anarchism has been trivialized and debauched. Animal rights activists, environmentalists, feminists, peasant revolutionaries, and techno-punk performers all claim to be anarchists with equal conviction and equal falsity.
III. Reclaiming Anarchism
Errico Malatesta and Voltairine de Cleyre distilled the essence of anarchism to encompass all the philosophies that oppose the state and abhor capitalism (“anarchism without adjectives”). At a deeper level, anarchism wishes to spot and rectify social asymmetries. The state, men, and therefore the rich – are, respectively, more powerful than the individuals, women, and therefore the poor. These are three inequalities out of the many . it’s the task of anarchism to fight against them.
This can be wiped out either of two ways:
- By violently dismantling existing structures and institutions and replacing them with voluntary, self-regulating organizations of free individuals. The Zapatistas movement in Mexico is an effort to try to to just that.
- Or, by creating voluntary, self-regulating organizations of free individuals whose functions parallel those of established hierarchies and institutions (“dual power”). Gradually, the previous will replace the latter. The evolution of certain non-government organizations follows this path.
Whichever strategy is adopted, it’s essential to first identify those asymmetries that underlie all others (“primary asymmetries” vs. “secondary asymmetries”). Most anarchists point at the state and at the ownership of property because the primary asymmetries. The state is an asymmetrical transfer of power from the individual to a coercive and unjust social hyperstructure. Property represents the disproportionate accumulation of wealth by certain individuals. Crime is simply the natural reaction to those glaring injustices.
But the state and property are secondary asymmetries, not primary ones. There are periods in human history and there are cultures barren of either or both. the first asymmetry seems to be natural: some people are born more clever and stronger than others. the sport is skewed in their favor not due to some sinister conspiracy but because they merit it (meritocracy is that the stone of capitalism), or because they will force themselves, their wishes, and their priorities and preferences on others, or because their adherents and followers believe that rewarding their leaders will maximize their own welfare (aggression and self-interest are the cornerstone of all social organizations).