Sunday, 18 May 2014

What is Anarchism.



Archy= Greek for Rulership. A relationship or situation of rulership.

Archon= Greek for Ruler.

An= Greek for without.

Anarchy= Greek for without rulership- a society without rulership.

Anarchism is the philosophy which advocates the abolition for all time of all forms of rulership and all rulers.
Anarchism is opposition to rulers and rulership by which we mean anarchism is absolute uncompromising opposition to all and every form of hierarchy, domination, exploitation and privilege whether it is formal in an institution or exists informally.

Which means anarchism is opposition to The State (all states- past, present, and future), opposition to Capitalism, Patriarchy, the Gender Binary, Heteronormativity, White Supremacy, opposition to destruction of the Earth and abuse of Animals and more.

Anarchism is more than mere opposition to the state. Anarchism sees the state as a gathering point for systems of oppression but it is not the only form of oppression.  Anarchism is the most uncompromising comprehensive critique of existing oppressive society there is and so by extension, the most comprehensive uncompromising all encompassing liberation movement and philosophy there is.

Anarchism should reject the idea that oppression can be reduced to class or Capitalism. Patriarchy predates capitalism so cannot be reduced to it. Patriarchy is a much older form of oppression than capitalism and it is absolutely vital it is challenged.

We are critical of everything from marriage, to monogamy, to technology, to existing philosophy, to existing psychology, to existing healthcare, to existing family structure, to existing child-raising practices etc – Nothing should be beyond criticism.

Instead of existing oppressive society, we favour a society which supports Freedom, Equality and Solidarity.

Far from being in favour of chaos, anarchists favour a society of organisation but instead of existing society which is organised from the top down  we favour a society organised from the bottom up.

  Everyone would be able to make decisions about their own lives both individually and collectively as a society. Everyone would have the resources and opportunities they needed to be able to exercise this decision making power.

We believe that freedom, equality and solidarity must exist together or not at all. They are complimentary and deeply interconnected. Existing society hinders all of them and often actively works to oppose them.

We favour a society organized as a Direct Democracy instead of Hierarchy. We favour a federal system where decision making grows from the grassroots.

Anarchism is opposed to Vanguardism  favoured by other political philosophies like Leninism, which claims the oppressed must be led to liberation by an elite group. We believe the oppressed must carry out their own liberation otherwise we become their new rulers. Anarchism does not seek to put anarchists in power -in control of the state- or otherwise be in charge of society. We wish to create a society in which no one individual or group of individuals is ultimately in charge but instead we aim for a society in which everyone can make decisions about the society they want to live in.

Anarchism is opposed to the concept of  ‘The dictatorship of the Proletariat’ whereby it is claimed the state is needed to create the society we want to see, then is abolished. Anarchists wish to go straight to the stateless society. We do believe it will be a process to get there but the stateless society will be created in the process. We oppose the idea that means and ends can be separated. We believe that the way in which you try to create a better society strongly shapes what that better society will look like. A free and equal society cannot be created by authoritarian means such as by creation of a new state or by being elected to power. It is only in the struggle that ordinary people learn how to organise their own lives individually and collectively. It is through struggle that people are psychologically changed to be able to self manage society.

Anarchism is opposed to the idea that representative democracy is sufficient to change society for the better. We oppose what we call Reformism which is the idea that you can use existing structures in existing oppressive society to change that oppressive society for the better. Anarchists do not think this is possible. At best this will only change the form of oppression, at worse it will conceal the oppression or capture those who wished to change society for the better making them either new oppressors or complicit with oppression.

Anarchists hold that existing oppressive society has no interest in changing the fundamental way it is organized, no interest in changing the roots of its very values and forms of organization. 

Anarchists do not oppose reforms but we do oppose reformism which is the belief that existing society can be altered into a just society by working within the system. Anarchists do not believe that by voting in political parties or politicians we can improve society for the better.Anarchists support empowering reforms while opposing disempowering ones(often linked to reformism) 

Anarchists believe in empowering the oppressed of society to take control of their own lives in accordance with the society we wish to create  therefore we prefer the oppressed to take action themselves( Direct Action)

Anarchists see Representative democracy as neither representative nor democratic but merely a form of organization which conceals who really is in control and which gives existing oppressive systems the illusion of legitimacy.  Representative Democracy is a gift in propaganda terms to existing power structures.

Anarchism seeks to destroy and dispel all kinds of mystification and illusion which keeps humanity and all living things in bondage. Only when  humans have control over our own lives can we flourish both individually and collectively as a society, and as a species.

While not all do, the majority of Anarchists favour revolution. While we do not know the specifics of what a revolution would involve , we know what it must involve in it’s most broadest terms.

The existing order is maintained both by propaganda, by ideas, by ‘the ideological state apparatus’ and by physical force and repression(‘ the repressive state apparatus’)  Anarchism to be successful must challenge both of these.

The revolution will then involve both a change in ideas, in ways of thinking about how we organize society and how we relate to others and also actual change in how we do so. The revolution will need to involve the creation of anarchist institutions and practices.

The revolution will be dialectical , both positive and negative, both creative and destructive. The revolution will be creative in that we must work to create alternatives to existing practices and organizations that are based on anarchist principles. The revolution will be destructive in that unfortunately ultimately it is highly likely it will face the repressive forces of the state and must defeat them. Neither side of the revolution can be left out and neither side must be given sole prominence or precedence.

In Catalonia, with the CNT and anarchists  one of their key mistakes was their failure to confront the state. They merely preceded with the positive aspect of  the revolution. The result was being crushed by repression.

In other situations, anarchists have attempted ‘propaganda by the deed’ or physical confrontation with the State. Yet again, by itself this is not enough to constitute revolution or create a new better society.  It will be met with violence and crushed sooner or later. This approach is insufficient because the alternative practices and institutions are not in place or not widespread enough to offer an alternative to the existing order.

It is absolutely vital that in a revolution both the creative and destructive sides of what is required are present. Without both, revolutions will fail and anarchism cannot succeed.

We claim no blueprint for how a future society would work or how it should look. We can only speculate and demand that it stick to anarchist principles. It seems clear that an anarchist society would be the most consciously structured and formed society that has ever existed. It would be the result of hours of debate,discussion, hard thinking and struggle by many many people across the world and across history. It would be something new in human history.

We refuse to outline a blueprint because (1) we are not prophets and cannot know the future and what problems or difficulties may arise and (2) we are unwilling to undemocratically decide for future generations what their society should be like (3) utopian blueprint designing often is unrealistic or naïve. We are well aware that a revolution and a post-revolutionary anarchist society will have problems and these must be addressed at the time but considered and solutions debate ahead of time. It is not possible to consider everything but we must not leave everything up to that moment either.

The society we aim for will be formed in the process of creating it – in the revolutionary process-
An anarchist society is not static but would be constantly open to improvement and renewal.

Anarchism demands humility in that we have no obvious means to get to an anarchist society otherwise we would be doing it already. How to get there must be worked out provisionally as we go along.


The kind of society we want and can create- what is possible- must also be worked out as we go along. We must never claim to have all the answers.

Within Anarchism there is much debate about what kind of society we wish to create broadly (beyond required anarchist principles) and what it would look like. The main economic tendencies are Mutualism (Proudhon, Kevin Carson, )Collectivism(Bakunin) and Communism(Kropotkin,Goldman,Malatesta ). There is also a debate about Environmentalism between the main tendencies  Deep Ecology, Social Ecology and Anarcho-Primitivism and  many others .

Anarchism as a tendency has always existed in human history but never truly became a fleshed out movement and philosophy till much later.  Anarchism as a movement and a philosophy is extremely diverse and has always been so. The first 'philosophical anarchist' was William Godwin. The first 'self proclaimed anarchist' was Pierre J. Proudhon.
Anarchism refuses to pin it's thinking to any one person or group or historical period. 

If Anarchism can be said to have a philosophy it is that Anarchism is extremely flexible, opposed to dogmatism, pragmatic, experimental and reflective. Anarchism approaches struggle with a practice orientated approach and is always open to revision.

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