demanding the impossible
by peter h marshall (1993)
via kindle version from anarchist library [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-h-marshall-demanding-the-impossible] – demanding the impossible – a history of anarchism
Not surprisingly, anarchism has had a bad press. It is usual to dismiss its ideal of pure liberty at best as utopian, at worst, as a dangerous chimera. Anarchists are dismissed as subversive madmen, inflexible extremists, dangerous terrorists on the one hand, or as naive dreamers and gentle saints on the other. President Theodore Roosevelt declared at the end of the nineteenth century: ‘Anarchism is a crime against the whole human race and all mankind should band against anarchists.
ha.. rp ness
The dominant language and culture in a society tend to reflect the values and ideas of those in power. Anarchists more than most have been victims of the tyranny of fixed meanings, and have been caught up in what Thomas Paine called the ‘Bastille of the word’. But it is easy to see why rulers should fear anarchy and wish to label anarchists as destructive fanatics for they question the very foundations of their rule. The word ‘anarchy’ comes from the ancient Greek ἀνἀρχός meaning the condition of being ‘without a leader’ but usually translated and interpreted as ‘without a ruler’. From the beginning, it made sense for rulers to tell their subjects that without their rule there would be tumult and mayhem; as Yeats wrote: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’3 In the same way, upholders of law argued that a state of ‘lawlessness’ would mean turmoil, licence and violence. Governments with known laws are therefore necessary to maintain order and calm.
oi.. carhart-harris entropy law et al
Such unorthodox thinkers went still further to make the outlandish suggestion that a society without rulers would not fall into a condition of chaotic unruliness, but might produce the most desirable form of ordered human existence.
The ‘state of nature’, or society without government, need not after all be Hobbes’ nightmare of permanent war of all against all, but rather a condition of peaceful and productive living. Indeed, it would seem closer to Locke’s state of nature in which people live together in a state of ‘perfect freedom to order their actions’, within the bounds of the law of nature, and live ‘according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them’.4 Anarchists merely reject Locke’s suggestion that in such a condition the enjoyment of life and property would be necessarily uncertain or inconvenient. For this reason, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first self-styled anarchist, writing in the nineteenth century, launched the apparent paradox: ‘Anarchy is Order.’ Its revolutionary import has echoed ever since, filling rulers with fear, since they might be made obsolete, and inspiring the dispossessed and the thoughtful with hope, since they can imagine a time when they might be free to govern themselves.
The growth of the counter-culture, based on individuality, community, and joy, expressed a profound anarchist sensibility, if not a self-conscious knowledge. Once again, it became realistic to demand the impossible.
Tired of the impersonality of monolithic institutions, the hollow trickery of careerist politics, and the grey monotony of work, disaffected middle-class youth raised the black flag of anarchy in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Chicago, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Tokyo. In 1968 the student rebellions were of libertarian inspiration. In Paris street posters declared paradoxically ‘Be realistic: Demand the impossible’, ‘It is forbidden to forbid’ and ‘Imagination is seizing power’. The Situationists called for a thorough transformation of everyday life. The Provos and the Kabouters in Holland carried on the tradition of creative confrontation. The spontaneous uprisings and confrontations at this time showed how vulnerable modern centralized States could be.
Anarchists are influential in the fields of education, trade unions, community planning and culture. The recent trend towards more militarized, centralized and secretive governments has created a counter-movement of people who challenge authority and insist on thinking for themselves.
won’t be free if influential in fields.. need to see those fields as irrelevant distractions/cancers
In general, I define an anarchist as one who rejects all forms of external government and the State and believes that society and individuals would function well without them. A libertarian on the other hand is one who takes liberty to be a supreme value and would like to limit the powers of government to a minimum compatible with security.
The continued appeal of anarchism can probably be attributed to its enduring affinity with both the rational and emotional impulses lying deep within us.
Whatever its future success as a historical movement, anarchism will remain a fundamental part of human experience, for the drive for freedom is one of our deepest needs and the vision of a free society is one of our oldest dreams. Neither can ever be fully repressed; both will outlive all rulers and their States.
part 1 – anarchism in theory
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated, regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded; all by creatures that have neither the right, nor wisdom, nor virtue … To be governed means that at every move, operation, or transaction one is noted, registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, priced, assessed, patented, licensed, authorized, recommended, admonished, prevented, reformed, set right, corrected. Government means to be subjected to tribute, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, pressured, mystified, robbed; all in the name of public utility and the general good. Then, at the first sign of resistance or word of complaint, one is repressed, fined, despised, vexed, pursued, hustled, beaten up, garroted, imprisoned, shot, machine-gunned, judged, sentenced, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to cap it all, ridiculed, mocked, outraged, and dishonoured. That is government, that is its justice and its morality! – PIERRE – JOSEPH PROUDHON
Man is truly free only among equally free men. – MICHAEL BAKUNIN
Every State is a despotism, be the despot one or many. – MAX STIRNER
1 – the river of anarchy
ANARCHY IS USUALLY DEFINED as a society without government, and anarchism as the social philosophy which aims at its realization.
It would be misleading to offer a neat definition of anarchism, since by its very nature it is anti-dogmatic. It does not offer a fixed body of doctrine based on one particular world-view. It is a complex and subtle philosophy, embracing many different currents of thought and strategy. Indeed, anarchism is like a river with many currents and eddies, constantly changing and being refreshed by new surges but always moving towards the wide ocean of freedom.
While there are many different currents in anarchism, anarchists do share certain basic assumptions and central themes. If you dive into an anarchist philosophy, you generally find a particular view of human nature, a critique of the existing order, a vision of a free society, and a way to achieve it. All anarchists reject the legitimacy of external government and of the State, and condemn imposed political authority, hierarchy and domination. They seek to establish the condition of anarchy, that is to say, a decentralized and self-regulating society consisting of a federation of voluntary associations of free and equal individuals. The ultimate goal of anarchism is to create a free society which allows all human beings to realize their full potential.
Anarchism was born of a moral protest against oppression and injustice. The very first human societies saw a constant struggle between those who wanted to rule and those who refused to be ruled or to rule in turn. The first anarchist was the first person who felt the oppression of another and rebelled against it. He or she not only asserted the right to think independently but challenged authority, whatsoever form it took.
Anarchism began to take shape wherever people demanded to govern themselves in the face of power-seeking minorities — whether magicians, priests, conquerors, soldiers, chiefs or rulers. Throughout recorded history, the anarchist spirit can be seen emerging in the clan, tribe, village community, independent city, guild and union.
The nineteenth century witnessed a great flood of anarchist theory and the development of an anarchist movement. The German philosopher Max Stirner elaborated an uncompromising form of individualism, firmly rejecting both government and the State. The first person deliberately to call himself an anarchist was the Frenchman Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; he insisted that only a society without artificial government could restore natural order: ‘Just as man seeks justice in equality, society seeks order in anarchy.’3 He launched the great slogans ‘Anarchy is Order’ and ‘Property is Theft’.
The Russian revolutionary Michael Bakunin described anarchism as ‘Proudhonism broadly developed and pushed to its extreme consequences’.4 He popularized the term ‘anarchy’, exploiting the two associations of the word: with the widespread discord of revolutionary upheaval, and with the stable social order of freedom and solidarity which would follow. Providing a charismatic example of anarchy in action, Bakunin also helped forge the identity of the modern anarchist movement.
His aristocratic compatriot Peter Kropotkin tried, in the latter half of the century, to make anarchism more convincing by developing it into a systematic social philosophy based on scientific principles. He further refined Bakunin’s collectivism — which had looked to distribute wealth according to work accomplished — by giving it a more communistic gloss. Reacting against Kropotkin’s mechanistic approach, the Italian Errico Malatesta brought about a major shift by emphasizing the importance of the will in social struggle. During this period Benjamin R. Tucker in America also took up Proudhon’s economic theories but adopted an extreme individualist stance.
Although Tolstoy did not publicly call himself an anarchist because of that tide’s associations with violence, he developed an anarchist critique of the State and property based on the teachings of Christ. As a result, he helped develop an influential pacifist tradition within the anarchist movement.
In the twentieth century, Emma Goldman added an important feminist dimension, while more recently Murray Bookchin has linked anarchism with social ecology in a striking way. More recent anarchist thinkers have, however, been primarily concerned with the application of anarchist ideas and values.
Collectivists in general look to a free federation of associations of producers and consumers to organize production and distribution. They uphold the socialist principle: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to work done.’ This form of anarchist collectivism appealed to peasants as well as workers in the labour movement who wanted to create a free society without any transitional revolutionary government or dictatorship. For a long time after Bakunin, nearly all the Spanish anarchists were collectivists.
After the demise of the First International in the 1870s the European anarchist movement took a communist direction. At first the distinction between communism and collectivism was not always readily apparent; ‘collective socialism’ was even used as a synonym for ‘non-authoritarian communism’. Nevertheless, anarchist communists came to believe, like Kropotkin, that the products of labour as well as the instruments of production should be held in common. Since the work of each is entwined with the work of all, it is virtually impossible to calculate the exact value of any person’s labour. Anarchist communists therefore conclude that the whole society should manage the economy while the price and wage system should be done away with.
Where collectivists see the workers’ collective as the basic unit of society, communists look to the commune composed of the whole population — consumers as well as producers — as the fundamental association. They adopt as their definition of economic justice the principle: ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’
The advocates of anarcho-syndicalism take the view that trade unions or labour syndicates should not only be concerned with improving the conditions and wages of their members, although this is an important part of their activity. They should take on a more positive role and have an educational as well as social function; they should become the ‘most fruitful germs of a future society, the elementary school of Socialism in general’.6 By developing within the shell of the old society, the syndicates should therefore establish institutions of self-management so that when the revolution comes through a general strike the workers will be prepared to undertake the necessary social transformation. The syndicates should in this way be considered the means of revolution as well as a model of the future society.
Anarcho-capitalism is a recent current which has developed out of individualist anarchism. It wishes to dismantle government while retaining private property and to allow complete laissez-faire in the economy. Its adherents stress the sovereignty of the individual and reject all governmental interference in everyday life. They propose that government services be turned over to private entrepreneurs. Even the symbolic spaces of the public realm like town halls, streets and parks would be made into private property.
In recent times, the various currents of anarchism have flown closer together. There are genuine differences between those who are strict pacifists and those who would allow a minimal use of violence to achieve their common goal. Militants are often critical of the more philosophically inclined, and communists keep reminding the individualists of the importance of solidarity. But the different currents have not split off into different streams or hardened into sects. The concept of ‘anarchism without adjectives’ is being discussed again in the context of creating a broad front to face the challenges of the third millennium.
2 – society and the state
*Pure anarchy in the sense of a society with no concentration of force and no social controls has probably never existed. Stateless societies and peasant societies employ sanctions of approval and disapproval, the offer of reciprocity and the threat of its withdrawal, as instruments of social control. But modern anthropology confirms that in organic or ‘primitive’ societies there is a **limited concentration of force. If authority exists, it is delegated and rarely imposed, and in many societies no relation of command and obedience is in force.
**any form of m\a\p as cancer
Apart from extreme individualists, anarchists thus see society as the natural condition of human beings which brings out the best in them. They consider society to be a self-regulating order which develops best when least interfered with. When asked what would replace government, numerous anarchists have answered ‘What do you replace cancer with?’ .. t Proudhon was more specific and replied ‘Nothing’:
A fundamental assumption of anarchism is that nature flourishes best if left to itself.
Horses live on dry land, eat grass and drink. When pleased, they rub their necks together. When angry, they turn round and kick up their heels at each other. Thus far only do their natural dispositions carry them. But bridled and bitted, with a plate of metal on their foreheads, they learn to cast vicious looks, to turn the head to bite, to resist, to get the bit out of the mouth, or the bridle into it. And thus their natures become depraved.8 (taoist allegory)
The same might be said of human beings. It is interfering, dominating rulers who upset the natural harmony and balance of things. It is only when they try to work against the grain, to block the natural flow of energy, that trouble emerges in society. The anarchist confidence in the advantages of freedom, of letting alone, is thus grounded in a kind of cosmic optimism. Without the interference of human beings, natural laws will ensure that spontaneous order will emerge.
The primitivist Rousseau reacted against the artificiality of European civilization by suggesting that we should develop a more natural way of living. The natural goodness of man had been depraved by government and political institutions; it was therefore necessarily to create them anew in order to let the natural man flourish.
There is undoubtedly a strong strand of primitivism in anarchist thought. It takes both a chronological form, in the belief that the best period of history was before the foundation of the State, and a cultural form, in the idea that the acquisitions of modern civilization are evil. These beliefs can combine in a celebration of the simplicity and gentleness of what is imagined to be the primitive life. Most anarchists however do not look back to some alleged lost golden age, but forward to a new era of self-conscious freedom. They are therefore both primitivist and progressive, drawing inspiration from a happier way of life in the past and anticipating a new and better one in the future.
Proudhon also believed in universal natural law and felt that there was an immanent sense of justice deep within man: ‘he carries within himself the principles of a moral code that goes beyond the individual … They constitute his essence and the essence of society itself. They are the characteristic mould of the human soul, daily refined and perfected through social relations.’
*All anarchists thus believe that without the artificial restrictions of the State and government, without the coercion of imposed authority, a harmony of interests amongst human beings will emerge. Even the most ardent of individualists are confident that **if people follow their own interests in a clear-sighted way they would be able to form unions to minimize conflict. Anarchists, whatever their persuasion, believe in ***spontaneous order. Given common needs, they are confident that human beings can organize themselves.. t and create a social order which will prove far more effective and beneficial than any imposed by authority.14 Liberty, as Proudhon observed, is the mother, not the daughter of order.
But while all anarchists call for the dissolution of the State and believe that social order will eventually prevail, they base their confidence on different premisses and models.15 Individualists like Stirner and Tucker developed Adam Smith’s economic vision in which a hidden hand will translate private interest into general good and promote a coincidence of interests. Since economic activity involves countless decisions and operations it cannot be successfully regulated or directed by one individual or a group of individuals. It should therefore be left to itself and a system of self-regulating economic harmony would result. In Saint-Simon’s celebrated phrase, the ‘administration of things’ would eventually replace ‘the government of men’. Godwin based his model of a harmonious free society on the reign of reason in accordance with universal moral laws. *Through education and enlightenment, people would become more rational and recognize universal truth and their common interests and act accordingly. All would listen to the **voice of truth. Proudhon felt that people were necessarily dependent on each other and would gain from co-ordinating voluntarily their economic interests. Bakunin believed that conscience and reason were sufficient to govern humanity, although he was enough of a Hegelian to depict human consciousness and society developing through history in a dialectical way. ***Only popular spontaneous organizations could meet the growing diversity of needs and interests.
*oi.. supposed to’s of school/work et al
***imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..
Both Kropotkin and Tolstoy based their vision of social harmony on their observations of tribal organizations and peasant villages. They were impressed by the way in which such communities arranged their lives without law and government according to custom and voluntary agreement. At the same time, Kropotkin tried to ground anarchism in the scientific study of society and natural history and to demonstrate that it was a rational philosophy which sought to live in accordance with natural and social laws. Human beings, he argued, had *evolved natural instincts of sympathy and co-operation which were repressed or distorted in authoritarian and capitalist States. In the spontaneous order of a free society, they would re-emerge and be strengthened.
not *evolved.. rather.. already/always.. almaas holes law et al
Proudhon asserted that the government of man by man is servitude, but he paradoxically defined anarchy as the absence of a ruler or a sovereign as a ‘form of government’. In a late work on federalism, he even saw a positive role for the State ‘as a prime mover and overall director’ in society.21 Nevertheless, he acknowledged that ‘anarchical government’ is a contradiction in terms and left one of the most damning descriptions of government and bureaucracy ever made:
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated, regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded; all by creatures that have neither the right, nor wisdom, nor virtue … To be governed means that at every move, operation, or transaction one is noted, registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, priced, assessed, patented, licensed, authorized, recommended, admonished, prevented, reformed, set right, corrected. Government means to be subjected to tribute, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, pressured, mystified, robbed; all in the name of public utility and the general good. Then, at the first sign of resistance or word of complaint, one is repressed, fined, despised, vexed, pursued, hustled, beaten up, garroted, imprisoned, shot, machine-gunned, judged, sentenced, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to cap it all, ridiculed, mocked, outraged, and dishonoured. That is government, that is its justice and its morality!..t
Although anarchists feel that representative democracy is preferable to monarchy, aristocracy or despotism, they still consider it to be *essentially oppressive. They rebut the twin pillars of the democratic theory of the State — representation and majority rule. In the first place, no one can truly represent anyone else and it is impossible to delegate one’s authority. Secondly, the majority has no more right to dictate to the minority, even a minority of one, than the minority to the majority. To decide upon truth by the casting up of votes, Godwin wrote, is a ‘flagrant insult to all reason and justice’.31 The idea that the government can control the individual and his property simply because it reflects the will of the majority is therefore plainly unjust.
Anarchists also reject the liberal theory of a social contract beloved by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. No government, in their view, can have power over any individual who refuses his consent and it is absurd to expect someone to give his consent individually to all the laws. The American individualist Lysander Spooner exploded the contractual theory of the State by analysing the US Constitution. He could find no evidence of anyone ever making a contract to set up a government, and argued that it was absurd to look to the practice of voting or paying taxes as evidence of tacit consent. ‘It is plain’, he concluded, ‘that on the general principles of law and reason … the Constitution is no contract; that it binds nobody, and never did anybody; and that all those who pretend to act by its authority … are mere usurpers, and that every body not only has the right, but is morally bound, to treat them as such.’32
Not all anarchists share the same view of contracts amongst individuals. Godwin rejected all forms of contract since they usually result in past folly governing future wisdom. If an action is right, it should be performed; if not, avoided. There is no need for the additional obligation of a contract. On the other hand, both Proudhon and Kropotkin looked to contracts in the form of voluntary agreements to regulate affairs between people in an anarchist society without the State. But since such contracts are not legally enforceable and carry no sanctions, they are more like declarations of intent than binding contracts in the conventional sense. The only reason why people would keep them is the pragmatic one that if an individual habitually broke his contracts, he would soon find few people to enter into agreement with him.
Anarchists have few illusions about the nature of liberal democracy and representative government. When Proudhon entered briefly the National Assembly during the 1848 Revolution, it confirmed what he had long suspected: ‘As soon as I set foot in the parliamentary Sinai, I ceased to be in touch with the masses. Fear of the people is the sickness of all those who belong to authority; the people, for those in power, are the enemy.’33 Henceforth he declared ‘Universal Suffrage is the Counter-Revolution’ and insisted that the struggle should take place in the economic and not the political arena. Bakunin never entered a parliament as a representative or joined a political party. From the beginning he was well aware that ‘Whoever talks of political power, talks of domination’ and insisted that ‘All political organization is destined to end in the negation of freedom. ‘34 Although during the Spanish Civil War anarchists did participate for a short while in the republican government in order to fight Franco’s rebels, the historic anarchist movement has consistently preached abstention from conventional politics. Hence the popular slogans: ‘Whoever you vote for, the government always gets in’, or better still, ‘If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal’.
Although it may have a benevolent face, the Welfare State can be restrictive by intensifying its grip on the lives of its subjects through registration, regulation and supervision.
It encourages dependency and conformity by threatening to withdraw its aid or by rewarding those its favours. By undermining voluntary associations and the practice of mutual aid, it eventually turns society into a lonely crowd buttressed by the social worker and policeman.
structural violence et al
It (the state) had developed only with the division of society into classes and became a coercive machine for maintaining the rule of one class over another. The capitalist State provided liberty only for those who owned property and subjection for the rest — workers and peasants.
But Marxists and anarchists disagree profoundly over the means of realizing this desirable state of affairs. Marx suggested the need for the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ in a transitional socialist period and it has since become a central part of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. Yet the difference between anarchists and Marxists is more than simply a question of tactics. It also involves substantial theoretical differences. Marx’s dispute with Bakunin did have an important historical dimension, but it was fired by theoretical considerations as well. He attacked Stirner in The German Ideology and Proudhon in The Poverty of Philosophy for their failure to appreciate dialectical materialism. Where Marx tried to reverse Hegel’s position and give primacy to the capitalist economy over the bourgeois State, many anarchists persisted in seeing the State as a determining influence over the economy. Rather than recognizing the need to wait for economic conditions to develop before abolishing the State, some placed their confidence in the creative power of revolutionary will. Marx also opposed the anarchists’ rejection of imposed authority; he was keen to alter the form of authority in a communist society but did not seek to abolish the principle of authority altogether. He thought it was not only necessary to seize State power in order to defend the revolution but also to develop new kinds of social control of the productive forces.
The anarchists failed in Marx’s eyes to develop a coherent class analysis, either by taking an individualist position like Stirner, by adopting a ‘petty-bourgeois’ approach like Proudhon in his defence of the peasantry, or by having an ‘opportunist’ and ‘voluntarist’ faith like Bakunin in the creative energies of the undefined ‘people’ and the ‘lumpenproletariat’.
In particular, he condemned Bakunin for believing that ‘The will, and not economic conditions, is the foundation of social revolution.’ In his dealings with Stirner, Proudhon and Bakunin, Marx certainly emerges ‘at his least appealing and at his most hectoring and heavy-handed’. He not only revealed the authoritarian tendency of his own social and political thought, but also the authoritarian nature of his own personality.
Lenin more than any one else helped contribute to this process. He took issue with the anarchists primarily on the role of the State in the revolution. He argued that they went wrong not in wanting to abolish the State, but in wanting to abolish it overnight. Lenin felt it was essential to ‘smash’ the inherited bureaucratic military State machine. But this did not mean doing away with State power altogether since it was necessary for the proletariat to use it during its dictatorship in a transitional period.
Tolstoy describes laws vividly as ‘rules, made by people who govern by means of organized violence, for non-compliance with which the non-compliant is subjected to blows, to loss of liberty, or even to being murdered’..t. Laws restrict our liberty by making us act or refrain from acting regardless of our wishes; they stand like high hedges, keeping us on the straight and narrow. The methods used by the State to enforce its laws are those of compulsion: the ultimate power of the law is the coercive power of the State. As Hobbes recognized, the authority of Leviathan is ultimately based on the sword — or its modern equivalent, the policeman’s cosh or the soldier’s gun. Indeed, as Tolstoy observed, the characteristic feature of government is that ‘it claims a moral right to inflict physical penalties, and by its decree to make murder a good action’. Since they reject the State, it is therefore inevitable that anarchists reject its most coercive expression in the law; in the words of Jean Grave, ‘anarchy demonstrates that there cannot be any good laws, nor good governments, nor faithful applications of the law … all human law is arbitrary.’
Godwin was certain that the punishment — the voluntary infliction of evil on a vicious being — threatened or imposed by law is not an appropriate way to reform human conduct. Since men are products of their environment, they cannot strictly speaking be held responsible for what they do: an assassin is no more guilty of the crime he commits than the dagger he holds. Since they are in the grip of circumstances, they do not have free will. There can therefore be no moral justification in punishment, whether it be for retribution, example or reform. All punishment is ‘a tacit confession of imbecility’; indeed, it is worse than the original crime since it uses force where rational persuasion is enough. Coercion cannot convince or create respect; it can only sour the mind and alienate the person against whom it is used.
Kropotkin argued that the main supports for crime are idleness, law and authority. But since about two-thirds of existing crimes are crimes against property, ‘they will disappear, or be limited to a quite trifling amount, when property which is now the privilege of a few, shall return to its real source — the community’..t For those people who will still be anti-social and violent, Kropotkin insists that punishment is not appropriate since the severity of punishment does not diminish the amount of crime. Talking from his own experience of Russian and French prisons, he condemned prisons for killing physical energy, destroying the individual will, and encouraging society to treat the liberated prisoner as ‘something plague-stricken’. It is not possible to improve prisons. The more prisons are reformed, the more detestable they become: modern penitentiaries are far worse than the dungeons of the Middle Ages. The best cure for anti-social tendencies is to be found in human sympathy.
Anarchists assume that there would be a greater harmony of interests amongst individuals living in a society without government, law and unequal property. But they do not think that everyone would immediately behave in a responsible fashion and there would be no more disputes or conflicts. In place of the force of law, Godwin and Kropotkin recommended the influence of public opinion and mutual censure to reform conduct. There is of course a possibility that the tyranny of public opinion could replace the oppression of law. But while Godwin and Kropotkin allow censure as a form of social control, they insist that people should decide for themselves how they should behave.
Again, in a society where anti-social individuals are considered to be sick and in need of a cure, psychological manipulation can be more coercive and tyrannical than imprisonment. . t The use of psychiatry to reform dissidents has become notorious in authoritarian societies. Stirner put the problem succinctly: ‘Curative means or healing is only the reverse side of punishment, the theory of cure runs parallel to the theory of punishment,.. t if the latter sees in an action a sin against right, the former takes it for a sin of the man against himself, as a decadence from his health.’
Like the ancient Stoics, the anarchists have always been cosmopolitan and internationalist in outlook, and considered themselves ‘citizens of the world’. In general, they have supported national liberation struggles as part of a wider struggle for freedom, but they have opposed the statist aspirations and exclusive loyalties of the nationalists. They are particularly critical of patriotism which makes the ruled identify with their rulers and become their obedient cannon-fodder. They also recognize that rivalry between Nation-States is one of the principal causes of war.
Godwin was highly critical of Rousseau and others who exhorted people to love their country and to ‘sink the personal existence of individuals in the existence of the community’ as if it were an abstract being. The love of our country is ‘one of those specious illusions which are employed by impostors for the purpose of rendering the multitude the blind instruments of their crooked designs’. It makes us consider whatever is gained for country as so much gained to ‘our darling selves’. Patriotism moreover leads to ‘a spirit of hatred and all uncharitableness towards the countries around us’. In place of a narrow patriotism, Godwin taught universal benevolence: we should help the most needy and worthy, regardless of our personal connections. We should act as impartial spectators and not be swayed by the ties of family, tribe, country, or race. And since ideas of great empire and of legislative unity are plainly ‘the barbarous remains of the days of military heroism’, Godwin looked to a decentralized society of federated parishes to replace the Nation-State.
marsh label law et al
Tolstoy like Godwin also rigorously condemned patriotism. He saw it inextricably linked with government. By supporting government and fostering war, he declared patriotism to be a ‘rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and above all, immoral’ since it influences man to see himself the ‘son of his fatherland and the slave of his Government, and commit actions contrary to his reason and his conscience’.65 He felt that if people could understand that they are not the sons of some fatherland or other, nor of Governments, but the sons of God, they would be neither slaves nor enemies to each other.
Not all anarchists however have condemned patriotism so roundly as Godwin and Tolstoy. Proudhon was undoubtedly a French nationalist. As he grew older, he not only celebrated the French revolutionary tradition but also the French people and their heritage.
He (Bakunin) expressed ‘strong sympathy for any national uprising against any form of oppression’ and declared that every people has ‘the right to be itself and no one is entitled to impose its costume, its customs, its language, its opinions, or its laws’.
While Bakunin believed that nationalism was a ‘natural fact’ and that each nation had an incontestable right to free development, he did not think nationalism acceptable as a legitimate political principle because it has an exclusive tendency and lacks ‘the power of universality’
3 – freedom and equality
It should now be clear that anarchists do not take absolute freedom as their ideal
oi.. krishnamurti partial law et al
Again, the anarchists’ readiness to use public opinion, censure and social pressure to reform conduct in place of law and punishment might suggest that they do not value freedom above everything else. Censure, even in the form of reasoned argument, curtails the freedom of some in an anarchist society to enable the maximum amount of freedom for all.
any form of m\a\p = not legit free
This view, while pointing to an important element in the anarchist conception of freedom, is not comprehensive enough. Stirner, Tucker and other individualist anarchists, for instance, do not see community as supporting individuality. But it does remind us that anarchists accept that liberty has physical and social limits and recognize that personal freedom is inevitably curtailed in some way by the freedom of others. For the strict individualist other people must inevitably stand as a constant threat to his or her freedom.
Afraid of those who would invade his ‘sphere of discretion’ and reduce him to clockwork uniformity, Godwin felt compelled to conclude that ‘everything that is usually understood by the term co-operation is, in some degree, an evil.
For the first time in human history, we are now free to choose our needs.
In addition, it might be misleading to define anarchy as an absence of authority for strictly speaking it would appear that a society without Some form of authority is virtually inconceivable.
this assumption is cancer.. any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority.. we just don’t believe it because we’ve never let go enough to see.. because we’re intoxicated rats in sea world
Nevertheless, it is true to say that all anarchists are opposed to political authority in the sense that they deny anyone the legitimate right to issue commands and have them obeyed. As Robert Paul Wolff has argued, since ‘the state is authority, the right to rule’, anarchism which rejects the State is the only political doctrine consistent with autonomy in which the individual alone is the judge of his moral constraints.39 Anarchists also reject legal authority as defined by Max Weber as ‘a belief in the “legality” of enacted rules and the right of those elevated to authority under such rules to issue commands’.40 Communist anarchists further reject what they call ‘economic authority’; as Faure pointed out, ‘Authority dresses itself in two principal forms: the political form, that is the State; and the economic form, that is private property’
any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority
Anarchists however are less clear-cut about traditional authority resting on a belief in ancient traditions and the legitimacy of the holders of the tradition. Kropotkin, for instance, stressed repeatedly that customs precede man-made laws to regulate human affairs, and thought they could replace them again in the future. Proudhon even accepted the need for patriarchal authority within the family while opposing it in wider society. Anarchists are also prone to being influenced by charismatic authority, that is by the exemplary character of an exceptional person. Godwin appeared to Shelley as a wise mentor and did not reject the role. Bakunin undoubtedly possessed enormous charisma and exploited it to influence his comrades. Many were also affected by Kropotkin’s saintly aura and were prepared to be his followers. Apart from Bakunin, they all saw the dangers of unthinking obedience to or slavish imitation of a leader.
It has been argued that anarchism does not preclude the legitimacy of every type of authority and that anarchists are really opposed only to ‘imposed authority, or authoritarianism’.42 Again, it has been asserted that libertarians reject ‘command-authority’ in coercive institutions, but are willing to accept ‘belief-authority’ in which a person voluntarily legitimizes the influence any other person may have upon them.43
There is some evidence to support this view. Some anarchists have accepted certain attenuated forms of authority. Bakunin, while rejecting the government of science, accepts the authority of superior or technical knowledge. However, while recognizing the authority of technical competence, he insists that the advice of an expert should only be accepted on the basis of voluntary consent: if I am to accept the authority of the cobbler in the matter of shoes, my decision to act on his advice is mine and not his. Malatesta also believes that it is inevitable that a person who has greater understanding and ability to carry out a given task will succeed more easily in having his opinion accepted, and that it is all right for him to act as guide in his area of competence for those less able than himself.
..And Miller argues that anarcho-communists accept a form of authority, although it is ‘non-compulsory, non-coercive, functionally specific, and exercised collectively in a particular locality or shares a particular interest’.
oi.. any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority
But it would be wrong to infer from this that despite their alleged claims to the contrary, anarchists in fact all accept some form of authority. Bakunin’s defence of the authority of superior knowledge, for instance, would be anathema to Godwin as an infringement of the right of private judgement. Any reliance on someone with superior knowledge is for him the most pernicious form of authority since it prevents independent thought and encourages a spirit of dependence. Again, while accepting that the influence of public opinion is preferable to the tyranny of the law, Godwin rightly insists that ‘coercion cannot convince, cannot conciliate, but on the contrary alienates the mind of him against whom it is employed’.50 People may advise and admonish an individual, but he should act by his own deliberation and not theirs.
In general, anarchists reject the use of physical force or even manipulation by unconsciously changing beliefs and actions. They deny anyone the right to issue orders and have them obeyed. They are highly critical of political and bureaucratic authority and do not wish to become dominating leaders, even within small, informal groups. Instead, they prefer to influence others through persuasion, offering rational arguments for their anarchist beliefs and practices. Some may accept a temporary form of leadership based on competence, but most believe in leaderless groups and have no time for bosses or masters. Even if in practice anarchists have voluntarily followed charismatic leaders, they are aware of the dangers of such a form of leadership.
any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority
Michael Taylor argues that if we get a person to do something he would not otherwise have done by using convincing reasons, we are still exercising authority.51 But this would seem to confuse persuasion with authority. What distinguishes authority from persuasion and influence is its claim to legitimacy, a claim which all anarchists deny. Authority is also invariably exercised in a clearly defined hierarchy in which superiors assert the right to issue commands and subordinates are obliged to obey. Of the classic anarchist thinkers, only Bakunin was ready to resort to manipulation through his ‘invisible dictatorship’ and his secret societies.
If they do not reject all forms of authority outright, all anarchists are suspicious of authority, especially that imposed from above, and seek to minimize its influence in society. They certainly do not want to erect an ‘anarchist authority’, even if all participate in it.52 What distinguishes anarchists from other socialists is the precise fact that they are ‘anti-authoritarian’. Unlike Engels, they believe it is quite possible to organize production and distribution without authority. For anarchists, organization without compulsion, based on free agreement and voluntary co-operation, is the only cure for authority. To this end, anarchists call for the decentralization of authority and finally for its maximum dissolution.
but still do because any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority
In general, anarchists believe not only that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but that power destroys both the executioner and victim of power. Their awareness of the corrupting nature of power is the basis of their criticism of concentrated power and their reluctance to relinquish any power to leaders and rulers.
But power is not only political. Bertrand Russell defines power as ‘the production of intended effects’.53 Power in this sense in existing society is ubiquitous, diffuse and often concealed. Power over human beings may usefully be classified by the manner of influencing individuals or by the type of organization involved. An individual may be influenced by direct physical power over his body, (army and police); by rewards and punishments which act as inducements (economic organizations); by the sway of opinion or propaganda (schools, churches, political parties). Indeed, the distinctions between the organizations are not always so clear cut as they often use different forms of power at the same time.
any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority/power
Within society, there is also traditional power (an ancient form based on custom); newly acquired power (such as law based on coercive power of the State or ‘naked’ military power); and revolutionary power (of party or group). Anarchists would condemn all three, though some like Kropotkin would accept the first as the least pernicious, and others like Bakunin would accept the last in the form of a mass uprising.
Anarchists are opposed to all power which is coercive and non-reciprocal, especially in the sense of domination which involves force and conflict between two parties. But they sometimes wield a form of power in trying to influence others by making things unpleasant. Indeed, in the place of law, Godwin and Kropotkin both look to public censure to reform wrongdoers. Tucker might well reduce ethics to the sole moral law of ‘Mind your own business’, but he is ready to exert ‘the influence of reason; the influence of persuasion; the influence of example; the influence of public opinion; the influence of social ostracism; the influence of unhampered economic forces; the influence of better prospects …’56 The two principles would seem to be contradictory, and the latter form of influence undoubtedly involves a form of coercive power. The desire to have power over oneself is quite compatible with the anarchist position. But as Paul Goodman has pointed out, people live quite happily without ‘power’ that manages or coerces from outside. *Most human activities moreover do not need external motivations in the form of reward or punishment.57
any form of m\a\p perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority/power
*all.. otherwise it’s any form of m\a\p which perpetuates all these forms/non-forms of authority/power et al
Anarchists are well aware that an *authoritarian upbringing and education produce people who are either submissive or imperious types..t As Alfred Adler observed, ‘the servile individual lives by the rules of others, and this type seeks out a servile position almost compulsively’.58 At the same time, they recognize with Hobbes and Adler that **the will to power over others is a common tendency amongst human beings. They are aware that, given the opportunity, not only do ex-slaves often try to become masters, but oppressed men try to find weaker beings to lord it over. But anarchists do not see that this tendency is intrinsic in human nature, but rather a product of our authoritarian and hierarchical society. They reject the view that the only possible human relationship is that in which one issues orders and the other obeys, one asserts himself and the other cringes. Such an unequal distribution of power enslaves both the ruler and the ruled. ***Anarchists look to a time when there will no longer be masters and servants, leaders and followers, rulers and ruled.
In the past, anarchists rejected power over each other, but still thought it was necessary to increase power and control over nature. Kropotkin not only entitled one his books The Conquest of Bread but argued like Marx that industrial progress required ‘conquest over nature’.
Human beings would be equal partners in a non-hierarchical world without domination. And while it may be impossible to realize in practice, the ultimate goal would be to achieve the complete absence of imposed authority and coercive power.
As for the doctrine of equal opportunity to develop one’s talents, anarchists do not deny that everyone should have an equal claim to self-development. But they recognize that the principle of equal opportunity is fundamentally conservative since existing society with its hierarchy of values only supports the opportunity to develop those talents and abilities which it considers worth developing. The application of the principle will also increase inequalities by creating a society ruled by a meritocracy. Above all, it is founded on an antagonistic, competitive model of society in which there are more losers than winners in the race for goods and status.
Godwin, ..did not think all people should be treated equally. ..should give preferential treatment to those most likely to increase human happiness: in a fire where I could only save one person, I should save a benevolent philosopher who might contribute to the happiness of thousands before his vicious maid, even if she happened to my mother.
Proudhon, on the other hand, accepted that men and women had equal rights and duties, but he believed that ‘if one compares sex with sex, women are inferior’.64 ..Tucker was even more willing to countenance economic inequalities which might result from the superiority of muscle or brain. As for the ‘beautiful world’ in which absolute equality had been achieved, ‘who would live in it?’, he asks. ‘*Certainly no freeman’.
oi.. *we have no idea what legit free people are like.. (but too.. not equality.. but equity: everyone getting a go everyday)
ie: a nother way
Bakunin had an entirely different approach. He asserted that all humanity was physically and socially equal, and insisted that since man is truly free only among equally free men, the ‘freedom of each is therefore realizable only in the equality of all. The realization of freedom through equality, in principle and in fact, is justice.’66 Yet by retaining a collectivist system of distribution according to work done he endorsed like Proudhon economic inequality.
but earlier said he had coercive secret societies to persuade et al..
Kropotkin went one step further than Bakunin. He shared his belief in human equality but adopted a communist definition of justice: from each according to ability, to each according to need. Clearly this is also an unequal principle, since under a system of voluntary communism the distribution of burdens and rewards will depend on different abilities and needs. In practice, the communist idea of just distribution according to need is more concerned with fair shares than equal shares.
we have no idea
part 2 – forerunners of anarchism
1 – toaism and buddhism
But whereas the Taoists were principally interested in nature and identified with it, the Confucians were more worldly-minded and concerned with reforming society. The Confucians celebrated traditionally ‘male’ virtues like duty, discipline and obedience, while the Taoists promoted the ‘female’ values of receptivity and passivity.
It seems likely that the Tao te ching (The Way and its Power) which is attributed to Lao Tzu, was written in the third century BC. It has been called by the Chinese scholar Joseph Needham ‘without exception the most profound and beautiful work in the Chinese language’.3 The text consists of eighty-one short chapters in poetic form. Although often very obscure and paradoxical, it offers not only the earliest but also the most eloquent exposition of anarchist principles.
Yin is the supreme feminine power, characterized by darkness, cold, and receptivity and associated with the moon; yang is the masculine counterpart of brightness, warmth, and activity, and is identified with the sun. Both forces are at work within men and women as well as in all things.
Where the Confucian wants to conquer and exploit nature, the *Taoist tries to contemplate and understand it. The Taoists’ traditionally ‘feminine’ approach to nature suggests that their way of thinking may well have first evolved in a matriarchal society. While at first sight it might seem a religious attitude, in fact it encouraged a scientific and democratic outlook amongst Taoists. By not imposing their own preconceptions, they were able to observe and understand nature and therefore learn to **channel its energy beneficially.
*i don’t think legit free people would care to contemplate and understand.. **or channel
For the Taoists, the art of living is to be found in simplicity, non-assertion and creative play.
Central to Taoist teaching is the concept of wu-wei. It is often translated as merely non-action. In fact there are striking philological similarities between ‘anarchism’ and ‘wu-wei’. Just as αναeχια in Greek means absence of a ruler, wu-wei means lack of wei, where wei refers to ‘artificial, contrived activity that interferes with natural and spontaneous development’.5 From a political point of view, wei refers to the imposition of authority. To do something in accordance with wu-wei is therefore considered natural; it leads to natural and spontaneous order. It has nothing to do with all forms of imposed authority.
The Tao te ching is quite clear about the nature of force. If we use force, whether physical or moral, to improve ourselves or the world, we simply waste energy and weaken ourselves..: ‘force is followed by loss of strength’(30). It follows that those who wage war will suffer as a result: ‘a violent man will die a violent death’(42). By contrast, giving way is often the best way to overcome: ‘Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water. Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better; it has no equal. The weak can overcome the strong; the supple can overcome the stiff.’(78) The gentle peacefulness recommended by the Taoists is not a form of defeatist submission but a call for the creative and effective use of energy.
if we try to improve ourselves.. we lose energy.. rather.. imagine if we ness
‘Practise non-action. Work without doing’(63), Lao Tzu recommends. In their concept of wu-wei, the Taoists are not urging non-action in the sense of inertia, but rather condemning activity contrary to nature. It is not idleness that they praise, but work without effort, anxiety and complication, work which goes with and not against the grain of things. If people practised wu-wei in the right spirit, work would lose its coercive aspect. It would be undertaken not for its useful results but for its intrinsic value. Instead of being avoided like the plague, work would be transformed into spontaneous and meaningful play: ‘When actions are performed/Without unnecessary speech,/People say, “We did it!” ‘(17).
kilpi work law et al
If people followed their advice, the Taoists suggest, they would live a long life and achieve physical and mental health. One of their fundamental beliefs was that ‘Whatever is contrary to Tao will not last long’(55), while he who is filled with virtue is like a new-born child. In order to prolong their lives the Taoists resorted to yoga-like techniques and even alchemy.
The most important principle at the centre of their teaching however was a belief that ‘The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering.’(48) The deepest roots of the Taoist view of wu-wei probably lies in early matriarchal society in ancient China. The Taoist ideal was a form of agrarian collectivism which sought to recapture the instinctive unity with nature which human beings had lost in developing an artificial and hierarchical culture. Peasants are naturally wise in many ways. By hard experience, they refrain from activity contrary to nature and realize that in order to grow plants they must understand and co-operate with the natural processes. And just as plants grow best when allowed to follow their natures, so human beings thrive when least interfered with.6 It was this insight which led the Taoists to reject all forms of imposed authority, government and the State. It also made them into precursors of modern anarchism and social ecology.
It has been argued that Taoism does not reject the State as an artificial structure, but rather sees it as a natural institution, analogous perhaps to the family.7 While the Tao te ching undoubtedly rejects authoritarian rule, it does read at times as if it is giving advice to rulers to become better at ruling:
not undisturbed ecosystem ness.. oi
However a closer reading shows that the Tao te ching is not concerned with offering Machiavellian advice to rulers or even with the ‘art of governing’. The person who genuinely understands the Tao and applies it to government reaches the inevitable conclusion that the best government does not govern at all.9 Lao Tzu sees nothing but evil coming from government. Indeed, he offers what might be described as the first anarchist manifesto:
The more laws and restrictions there are, The poorer people become. The sharper men’s weapons, The more trouble in the land. The more ingenious and clever men are, The more strange things happen. The more rules and regulations, The more thieves and robbers.
Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed. I enjoy peace and people become honest. I do nothing and the people become rich. I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life. (57)
Lao Tzu specifically sees property as a form of robbery: ..He traces the causes of war to unequal distribution: ‘Claim wealth and tides, and disaster will follow.’(9) .. he offers the social ideal of a classless society without government and patriarchy in which people live simple and sincere lives in harmony with nature. *It would be a decentralized society in which goods are produced and shared in common with the help of appropriate technology. The people would be strong but with no need to show their strength; wise, but with no pretence of learning; productive, but engaged in no unnecessary toil.
chuang tzu – horse story.. As with horses, so it is with human beings. Left to themselves they live in natural harmony and spontaneous order. But when they are coerced and ruled, their natures become vicious.
In an essay ‘On Letting Alone’, Chuang Tzu asserted three hundred years before Christ the fundamental proposition of anarchist thought which has reverberated through history ever since:
There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind. Letting alone springs from fear lest men’s natural dispositions be perverted and their virtue left aside. But if their natural dispositions be not perverted nor their virtue laid aside, what room is there left for government?12
But while pursuing their own interests, they would not forget the interests of others. It is not a sullen selfishness which is recommended.
findings.. et al.. crave others
Thus society is described by Chuang Tzu as
an agreement of a certain number of families and individuals to abide by certain customs.
oi.. tzu cancer.. public consensus always oppresses someone(s) et al
The Buddha was not the mere discoverer of the Twelvefold Chain of Causation,’ Suzuki informs us, ‘he took the chain in his hands and broke it into pieces, so that it would never again bind him to slavery.’
The familiar props of religion are thrown away. The four central statements of Zen are:
A special transmission outside the Scriptures; No dependence upon words or letters; Direct pointing to the soul of man; Seeing into one’s nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.21
have to org around what we all already have (almaas holes law).. so no prep/no train/no enlighten needed.. they (any form of m\a\p) are the chains in end of p.. oi.. huge.. otherwise never all of us in sync.. so never legit free..
huge huge huge.
Traditionally Zen aspirants have learned from a teacher. He is usually called master, but more in the sense of schoolmaster than lord. His task is to help them break out of their everyday perceptions and intellectual habits. Buddhist monks are therefore exemplars, not intermediaries between the individual and God like Christian priests. They may carry sticks and not be averse to using them, but the blows are ways of shaking people out of their habitual way of seeing. In the Rinzai school, where the treatment is particularly vigorous, the discipline is used primarily to develop the pupil’s character from within and to increase his or her moral strength.
Zen thus offers a fiery baptism. However rough or gentle, it is intended to bring the student back to his original state of freedom which he has lost through ignorance. It is aimed at creating self-disciplined freedom, not dependence on masters.
oi to ignorance ness.. intellect ness et al
While a teacher may point the way, the individual must ultimately make his own choices and walk alone on his journey.
What I do to my disciples is to liberate them from their own bondage with such devices as the case may need.’
The aim is to achieve a state of enlightenment in which one sees directly into one’s own nature and realizes that it is not separate from Nature, but part of an organic whole. Opposites are transcended. One feels clear, calm, whole. One becomes uncircumscribed and free. One is beyond conventional definitions of good and evil, moral codes and laws. If you have Zen, you have no fear, doubt or craving. You live a simple life, serene and complete:
k.. but won’t happen if any form of m\a\p.. ie: stick, ignorance.. rest of page o.o shows why not working.. part\ial ness as chains.. has to be all of us.. biggest (?) finding.. once found conditions for free.. craved others.. has to be all of us
Every person is thus free within the limitations of his self-created karma. By right thought and action, I can change myself and shape my destiny.
oi.. socrates supposed to law et al
As the teacher Gasan told his pupils:
Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them.31
oi.. not capacity to learn.. but uncovering/listening to what’s already in us.. already in all of us
2 – the greeks
It is the ‘reason’ or ‘destiny’ which keeps everything in order and ensures the orderly succession of events.
oi.. carhart-harris entropy law et al
The case for Socrates as a libertarian is founded on his insistence that one should question authority and think for oneself… Socrates not only chose free discussion as his method of teaching but insisted that ‘Daily discussion of the matters about which you hear me conversing is the highest good for man. Life that is not tested by such discussion is not worth living.
oi.. that’s spinach or rock ness.. aka: not legit free
(on athens and greek democracy as ideal ie).. On a good day it has been estimated that in the last quarter of the fifth century six thousand might attend the assembly out of a citizen population of about thirty thousand. Athenian policy was thus determined by mass meetings of the citizenry on the ‘advice of anyone who could win the people’s ear’.14 The system, with its regular assemblies, its rotating Council of Five Hundred, and its elected juries, was deliberately organized to prevent the creation of a permanent bureaucracy and to encourage active participation of the citizens. In practice, this process of direct democracy affirmed citizenship as a form of direct action
oi.. public consensus always oppresses someone(s) .. et al
There were of course limits to Athenian democracy. It did not embrace women, slaves, and resident aliens who made up the majority of the population. But it is misleading to say that it was ‘based’ on slavery and therefore somehow invalid. The great majority of citizens earned their living by working with their hands and only about a third owned slaves.17 Nevertheless, even this degree of slavery shows that Athens did not fully understand democracy. Another sign was its readiness to go to war; its imperial ambitions led to the Peloponnesian War which finally brought about its downfall towards the end of the third century.
oi.. thurman interconnectedness law et al
For all its shortcomings, the libertarian legacy of Greek philosophy and Athenian democracy remains impressive and should not be overshadowed by the dominating presence of Plato and Aristotle. The right to private judgement and the freedom of thought and action were first defended by the Greeks. They not only made the fundamental distinction between nature and convention which runs like a silver thread through all anarchist thinking, but developed a strong sense of the common destiny of all humanity to live a life of virtue. They recognized that justice was a universal principle. They loved laughter and friendship and all that is human. Above all, they saw in education the means to awaken the understanding which alone can bring humanity to personal and social freedom.
oi oi oi
3 – christianity
Tolstoy is the most famous, but not the only one to base his anarchism on a radical interpretation of Christianity.
Since The Kingdom of God Is Within You and you can be guided by the divine light of reason, governments are both unnecessary and harmful.
If people could but understand that they are ‘sons of God’, Tolstoy wrote, ‘and can therefore be neither slaves nor enemies to one another — those insane, unnecessary, worn-out, pernicious organizations called Governments, and all the sufferings, violations, humiliations, and crimes they occasion, would cease.19 Tolstoy inspired a long tradition of anarchist pacifists, while his greatest disciple Gandhi developed his doctrine of civil disobedience into a highly effective form of non-violent direct action.
hennacy: ‘Christian-anarchism is based upon the answer of Jesus to the Pharisees when He said that he without sin was to cast the first stone; and upon the Sermon on the Mount which advises the return of good for evil and the turning of the other cheek. Therefore, when we take any part in government by voting for legislative, judicial and executive officials, we make these men our arm by which we cast a stone and deny the Sermon on the Mount.’
In fact it could be argued that Christian anarchism is not an attempt to synthesize two systems of thought but rather an attempt to realize the message of the Gospels. Like the mystical anarchists of the Middle Ages, Ciaron O’Reilly has recently claimed that the *free society already exists in embryo: ‘To the Christian the revolution has already come in the form of the resurrection. It is merely a matter of living out that promise, **not living by the standards of the fallen world. The Kingdom of God exists within the social organism, it is ***our role to make it universally manifest.’.. t
@CiaronOReilly: Non-violent anti-war resister from the Catholic Worker tradition. Priority – organising solidarity with other resisters facing the courts or prison
He is noted both for “his reflections on Christian anarchism, and partly for his example in putting these reflection[s] into practice”. (safehouses, injection site ness) In recent years he has been associated with the campaigns in support of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Ben Griffin, who became O’Reilly’s godson
4 – the middle ages
Retaining Zoroaster’s concepts of light and darkness, Mazdak preached a dualistic religion, but with socialist principles. He believed that all men are born equal but suffer from the unequal distribution of wealth and women, and since most fighting is caused by them, he proscribed (forbid) private property and marriage. People should share their goods and women like water, fire and grazing. They should also maintain respect for animals, thereby putting an end to slaughter. Mazdak’s ideal was a stoical and simple life, and he urged contentment and austerity.
The Heresy of the Free Spirit formed a clandestine tradition which not only emerged in the great peasant rebellions of the Middle Ages and on the extreme left in the English Revolution, but welled up in the writings of William Blake. A modern version of the cult of the Free Spirit, with its stress on the total emancipation of the individual and call for universal peace and love, can be even recognized in the counter-culture of the nineteen sixties.
Nevertheless, it has been called the first attempt to found a society on the principle that liberty is the mother and not the daughter of order.
Satan had seduced them into thinking that they were angels who must purify Christ’s world of all scandals and judge the world; the result was that they ‘committed many killings and impoverished many people’.
In his principal work, The Net of Faith (c. 1450), Peter Chelčický opposed the ‘two whales’ of the Church and State. He believed that the State and political power were the result of original sin, and were necessary evils to keep order in an unregenerate world. But in any true community of Christians they were superfluous; love and peace would suffice. The community Chelčický founded had no outward organization, and was held together only by love and by following the example of Christ and his apostles. The sect eventually became the Moravian Brothers. Rudolf Rocker later recognized Chelčický as a forerunner of Tolstoy, and Kropotkin acknowledged him as a precursor of anarchism.17
5 – the english revolution
There had been communist theories before, but the Digger spokesman Gerrard Winstanley was the first to assert clearly that ‘there cannot be a universal liberty till this universal community is established’.2 They understand the crucial point that State power is intimately linked to the system of property
has to be all of us.. sans any form of m\a\p
The English Revolution was a time when it seemed possible to turn the world upside down, not only overthrow the existing State and Church but to end the Protestant ethic with its stress on work, ascetism and discipline, Winstanley and the Diggers were convinced that ‘the present state of the old world is running up like parchment in the fire, and wearing away’.3 There was a new mobility and freedom: ‘masterless men’, a hitherto unthinkable concept, stalked the land calling for the abolition of all masters; even some husbandless women were claiming the right to choose whom to kiss. They happily combined the myth of an equal society in the Garden of Eden before the Fall with the myth of Anglo-Saxon freedom before the Norman Yoke. As Christopher Hill has pointed out, there was a remarkable liberation of energy during the English Revolution: ‘Men felt free: free from hell, free from priests, free from fear of worldly authorities, free from the blind forces of nature, free from magic.’4
Beneath the surface stability of rural England at the time, there was a seething underground of forest squatters and itinerant labourers and vagabonds. Many travellers went from city to city and congregated in London. These masterless men and women prized independence more than security, freedom more than comfort.
Like the adepts of the Free Spirit before him, and like Tolstoy after him, Winstanley believed that God is not a personal deity or Supreme Being but a ‘spirit that dwells in all mankind’. ..They are no longer ruled from without but from within, by their conscience, love or reason. As Winstanley wrote in the True Levellers’ Standard, ‘the flesh of man being subject to reason, his maker, hath him to be his teacher and ruler within himself, therefore needs not run abroad after any teacher and ruler without him’.12 It is the ‘ruling and teaching power without [that] doth dam up the spirit of peace and liberty, first within the heart, by filling it with slavish fears of others; secondly without, by giving the bodies of one to be imprisoned, pounished and oppressed by the outward power of another’.13 This is the key to Winstanley’s anarchism: external government is no longer necessary if people govern themselves according to their God-given reason.
but few pages later (86).. all the conditions/govt/training ness (because of myth of tragedy and lord ness) comes out.. oi
(on wistanley grokking it.. but nevermind .. one page later.. oi)
Impressed by the interdependence of all human beings, Winstanley concluded that reason operates in society as a principle of order for the common preservation of humanity and that the government of rational beings is therefore superfluous. It is private property, not unruly human nature, which is the principal source of social conflict.
In his The New Law of Righteousness (1649), issued two months before the setting up of the colony on George’s Hill, Winstanley recognized the close link between property and government: ‘buying and selling earth from one particular hand to another saying this is mine, upholding this propriety by a law of government of his own making thereby restraining other fellow creatures from seeking nourishment from their mother earth’.15 He also realized that once men gain power, they intensify exploitation and oppression:
It was clear to Winstanley that the State and its legal institutions existed in order to hold the lower classes in place. Winstanley at this stage suggested that the only solution would be to abolish private property and then government and church would become superfluous. Magistrates and lawyers would no longer be necessary where there was no buying and selling. There would be no need for a professional clergy if everyone was allowed to preach. The State, with its coercive apparatus of laws and prisons, would simply wither away: ‘What need have we of imprisonment, whipping or hanging laws to bring one another into bondage?’18 It is only covetousness, he argued, which made theft a sin. And he completely rejected capital punishment: since only God may give and take life, execution for murder would be murder. He looked forward to a time when ‘the whole earth would be a common treasury’, when people would help each other and find pleasure in making necessary things, and ‘There shall be none lords over others, but everyone shall be a lord of himself, subject to the law of righteousness, reason and equity, which shall dwell and rule in him, which is the Lord.’
but never let go enough to see.. so.. myth of tragedy and lord et al
need to org around legit needs
Winstanley did not call for mass insurrection or the seizure of the lands of the rich. He was always opposed to violence, although he was not an absolute pacifist and advocated an extreme form of direct action.
but later we see.. not opposed to structural violence
But the experience of the Diggers’ colony on George’s Hill, especially of the Ranters within and the hostile freeholders without, made him have second thoughts about human nature. Man might be sociable and reasonable by nature, but in existing society he often appeared unruly and confused. Digger covetousness suggested to Winstanley the need for some form of external social control. Thus because ‘transgression doth and may arise from ignorance and rude fancy in man’, he now felt that law and government would be necessary in a commonwealth to regulate society.
but that’s not human nature.. that’s whale nature
oi oi oi.. hari rat park law et al
why not yet ness
Winstanley had come to believe that the people were not ready to be free and a long process of education and preparation was first necessary before they were capable of governing themselves.
oi oi oi
rather.. short leap of detox
6 – the french renaissance and enlightenment
guy 1 – still ed
guy 2 – still obey parents/reason
buy 3 – ed from age 3-35
Central to the world-view of the Enlightenment was a belief in the perfectibility of man. Man is not irretrievably fallen in a state of sin, the philosophes argued, but largely the product of his circumstances. If you change his circumstances, than you can change his conduct. And the best way to achieve that is through enlightenment and education. Man is therefore perfectible, or at least susceptible to continual improvement. History moreover shows that progress has taken place in the past, and there is no good reason to think that it should not so continue in the future.
oi oi oi
While Rousseau was a product of the Enlightenment, he came to question the prevailing confidence in reason and science to bring about social and moral progress. People, he thought, are naturally good and have become depraved by existing institutions. But he did not call like later anarchists for the abolition of all such institutions but their replacement by a new social contract. Only less well-known thinkers like Jean Meslier and Morelly carried the philosophes’ criticism of the existing regime to the borders of anarchism. Their works however were known only to a few and they did not exert much influence in their day.
Meslier has been called ‘more of an anarchist than an atheist’.18 He certainly thought that man is naturally drawn to appreciate ‘peace, kindness, equity, truth and justice’ and to abhor ‘troubles and dissension, the malice of deceit, injustice, imposture and tyranny’.19 But why, he asked, had the desire for happiness common to every human heart been frustrated? It was simply because some people were ambitious to command and others to earn a reputation for sanctity.
missing pieces et al
By seeing private property rather than government as the main cause of evil, Morelly was a forerunner of communism. Moreover, he attempted to lay down in the fourth part of his Code de la nature a ‘Model of Legislation conforming to the intentions of Nature’, that is to say, laws of society which would correspond to natural laws. His proposed communist society was austere and authoritarian with strict education and compulsory labour and marriage. The family would be the base of a social hierarchy composed of tribes organized in cities and provinces. The administration of the economy would be merely a matter of accounting, with a minimal government periodically rotated. There would be a strict overall plan and the only philosophy taught would support the laws. The result would be a ‘very fine order’. Those who oppose that order would be punished, the worst offenders being isolated in caverns which eventually would become their tombs. He thought a *transitional society of ‘some severity’ may be necessary to achieve communism.
The case of Denis Diderot is also somewhat curious. As co-editor of the Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, he shared the philosophes’ confidence in gradual progress through the diffusion of practical and theoretical knowledge. By presenting knowledge as a coherent whole, the Encyclopédie became a fountain of radical and subversive thought.
To the question whether it is necessary to civilize man or abandon him to his instinct, Diderot’s spokesman replies:
I appeal to all political, civil and religious institutions: examine them thoroughly, and if I am not mistaken you will find the human species bent from century to century under the yoke which a handful of knaves have sworn to impose on it. Beware of the person who comes to put things in order. To order things is always to make oneself master of others by disturbing them:..t and the people of Calabria are almost the only ones who have not yet had the flattery of legislators imposed on them.
And asked whether the ‘anarchy of Calabria’ is agreeable, he is ready to wager that ‘their barbarism is less vicious than our urbanity’.
If Diderot was cautious about publicizing his most radical views, Rousseau had no such qualms. He was, to boot, one of the most paradoxical writers of the eighteenth century.
But this was not all. Although he was a righteous moralist who believed that conscience is a ‘divine instinct’, he gave his children away to the public orphanage.
In his next work for the Dijon academy, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754), Rousseau developed his central theme of man’s tragic departure from his essential nature. He sets out with the intention ‘to distinguish properly between what is original and what is artificial in the actual nature of man’ but made clear that he was offering only ‘hypothetical reasonings’ and ‘conjectures’, not historical facts.
According to Rousseau, the most important incident in human history and the chief cause of social inequality is the foundation of private property. The second part of his Discourse opens with the resounding statement:
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’41
As people became more industrious, their simple wants multiplied into *new needs. Agriculture and industry further depressed mankind: ‘it was iron and corn which first civilized men, and ruined humanity.’ **Property, once recognized, gave rise to growing inequality and the first rules of justice. It also had disastrous psychological effects in encouraging dissimulation: ‘it now became the interest of men to appear what they really were not.’ Eventually the rich, in order to enjoy their property in peace, suggested the need for government as a supreme power to govern with laws. The people were duped into agreeing: ***‘All ran headlong to their chains, in hopes of securing their liberty;..t for they had just wit enough to perceive the advantages of political institutions, without experience enough to enable to foresee the dangers.’42 Such was the origin of government and law which bound new fetters on the poor and gave new powers to the rich. Nations then entered into a state of nature with each other.
*need means to org around legit needs
Rousseau considered liberty as the ‘noblest faculty of man’; it is ‘a gift which they hold from nature as being men’.43 He rejected outright those apologists of slavery who argue that man has a natural propensity to servitude. With all the eloquence of sincere anger, Rousseau exclaims:
when I see free-born animals dash their brains out against the bars of their cage, from an innate impatience of captivity; when I behold numbers of naked savages, that despise European pleasures, braving hunger, fire, the sword, and death, to preserve nothing but their independence, I feel that it is not for slaves to argue about liberty.44
Rousseau therefore argued that government is an artificial institution set up by free men in the hope of making life easier. But while government did not begin with arbitrary power, it eventually brought about ‘just the law of the strongest, which it was originally designed to remedy’.
Rousseau’s analysis of the origins of social inequality and government is brilliant, and most anarchists have followed him in seeing a close link between property and government. Indeed, he recognized in his Confessions that ‘everything depended radically on politics’ and ‘no people would ever be anything but what the nature of its government made it’.46 But despite his celebration of the natural state of man, and his favourable contrast between the ‘savage’ and the ‘civilized’, particularly since the former knows how to live within himself and the latter only knows how to live ‘in the opinion of others’, Rousseau did not call for a return to a primitive state of nature as is commonly supposed.47 In his second Discourse, he suggested that the ideal state of humanity, the happiest and most stable of epochs, must have been in the youth of society when the expansion of the human faculties kept ‘a just mean between the indolence of the primitive state and the petulant activity of our amour-propre’.
Rousseau undoubtedly gave priority to freedom as a basis of social life and celebrated individuality in many works.50 He opened his treatise on education, Emile (1762), with the resounding statement: ‘Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the author of nature, everything degenerates in the hands of man.’51 To remedy this state of affairs, he called for a system of Veil-regulated freedom’ to bring up a child in isolation from corrupting society. The aim of education, he insisted, must be to excite curiosity and to form the judgment, and the best way to encourage learning is by doing. It was a message which impressed Godwin and Kropotkin.
oi.. that’s why he has to .. fall back on authoritarian means.. myth of tragedy and lord et al
But despite his libertarian aims in education and his desire to create the autonomous individual, Rousseau falls back on authoritarian means. His ideal tutor is an all powerful puppet-master who manipulates the child without him knowing it, and tries to impose a certain cast of mind. In the end, Emile is psychologically bound to his master and cannot escape him. Although his tutor abdicates his authority and hands his charge over to his new wife – ‘your guardian from now on’ – the docile young couple ask him to continue to ‘advise’ and ‘govern’ them.52
For all his concern with equality and popular sovereignty, Rousseau’s proposed social contract hardly adds up to a ‘society of free men’.56 On the contrary, it is clearly a recipe to create an absolute and omnipotent State. .. Moreover, the man who boldly declared ‘Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains’ and ‘To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man’ goes on to provide an excuse for generations of tyrants by arguing that in order to make a refractory citizen realize his better self and to obey the general will ‘he will be forced to be free’.57 In Rousseau’s hands, the general will becomes an all-consuming moral imperative, ‘the voice of all for the good of all’ – whether one likes it or not. It would be a society fit for Emiles, but not for free men and women.
As Godwin observed, ‘the superiority of his genius’ deserted Rousseau in his Contrat social (1762) and his Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne (1771).58 The great libertarian individualist ended up as an apologist for authoritarian and totalitarian democracy; in Bakunin’s words, ‘the true creator of modern reaction’.59 Rousseau’s notion of the general will is an abstraction which is impossible to discover and demands a terrifying unanimity. He not only advocates political imposture to maintain the rule of the State but also his writings abound with hymns to the rule of law.60
Rousseau failed to realize that being free and being subject at the same time is logical nonsense and practically impossible. Ultimately, he parts company with anarchists because for him law does not enslave but liberates.
He was always keen to assert his personal independence, yet longed for a supervising father-figure. Alienated and ostracized from his society, he sought the wholeness of true community. In his strengths and weaknesses, he speaks directly to our age.
Yet this does not excuse the authoritarian streak in his personality and thinking. It is clear in his view and treatment of women, for instance, that he had a strong patriarchal and chauvinist tendency. He not only resented the dominance of his mistress-patrons, but treated his servant-mistress abominably — sending her children by him to the public orphanage. He always considered women as the ‘sex which ought to obey’...Rousseau asserts that it is a law of nature that ‘woman is made to please and to be subjugated’ and ‘must make herself agreeable to man’.64 Where men are active and strong, women are weak and feeble.
While Godwin turned away from the later Rousseau, it is not surprising that the dictator Robespierre in the bloodiest stage of the French Revolution should canonize him. Nevertheless, Rousseau deserves a prominent place in the anarchist tradition for his stress on the close link between property and government, his attack on social inequality, his criticism of elitist culture, his concern with popular democracy and sovereignty, his belief in the natural goodness of humanity, and his praise for the simple life close to nature. He was fully aware of the psychological disorders fostered by Western civilization, especially the ways in which it made people anxious, restless, competitive and hypocritical. He showed how history is a depressing record of humanity’s failure to realize its full potential and how modern man is alienated from his true self and society. In his writings and his life, Rousseau demonstrated that by nature men are free, but they readily enslave each other. More than any other writer of the Enlightenment, he thus revealed the tensions between a libertarian and an authoritarian approach to democracy which eventually led to the split between the anarchist and statist wings of the socialist movement in the nineteenth century.
oi oi oi oi oi oi oi
7 – the british enlightenment
The ‘state of nature’ according to Locke, is a state of ‘perfect freedom’ but competition between roughly equal human beings would make life uncertain and property relations unstable. Hence the need for government and law to enable them to protect life, liberty and property. The latter was most important since for Locke life and liberty could be considered as a form of personal property. He therefore recommended that a social contract be made between people to set up a government to make common laws which would ensure the secure enjoyment of property:
It was an advance on the theory of the divine right of kings, but Locke summed up the ideology of the emerging middle class who wished to wrest power from the landed aristocracy. As such it was a theory of ‘possessive individualism’, which saw the ownership of private property as sacrosanct.2 The ideology was to find its ultimate expression in the American Constitution of 1776 which recognized that human beings (or rather male Europeans) are born free and equal and have a right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’
although Swift had a low estimate of humanity and used savage satire to lambaste their foibles and vices, he undoubtedly wrote for their betterment and enlightenment. He hated tyranny and consistently opposed British imperialism, especially in Ireland.
George Orwell claims that Swift was intermittently ‘a kind of anarchist’ and that Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels is a picture of an anarchistic society. But for him it also illustrates the totalitarian tendency which he claims is explicit in the anarchist or pacifist vision of society. The only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion which can be less tolerant than any system of law: ‘When human beings are governed by “thou shalt not”, the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by “love” or “reason”, he is under continuous pressure to make himself behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.
edmund burke – His starting-point, which he shares with the Taoists and the French philosophes, is a confidence in nature which ‘if left to itself were the best and surest Guide’.13
Paine also used the language of natural rights in his celebrated Rights of Man (1791–2), but his libertarian sensibility took him to the borders of anarchism. ..He liked to boast that ‘I neither read books, nor studied other people’s opinions. I thought for myself.’20 He believed that man was fundamentally good, and saw the world as a garden for enjoyment rather than as a valley of tears. Above all, he valued personal liberty: ‘Independence is my happiness,’ he wrote in his maturity, ‘and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.’21
But despite the example of the American colonists organizing their own affairs peacefully without government, Paine believed that it was necessary for the people to make a social contract in order to set up a minimal government on the secure basis of a constitution which would guarantee the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
He therefore proposed a minimal government — no more than a ‘national association’ – with a few general laws to protect the natural rights of man. .. Paine had a definite preference for republican and representative government based on majority rule, and he wished to anchor it firmly in a constitution. He even praised the American Constitution as ‘the political bible of the state’.38
By calling on the British people to follow the American and French to form a new social contract and set up a limited government based on a constitution, Paine ultimately departs from the anarchist tradition. At the end of the Rights of Man, he even gives a distributive role to government by proposing that it helps to educate the young and support the old through a progressive inheritance tax.
While Paine has been called the father of English socialism, he was in fact a staunch advocate of business enterprise: universal and free commerce would extirpate war. He never advocated economic equality and thought private property would always remain unequal. His capitalist way of thinking led him to defend representative government in terms of a limited company with citizen shareholders: ‘Every man is a proprietor in government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to understand. It concerns his interest, because it affects his property.’39 In his last major work, Agrarian Justice (1797), he did not call, like his contemporary Thomas Spence, for the nationalization and common ownership of land but for a society of small landowners to be achieved through a land tax of ten per cent. Paine’s final vision was of a representative and republican democracy of independent property owners in which every citizen has an equal opportunity to develop his talents.
part 3 – great libertarians
Government is begotten of aggression, by aggression. HERBERT SPENCER
I call it the State where everyone, good or bad, is a poison-drinker: the State where universal slow suicide is called — life. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
That government is best which governs not at all. HENRY THOREAU
Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. OSCAR WILDE
1 – french libertarians
In his politics, de Sade challenged the fundamental premisses of European civilization. He had a very low opinion of politics; it is a ‘science born of falsehood and ambition’ which teaches ‘men to deceive their equals without being deceived themselves’.7 In every book, he stresses that society is divided into two antagonistic classes founded on property. Anticipating Proudhon, he defines property as ‘a crime committed by the rich against the poor’. The origin of the right of property is in usurpation: ‘the right is in origin itself a theft, so that the law punishes theft because it attacks theft’.8 Speaking from direct experience, de Sade knew that the lawcourts only dispense justice in favour of the wealthy: ‘The laws of a people are never anything but the mass and the result of the interests of the legislators.’9 As for war between nations, it is simply authorized murder in which hired men slaughter one another in the interests of tyrants: ‘The sword is the weapon of him who is in the wrong, the commonest resource of ignorance and stupidity.’
Freedom for Fourier not only meant free choice, but freedom from the psychological compulsion to work. In place of the existing order, he proposed a hedonistic utopia called ‘Harmony’ in which there would be agreeable and voluntary labour, non-repressive sexuality, communal education and communal living. Passion, pleasure, abundance, and love would all find their place in his new moral world.
Each community of Harmony would be a Phalanx housed in a palace or ‘phalanstery’. Each Phalanx would consist of a self-managing and *self-sustaining association of co-operative workers. The members would work in voluntary groups of friends or a series of groups who have gathered together spontaneously and who are stimulated by active rivalries. *Work would be made as attractive as possible, and the division of labour would be carried to the supreme degree in order to allot suitable tasks to different individuals. While work would be co-operative and property enjoyed in common, members would *receive dividends proportional to their contributions in capital, work and talent. Everyone would have a *right to work and as a key principle Fourier insists on a ‘social minimum’, a guaranteed annual income. Every effort would be made to combine personal with social freedom and promote diversity in unity. The equality of unequals would prevail.
Every passion that is suffocated produces its counter passion, which is as malignant as the natural passion would have been salutary. This is true of all manias.’31
Rather than being disruptive in society, the gratification of individual desire and passion serve the general good: ‘the man who devotes himself most ardently to pleasure becomes eminently useful for the happiness of all.’32 In his notebooks collectively entitled The New Amorous World, Fourier called for the satisfaction of material and psychological needs, a ‘sexual minimum’ as well as a ‘social minimum’. He was convinced that complete sexual gratification would foster social harmony and economic well-being. The only kind of sexual activity he condemned as vicious was where a person was abused, injured, or used as an object against his or her will. Only in Harmony could such ‘amorous anarchy’ prevail.33
Fourier’s imaginary world is undoubtedly libertarian in many respects, but as it appears in his most succinct formulation in Le Nouveau monde industriel et sociétaire (1829) it contains many contradictions. Women are to be liberated from patriarchal constraints, but they are still expected to serve the men domestically and sexually. Again, Fourier’s elegant tableaux of sexual and gastronomic delights reflect an aristocratic taste. His ‘amorous code’ manipulated by an elaborate hierarchy of officials in the ‘Court of Love’ is not for everyone. His description of sex appears somewhat mechanical and utilitarian. His child psychology is also naive and dogmatic. He not only denies infantile sexuality but asserts dogmatically that since ‘Two thirds of all boys have a penchant for filth’ they should be organized into ‘little hordes’ to do the disgusting and loathsome work.34 Little girls of course like finery.
Finally, the arrangements of everyday life in ‘Harmony’ are described so minutely that its members are left little room for manoeuvre or renovation. Those who like privacy would not feel at home. While Fourier tried to foster individual autonomy and self-realization in allocating attractive work to suit particular tastes, the life he proposes is undoubtedly regimented. Communal life is so well-organized that to some it might appear more like a prison than a paradise. The whole is orchestrated by the puppet strings of the master.
Nevertheless, despite all the regimented and static aspects of his utopia, Fourier was the most libertarian of the nineteenth-century French utopians. His wish to transform repulsive work into meaningful play, his call for the free satisfaction of sexuality, his stress on the social and sexual minimum, and his organic cosmology continue to inspire anarchists and ecologists alike.
oi oi oi
2 – german libertarians
Humboldt’s reputation as a libertarian thinker rests on one book. But while The Limits of State Action (1792) came close to anarchism, Humboldt ultimately remained in the liberal camp.1 The work was not published in English until 1854 as The Sphere and Duties of Government; it considerably influenced John Stuart Mill in his essay On Liberty (1859). However, the anarchist historian Max Nettlau has called Humboldt’s work ‘a curious mixture of essentially anarchist ideas and authoritarian prejudice’.2 More recently, Noam Chomsky
and blah blah blah to …
Nevertheless, Humboldt retains the need for the nightwatchman State to stand guard over its citizens. Its principal role is negative: to maintain security, against both the external attacks of foreign enemies and internal dissension. Like Thomas Paine, he sees that State is a necessary means; ‘and since it is always attended with restrictions of freedom, a necessary evil’.
Nietzsche did not call himself an anarchist. He claimed that the anarchist of his day was, like the Christian, a decadent, ‘the mouthpiece of a declining strata of society’ because his complaints about others and society came from weakness and a narrow spirit of revenge.18 Clearly this is true of some anarchists as well as some socialists. When the resentful anarchist demands with righteous indignation that his rights be respected he fails to see that his real suffering lies in his failure to create a new life for himself.
Emma Goldman, who was strongly influenced by Nietzsche, rightly insisted that he should not be decried as a hater of the weak because he believed in the übermensch: ‘It does not occur to the shallow interpreters of the giant mind that his vision of the übermensch also called for a state of society which will not give birth to a race of weaklings and slaves.’41 His ‘aristocracy’, she pointed out, was neither of birth nor of wealth but of the spirit: ‘In that respect Nietzsche was an anarchist, and all true anarchists were aristocrats.’42 Because of this, Nietzsche still speaks directly and eloquently to all those who wish to develop their full individuality, overthrow accepted values and received ideas, and to transform everyday life. He remains an inspiration, offering the hardest task of all, to create a free work of art out of oneself.
humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..
3 – british libertarians
He even went further than most anarchists in pointing out the dangers of public opinion and social pressure in trying to make people conform, a tyranny which could be more oppressive than political authority.
It is Mill’s belief in the guiding role of an intellectual elite which prevents him from being regarded as an anarchist. He may have been a great libertarian in his defence of the freedoms of thought, expression and individuality, but he frequently stresses the need for intellectual authority rather than ‘intellectual anarchy’.12 He often pictured the happy society as one in which the people are voluntarily led by an elite of wise guardians. In the long run, the elitist in Mill gets the better of the democrat and the libertarian.
Spencer declared that ‘all socialism involves slavery’. The essence of slavery is to make everything a possession; under socialism the citizen becomes owned by the State:
Spencer considered existing societies to be of ‘the semi-militant semi-industrial type’, whereas genuine freedom could only exist in an industrial society based on voluntary co-operation and competition. The socialists however wanted to recreate a military society based on compulsory cooperation. If they got their way, the ultimate result would be like the rigid and tyrannical society of ancient Peru.
screaming loudest for x gets you -x ness.. same song ness
Like many anarchists at that time, Carpenter turned to anthropology to back up his call for a new kind of humanity
In his analysis of the causes of modern civilization, Carpenter followed Rousseau and Shelley in thinking that it corrupted and disintegrated natural man. The institution of private property in particular broke up the unity of his nature and drew him away from his true self and made him prey to every form of disease. Civilization founded on property had introduced: ‘slavery, serfdom, wage-labour, which are various forms of the domination of one class over another; and to rivet these authorities it created the State and the policeman’.32 Having destroyed the organic structures of earlier society, the institution of property had thus given rise to strong central government which was ‘the evidence in social life that man has lost his inner and central control, and therefore must result to an outer one’.33 Crime moreover is a symptom of social illness, poverty, inequality and restriction.
But all is not lost and there is a cure for civilization. If every person were *linked organically to the general body of his fellows, then no serious disharmony would occur. Carpenter thought it possible for a free and communist society to exist without external government and law which are only ‘the travesties and transitory substitutes of Inward Government and Order’. Anarchy could therefore exist with no outward rule as ‘an **inward and invisible spirit of life’.35
*need: means to undo our non hierarchical listening
Carpenter returned to this theme in his Non-Governmental Society (1911), a work which deeply impressed Gandhi and Herbert Read. Like Kropotkin, Carpenter was convinced that human societies can maintain themselves in good order and vitality without written law and its institutions. Indeed, he felt that custom, which takes a gentler form and is adaptable to the general movement of society when exerting pressure on individuals, is far superior to law. A study of ‘native races’ showed that the competition and anxiety of modern society need not exist if people were left to themselves. A ‘free non-governmental society’ could them emerge which would be practicable because it was vital and organic:
a spontaneous and free production of goods would spring up, followed of course by a spontaneous free exchange — a self-supporting society, based not on individual dread and anxiety, but on the common fulness of life and energy.36
Work would be based on voluntary choice according to taste and skill and there would be common property. A non-governmental society would therefore be a free and communal society.
*In Morris’s ‘utopian romance’, there is no government, private property, law, crime, marriage, money or exchange. Society consists of a federation of communes (based on the old wards and parishes). **Affairs are managed by general custom reached by general assent. If differences of opinion arise, the Mote or assembly of neighbours meets and discusses the matter until there is general agreement which is measured by a show of hands; the majority will never impose its will on the minority, however small. If agreement cannot be reached, which is rare, the majority must accept the status quo.
*needs to be sans any form of m\a\p
**ie of form of m\a\p.. oi
It is a world in which Morris’s ideal commonwealth has become a reality, in which human beings live in equality of condition, fully aware that harm to one would mean harm to all. They enjoy an abundance of life, and there is space and elbow-room for all. Factories have been replaced by workshops and people find joy in their work. Nothing is made except for genuine use and all work which is irksome to do by hand is done by improved machines. The only reward of labour is the reward of life and creation. *Their happiness is thus achieved ‘by the absence of artificial coercion, and the freedom for every man to do what he can do best, joined to the knowledge of what productions of labour we really wanted’.48 They live simple yet beautiful lives in harmony with nature. … no unvarying conventional set of rules by which people are judged; no bed of Procrustes to stretch or cramp their minds and lives’.
*doesn’t jive w previous paragraph.. oi
it was the love and practice of art that made him hate capitalist civilization.
legit love/art wouldn’t have time for hate.. no?
Morris’s principal theoretical objection to anarchism was over the question of authority. In a letter to the Socialist League’s journal Commonweal of 5 May 1889, he reiterated his belief in communism, but argued that even in a communist society some form of authority would be necessary. If freedom from authority, Morris maintained, means the possibility of an individual doing what he pleases always and under all circumstances, this is ‘an absolute negation of society’. If this right to do as you please is qualified by adding ‘as long as you don’t interfere with other people’s rights to do the same’, the exercise of some kind of authority becomes necessary. He concluded: *‘If individuals are not to coerce others, there must somewhere be an authority which is prepared to coerce them not to coerce; and that authority must clearly be collective.’ Furthermore, in an equal society some desires could not be satisfied without clashing with ‘collective society’ and in some instances ‘collective authority will weigh down individual opposition’.56 **He did not want people to do exactly as they please; he wanted them to consider and act for the good of the commonweal.
*if legit free.. no coercion.. irrelevant
**if legit free.. one in the same.. we just have never let go enough to see/trust that
While sharing Morris’ concern with the problem of the anti-social individualist, they believe that persuasion rather than coercion is the best means of dealing with such people in the long run.
oi.. same song
Wilde admired Morris as a poet and as a book designer, and they shared a common friend in the Russian revolutionary Stepniak. Their concern with freedom was mainly inspired by their concern for art and their desire to create a beautiful life. They both came to realize that art for art’s sake is an insufficient standard; it is not enough merely to call for the beautification of life, for there must be a political and social context to aestheticism. Wilde concluded that only in a free society without government would an artist be able to express himself fully.
From his early childhood, he had a strong utopian sensibility which led him to conjure up imaginary islands. He remained convinced that
a map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of utopias.60
revolution – instigating utopia everyday
Wilde’s love of liberty was encouraged by his mother who saw herself as ‘a priestess at the altar of freedom’.61 Unlike her, however, he saw nothing noble in suffering and sought to create a beautiful life without ugliness and pain and compulsion. As a student at Oxford, he came to the conclusion not only that ‘La beauté est parfaite’ but that ‘Progress in thought is the assertion of individualism against authority.’
After leaving Oxford, Wilde wrote in his twenties a play called Vera; or, The Nihilist (1880). He was already calling himself a socialist, but it is clear from the play that he considered socialism to be not a levelling down but the flowering of personality. Prince Paul declares: ‘in good democracy, every man should be an aristocrat.’63 The nihilists detest torture and martial law and demand the abolition of marriage and the right to labour. To make them as authentic as possible, Wilde even borrowed an oath from Nechaev’s Catechism of a Revolutionary which Bakunin may have helped edit.
Wilde gave his own considered version of anarchism in his brilliant essay The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), a work which was translated into many languages and proved particularly influential in Tsarist Russia.
not in anarchist library
Wilde had long been drawn to socialism and had expressed his sympathies publicly early in 1889 in a review of a book edited by Carpenter, Chants of Labour: a Song-Book of the People. He found in socialism a new motif for art and hoped art could help in the construction of an ‘eternal city’. Yet he was clearly already concerned to make socialism humanitarian and libertarian, ‘for to make socialists is nothing, but to make socialism human is a great thing’. He took up the theme, two years later, in his great essay. It was initially inspired by a meeting on socialism which he attended in Westminster where the chief speaker was Bernard Shaw. But Wilde’s socialism could not be more different from Shaw’s for it is as pure an anarchism as you can get: ‘there is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad’, he declares.70
People are good only when they are left alone.
undisturbed ecosystem ness..
With the abolition of private property, there will no longer be any marriage; love will then be more beautiful and wonderful. In the long run, it is not material things that are important; what is really valuable is within.
begs imagine if we ness
There are other great advantages to follow from the dissolution of political authority. Punishment will pass away — a great gain since a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime. What crime will remain after the eradication of its principal cause in property will be cured by care and kindness. No compulsion should be exercised over anyone and every person should be free to choose his or her work.
According to Wilde, it is nonsense to talk about the dignity of manual labour: ‘Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt.’77 Most of it is degrading and should be done by machines, the helots of the future, so that all can enjoy cultivated leisure. Useful things can thus be made by machines, beautiful ones by the individual. The value of art is immense for
kropotkin dirty jobs law et al
Wilde faces the stock objections to his ideal of anarchy that it is impractical and goes against human nature. *Firstly, the only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes, and once existing conditions are changed human nature will change. Evolution is a law of life and the tendency of evolution is towards individualism. Secondly, Wilde claims that his form of individualism will not be selfish or affected. Man is naturally social. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. It aims at creating an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness, on the other hand, is ‘letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them’.81 **When man has realized true individualism, he will also realize sympathy and exercise it freely and spontaneously. In a society without poverty and disease, man will have joy in the contemplation of the joyous life of others.
**short findings restate et al
Furthermore, the experience inspired one of the most moving poems in the English language, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1896), the simple form of which expresses the deepest of emotions. The poem concerns a soldier who is about to be hanged for murdering his lover; the theme implied is that such cruelty is widespread (‘each man kills the thing he loves’), but Wilde insists that the murderer’s punishment by a guilty society is the greater cruelty. He directly sympathizes with the condemned man, drawing the inevitable conclusion:
But this I know, that every Law That men have made for Man, Since first Man took his brother’s life, And the sad world began, But straws the wheat and saves the chaff With a most evil fan. The vilest deeds likes poison weeds Bloom well in prison-air, It is only what is good in Man That wastes and withers there: Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate, And the Warder is Despair.
cast first stone ness
the ballad of reading gaol (prison) via 20 page kindle version from anarchist library – [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/oscar-wilde-the-ballad-of-reading-gaol]:
But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher’s doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.
Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers’ Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother’s soul?
wilde not-us law et al
then some on prison ness.. incarceration
And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.
And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Wilde is the greatest of all libertarians. He recognized that art by its nature is subversive and the artist must rebel against existing moral norms and political institutions, but saw that only communal property can allow individuality to flourish. *He argued that every person should seek to make themselves perfect by following their own inner impulses. This could be made possible only by the break-up of habit and prejudice, a thorough transformation of everyday life. He placed **art and thought at the centre of life, and realized that true individualism leads to spontaneous sympathy for others. He had a wonderful sense of play and wit, and was blessed with overflowing creative energy. As a result, Wilde’s libertarian socialism is the most attractive of all the varieties of anarchism and socialism. Bernard Shaw observed that contemporary Fabian and Marxian socialists laughed at his moral and social beliefs, but Wilde as usual got the last laugh. He will be long remembered after they have been forgotten.
*imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..
4 – american libertarians
The individual can therefore rely on his direct experience for guidance; hence Emerson’s motto ‘Trust thyself.’
In fact, Thoreau was a gradualist and ‘unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.’ He might not like the government and the State, but this did not mean that he would have nothing to do with it: ‘I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make what use and get what advantage of her I can.’27 While he refused to pay tax to finance war, he was willing to pay tax for roads and schools. Like the Greek Stoics whom he admired, he considered himself beyond politics, and however the State dealt with his body, his mind would always be free: ‘If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free … unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.
**but none of us are free et al
part 4 – classic anarchist thinkers
Freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice … Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality. MICHAEL BAKUNIN
1 – william godwin: the lover of order
The most important influence was to come from a reading of the French philosophes. In Rousseau, he read that man is naturally good but corrupted by institutions, that private property was the downfall of mankind, and that man was born free, but everywhere was in chains. From Helvétius and d’Holbach, he learned that all men are equal and society should be formed for human happiness. When he closed the covers of their books, his whole world-view had changed.
‘But our moral dispositions and character depend very much, perhaps entirely, upon education’
oi.. any form of m\a\p.. killing us
none of us are free ness
He also wrote a letter at this time to the Whig politician Sheridan declaring that ‘Liberty leaves nothing to be admired but talents & virtue … Give to a state but liberty enough, and it is impossible that vice should exist in it.’9 As his daughter Mary later observed, Godwin’s belief that ‘no vice could exist with perfect freedom’ was ‘the very basis of his system, the very keystone of the arch of justice, by which he desired to knit together the whole human family.’
hari rat park law et al
He (godwin) developed a theory of justice which took the production of the greatest sum of happiness as its goal and went on to reject domestic affections, gratitude, promises, patriotism, positive rights and accumulated property. His changing view of government further gave rise to an occasional inaccuracy of language. He did not enter the work, he acknowledged, ‘without being aware that government by its very nature counteracts the improvement of individual mind; but … he understood the proposition more completely as he proceeded, and saw more distinctly into the nature of the remedy.’11 The experience of the French Revolution had already persuaded him of the desirableness of a government of the simplest construction but his bold reasoning led him to realize that humanity could be enlightened and free only with government’s utter annihilation. Godwin thus set out very close to the English Jacobins like Paine, only to finish a convinced and outspoken anarchist — the first great exponent of society without government.
Again, when the government introduced its notorious Gagging Acts to limit the freedom of speech, assembly and the press, Godwin responded with some incisive Considerations (1795) signed by ‘A Lover of Order’.
While Godwin was as vigorous and uncompromising as ever in defending hard-won liberties, he believed that genuine reform was best achieved through education and enlightenment in small independent circles. Such circles anticipated the ‘affinity groups’ of later anarchists.
oi to ed.. to any form of m\a\p
In the mean time, Godwin had become intimate with Mary Wollstonecraft, the first major feminist writer who had asserted in her celebrated Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) that mind has no sex and that women should become rational and independent beings rather than passive and indolent mistresses. Although Godwin was diffident and occasionally pedantic, Wollstonecraft recognized in him an independent spirit who was capable of deep emotion as well as high thinking. They soon became lovers, but aware of the dangers of cohabitation, decided to live apart.
Wollstonecraft had an illegitimate daughter by a previous relationship and had experienced the full force of prejudice in the rigid society of late eighteenth-century England. She had already tried to commit suicide twice. When she became pregnant again with Godwin’s child, she felt unable to face further ostracism and asked Godwin to marry her. Although Godwin had condemned the European institution of marriage as the ‘most odious of all monopolies’, he agreed. His enemies were delighted by this apparent turnabout, and the accusation that he had a hot head and cold feet has reverberated ever since. Godwin however as a good anarchist believed that there are no moral rules which should not give way to the urgency of particular circumstances. In this case, he submitted to an institution which he still wished to see abolished out of regard for the happiness of an individual. After the marriage ceremony, he held himself bound no more than he was before.
While revising the second edition of Political Justice, Godwin also wrote some original reflections on education, manners and literature which were published as a collection of essays called The Enquirer (1797). The work contains some of the most remarkable and advanced ideas on education ever written. Godwin not only argues that the aim of education should be to generate happiness and to develop a critical and independent mind, but suggests that the whole scheme of authoritarian teaching could be done away with to allow children to learn through desire at their own pace and in their own way.
ie: imagine if we
The period spent with Wollstonecraft was the happiest in Godwin’s life: it was a union of two great radical minds. Through them the struggles for men’s freedom and women’s freedom were united at the source. But it was to be tragically short-lived: Wollstonecraft died in giving birth to their daughter Mary. Godwin consoled himself by editing her papers and by writing a moving and frank memoir of her life which was predictably dismissed by the Anti-Jacobins as a ‘convenient Manual of speculative debauchery’.16 Godwin never got over the loss of his first and greatest love. All he could do was to recreate her in his next novel St Leon (1799) which showed the dangers of leading an isolated life and celebrated the domestic affections.
Godwin did his best to stem the tide of reaction in some calm and eloquent Thoughts. Occasioned by the Perusal of Dr Parr’s Spital Sermon (1801), the apostasy of a former friend. He took the opportunity to clarify his notion of justice by recognizing the claim of the domestic affections. He also refuted his chief opponent Malthus by arguing that moral restraint made vice and misery unnecessary as checks to population. But it was to no avail. Godwin was pilloried, laughed at and then quietly forgotten. Never again in his lifetime was he able to capture the public imagination.
Although Godwin lived a quiet and retired life, younger spirits took up his message. A poet called Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been expelled from Oxford for writing a pamphlet on atheism and spurned by his wealthy baronet father, burst into Godwin’s life in 1812, with Political Justice in his pocket and fiery visions of freedom and justice in his imagination. Godwin was at first delighted with his new disciple, although he tried to check his ardour in fomenting rebellion in Ireland. His sympathy however changed to indignation when Shelley proceeded to elope with his sixteen-year-old daughter Mary (a ‘true Wollstonecraft’) in keeping with his own best theories of free love. His stepdaughter Mary Jane (also known as Claire) joined them and ended up having a child called Allegra with Byron. Mary went on to write Frankenstein (1818) and other impressive novels.
For his part Shelley raised vast loans for Godwin on his expected inheritance, in keeping with their view that property is a trust to be distributed to the most needy. On the other hand, Shelley’s intellectual debt to Godwin was immense. What the Bible was to Milton, Godwin was to Shelley.
If Godwin is the greatest philosopher of anarchism, Shelley is its poet.
In his politics, he points out to the reformers who were calling for the secret ballot that it is a symbol of slavery rather than liberty. He is still ready to imagine that ‘men might subsist very well in clusters and congregated bodies without the coercion of law.
After a long and difficult life, Godwin’s faith in the perfectibility of humanity remained unshaken, and he ends the book in the confident belief that ‘human understanding and human virtue will hereafter accomplish such things as the heart of man has never yet been daring enough to conceive.’
Human nature no less than external nature is governed by laws of necessity. Godwin rejects the theory of innate ideas and instincts and asserts, as one of his chapter titles puts it, that the ‘Characters of Men Originate in their External Circumstances’. We are born neither virtuous nor vicious but are made so according to our upbringing and education.
are made whales.. oi
While all human beings are entitled to equal consideration, it does not follow that they should be treated the same. When it comes to distributing justice I should put myself in the place of an impartial spectator and discriminate in favour of the most worthy, that is, those who have the greatest capacity to contribute to the general good. Thus in a fire, if I am faced with the inescapable choice of saving either a philosopher or a servant, I should choose the philosopher. Even if the servant happened to my brother, my father, my sister, my mother or my benefactor, the case would be the same. ‘What magic’, Godwin asks, ‘is there in the pronoun “my” mat should justify us in overturning the decisions of impartial truth?’
Godwin’s defence of the right of private judgement is central to his scheme of rational progress and *leads him to reject all forms of coercion. As people become **more rational and enlightened, they will be more capable of governing themselves, thereby making external institutions increasingly obsolete. But this can only happen if they freely recognize truth and act upon it. Coercion must therefore always be wrong: it cannot convince and only alienates the mind. Indeed, it is always a ‘tacit confession of imbecility’.35 The person who uses coercion pretends to punish his opponent because his argument is strong, but in reality it can only be because it is weak and inadequate. Truth alone carries its own persuasive force. This belief forms the cornerstone of Godwin’s criticism of government and law.
On similar grounds, Godwin objects to the view that promises form the foundation of morality. Promises in themselves do not carry any moral weight for they are based on a prior obligation to do justice: I should do something right not because I have promised so to do, but because it is right to do it. In all cases, I ought to be guided by the intrinsic merit of the case and not by any external considerations. A promise in the sense of a declaration of intent is relatively harmless; a promise may even in some circumstances be a necessary evil; but we should make as few of them as possible. ‘It is impossible to imagine’, Godwin declares, ‘a principle of more vicious tendency, than that which shall teach me to disarm future wisdom by past folly.’36 It follows that all binding oaths and contracts are immoral.
bauwens contracts law et al
Given Godwin’s concern with the independent progress of the mind and rejection of promises, it comes as no surprise that he should condemn the European institution of marriage. In the first place, the cohabitation it involves subjects its participants to some inevitable portion of thwarting, bickering and unhappiness. Secondly, the marriage contract leads to an eternal vow of attachment after encounters in circumstances full of delusion. As a law, marriage is therefore the worst of laws; as an affair of property, the worst of all properties. Above all, ‘so long as I seek to engross one woman to myself, and to prohibit my neighbour from proving his superior desert and reaping the fruits of it, I am guilty of the most odious of all monopolies.’37 The abolition of marriage, Godwin believed, would be attended with no evils although in an enlightened society he suggested that relationships might be in some degree permanent rather than promiscuous.
His (godwin) overriding aim was to create a society which was free and yet ordered. His bold reasoning led him to conclude that ultimately order could only be achieved in anarchy.
It was the ‘errors and perverseness of the few’ who interfered with the peaceful and productive activities of people which made the restraint of government apparently necessary. But while government was intended to suppress injustice, its effect has been to embody and perpetuate it. By concentrating the force of the community, it gives occasion to ‘wild projects of calamity, to oppression, despotism, war and conquest’. With the further division of society into rich and poor, the rich have become the ‘legislators of the state’ and are perpetually reducing oppression to a system.39
Government moreover by its very nature checks the improvement of the mind and makes permanent our errors. I
In fact, Godwin asserts that all government is founded in opinion. It is only supported by the confidence placed in its value by the weak and the ignorant. But in proportion as they become wiser, so the basis of government will decay.
Godwin’s criticism of law is one of the most trenchant put forward by an anarchist. Where liberals and socialists maintain that law is necessary to protect freedom, Godwin sees them as mutually incompatible principles. All man-made laws are by their very nature arbitrary and oppressive. They represent not, as their advocates claim, the wisdom of ancestors but rather the ‘venal compact’ of ‘superior tyrants’, primarily enacted to defend economic inequality and unjust political power.44 There is no maxim clearer than this, ‘Every case is a rule to itself,’ and yet, like the bed of Procrustes, laws try to reduce the multiple actions of people to one universal standard. Once begun laws inevitably multiply; they become increasingly confusing and ambiguous and encourage their practitioners to be perpetually dishonest and tyrannical. ‘Turn me a prey to the wild beasts of the desert’, Godwin’s hero in his novel Caleb Williams exclaims, ‘so I be never again the victim of a man dressed in the gore-dripping robes of authority!’45
fuller too much law et al
Punishment, which is the inevitable sanction used to enforce the law, is both immoral and ineffective. In the first place, under the system of necessity, there can be no personal responsibility for actions which the law assumes: ‘the assassin cannot help the murder he commits, any more than the dagger.’ Secondly, coercion alienates the mind and is superfluous if an argument is true. Punishment or ‘the voluntary infliction of evil’, is therefore barbaric if used for retribution, and useless if used for reformation or example.46 Godwin concludes that wrongdoers should be restrained only as a temporary expedient and treated with as much kindness and gentleness as possible.
your own song ness
With his rejection of government and laws, Godwin condemns any form of obedience to authority other than ‘the dictate of the understanding’.47 The worst form of obedience for Godwin occurs however not when we obey out of consideration of a penalty (as for instance when we are threatened by a wild animal) but when we place too much confidence in the superior knowledge of others (even in building a house). Bakunin recognized the latter as the only legitimate form of authority, but Godwin sees it as the most pernicious since it can easily make us dependent, weaken our understanding, and encourage us to revere experts.
Indeed, patriotism or the love of our country has been used by impostors to render the multitude ‘the blind instruments of their crooked designs’.
The principal means of reform for Godwin is through education and his original reflections on the subject make him one of the great pioneers of libertarian and progressive thought. Godwin, perhaps more than any other thinker, recognizes that freedom is the basis of education and education is the basis of freedom. The ultimate aim of education, he maintains, is to develop individual understanding and to prepare children to create and enjoy a free society.
oi oi oi
In keeping with his view of human nature, he believed that education has far greater power than government in *shaping our characters. Children are thus a ‘sort a raw material put into our hands, a ductile and yielding substance’.61 Just as nature never made a dunce, so genius is not innate but acquired. It follows that the so-called vices of youth derive not from nature but from the defects of education. Children are born innocent: confidence, kindness and benevolence constitute their entire temper. They have a deep and natural love of liberty at a time when they are never free from the ‘grating interference’ of adults. Liberty is the ‘school of understanding’ and the ‘parent of strength’; indeed children probably learn and develop more in their hours of leisure than at school.
*let go of shaping ness.. of putting into our hands ness.. oi
For Godwin all education involves some form of despotism. *Modern education not only corrupts the hearts of children, but undermines their reason by its unintelligible jargon. It makes little effort to accommodate their true capacities. National or State education, the great salvation of many progressive reformers, can only make matters worse. Like all public establishments, it involves the idea of permanence and actively fixes the mind in ‘exploded errors’: as a result, the knowledge taught in universities and colleges is way behind that which exists in unshackled members of the community.63
*rather.. all ed.. any form of m\a\p
In addition, a system of national education cannot fail to become the mirror and tool of government; they form an alliance more formidable than that of Church and State, teaching a veneration of the constitution rather than of truth. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the teacher becomes a slave who is constantly obliged to rehandle the foundations of knowledge; and a tyrant, forever imposing his will and checking the pleasures and sallies of youth.
Godwin admits that education in a group is preferable to solitary tuition in developing talents and encouraging a sense of personal identity. In existing society, he therefore suggests that a small and independent school is best. But Godwin goes further to question the very foundations of traditional schooling.
The aim of education, he maintains, must be to generate happiness. Now virtue is essential to happiness, and *to make a person virtuous he or she must become wise. Education should develop a mind which is well-regulated, active and prepared to learn. This is best achieved not by inculcating in young children any particular knowledge but **by encouraging their latent talents, awakening their minds, and forming clear habits of thinking.
**the prep/train/wise ness assumedly required is what causes the latency/slumber/habits/cancer
Godwin, however, goes on to suggest that if a pupil learns only because he or she desires it the whole formidable apparatus of education might be swept away. No figures such as teacher or pupil would then be left; each would be glad in cases of difficulty to consult someone better informed, but they would not be expected to learn anything unless they desired it Everyone would be prepared to offer guidance and encouragement. In this way, a mind would develop according to its natural tendencies and children would be able to develop fully their potential.
yeah that.. if we could only let go enough to see..
anything else is coercion et al
imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness..
Godwin recognizes that in a transitional period a temporary co-ordinating body might be necessary in order to solve disputes between districts or to repel a foreign invader. He therefore suggests that districts might send delegates to a general assembly or congress of the federation, but only in exceptional emergencies. The assembly would form no permanent or common centre of authority and any officials would be unpaid and supported voluntarily.
not free.. any form of m\a\p.. this is why we haven’t yet seen/been legit free people.. why we keep not letting go enough to see
If the social system were simplified, Godwin is confident that the voice of reason would be heard, consensus achieved, and the natural harmony of interests prevail. As people became accustomed to governing themselves, all coercive bodies would become increasingly superfluous and obsolete. Government would give way to the spontaneously ordered society of anarchy. People would live simple but cultivated lives in open families in harmony with nature. Marriage would disappear and be replaced by free unions; any offspring would be cared for and educated by the community.
In such a free and equal society, there would be the opportunity for everyone to develop their intellectual and moral potential. With the abolition of the complicated machinery of government, the end of excessive luxuries, and the sharing of work by all, the labour required to produce the necessaries of life would be drastically reduced — possibly, Godwin calculates, to half an hour a day.
need to try a legit diff experiment.. focus on 3 and this 30
In this he anticipates Kropotkin’s vision in Fields, Factories and Workshops.
It is also true that society for Godwin forms no organic whole and is nothing more than the sum of its individuals. He pictured the enlightened person making individual calculations of pleasure and pain and carefully weighing up the consequences of his or her actions. He stressed the value of autonomy for *intellectual and moral development; we all require a sphere of discretion, a mental space for creative thought. He could see no value in **losing oneself in the existence of another:
*not about that
While Godwin certainly values personal autonomy, he repeatedly stresses that we are social beings, that we are made for society, and that society brings out our best qualities. Indeed, he sees no tension between autonomy and collectivity since ‘the love of liberty obviously leads to a sentiment of union, and a disposition to sympathize in the concern of others’.76 Godwin’s novels show only too vividly the psychological and moral dangers of excessive solitude and isolation. His whole ethical system of universal benevolence is inspired by a love for others.
short findings restate et al
In fact, Godwin believes that people in a free and equal society would be at once more social and more individual: ‘each man would be united to his neighbour, in love and mutual kindness, a thousand times more than now: but each man would think and judge for himself.’ ..As such, Godwin’s anarchism is closer to the communism of Kropotkin than the egoism of Stirner or the competition of Proudhon.
Godwin was not an absolute pacifist, but non-violence was his strategy of liberation. He did not think human reason sufficiently developed to persuade an assailant to drop his sword. Armed struggle might also be necessary to resist the ‘domestic spoiler’ or to repulse an invading despot.78 Nevertheless, **he accepted the minimal use of physical force only when all persuasion and argument had failed. It follows that the duty of the enlightened person is to try to postpone violent revolution.
*huge key/mistake.. not about reason.. that’s why need **this force et al.. not about any form of m\a\p.. ie: persuasion and argument.. oi
Godwin thus looked to a revolution in opinions, not on the barricades. The proper means of bringing about change is through the diffusion of knowledge: ‘Persuasion and not force, is the legitimate instrument of influencing the human mind.’ True equalization of society is not to reduce by force all to a ‘naked and savage equality’, but to elevate every person to wisdom. The reform Godwin recommends (that ‘genial and benignant power!’) is however so gradual that it can hardly be called action.79 Since government is founded in opinion, as people become wiser and realize that it is an unnecessary evil, they will gradually withdraw their support. Government will simply wither away. It is a process which clearly cannot be realized by political parties or associations.
oi oi oi.. whalespeak.. knowledge.. elevate to wisdom.. gradual.. oi oi oi
While Godwin’s gradualism shows that he was no naive visionary, it does give a conservative turn to his practical politics. He criticized the kind of isolated acts of protest that Shelley engaged in. He felt it was right to support from a distance any movement which seemed to be going in the right direction. In his own historical circumstances, he declared: ‘I am in principle a Republican, but in practice a Whig. But I am a philosopher: that is a person desirous to become wise, and I aim at this object by reading, by writing, and a little conversation.’80 He thought at one time during the 1790s that he might be in Parliament, but quickly dismissed the idea since it would infringe his independence and would grate against his character which was more fitted for contemplation than action.
Godwin failed to develop an adequate praxis. His cautious gradualism meant that he was obliged to abandon generations to the disastrous effects of that political authority and economic inequality which he had so eloquently described. While he demonstrated vividly how opinions are shaped by circumstances, *he sought only to change opinions rather than to try and change circumstances. He was left with the apparent dilemma of believing that human beings cannot become wholly rational as long as government exists, and yet government must continue to exist while they remain irrational. His problem was that he failed to tackle reform on the level of institutions as well as ideas.
need: a nother way
2 – max stirner: the conscious egoist
It was during this period that he wrote ‘The False Principle of Our Education’, which was published in Marx’s journal, Rheinische Zeitung, in d !42. The essay shows the libertarian direction Stirner was already taking. Distinguishing between the ‘educated man’ and the ‘freeman’, he argued that, in the former case, knowledge is used to shape character so that the educated become possessed by the Church, State or Humanity, while in the latter it is used to facilitate choice:
If one awakens in men the idea of freedom then the freemen will incessantly go on to free themselves; if, on the contrary, one only educates them, then they will at all times accommodate themselves to circumstances in the most highly educated and elegant manner and degenerate into subservient cringing souls.8
The Free Ones came to be known as the Left Hegelians because they met to discuss and eventually oppose the philosophy of the great German metaphysician. It was in reaction to Hegel and the habitues of the Free Ones that Johann Kaspar wrote his only claim to fame, The Ego and His Own. The work is quite unique in the history of philosophy. Its uneven style is passionate, convoluted and repetitive; its meaning is often opaque and contradictory. Like a musical score it introduces themes, drops them, only to develop them at a later stage; the whole adds up to a triumphant celebration of the joy of being fully oneself and in control of one’s life – something Stirner himself never achieved.
Stirner has an almost Wittgensteinian awareness of the way language influences our perception of reality and limits our world. ‘Language’, he writes, ‘or “the word” tyrannizes hardest over us, because it brings up against us a whole army of fixed ideas. He stresses that the ‘thrall of language is entirely a human construct but it is all-embracing. Truth does not correspond to reality outside language: ‘Truths are phrases, ways of speaking . . . men’s thoughts, set down in words and therefore “just as extant as other things.’9 Since truths are entirely human creations expressed in language they can be consumed: ‘The truth is dead, a letter, a word, a material that I can use up.’1 Il But *since this is the case, Stirner recognizes the possibility of being enslaved by language and its fixed meanings. Italso implies that it is **extremely difficult to express something new. Ultimately, Stirner is reduced to verbal impotence in face of the ineffable, of what cannot be said or described. He calls the ‘!’ ‘unthinkable’ and ‘unspeakable’: ‘Against me, the unnameabie, the realm of thoughts, thinking, and mind is shattered.’11
The problem still remains that if we are *’perfect’, why do we need more knowledge and awareness?
*Even if it could be shown that every individual had expressed the same will, any law enforced by the State would freeze the will an d make the past govern the future. As for democracy based on majority rule, it leaves the **dissenting minority in the same position as in an absolute monarchy. Since sovereignty inevitably involves domination and submission, Stirner concludes that there can be no such thing as a ‘free State’. This criticism of the social contract theory is undoubtedly as trenchant as Godwin’s.
*need imagine if we ness.. 1st thing every am/second et al
**even if not monarchy.. wasting energies dissenting et al
The State’s behaviour is violence, and it calls its violence “law”; that of the individual, “crime”.’39 But the State is not merely a legal superstructure imposed on society, issuing orders as laws; it penetrates into the most intimate relationships of its subjects and creates a false bonding; it is ‘a tissue and plexus of dependence and adherence; it is a belonging together, a holding together…
Given the ontological priority of the individual, *there is no organic society which can preserve individual freedom. The only way forward is therefore to transform both existing society and the State which by their very natures oppose and oppress the individual.
Unlike society which acts as a fused group, crystallized, fixed and dead, the union of egoists is a spontaneous and voluntary association drawn together out of mutual interest.
But surely if everyone tried to seize whatever they desired for themselves, an unequal society would result? Not so, says Stirner. In his proposed union of egoists, all would be able to secure enough property for themselves so that poverty would disappear. Stirner even urges workers to band together and strike to achieve better pay and conditions, and be prepared to use force to change their situation if need be.
oi.. ie of not letting go.. of any form of m\a\p
The reason why the State and even formal institutions of society can be done away with and replaced by a union of egoists is because we are more or less equal in power and ability. It is enough for people to become fully and consciously egoist to end the unequal distribution of power which produces a hierarchical society with servants and masters. A long period of preparation and enlightenment is not therefore necessary, as Godwin argues, before establishing a free society. People simply have to recognize what they are: ‘Your nature is, once for all, a human one; you are human natures, human beings. But just because you already are so, you do not still need to become so
huge.. but also hugely misunderstood/mistaken/misplayed
The problem with Stirner is that, given his view of human beings as self-seeking egoists, it is difficult to imagine that in a free society they would not grasp for power and resort to violence to settle disputes. Without the sanction of moral obligation, there is no reason to expect that agreements would be enacted. If such agreements were only kept out of prudence, then it would seem pointless making them in the first place. Again, to say that because human beings have a substantial equality, a truce would emerge in the struggle for power seems unlikely. Finally, an extreme egoist might well find it in his interest to seize State power or manipulate altruists to serve his ends rather than form voluntary unions of free individuals .
so not demanding the seemingly impossible?
Stirner is an awkward and uncomfortable presence. By stating things in the most extreme way, and taking his arguments to their ultimate conclusions, he jolts his readers out of their philosophical composure and moral smugness. His value lies in his ability to penetrate the mystification and reification of the State and authoritarian society. His criticism of the way communism can crush the individual is apt, and he correctly points out that a workers’ State is unlikely to be any freer than the liberal State. Beyond this, he demonstrates brilliantly the hold ‘wheels in the head’ have upon us: how abstractions and fixed ideas influence the very way we think, and see ourselves, how hierarchy finds its roots in the ‘dominion of thoughts, dominion of mind’ .60 He lifts the social veil, undermines the worship of abstractions, and shows how the world is populated with ‘spooks’ of our own making. He offers a powerful defence of individuality in an alienated world, and places Subjectivity at the centre of any revolutionary project. While his call for self-assertion could lead to violence and the oppression of the weak, and his conscious egoism is ultimately too limited to embrace the whole of human experience, he reminds us splendidly that a free society must exist in the interest of all individuals and it should aim at complete self-fulfilment and enjoyment. The timid and nondescript teacher at a girls’ academy turned out to be one of the most enduringly unsettling thinkers in the Western tradition.
3 – pierre-joseph prouhon: the philosopher of poverty
A s his famous maxims ‘Property i s Theft’, ‘Anarchy is Order’, and ‘God is Evil’ imply, Proudhon gloried in paradox. He is one of the most contradictory thinkers in the history of political thought, and his work has given rise to a wide range of conflicting interpretations. He is also one of the most diffuse writers: he published over forty works and left fourteen volumes of correspondence, eleven volumes of notebooks and a large number of unpublished manuscripts.
To have a clear understanding of Proudhon is no easy task. He did not always digest his learning and he made no attempt to be systematic or consistent in the presentation of his arguments. He could appreciate both sides of any question but was often uncertain which side to adopt: truth for him tended to be the movement between two opposites. The exact meaning of his work is further obscured by the fact that he changed his mind several times throughout his career.
His style did not help matters either. At its best, it can be clear and eloquent, but it too often becomes diffuse and turbid. He was given to polemical exaggeration, and did not know when to stop. Much to the bemusement of his opponents and the confusion of his critics, he was a self-conscious ironist.
Like many social thinkers in the mid-nineteenth century, Proudhon combined social theory with philosophical speculation. He dived boldly into almost every sphere of human knowledge: philosophy, economics, politics, ethics and art were all grist to his mill. He held outrageous views on government, property, sexuality, race, and war. Yet behind his voluminous and varied output there was an overriding drive for justice and freedom.
He shared his century’s confidence that reason and science would bring about social progress and expand human freedom. He saw nature and society governed by laws of development and believed that if human beings lived in harmony with them they could become free. Freedom thus becomes a recognition of necessity: only if man knows his natural and social limits can he become free to realize his full potential. From this perspective Proudhon considered himself to be a ‘scientific’ thinker and wanted to tum politics into a science. But although he liked to think that his ‘whole philosophy is one of perpetual reconciliation’, the dialectical method he adopted often failed to reach a satisfactory resolution of its contradictory ideas
Proudhon would often present himself as an isolated and eccentric iconoclast. In 1848, he wrote: ‘My body is physically among the people, but my mind is elsewhere. My thinking has led me to the point where I have almost nothing in common with my contemporaries by way of ideas.’ He liked to think of himself as the ‘excommunicated of the epoch’ and was proud of the fact that he did not belong to any sect or party.3 In fact, this was more a pose than a correct assessment.
After the publication of What is Property? in 1840, Proudhon soon began to wield considerable influence. Marx hailed it as a ‘penetrating work’ and called it ‘the first decisive, vigorous and scientific examination of property’. 4 Proudhon began to haunt the imagination of the French bourgeoisie as l’homme de fa terreur who embodied all the dangers of proletarian revolution. As the French labour movement began to develop, his influence gtew considerably. His ideas dominated those sections of the French working class who helped form the First International and the largest single gtoup in the Paris Commune of 1871 were Proudhonians. After Bakunin’s rupture with Marx, which marked the parting of the ways of the libertarian and statist socialists, the organ of the first militant anarchist group based in Switzerland asserted: ‘Anarchy is not an invention of Bakunin . . . Proudhon is the real father of anarchy’.5 And Bakunin himself was the first to admit that ‘Proudhon is the master of us all‘.6 Proudhon’s stress on economic before political struggle and his caU for the working class to emancipate themselves by their own hands also made him the father of anarcho-syndicalism.
Proudhon’s influence was not only restricted to France. During the 1870S, his ideas inspired Pi y MargaU and the federalists in Spain, and the narodniks in Russia. The great Russian socialist Alexander Herzen became a close friend. Tolstoy was struck by his ideas on property and government, sought him out, and borrowed the tide of Proudhon’s War and Peace (1861) for his great novel. In Germany, he had an enormous influence on the early socialist movement; in the 1 840S, Lassalle was regarded as the greatest hope of Proudhonism in the country. In America, his views were given wide publicity, especially by Charles Dana of the Fourierist Brook Farm, and William B. Greene. Benjamin R. Tucker – ‘always a Proudhonian without knowing it’ – took Proudhon’s bon mot ‘Liberty is not the Daughter but the Mother of Order’ as the masthead of his journal Liberty. In Britain, his ideas pervaded the syndicalist movement before the First World War, and even G. D. H. Cole’s version of guild socialism closely resembled his proposals.
This century Proudhon has remained as controversial as ever. His attempt to discover the laws which govern society has earned him the reputation as a founding father of sociology. His ideas have been adopted by socialist writers as applicable to developing countries in the Third World.s He has also been taken up by the nationalists on the Right for his defence of small-property owners and French interests. He has not only been hailed as one of the ‘masters of the counter-revolution of the nineteenth century’, but as a ‘harbinger of fascism’.9 He continues to be most remembered, however, as the father of the historic anarchist movement.
Proudhon’s workshop printed the publications for the local diocese and they inspired his own religious speculation. Not content to proof-read and set the writings of others, he started composing his own. He contributed to an edition of Bible notes in Hebrew (learning the language in the process) and later wrote for a Catholic encyclopaedia. The Bible became his principal authority for his socialist ideas. At the same time, his extensive knowledge of Christian doctrine did not deepen his faith but had the reverse effect and made him staunchly anti-clerical. He went on to reject God’s providential rule and to conclude that ‘God is tyranny and poverty; God is evil.’13
More important to his subsequent development, Proudhon came into contact with local socialists, including his fellow townsman Charles Fourier who rejected existing civilization with its repressive moral codes. He even supervised the printing of Fourier’s greatest work Le Nouveau monde industn’el et sociitaire (1829) which gave the clearest account of his economic views. It also advocated a society of ideal communities or ‘phalansteries’ destined ‘to conduct the human race to opulence, sensual pleasures and global unity’.14 Fourier maintained that if human beings attuned to the ‘Universal Harmony’, they would be free to satisfy their passions, regain their mental health, and live without crime. Proudhon acknowledged that he was a captive of this ‘bizarre genius’ for six whole weeks and was impressed by his belief in immanent justice, although he found his phalansteries too utopian and his celebration of free love distasteful.
Proudhon replied to his own question ‘What is Property?’ with the bold paradox: ‘Property is Theft’. It became his most famous slogan and its implications have reverberated ever since. But although Proudhon claimed that the principle came to him as a revelation and was his most precious thought, Morelly had expressed a similar idea in the previous century and Brissot had been the first to declare it during the French Revolution.
In fact, Proudhon had a very specific view of property and his slogan was not as revolutionary as it might appear. Stirner was quick to point out that the concept of , theft’ can only be possible if one allows the prior validity of the concept of property.19 Proudhon did not attack private property as such; indeed, in the same work he called those communists who wanted to collectivize it as enemies of freedom. He was principally opposed to large property-owners who appropriated the labour of others in the form of revenue, “who claimed the droit d’aubaine. At this stage, he was in favour of property as long as it meant ‘possession’, with the privileges of ownership restricted to the usufruct or benefits accruing from it.
Proudhon, as he acknowledged in a foomote, was fully aware that the meaning usually given to the word ‘anarchy’ is ‘absence of principles, absence of laws’, and that it had become synonymous with ‘disorder’.22 He deliberately went out of his way to affirm the apparent paradox that ‘anarchy is order’ by showing that authoritarian government and the unequal distribution of wealth are the principal causes of disorder and chaos in society. By doing so, he became the father of the historic anarchist movement.
What is Property? was under threat of being proscribed, but the Ministry of Justice eventually decided that it was too scholarly to be dangerous. Undeterred, Proudhon followed up his strident squib by a new memoir entitled Warning to the Property Owners (1842). He called for economic equality and insisted that the man of talent and genius should accept it gracefully. This time Proudhon was prosecuted but was acquitted by a jury who again thought the work was too complicated for ordinary people to understand.
Proudhon was furious. He considered writing a reply for a time but contented himself with a note in his diary (23 September 1847) to the effect that ‘Marx is the tapeworm of socialism!’
Even direct democracy is unacceptable since it often prevents subjects executing their own decisions; on occasion, it can be worse than autocracy since it claims legitimacy in oppressing its citizens.
rather.. even decision making is unacceptable (cancerous) .. et al
In place of laissez-faire and State control, he put forward a ‘natural’ economy based on work and equality, a kind of socialism based on exchange and credit. Accepting the labour theory of value, he argued that workers should form associations to exchange the products of their work, the value of which would be calculated by the amount of necessary labour time involved.
this is similar (cancerous) part\ial ness as direct democracy ness above.. oi
It would not however be a state of complete equality, for the industrious would be rewarded more than the lazy. Proudhon had a strong Puritan streak which made him see idleness as a vice and work as a virtue in itself: ‘It is not good for man to live in ease’, he declared. He also praised poverty for being clean and healthy: ‘the glorification of poverty in the Gospel is the greatest truth that Christ ever preached to men’.37 The positive aspect of Proudhon’s frugality is the contention that if men limited their needs and lived a simple life, nature would provide enough for all. He did not moreover condemn luxury outright. He did not think that abundance would ever exist in the sense of there being more goods and services than were consumed, but he was ready to admit affluence into his mutualist scheme if it were spread fairly around.
yeah.. see.. same song.. oi
Above all, he insisted: ‘We want the unlimited liberty of man and of the citizen, except for the respect of the liberty of others: liberty of association, liberty of assembly, liberty of religion, liberty of the press, liberty of thought and speech, liberty of work, commerce and industry, liberty of education, in a word, absolute liberty’.38
of’s make it not legit free.. oi
As he wrote of this time:
As soon as I set foot in the parliamentary Sinai, I ceased to be in touch with the masses; because I was absorbed by my legislative work, I entirely lost sight of the current of events . . . One must have lived in that isolator which is called the National Assembly to realize how the men who are most completely ignorant of the state of the country are almost always those who represent it . . . fear of the people is the sickness of all those who belong to authority; the people, for those in power, are the enemy.40
4 – michael bakunin: the fanatic of freedom
BAKUNIN IS A PARADOXICAL THINKER, overwhelmed by the contradictory nature of the world around him. His life too was full of contradictions. He was a ‘scientific’ anarchist, who adopted Marx’s economic materialism and Feuerbach’s atheism only to attack the rule of science and to celebrate the wisdom of the instincts. He looked to reason as the key to human progress and yet developed a cult of spontaneity and glorified the will. He had a desire to dominate as well as to liberate and recognized that ‘the urge to destroy is also a creative urge’. He called for absolute liberty, attacking all forms of institutionalized authority and hierarchy only to create his own secret vanguard societies and to call for an ‘invisible’ dictatorship.
Not surprisingly, Bakunin in his own lifetime inspired great controversy, and it continues until this day. On the one hand, he has been called one of ‘the completest embodiments in history of the spirit of liberty'” On the other, he has been described as ‘the intellectual apologist for despotism’, guilty of ‘rigid authoritarianism’.2 Camus maintained that he ‘wanted total freedom; but he hoped to realize it through total destruction’.3 It is usual to present him as a man ‘with an impetuous and impassioned urge for action’, or as an example of anarchist ‘fervour in action'” Yet it has also been argued that he was primarily an abstract thinker who elaborated a philosophy of action.5 Far from being the intellectual flyweight dismissed by Marx as a ‘man devoid of all theoretical knowledge’; he increasingly appears to be a profound and original thinker.6
What is indisputable is that Bakunin had great charisma and personal magnetism. Richard Wagner wrote: ‘With Bakunin everything was colossal, and of a primitive negative power . . . From every word he uttered one could feel the depth of his innermost convictions . . . I saw that this all destroyer was the love-worthiest, tender-hearted man one could possibly imagine’.7 His magnanimity and enthusiasm coupled with his passionate denunciation of privilege and injustice made him extremely attractive to anti-authoritarians. In the inevitable comparisons with Marx, he appears the more generous and spontaneous. But his character remains as enigmatic as his theory is ambivalent. He attacked authority and called for absolute freedom, but admired those who were born to command with iron wills. He rejected arbitrary violence, but celebrated the ‘poetry of destruction’ and felt unable to condemn terrorists. He had a strong moral sense and yet doted on fanatics who believed that the revolution sanctifies all.
The contradictory nature of his life and thought has been put down to his ‘innate urge to dominate’ alongside a desire to rebel.8 Others have hinted more darkly that Bakunin’s eccentricity tottered on the verge of madness, that he was a ‘little cracked’ and showed ‘hints of derangement’.9
crazywise (doc) et al
It has even been argued that his violence and authoritarianism were rooted in Oedipal and narcissistic disorders and that his concern with freedom was born of ‘weakness, fear and flight’.10 From this perspective, his most genuine voice is that of a frightened youth.
Certainly Bakunin was brought up in a very special situation, and his relationships with his parents and siblings played a major part in shaping his personality. But he also suffered from being a superfluous aristocrat and intellectual who had no positive role to play under the despotic rule of Nicholas II. Herzen correctly observed that Bakunin had within him ‘the latent power of a colossal activity for which there was no demand’.11 His early longing to feel part of the whole, fired by his passionate involvement with German idealism, also left an indelible mark which led him to seek salvation in the cataclysmic upheaval of revolution.
Despite recent interest in him as a case study of utopian or apocalyptic psychology, Bakunin made an outstanding contribution to anarchist thought and strategy. He undoubtedly broke new ground. His critique of science is profound and persuasive. He reveals eloquently the oppressive nature of modern States, the dangers of revolutionary government, and, by his own lamentable example, the moral confusion of using authoritarian means to achieve libertarian ends, of using secret societies and invisible dictators to bring about a free society. He developed anarchist economics in a collectivist direction.
He has not only be called the ‘Activist-Founder of World Anarchism’ but hailed as the ‘true father of modern anarchism’.12 Indeed, he became the most influential thinker during the resurgence of anarchism in the sixties and seventies.
It is extremely difficult to assess Bakunin as a thinker. He was more of a popularizer than a systematic or consistent thinker. He was the first to admit that: ‘I am not a scholar or a philosopher, not even a professional writer. I have not done much writing in my life and have never written except, so to speak, in self-defence, and only when a passionate conviction forced me to overcome my instinctive dislike for any public exhibition of myself.’14 His writings were nearly always part of his activity as a revolutionary and as a result he left a confused account of his views written for different audiences. As in his life, there is a bewildering rush in his writing; just as he is beginning to develop an argument well, he drops it to pick up another. He not only appeals to abstract concepts like justice and freedom without properly defining them, but he often relies on cliches: the bourgeoisie are inevitably ‘corrupt’, the State always means ‘domination’, and freedom must be ‘absolute’. His mental universe is Manichean, with binary opposites of good and evil, life and science, State and society, bourgeoisie and workers.
He wrote when he could during a lifetime of hectic travelling and agitation, but when begun his works sprawled in all directions. He rarely managed to finish a complete manuscript, and of his main works only Statism and Anarchy was published in his lifetime and God and the State soon after his death. The bulk of his writings therefore remain unedited drafts. As a result, he often repeats himself and appears inconsistent and contradictory. He talks for instance of the need for the ‘total abolition of politics’ and yet argues that the International Working Men’s Association offers the ‘true politics of the workers’. 15 He uses the term ‘anarchy’ both in its negative and popular sense of violent chaos as well as to describe a free society without the State.16 This can partly be explained by the inadequacy of existing political language for someone trying to go beyond the traditional categories of political thought, but it also resulted from a failure to correct his drafts or order his thoughts. Yet for all the fragmentation, repetition, and contradiction, there emerges a recognizable leitmotif.
ode to idiosyncratic jargon ness
While he recommends the ‘religion of divine reason and divine love’ to be the basis of their life, he had already decided to devote his life to expanding the freedom of all beings:
Everything that lives, that exists, that grows, that is simply on the earth, should be free, and should attain self-consciousness, raising itself up to the divine centre which inspires all that exists. Absolute freedom and absolute love – that is our aim; the freeing of humanity and the whole world – that is our purpose.
‘To know truth’, he wrote to his family at the time, ‘is not only to think but to live; and life is more than a process of thought: life is a miraculous realization of thought.’
or rather.. life is living.. rather than thinking we have to be thinking
Bakunin in fact did not abandon philosophy for mere action, but rather began to develop a new philosophy of action. And far from recovering from the disease of German metaphysics, he retained much of its influence, particularly its dialectical movement and search for wholeness. The longing to become one with the Absolute was transformed into a desire to merge with the people. His yearning to be a complete human being and save himself now combined with a drive to help others. At the end of 1842, he characteristically had a discussion with Ruge about ‘how we must liberate ourselves and begin a new life, in order to liberate others and pour new life into them’.29 The need for movement and excitement was the same, only the object changed. As he wrote later in his Confessions:
There was always a basic defect in my nature: a love for the fantastic, for unusual, unheard-of adventures, for undertakings that open up a boundless horizon and whose end no one can foresee. I would feel suffocated and nauseated in ordinary peaceful surroundings . . . my need for movement and activity remained unsatisfied. This need, subsequently, combined with democratic exaltation, was almost my only motive force.
quote from ruge’s book bakunin liked: The perfect society has no government, but only an administration, no laws but only obligations, no punishments, but means of correction.’31 Coupled with a reading of the ‘immortal Rousseau’, Weitling helped Bakunin stride towards anarchism.
oi oi oi .. admin, obligations, et al.. oi red flags
But he was not entirely under Weiding’s sway for he criticized his ideal society as ‘not a free society, a really live union of free people, but a herd of animals, intolerably coerced and united by force, following only material ends utterly ignorant of the spiritual side of life’.33
It proved a crucial period in his development. He met Proudhon, still basking in the notoriety of What is Property? (1840) and putting the finishing touches to his Economic Contradictions, or Philosophy of Poverty (1844). He exclaimed to an Italian friend while reading Proudhon: ‘This is the right thing!’34 They engaged in passionate discussions, talking all night about Hegel’s dialectic. Bakunin was impressed by his critique of government and property, and Proudhon no doubt also stressed the authoritarian dangers of communism and the need for anarchy. But it was Proudhon’s celebration of freedom which most fired Bakunin’s overheated imagination
He believed that distribution should take place according to work done, not according to need.
oi oi oi
cancerous if any form of m\a\p
It is not enough to excuse Bakunin’s predilection for tightly organized, authoritarian, hierarchical secret organizations by appealing to his ‘romantic temperament’ or the oppression of existing States.102 His invisible dictatorship is a central part of his political theory and practice, and shows that for all his professed love of liberty and openness there is a profound authoritarian and dissimulating streak in his life and work. His habit of simultaneously preaching absolute liberty in his polemics with the Marxists while defending a form of absolute dictatorship in his private correspondence with members of his clandestine Alliance would certainly seem to point to ‘acute schizophrenia’ on Bakunin’s part.103 His love of destruction and struggle also prevented him from realizing that it is impossible to employ violence and force as means to achieve libertarian and peaceful ends.
It is the ability to think and to act deliberately which enables human beings to negate the animal element in themselves and to develop their consciousness and freedom. It is man’s rational will which enables him to free himself gradually from the hostility of the external world. Whereas Jehovah wanted man to remain an ‘eternal beast’, ignorant and obedient, Satan urged him to disobey and eat of the tree of knowledge. As such, Satan is ‘the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds’.114 Indeed, Bakunin believed that in general the vitality and dignity of an animal can be measured by the intensity of its instinct to revolt. The ‘goddess of revolt’, he declared in one of his resounding phrases, is the ‘mother of all liberty’.
oi oi oi
We are born with a capacity to be egoistic or sociable, but not innate moral characteristics. Our moral behaviour will result from our social tradition and education.
oi oi oi
For all his evolutionary perspective and stress on the animal origins of man, Bakunin is no ecologist and believes that we must continually struggle against external nature: ‘Man .. . can and should conquer and master this external world. He, on his part, must subdue it and wrest from it his freedom and humanity.’
Thus the only liberty which Bakunin believes worthy of the name is
the liberty which consists in the full development of all the material, intellectual and moral powers which are to be found as faculties latent in everybody, the liberty which recognizes no other restrictions that those which are traced for us by the laws of our own nature; so that properly speaking there are no restrictions, since these laws are not imposed on us by some legislator, beside us or above us; they are immanent in us, inherent, constituting the very basis of our being, material as well as intellectual and moral; instead, therefore, of finding them a limit, we must consider them as the real conditions and effective reason for our liberty.
ed ness.. any form of m\a\p.. is state/coercive/authoritative/abusive/cancerous.. et al.. oi
Intimately connected with his notion of liberty is authority. Indeed, Bakunin defines liberty as an ‘absolute rejection of any principle of authority ‘.127 Authority is the principal evil in the world: ‘If there is a devil in human history, the devil is the principle of command. It alone, sustained by the ignorance and stupidity of the masses, without which it could not exist, is the source of all the catastrophes, all the crimes, and all the infamies of history.’l28 Since authority is the ‘negation of freedom’, Bakunin called for the revolt of the individual against all divine, collective and individual authority and repudiated both God and Master, the Church and the State.
authority exists in any form of m\a\p
Again, Bakunin may have rejected all imposed authority and usurped power in the form of the State and its laws, but he acknowledged that there was such a thing as the ‘authority of society’. Indeed, the authority of society is ‘incomparably more powerful than that of the State’. Where the State and the Church are transitory and artificial institutions, society will always exist. As a result, the action of social tyranny is ‘gentler, more insidious, more imperceptible, but no less powerful and pervasive than is the authority of the State’. But while it is easier to rebel against the State than society around us, Bakunin is convinced that it is possible to go against the ‘stream of conformity’ and revolt against all divine, collective and individual authority in society.
Bakunin is thus ready to accept in general the ‘absolute authority of science’ because it is rational and in keeping with human liberty. But outside this legitimate authority, he declares all other authorities to be ‘false, arbitrary and fatal’.
oi.. science ness et al
Bakunin set out not to destroy science but rather to reform it and keep it within legitimate boundaries. It would be better for the people to dispense with science altogether than be governed by savants, for ‘Life, not science, creates life; the spontaneous action of the people themselves alone can create liberty.’
He saw the intimate connection between liberty and authority and recognized natural and social boundaries to liberty. His notion of freedom is a form of collective self-discipline within the inescapable boundaries of nature and society. It was not so much a case of exerting ‘maximum authority’ over the conditions of one’s life, but rather of accepting the context of freedom. 140 Far from offering a theory of liberty based on a ‘hotchpotch of empty rhetoric’ or ‘glib Hegelian claptrap’, Bakunin’s position is both realistic and plausible.
replace state w any form of m\a\p.. oi
By contrast, the new commune in an emancipated society would consist of a voluntary association of free and equal individuals of both sexes. Unlike Proudhon, who extended his anarchist principles to only half the human species, Bakunin insists on the complete emancipation of women and their social equality with men. Perfect freedom can only exist with complete economic and social equality: ‘I am free only when all human beings surrounding me – men and women – are equally free. The freedom of others, far from limiting or negating my liberty, is on the contrary its necessary condition and confirmation.’ Every person would be personally free in that he or she would not surrender his or her thought or will to any authority but that of reason. They would be ‘free collectively’, that is by living among free people. Thus freedom involves the development of solidarity. Such a society would be a moral society, for socialism is justice and the basic principle of socialism is ‘that every human being should have the material and moral means to develop his humanity’.
Human relations would be transformed. With the abolition of the patriarchal family, marriage law and the right of inheritance, men and women would live in free unions more closely united to each other than before. The upbringing and education of children would be entrusted to the mother but remain mainly the concern of society. Indeed, an integral ‘equal education for all’ is an indispensable condition for the emancipation of humanity. Such a system of education would not only eradicate existing differences, but prepare every child of either sex for a life of thought and work, imbibe him or her with ‘socialist morality’, and encourage respect for the freedom of others which is the ‘highest duty’. Children cannot, however, choose not to be educated or to remain idle.
oi .. supposed to’s of school/work et al.. oi
Bakunin lays down the law here: ‘Everyone shall work, and everyone shall be educated’, whether they like it or not. No one will be able to exploit the labour of others. Every one will have to work in order to live, for ‘social and political rights will have only one basis – the labour contributed by everyone’. Without the use of positive law, the pressure of public opinion should make ‘parasites’ impossible, but exceptional cases of idleness would be regarded ‘as special maladies to be subjected to clinical treatment’.157 Such authoritarian statements open up a potential world of tyranny and oppression in Bakunin’s so-called free society.
oh my oh my oh my
It is absurd to want to abolish political authority in the form of the State at a stroke for a ‘revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other.’ – engels
He was so thoroughly corrupted by the love of power that he singularly failed to see that the dangers he described in Marx’s revolutionary dictatorship were equally applicable in his own.
Since the Second World War, there has been a renewed interest in Bakunin, not only from the students’ movements in the sixties but from intenectuals like Noam Chomsky. Bakunin’s cult of spontaneity, his celebration of revolutionary win and instinctive rebellion, his advocacy of workers’ control, his faith in the creative energies of the people, his critique of science – an have appealed to the rebellious young in modem technological States. Even Che Guevara was hailed as the ‘new Bakunin’. Bakunin’s search for wholeness in a divided society is not merely the product of a diseased form of romanticism or an unbalanced psyche, but rather a bold and inspiring attempt to reclaim one’s humanity in an alienated world.