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Anarchism is a political theory which aims to create anarchy, "the absence of a master, of a sovereign." (Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What is Property, p. 264) In other words, anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism isn't social chaos and a return to the "laws of the jungle."
This process of misrepresentation is not without historical parallel. For example, in countries which have considered government by one person (monarchy) necessary, the words "republic" or "democracy" have been used precisely like "anarchy", to imply disorder and confusion. Those with a vested interest in preserving the status quo will obviously wish to imply that opposition to the current system cannot work in practice, and that a new form of society will only lead to chaos. Or, as Errico Malatesta expresses it:
"since it was thought that government was necessary and that without government there could only be disorder and confusion, it was natural and logical that anarchy, which means absence of government, should sound like absence of order." [Anarchy, p. 12].
"Change opinion, convince the public that government is not only unnecessary, but extremely harmful, and then the word anarchy, just because it means absence of government, will come to mean for everybody: natural order, unity of human needs and the interests of all, complete freedom within complete solidarity." [Ibid., pp. 12-13].
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 The meaning of anarchism
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Hello, World! Anarchism, and I
To quote Peter Kropotkin, anarchism is "the no-government system of socialism." [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 46]. In other words, "the abolition of exploitation and oppression of man by man, that is the abolition of private property [i.e. capitalism] and government." [Errico Malatesta, '"Towards Anarchism,"' in Man!, M. Graham (Ed), p. 75]
Anarchism, therefore, is a political theory that aims to create a society which is without political, economic or social hierarchies. Anarchists maintain that anarchy, the absence of rulers, is a viable form of social system and so work for the maximisation of individual liberty and social equality. They see the goals of liberty and equality as mutually self-supporting. Or, in Bakunin's famous dictum:
"We are convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice, and that Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality." [The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, p. 269]
- Collection of critical articles
- Objections to Anarchism Objections and rebuttals, from The Dandelion 1977-79
- Living Utopia - Vivir la utopía about Anarchy in Action in Spain, Documentary by Juan Gamero
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