Political philosophy that considers government unnecessary and advocates instead a stateless society
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  • FreedomPedia
  • Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates self-governed societies based on voluntary institutions. These are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism considers the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, because anarchists generally believe that human beings are capable of managing their own affairs on the basis of creativity, cooperation and mutual respect, and when making individual decisions they are taking into account the concerns of others and the well-being of society. While anti-statism is central, anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations.

    • Anarchism, Individualist - Anarchism that emphasizes the individual and his or her preferences over other considerations
    • Anarcho-Capitalism - Political theory that rejects governmental authority and advocates laissez-faire capitalism
    • Mutualism - Anarchist doctrine proposed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
    • Voluntaryism - Libertarian philosophy that advocates non-political strategies to delegitimize the State

    Articles

    Anarchism, by Voltairine de Cleyre, Free Society, 13 Oct 1901
    Examines various economic propositions for anarchism (socialist, communist, individualist and mutualist) and opines that all could be tried out
    "It no longer seems necessary to me, therefore, that one should base his Anarchism on any particular world conception; it is a theory of the relations due to man and comes as an offered solution to the societary problems arising from the existence of these two tendencies of which I have spoken. ... Anarchism, alone, apart from any proposed economic reform, is just the latest reply out of many the past has given, to that daring, breakaway, volatile, changeful spirit which is never content."
    'Anarchist' Idiocy, by David Boaz, 14 May 2011
    Discusses a Washington Post story about Greek so-called "anarchists" who were protesting the "rolling back of social safety nets"
    "The Washington Post splashes a story about 'anarchists' in Greece across the front page today. ... So these 'anarchists' object that the state might cut back on its income transfers and payrolls. That is, they object to the state reducing its size, scope, and power. ... Real anarchists, of either the anarcho-capitalist or mutualist variety, might have something useful to say to Greeks in their current predicament. But disgruntled young people, lashing out at the end of an unsustainable welfare state, are not anarchists in any serious sense. They're just angry children not ready to deal with reality."
    Auberon Herbert, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Feb 2011
    First part of biographical essay on Auberon Herbert; discusses Spencer's influence on him, his views on anarchism vs. voluntaryism, self-ownership, majority rule, war and imperialism
    "To the extent there is debate about Herbert's beliefs, the focus is generally upon whether he was an anarchist. He consistently rejected the label. He wrote, 'My charge against Anarchism is that it sees many forms of crime existing in the world, and it refuses to come to any settled opinion as to what it will do in the matter. If it says it will do nothing, then we must live under the reign of the murderer...; if it says it will have some form of local jury, then we are back into government again at once.' ... The focus on the anarchism question loses the true importance of the man."
    Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, by Wendy McElroy, Literature of Liberty, 1981
    Bibliographical essay covering the people and radical movements that influenced Tucker in his founding and publishing of Liberty, its major themes and contributors
    "Tucker's attitude toward the use of force polarized the anarchist movement. The individualist-anarchists, who generally opposed all but defensive force on moral grounds, were labelled 'Boston anarchists' since Liberty<.cite> was issued from Boston. The communist-anarchists, who often accepted the use of force as a strategy, were labelled 'Chicago anarchists' since Chicago was the site of the violent Haymarket affair in 1886."
    Benjamin Tucker's Liberty, by Carl Watner, Reason, Apr 1979
    Examines several of the themes discussed by Tucker in Liberty, e.g., anarchism, natural rights, monopoly, and how his views changed throughout the years
    "For Tucker, anarchism meant the absence of State and government but not necessarily the abolition of all laws and all coercion. He maintained that anarchists oppose government, not because they disbelieve in punishment of crime and resistance to aggression, but because they disbelieve in compulsory protection. ... Tucker originally relied on the theory of natural rights to defend anarchism and attack government ... Having abandoned natural right as the basis of his anarchism, Tucker replaced it with the concept of equal liberty."
    Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought, by Jeff Riggenbach, 15 Jul 2010
    Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast
    "Thoreau is another kettle of fish altogether. As Woodcock writes, 'Thoreau's condemnation of the state was more thorough, and in many other ways he fits more closely into the anarchist pattern than Emerson could ever do.' Certainly the opening paragraph of his famous 1849 essay on 'Civil Disobedience' signals a willingness to boldly go where Emerson had been a little too timid to tread. 'I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least,"' Thoreau wrote ..."
    Karl Hess: 1923-1994: His Words, by Karl Hess, Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
    Selections from "The Death of Politics", Dear America, "The Playboy Interview", "If I Were Running Against Reagan", "Why Me?", "The Most Unforgettable Libertarian I Ever Knew" and "A Fond Farewell"
    "PLAYBOY: But no man is without ambition. What's yours?
    HESS: I want to be the perfect anarchist.
    PLAYBOY: Which is?
    HESS: A good friend, good lover, good neighbor.
    PLAYBOY: That's all there is to being an anarchist?
    HESS: What did you expect, a lot of rules?"
    Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections, by Roderick Long, 6 Aug 2004
    Transcript of talk given at the 2004 Mises University. First makes the case for anarchism and then responds to objections others have raised against it
    "Government Is Not a Coercive Monopoly ... Hobbes: Government Is Necessary for Cooperation ... Locke: Three 'Inconveniences' of Anarchy ... Ayn Rand: Private Protection Agencies Will Battle ... Robert Bidinotto: No Final Arbiter of Disputes ... Property Law Cannot Emerge from the Market ... Organized Crime Will Take Over ... The Rich Will Rule ... Robert Bidinotto: The Masses Will Demand Bad Laws ... Robert Nozick and Tyler Cowen: Private Protection Agencies Will Become a de facto Government"
    Ludwig von Mises and the Justification of the Liberal Order, by William Baumgarth, The Economics of Ludwig von Mises, Nov 1974
    Critically examines various Mises' writings on liberalism, democracy, the wisdom of the masses, special-interest politics, equal treatment under the law, anarchism, self-determination and of course economics
    "According to Mises, liberalism is necessarily opposed to anarchism ... But the logical extension of Mises' defense of liberalism may, in fact, point the way to anarchism. Why cannot any minority suddenly claim to be the majority by a geographical redefinition of the electorate? Anarchism need not endorse a belief in man's natural goodness or even a belief in utopian pacifism, as Mises apparently supposed. Anarchism may be a corollary of Mises' own belief in self-determination—something that he himself considered more important than majority rule ..."
    Lunar prisoners fight for freedom in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Howard Baetjer, 1 Feb 2017
    Discusses Heinlein's (and professor Bernardo de la Paz's) views on government and anarchism in the title book, with several excerpts, and ending with "Don't miss it"
    "The book explores anarchism deeply throughout. Because the 'Loonies' (the moon is known as 'Luna') are convicts or the descendants of convicts, and because they cannot escape Luna without boarding one of the government’s ships, the official government — the Lunar Authority, set up by the rulers on Earth — does not do much at all. ... And the revolutionaries debate anarchism among themselves, as in the following exchange from early in the story: '"I'm a rational anarchist." "I don't know that brand. ..." ...'"
    Related Topics: Government, Robert A. Heinlein
    Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., The Rational Individualist, Aug 1969
    Published by the Society for Rational Individualism (later merged into the Society for Individual Liberty); responds to five of Rand's arguments in her essay "The Nature of Government"
    "... anarchy ... is the absence of the initiation of force, the absence of political rule, the absence of the state. We shall replace the state with the free market, and men shall for the fist time in their history be able to walk and live without fear of destruction being unleashed upon them at any moment – especially the obscenity of such destruction being unleashed by a looter armed with nuclear weapons and nerve gases."
    Robert A. Heinlein's Soaring Spirit of Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jul 1997
    Biographical essay, including multiple quotes from fellow authors and significant excerpts from Heinlein's novels and stories
    "Asked to expand on his views, Prof says: 'I'm a rational anarchist. ... A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. ...'"
    Society without a State, by Murray N. Rothbard, 28 Dec 1974
    Talk delivered at the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy
    "In my view, the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal. If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime — theft, oppression, mass murder — on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad."
    Related Topics: Law, The State, Taxation
    The Politics of Étienne de La Boétie, by Murray N. Rothbard, 1975
    Introduction to the 1975 edition of The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, translated by Harry Kurz; summarises the key insights of La Boétie's work
    "Several historians of anarchism have gone so far as to classify La Boétie's treatise itself as anarchist, which is incorrect since La Boétie never extended his analysis from tyrannical government to government per se. But while La Boétie cannot be considered an anarchist, his sweeping strictures on tyranny and the universality of his political philosophy lend themselves easily to such an expansion."
    Voltairine de Cleyre: Penitent Priestess of Anarchism, by Jeff Riggenbach, 17 Jun 2010
    Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 June 2010
    "And Voltairine showed that her heart was in the right place when she argued for an idea that had already come to be called 'anarchism without adjectives.' She wrote in 1901, for example, that 'there are … several economic schools among Anarchists; there are Anarchist Individualists, Anarchist Mutualists, Anarchist Communists and Anarchist Socialists. In times past these several schools have bitterly denounced each other and mutually refused to recognize each other as Anarchists at all.'"
    Voltairine de Cleyre | Libertarianism.org, by Sharon Presley, Libertarian Review, Mar 1979
    Biographical essay, discussing Cleyre's life, views on anarchism and marriage, and contrasting her to Emma Goldman
    "But she eventually grew to the conclusion that neither individualism nor collectivism nor even mutualism was entirely satisfactory. 'I am an Anarchist, simply, without economic labels attached,' she was finally to declare. Unhyphenated anarchism or 'anarchism without adjectives' had other adherents as well—Errico Malatesta, Max Nettlau and Lum among them. These advocates of non-sectarian anarchism tried to promote tolerance for different economic views within the movement, believing that economic preferences would vary according to individual tastes and that no one person or group had the only correct solution."
    Related Topics: Voltairine de Cleyre, Marriage

    Books

    Anarchy, State and Utopia
        by Robert Nozick, 1974
    Partial contents: Why State-of-Nature Theory? - The State of Nature - Moral Constraints and the State - Prohibition, Compensation, and Risk - The State - Distributive Justice - Equality, Envy, Exploitation, Etc. - Demoktesis - A Framework for Utopia
    Related Topic: The State
    Escape From Leviathan: Liberty, Welfare, and Anarchy Reconciled, by Jan Clifford Lester, 21 Jun 2000
    Excerpts from each major section of the book available at Libertarian Alliance website; contents: Introduction - Rationality - Liberty - Welfare - Anarchy
    Related Topic: Liberty

    Videos


    Anarchism in America
    As shown on The Documentary Channel
    Related Topic: Anarchism in America

    Why Choose Anarchy?, by Anarchris, 17 May 2015
    "When you come to these realizations, the question is no longer "why choose anarchy?" The question becomes "why choose government?" Amidst all the war and mayhem and corruption and destruction perpetuated in the name of the state, these elite criminals have the audacity to say that anarchy is chaos, but I have realized that government is chaos. This is why I call myself an anarchist. When I say that I am an anarchist, what I'm saying is that I recognize the evils of the world and that I understand who is responsible for them and I refuse to be complicit."

    Podcasts

    Are You an Anarchist?, by Roderick Long, The Lew Rockwell Show, 14 Nov 2008
    Long explains what is anarchism and describes his intellectual influences

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.