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Anarchism Notes

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himAnarchism

Core themes: against the state

Prefer a stateless society in which individuals manage their affairs by voluntary agreement. However it is based upon the assumption that human beings are moral creatures, instinctively drawn to freedom and autonomy. Therefore its efforts have been directed more towards awakening moral instincts rather than analysing the system of state oppression. Anarchism has a dual character as it overlaps with both socialism and liberalism because of their end goals of a stateless society. It can therefore be interpreted as ultra-liberalism or ultra-socialism. Anarchist supporters are united by a belief in anti-statism, utopianism, anti-clericalism and economic freedom.

Anti-statism; * Authority is an offence against the principles of freedom and equality whilst oppressing and limiting human life. * Endorses absolute freedom and unrestrained political equality * Authority damages and corrupts those who are subject to it and those who hold it. * Since humans are free and autonomous creatures, to be subject to authority is to be diminished * To be in authority is to acquire an appetite for control and domination * The state is a sovereign body that exercises supreme power over individuals. It is unlimited and restricts behaviour, thinking, activity and economic life. * The state is compulsory and individuals are subject to it because of where they are born. * The state is a coercive body whose laws are backed up by punishment. * It can deprive individuals of their property, liberty and even life through punishment. * The state is exploitative in that it robs individuals through taxation. * It acts in allegiance with the wealthy and privileged to oppress the poor * The state is destructive as it can lead individuals into war where they are required to fight and die at the expense of the state. * The state, as a repository of sovereign, compulsory and coercive authority, is therefore nothing less than a concentrated form of evil. * Lord Acton- “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Utopianism; * Hobbes and Locke suggested that a stateless society would lead to a civil war of each against all because of their pessimistic view of human nature. * Godwin suggested that humans are essentially rational creatures, inclined by education and enlightened judgement to live in accordance with universal moral laws. * Humans have a natural propensity to organise their life in a harmonious and peaceful fashion * Therefore the government is not the solution to the problem, but the cause * Anarchists believe in natural goodness of human kind. Therefore social order arises naturally and does not require the machinery of law and order.
However
* They accept that humans could be selfish and competitive as well as sociable and cooperative * They regard human nature as plastic which means it can be moulded by social, political and economic circumstance * Social institutions nurture respect, cooperation and harmony

Anti-clericalism; * Anarchists express bitterness towards the church because religion is a form of authority. * A supreme being commands ultimate and unquestionable authority * Humans cannot be regarded as free and independent without rejecting religion. * Anarchists view religion as a pillar of the state. * It propagates an ideology of obedience and submission to spiritual leaders and earthly rulers * Religion seeks to impose a set of moral principles on the individual and conformity to ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as defined and policed by figures of religious authority. * The individual is robbed of moral autonomy
However
* Early anarchists were influenced by millenarianism, a belief in a thousand year period of divine rule * Modern anarchists have often been attracted to religions such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism which offer the prospect of personal insight and preach values of toleration, respect and harmony

Economic freedom; * In the 19th century, anarchists associated themselves with the oppressed class and sought to carry out social revolution in the name of the ‘exploited masses’ in which capitalism would be swept away. * Collectivist and individualist anarchists disagreed over private property. * Anarcho-collectivists advocated an economy based on cooperation and collective ownership * Anarcho-individualists supported the free market and private property * Both opposed ‘managed capitalism’ which was a feature of post-war Western democracies. * Anarcho-individualists objected to the violation of property rights and individual freedom * Anarcho-collectivists argued that the state merely replaces the capitalist class as the main source of exploitation

Collectivist anarchism:

Philosophical roots lie in socialism. Their conclusions come from pushing socialist collectivism to its limits. Anarcho-collectivists stress the human capacity for social solidarity. Humans are social, gregarious and cooperative creatures hence the natural relationship between one another is one of sympathy, affection and harmony. Not only is government unnecessary but, in replacing freedom with oppression, it also makes social solidarity impossible. Both anarcho-collectivists and Marxists; 1. Fundamentally reject capitalism 2. Endorse revolution as the means of achieving their goals 3. Prefer collective ownership and communal organisation 4. Believe a communist society would be anarchic 5. Agree that humans can order their affairs without political authority
Nevertheless they still disagree over the transition from capitalism to communism. Marxists believe in the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which will wither away. On the other hand, anarchists regard the state as evil and oppressive in any form. Anarcho-collectivism has taken a variety of forms, the most significant being mutualism, anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-communism.

Mutualism; * A system of fair and equitable exchange in which individuals or groups bargain with each other, trading goods and services without profiteering or exploitation occurring. * Proudhon- “property is theft” (but he was not opposed to possesions) * In particular he admired Swiss watch makers who managed their affairs on the basis of mutual cooperation * He sought to establish property ownership that would avoid exploitation and promote harmony * Social interaction would be voluntary, mutually beneficial and harmonious * Therefore it would require no regulation or government interference

Anarcho-syndicalism; * Syndicalism first emerged in France and is a form of revolutionary trade unionism. * Their theory drew on socialist ideas and advanced the notion of class wars. * Workers were the oppressed class and industrialists were the exploitative class * Workers could defend themselves by forming syndicated based on particular professions or industries which would act as conventional trade unions * Syndicalists were also revolutionaries who looked to overthrow capitalism through a general strike. * Syndicalism was attractive to anarchists who wanted to spread their ideas among the masses. * They believed that working class power should be exerted through direct action * They also saw syndicates as a model for future, non-hierarchic society
However
* Although it had mass support, at least until the Spanish civil war, it failed to achieve its revolutionary objectives * It did not provide any political strategy or theory of revolution after the general strike, relying instead on a spontaneous uprising

Anarcho-communism; * Sociable and gregarious humans could lead a shared and communal existence. * Labour is a social experience in which people work in common with each other, hence wealth should be owned by the community * Private property encourages selfishness and promotes conflict and disharmony because of the greed, envy and resentment fostered by inequality of ownership * It’s rooted in highly optimistic beliefs about the human capacity for cooperation. * Whereas social thinkers used Darwin’s theory to support the idea that humans are naturally competitive, Kropotkin said that species are successful because they manage to harness collective energies through cooperation. * Humans have a strong propensity for mutual aid which promotes further evolution * Kropotkin said that true communism requires absolute abolition of the state. * Anarcho-communists admire small, self-managing communities * Kropotkin envisaged many self-sufficient communities each owning their wealth in common * Communal organisation had three advantages; 1. Strengthens bonds of compassion and solidarity within the communes and helps to keep greedy, selfish behaviour at bay 2. Direct democracy guarantees political equality within communes (popular self-government is acceptable to anarchists) 3. Communes are small scale, allowing individuals to manage their own affairs through face-to-face interaction

Individualist anarchism:

The philosophical basis of individualist anarchism lies in the liberal idea of the sovereign individual. Anarchist conclusions are reached by pushing liberal individualism to its logical extreme. Classical liberals believe in negative freedom where there is an absence of external restraints. When taken to its extreme, individualism implies individual sovereignty where absolute and unlimited authority resides within each individual. The individual cannot be sovereign in a state-rules society. However there are significant differences between liberalism and individualist anarchism. While liberals accept the importance of individual sovereignty, they do not believe it can be guaranteed in a stateless society. Also, liberals believed the power of the government can be tamed by constitutional development whereas anarchists regard constitutionalism and democracy as facades behind which political oppression operates. Anarcho-individualism has taken a number of forms, the most important being egoism, libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism.

Egoism; * Stirner- egoism is a philosophy that places the individual self at the centre of their moral universe. * The individual should act how they choose without any considerations for laws, social conventions or religious principles. * Nihilism- and extreme form of individualism centred around a belief in nothing and a rejection of all moral principles
However
* Stirner’s anarchism contained few proposals about how order could be maintained in a stateless society

Libertarianism; * A belief that the individual should enjoy the widest possible realm of freedom. * Implies the removal of both external and internal restraints * Thoreau approved Jefferson’s motto, “government is best which governs least” but adapted it to conform with anarchist sentiment: “government is best which governs not at all” * For Thoreau, individualism leads in the direction of civil disobedience * The individual has to be faithful to their conscience above all political obligation * Tucker considered how autonomous individuals could live and work together without danger of conflict or disorder. He had two solutions; 1. When conflicts happen, they can be resolved by reasoned discussion 2. Find a mechanism where independent actions of free individuals could be brought into harmony with one another * Extreme individualists believed it could be achieved through a market system. * Warren thought that individuals have a sovereign right to the property they themselves produce, but are forced by economic logic to work with others in order to gain advantaged over the division of labour * He suggested this could be achieved in a ‘labour-for-labour’ exchange system

Anarcho-capitalism; * The revival of interest in free-market economics in the late 20th century led to increasingly radical political conclusions. * New right conservatives attracted classical economists * Right-wing libertarians revived the idea of a minimal state * Rothboard and Friedman pushed free-market ideas to their limits and developed anarcho-capitalism * They argued that government should be abolished and replaced by unregulated market competition, property should be owned by sovereign individuals who remain free and the market would regulate all social interactions. The market can satisfy all human wants. * E.g. in an anarchist society, individuals will seek protection from one another which can be delivered by privately owned ‘protection firms’ and ‘private courts’ without the need for a police force or a state court system * Profit-making protection agencies would offer a better service because the competition would provide consumers with better choice and ensure agencies are cheap and efficient

Roads to anarchy:

Anarchists have commonly turned away from active politics. Rather they concentrate on active experiments in communal or cooperative living. They are also anti-political, repelled by the conventional process of politics. Any attempt to influence the government must be done through corrupting routes, as political power is always oppressive. Anarchists are disenchanted by political parties because they are bureaucratic and hierarchical organisations. As there are no conventional roads to anarchy, anarchists have been forced to adopt less orthodox means of political activism. The most significant of these being revolutionary violence, direct action and non-violent protest. Revolutionary violence; * In the 19th century, anarchist leaders tried to rouse the oppressed masses to revolt. * Bakunin led the Alliance for Social Democracy and took part in uprisings in France and Italy
However
* Anarchist risings failed because they were based on spontaneous revolt rather than careful organisation * By the and of the 19th century, anarchists began to concentrate on the revolutionary potential of syndicalist movements * By the early 20th century, anarchism lost support to the better organised communist movement * Some anarchists continued to place emphasis on the revolutionary potential of terrorism and violence. * Anarchists have used terror, carried out by individuals or groups, to create apprehension * The anarchists case for violence is revenge and retribution against corrupt political systems * Anarchist violence mirrors the daily atrocity committed by the corrupt and oppressive political system
However
* In practice, anarchist violence has been counter-productive * Provoked public horror and outrage, hence damaging the popular appeal of the ideology

Direct action; * Passive resistance to terrorism. * Anarcho-syndicalists refused to engage in conventional politics, instead boycotting products of their employers, sabotaging machinery and striking * Direct action had two advantages; 1. It’s uncontaminated by the process of government or the machinery of the state, so political opinion can be expressed openly and honestly 2. It’s a form of popular political activism which turns away from established parties
However
* It may damage public support as it is irresponsible and extremist * Although direct action attracts media attention, it may restrict political influence as it defines the group as an outsider

Non-violent protest; * Godwin and Proudhon regarded violence as tactically misguided and unnecessary in principle. * Later anarchists were attracted to Leo Tolstoy and pacifism. * He suggested that salvation could be achieved by living in accordance with religious principles and returning to a simple, rural existence * The Christian respect fro life required no violence * Non-violent protest appealed to anarchists for two reasons; 1. It reflects a respect for humans as moral and autonomous creatures which fits in with the anarchist view of human nature 2. Non-violence is attractive as a political strategy because refraining from force demonstrates the moral conviction of ones actions
However
* Anarchists attracted to pacifism have tended to shy away from mass political activism * They prefer building model communities that reflect the principles of cooperation and mutual respect

Anarchism in a global age:

Anarchist revival was present in the emergence of the New Left and New Right, both which exhibited libertarian tendencies. The unifying theme of the New Left was liberation and personal fulfilment, encompassing movements of anti-colonialism, feminism and environmentalism. It endorsed political action and popular protest, clearly influenced by anarchism. The New Right also emphasised the importance of individual freedom and anarcho-capitalists were prominent in the rediscovery of free-market economics. Anarchism is attractive to the young as it rejects consumerism, hierarchy and the fact that is offers ‘in-the-moment’ politics.
The clearest manifestation of ‘new’ anarchism has been activist-based theatrical politics such as mass demonstrations and protests. The fact that anarchism lacks an ideological core may help to widen the appeal of the anarchist ‘impulse’. But without leaders or a formal structure, it is difficult to see how anarchism could develop into a sustainable mass movement.…...

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...attempt to dictate my response. In these kinds of situations, children very clearly understand that history matters. * When you go into a doctor’s office for the first time, you invariably have to fill out an information sheet that asks about your medical history. Some of these forms are very detailed, asking questions that require information from rarely accessed memory banks. Why does a doctor ask these questions? The doctor is trying to construct an accurate picture of your state of health. Your health is heavily influenced by the past. Your heredity, past behaviors, past experiences are all important determinants and clues to your present condition. Whenever you return to the doctor, he or she pulls out a file which contains all the notes from past visits. This file is a history of your health. Doctors understand very clearly that the past matters. * Some of you might be thinking that these examples are not very compelling because they both deal with the very recent past—they are not what we think of when we think of history. Let me give one final example that is more to the point. In 1917 the Communists took control of Russia. They began to exercise control over how the history of their country ought to be told. They depicted the tsar as oppressive and cruel. The leaders of the revolution, on the other hand, were portrayed in a very positive light. The Communist government insisted that these leaders, and in particular Lenin, understood more clearly than any one......

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