Man, His Own Master
A Prefatory Note
In regards to the following text, the idea of Anarchism inherently repulses the layman inasmuch as the relation seen between it and Chaos. Thus it must first be clear that such a relation is superficial at best, nonexistent in most cases. The Anarchist is in many regards related to the layman, merely wishing to be left alone and to seek out their own goals without being impeded by any other individual, collective, or conglomerate. While there are examples of Anarchists using chaos as a means to an end of the State, they are an exception to a mass of individuals who wish for a peaceful dissolution.
Introduction to the Work
No Gods, No Masters. Men have lived, are living, and will die with this phrase guiding them. Their inner being has been defined by this simple phrase.
Whether this phrase is accurate for the whole of it is debatable. There are many Anarchists who believe and worship a God, thus making the first point only for the secular groups. Whether Anarchism in general should allow religious factions as being identified could be a whole debate in itself, if anyone would care to debate it. It is the second point, however, that is of greater importance.
No Masters. What does that mean? Most regard it as the center of Anarchism, that one man is no master over another. While that can be assumed, the statement itself regards there being no masters of others or the self. It is, in essence, more a representation of Chaos than Anarchy, no one in control. Thus the saying, while poetic in a sense, is overall a misconception of Anarchy.
If we must make a saying for Anarchy, there is one that I feel represents her at her best: “Man, his own master.” No man is master over others, and man is in control of himself. If he was not his own master, he would be a slave to his instincts, no freer than the man with a master.
This sentiment, of man being his own master, is a sentiment that is at the heart of the west. In the days of Socrates, the idea that man should decide how he must live was at the heart of Athenian Democracy. When Thomas Paine walked the earth, a revolutionary war was being fought in order that man could pursue his own happiness. Throughout the 19th century, old regimes were being taken down in order for the proletariat to be free of the oppression by the bourgeoisie. Even our myths, from Shakespeare and Homer to Mark Twain and George Orwell, are focused on this idea of independence and going out to do what we wish, leading either to happily ever after or to a fate worse than death. It is, in a sense, enshrined in our blood.
However, just as man values freedom, he in turn values safety. Thus they have created institutions in order to keep some semblance of safety by putting it on the collective to provide protection, forming a power that is given a license to commit violence in order to keep safety and peace. This power we know as the State, a system implemented that gives a few people power to implement laws and use violence to enforce those laws, whether those laws are supported by the people or not. While there have been attempts to form a fair system that is ran by the people, for the people, all have gone short and have committed wrongs amongst the people they have promised to serve.
In reaction, a philosophy has been formed in stark rebuttal of such unjust systems. A belief that such systems need not exist for man to live in peace with each other. A belief in the sovereignty of the individual, and that a man may decide for himself what is best for him. This war then, against the State and similar systems, is fought by these individuals who value freedom as the highest virtue, and that no one has the power or right to infringe on another’s freedom.
Man, his own master. It is such an idea that has led to the greatest events of freedom, and to the greatest amount of bloodshed. Whether such future battles will be painted white or red will depend on how people shall view each other and what people shall view themselves and the State as. A glass, then, is served in waiting of whether a new dawn shall be brought, either from the youth or the young old, or whether we shall revert back to the dark ages of fear and loathing through the propaganda stated by the State or such other power.
Part I: Mankind
A History of the Individual
In the beginning, God created Man in his own image. Or was it Man that created God? It’s been too long to really answer definitively what happened when the universe started. But we know it started somewhere.
Before Man came, the world was filled with a plethora of beasts, from the avians of the sky to the fish of the sea, to reptiles and mammals that scoured the land. And while they all had their own quirks — great size, sharp claws and teeth, vision and hearing greater than our own, even the ability to fly — they lacked a trait unique to our species: consciousness and self awareness.
Then comes a beast walking on two limbs. While there have been others before who have chosen the life of a bipedal, there is something strange about this one. He starts off as the other beasts have, hunting or foraging for food, using the paws or hands or teeth or whatever appendage makes for good searching. He spots a stick, lying on the ground. While the other beasts ignore it, seeing it as of no importance, he lingers and stares at it, before finally deciding to pick it up.
It was on the heavier side, requiring both arms to lift it up. Rounded in a way that it tapers off to a tip, like a solitary tear rolling down the cheek. Man carried this stick along with him, either dragging it behind or carrying with both arms under, and afterwards, while resting, marveling at the stick, the inner gears of his head began to turn. He one day asked the question, “If I can smash something with my hand, as I have done before, and this object is heavier then my hand, can it smash harder stuff?” To test his hypothesis, he carried the stick over to a small and dropped the stick on it, smashing the small rock. Thus man created the first tool.
After his discovery, man became ecstatic with the possibilities brought on by this discovery. He thought of other ways the stick could be used: could it smash bone? Could I hunt with this? Could I reach stuff with it as well as smash? Etc, etc. He wondered what would happen if he took a bunch of sticks and hit them against each other, or what other motions the stick can be used to do.
During one of these thought sessions, he decided to try another experiment. He decided to start rubbing some sticks together. He started slowly, then faster and faster, until the sticks combusted. Thus Man discovered Fire.
Man kept on discovering new things, and questioning more and more about the world. They were more conscious of their world, more curious about it, more adventurous to find out. He took a pit of a plum and put it in the ground, just to see what would happen, and created agriculture. He took a rock and carved it into a circle, inventing the wheel. And so on and so forth Man created and discovered.
As he grew in invention and creation, he began thinking more abstractly. He wondered why the sun went round, why the creatures act as they do, what man himself is, how he should act, etc. He first used religion to describe the world, and determine how Man got to where he is and how he should act. The shamans and which doctors and priests became leaders in thought and ideas, commanding respect for their knowledge of the abstract.
However, time went on, and man decided to think more and more for himself what it all means. They began to study sculpture and art, architecture and mathematics, finding their own sense in the world through their trades and theories. Out of this mishap of disciplines came philosophy, the search for knowledge and understanding of the universe and man.
Philosophy first dealt with the world and cosmos, trying to understand our place in it. As the tradesmen, inventors, and scientists focused on the earth, the astrologists studied the heavens above, but all in all they were philosophers, wanting to gain knowledge. And as innovation struck with material objects, so did they go with the studies of politics, logic, and what can be described as the virtues of knowledge, the disciplines of thought.
Then came a man who put a new subject at the center of philosophy, that is, Man himself. The gadfly of Athens, formally known as Socrates, turned the focus from the heavens above to the inner workings of the individual. He thought about not only what man is, but what man should be, how man should act, and how man can reach knowledge within his capabilities.
This new focus on man quickly spread, with Socrates gaining mainly students, including the great philosopher Plato, who later founded the Academy, a place centered on learning and philosophy. With this new burst of knowledge, was a burst of individuality as well, with knowledge no longer being a subject only for nobility or holy, but for all to participate in, for all to gain knowledge and follow their own path.
Time went on, and new thoughts and theories began to form. As the Greeks faded away, Rome rose up, and a man known as Jesus of Nazareth brought with his life and death a new wave of belief, as well as a new way of thinking and philosophy. The spreading of the lessons of this Messiah later created itself a Church that would gain power by the conversion of Emperor Constantine, and would become as widespread as Rome itself, implanting itself from Western Europe to the Eastern Nations of the Mediterranean.
While those ruling the Church have slowly floated away from some of the lessons of Christ, the fascination to gain more knowledge of the world to understand God’s creation grew. Prominent saints and members of the faith began looking at the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and others in order to both learn more of God’s world and prove his existence through that knowledge. Thomas Aquinas was known for his use of Aristotle to create five proofs of God, showing the turning back of philosophy to the hands of the religious.
As the Phoenix goes through a cycle of death and fiery rebirth, so does knowledge. The Renaissance brought with it a rekindling of the Ancient Greek thought, and the ordinary men soon again gained the knowledge of Plato and Aristotle to form their philosophies and thoughts for themselves. Thus brought with this was the Enlightenment, where new philosophies, with a focus on science and rational thought, came about.
With this rebirth also came a new rise of Individualism, with political thought and philosophical pondering again became focused on man as an individual, and how best should be treated. John Locke, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, all became focused on the individual and how he acts in the world and how he gains knowledge of it. People became more enraptured with their own thinking, and deciding and planning for themselves how they should live. These beliefs would show its power in an event that would change the course of history as was known.
In 1776, a congregation of men decided to declare war on the most powerful empire to have existed in the world. The reasoning they made to such a declaration is the belief in the sovereignty of the individual man, with his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the ruling power of Britannia had infringed those rights of the American people. Thus, the great revolutionary war of America was declared, a war to inspire all future wars of independence.
After they had won the war, they sought to create a government to serve the individual, and to protect their rights. The first government centered on individual liberty was formed, and has been an evergoing experiment. Whether it has failed or succeeded is still to be determined.
Overseas, a new battle for independence and liberty was forming, not one of the political but of the economic. The industrial revolution was in full swing, and a new age of innovation and prosperity formed. However, this new age had its downsides. Those of the lower class had to work in poor conditions, with risk of life and limb in order to make a menial amount and gruel throughout life. Such conditions were not left unnoticed, no cries left unheard.
In 1848, Karl Marx created with Frederich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto, a treatise meant to outline the desires of the Communist Party and to share in simpler forms how the Proletariat was being taken advantage of by the Bourgeoisie and the Capitalists. Marx and Engels later went on to create Das Kapital in 1861, a four volume work that acted as a in depth critique of the capitalist economic structure. While Das Kapital was more thorough in its thinking, the manifesto inspired many working class to try and rise up, as well as inspiring intelligentsia to take up these causes in alliance with the proletariat.
All of this would culminate in the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, where Bolshevik and other communist or socialist masses, led by Vladimir Lenin, revolted against the Tsar and his family, killing them and taking over the country. Russia would now be ruled by the iron fist of the proletariat, and serve the people over profit. However, the newly created USSR would soon devolve into tyranny, where the iron fist of the proletariat became the iron fist of Stalin. While the state of the people, whether they were better off materially than before, is contested, the infringement of liberty done by the regime is widely agreed upon as a tragedy.
Throughout the 20th century, countries have gone up in revolt, the people aiming for a new freedom and independence. Anarchist legions took over Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, fighting against fascist factions, and providing a new economic system to better the people. Far later, countries such as Vietnam and Cuba would revolt, putting in place Socialist governments in order to better serve the people and for more freedom. Ho Chi Minh himself quoted the Declaration of Independence in regards to the leading of his own revolution in Vietnam, citing an individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Even in the modern era, the quest for more freedom made by the individual, whether economic or political, has been going on. Catalonia is again aiming for its own independence from Spain, protests in Hong Kong are being made against the Chinese government in regard to the sovereignty of Hong Kong and her people. Throughout Europe, protests and riots are going on against the failings of their state to help the people, especially in France, where the Yellow Jacket protests are causing riots in the streets, and the working class protesting against the thumb lints of the rulers.
Man, throughout history, has been searching for and gaining a greater and greater independence, in his material status and in his knowledge of the world. The battle still rages on, with man still trying to keep his head above water and keep his own liberty intact.
The Rights of Man
As stated earlier, man has been forever aiming for a greater and greater sense of sovereignty and freedom. Philosophers and political theorists have made it their work to outline what man is entitled to as well as what man must gain for himself. While specifics are fiercely contested, there are fundamental principles that all philosophers agree on in regards to man’s rights.
The obvious one, and the most important, is the right to one’s own life. Man is entitled to be allowed to live without interference from others. No one has the authority to take away another man’s life. Life is entitled to every man, and no one person can change that.
In the past, before we created tools to help ourselves out, man had to survive like all the other animals, in a battle for survival of the fittest. It was a world of kill or be killed. However, this line of reasoning was made only between other species. When it came to the same species, especially the same pack or clan or family group, it was seen that the best action was cooperation, and that every individual of the clan should not be killed by others, and if need be should be cared for until they can care for themselves.
There have been subjects that become fiery when debated, on whether they follow this principle. The right regularly mention abortion, and fight against that, saying that it goes against this right to life. The left argue that fiercely, saying that it is rather about the right a woman has to their body. The left themselves have subjects in regard to the right to life, such as the death penalty and war, and that these actions go against the right to life. The intellectual wars go on between both sides, and whether this war will finish soon is laudable.
The right to life has been rejected in some circles, though. Regimes have often used the excuse of the greater good in order to commit such heinous crimes. Cults and terrorist cells implant the idea that life is not as important as serving the deity or ideology, rejecting their right to life in order to further the cause.
While such debates and debacles occur, it is seen by many of the rational people of the world, and rightly so, that Man has a right to his own life. In their minds, no reasoning, no strange pseudo intellectual persuasion, will stray them from the inalienable truth that Man has a right to live and not have his life taken away by any person or group.
The second right that all men have is the right to their self determination, or liberty. Liberty, like life, is inherent in all of mankind. Every man can decide for himself what he can do for himself, and that no man should force another to do something that would be detrimental to that person and against his will. To do so would go against his self determination, and would infringe on his right to decide his own destiny and path.
In the right to self determination, all things follow. Self expression. Choosing one’s own career. Deciding who to love. Choosing where to live. So many possibilities.
There have been decisions made by others to go against this right to one’s liberty. Regimes have made such choices with many excuses in mind. One is that of the safety of the country. Actions such as the Patriot Act or the disarming of civilians have been reasoned by the excuse that it is for national safety. Another reason given is that it is in the best interest of the nation, and thus the individual, that liberty be taken away. Lenin had it that the meetings in public made between multiple groups on diverse ideas be gotten rid of and implement a one party system in order to keep the revolution alive and living well, removing some liberty for the success of the revolution.
Such arguments against liberty are, however, moot, in that true safety cannot be decided without liberty, for through liberty, people may consciously decide to be at peace with one another and be safe in their own regards, going off the basis of live and let live. Any other way would merely be safety through fear, and a man who lives in fear is a man who is not free. Thus, liberty is in itself as well as inalienable as life, as all of mankind is born with self determination, and all men should be free to decide for themselves what is best for them, and no man should decide what another man should do. Few exceptions exist, such as that of the Parent and the Child, but those exceptions are justified by the mutual relationship given, that of helping the preservation of life and to teach so that the child may grow to use to their best ability their own life and liberty, which they ,use use for themselves when they grow up.
There is one topic I should mention. While some view it as another right in its own, it can easily be put under the broader category of liberty. However, it is best to at least mention it here.
Property is seen by some to be a right in its own. It claims that Man has a right to keep what he owns, and what he has made for himself. John Locke saw it as an important right, and right leaning libertarian philosophers, such as Milton Friedman and Murray Rothbard, saw property as intrinsically inalienable to Man as life and liberty.
However, property can merely be seen as a specific under the broader right to liberty. Man is free to decide what he makes, and what he buys and sells, and if he wishes to keep such a thing, as decided by his choice, then he can own it without risk of other people stealing it, as it would infringe on his liberty. He can also decide to, in a sense, not own his property, and have it under community ownership if he so wishes and agree with other people to do so, as it is his choice that he can make under his own self determination.
Such a topic as property needlessly creates tension between those who espouse liberty. The capitalist sects firmly believe in property as its own separate right, and that any decision made in regards to economics must have this center as its main principle, seeing it as a bastion for liberty and consensual choice. The more socialist and communist sects believe that such ownership is in itself a tyranny, as one can hoard such property, even if others need it. Thus they believe in the collective ownership of property consensual to better protect the liberty of people as well as their life, so that these rights are not infringed by private ownership.
Such arguments are needless though if it is merely accepted that man can decide, as is his right of liberty, to do whatever with his property, whether to privately own it or commune let own it with others. It is his own choice, which he can make with others and thus agree on, with all parties happy and no one’s rights infringed upon. Thus it is all mere quabble, and not important in the broader picture.
These fundamentals outline the basic rights of Man, with all else following. Wherever man decides to exist, he must observe these two main principles, in himself as to what his rights are, and in others as to what their rights are.
The Social Relations Between Men
As man passed through life, he could not have gone by himself. He has had to made deals with others to further his own life, and make connections in order to prosper
When man started making his tools, he formed pseudo packs or tribes with others of his species. These tribes would include the essentials, being the leaders, hunters, and gatherers. As the cornerstone is the simplest, so are the beginnings of society.
As time went on, society became more complicated. Trades began forming, and so have social statuses. Those who are richer or had more nobler statuses got their own roles. The simple stage of hunter gatherer soon disappeared. Roles appeared to have multiplied and came out of nowhere.
The leader had earned more names under himself. For the trade, he earned himself the title of guild master. For war, he gained the name of general. And for the absolute rule of a state, he gained himself the noble title of King. His job, however, remained the same: to lead individuals in the specific subject or craft which he was put in control of.
Under the King came the nobility, a lesser version of the king. To spread out his responsibilities, the king formed this class. These noblemen would control provinces given to them by the king. As they were buddy to buddy with such a powerful figure, they put themselves on the next step of the social pyramid, and earned greatly from such positions.
Afterwards, lower on the pyramid came the shamans or priests, convoys of the Holy. They were advisers to the king and nobility, telling them how they should rule in accordance with God. They also gave the king a sense of power, in that God is inherently on his side, which earned them a high social standing so that the king may stay on good terms with God.
Next, with the generals, were the soldiers and knights. They acted as protectors of the land, and were in service to the king. They were paid a hefty sum, partly for their willingness to serve the state, partly for the great risk that comes with being a soldier. Though a social system existed in the army — those of higher rank led the others in the military — their social standing is firmly on the same foot in regards to the overall structure.
Finally, at the bottom, are the peasants and workers, those who made money off the land. They offered their services to each other and to those men of higher social standing stated earlier. And while some made great wealth, the standing they gained was little to null, mainly from the money they afterwards gave as gifts to the king and others higher up. However, such gifts could lead to a future in a higher standing, mainly that of the status of nobility. That was in a sense the goal of a merchant, while a peasant merely wished to live.
This system of social status carried on from before the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Men talked and traded with each other, with the proper standings gaining proper respect as needed. It all would change with the advent of the factory and the rise of the industrial revolution, as well as the renaissance of thought and philosophy.
While thinkers such as Hobbes outlined systems in which the current social standing could exist with allowance by the people via his social contract theory, others adopted the new ways brought about with industrialization. Adam Smith outlines this new system, known as Capitalism. Labor was now no longer controlled by guilds or passed down through heritage, but man could now decide their standing by how much work they put and the wealth they gained from that work. Merit now became the deciding factor, and social status decided by how much wealth was in one’s pockets.
This system was not without its criticisms. While the amount of different social standings decreased, two central ones came to form, that of the Proletariat or worker and the Bourgeoisie or capitalist class. This social system was seen as unfair, as those who gained wealth gained it through capital, while those who only had labor had to sell it and still remained low on the social standing. In a sense, the unfairness felt by peasants toward the nobility moved to the worker against the elite class of the rich.
While these criticisms can be debated on their merit and truthfulness, they did outline the new social standing and connections forming. Those who were rich were now praised because of how hard they supposedly work, with how poor someone was being synonymous with how lazy they were. While people saw each other more equally now economically, social standings still stood, and relations still had the levels with these standings in which respect or ridicule was given.
There are also the social relations between race and sex. Until relatively recent years, women were regarded as being of lower status than men, with a goal of running the house and raising children while the man worked. With this came the view of their fragility, and thus the noble trait men gained in treating women with the utmost respect, seen as, with children, more important to protect, being able to better raise the future and nurture. This changed, of course, from the suffragist movement onwards, with women now in equal status economically and socially to men, and with it gaining less respect from men which was before given because of that trait of chivalry gained from wanting to protect the female of the race.
Speaking of race, it is also important to mention what race has to deal with relations. Discrimination and superiority seen between races is one social relation as old as tribes, a vestigial trait from our days as cavemen. While with the civil rights movements and the equaling of the playing field through industrialization, such relations can still be fiery between races, and social status in certain areas have been decided just by the mere color of one’s skin.
The social connections made between men are long and complex. Groups such as families, communes, cities, etc, have been created in order for the betterment of each other, and how we evolved to be social animals. With the progress and complication of society, however, came these relations that we must observe to better understand. It is through the study of our relations with each other can we in essence conceive the best way we connect with people, how we choose and deal with our social standings. It can also help us understand the formation of institutions and powers which we now call states that run on certain social relations and statuses in order to function.
Part II: The State
History of the State
The State as an institution is somewhat younger than Man himself. The early tribes of hunters and gatherers formed a prototype of sorts, though they were far from any form which we would recognize as a State, just as they were far off from any form of civilization. It was during the times of Chieftains that we could see the first model of the State: a form of human organization where power and violence is centralized through the command of a ruling force.
From then on, as civilization rose, so did the State, in multiple ways. In the East, emperors were formed and heralded as kings of both earth and heaven, and that the ones on high have decided who was the best to rule others. Dynasties of ruling and ruin were determined by these emperors, and how, as well as who, they conquered. In the West, City States and tribes quarreled amongst themselves or traded with each other, but each forcing their will on their own victims. Even Athens, the birthplace of democracy, dealt in a monopoly on power and violence, merely to the mob. After all, it was the mob who killed Socrates in fear of his “corruption of the youth” with his philosophy and critique.
One of the best examples of a successful State could be seen in the Empire of Rome. A totalitarian regime which was ultra-militarist, ultra-nationalist, and ultra-imperialist, taking in all conquered lands and assimilating them to their own culture and way of life, making captured peoples slaves or lower citizens. A nation with one purpose: to sustain and grow their power, with no respect to the individual. The perfect envisionment and form of the State in its glory.
What led to its rise was ironically also what led to its downfall. After they had conquered everything, with no more enemies to fight, Rome ate itself, fighting against itself and creating corruption within. The war centered dogma that led to the galant soaring of Roman eagles led to it also being thrown to the dogs. With forces within destroying it, forces outside could easily conquer it. Thus the great Roman Empire has become nothing but ashes of a once roaring flame.
After Rome’s fall, other States began to rise. In Europe, kings came into power, forming nations that fought with each other for land and would easily behead any critics of the State just as they would any heretics of the Church. In the Middle East, the Ottomans formed their own empire, conquering much of the land that Rome once had in the East. These new States had a new center to their rule: the divine will of God. Church and state were very much intertwined, as it was said that God appointed the king as an ambassador to his Word.
As time went on, these States would find new problems to face. Martin Luther, a pastor and critic of the Church, took away some of the power of the Church by introducing to the people the idea that they should be able to decide what their faith says by reading the holy texts themselves, translating the Bible to the language of the people instead of keeping it in the hands of clergymen. The printing press, which helped with the distribution and making of translations, also created a new venue for people to get their news and speak their disdain for the State with less danger to them, and with more people to spread the message to. With that and the Renaissance and resurgence of old knowledge, the people became more and more aware of the State and all its flaws.
With such recognition comes revolution. As the Enlightenment took center stage, a new philosophy of government formed inspired by the Athenians and Romans. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and a slew of others were at the center, bringing in this new idea of rule by the people’s approval. And these ideas would culminate into a great fight between a monarch and his colonies.
The result of the American Revolution was the formation of a new nation. At its core was the belief in the individual, that he can decide for himself what was best. However, the outline for this new country was still based on the organization of a State, allowing it a monopoly of force. While they were checks and balances put into work in order to curb any corruption and serve the people as best as possible, it still retained the core principle of a State.
Such a principle can be seen in the term of the second President of the United States. In fear that the French may interfere in the running of the country, he passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to criticize the government, with a punishment of either fine or imprisonment. Even in a country who worships the right of the individual, the State still has power to go against the individual.
However, it still retains its liberal values, with a healthy opposition of the ruling party to keep the other in check. And, as time went on, the successors and future generations rectified the mistakes of the past to get to the greater root of the sovereignty of the individual. But, while doing that, there was a steady drift more to extremes, where either one side would give more power to the government for the purposes of the right or the left to gain power and use it, whether for good intentions like Brutus or for self serving intentions like Cassius. Either way, the individual had slowly eroded from political thought, where the opposition merely used the right of the individual as a talking point to gain their own power.
Moving away from the United States, we could see this same principle be brought out from other revolutions. After the Bolsheviks overthrew the Tsar, they implanted a one party system, with the Communist Party controlling the government. All other political groups, such as anarchists and other socialists, were prosecuted, as they were seen as possible threats to the newly formed USSR. These prosecutions of suspected critics or insurrectionists were to go on continually in the Soviet Union, especially under the rule of Stalin, in which the State used its power to commit acts of violence and murder against those labeled “enemies of the state”.
In Germany and Italy, the rise of Fascism as the ruling ideology came from the people’s lack of faith in the previous government, and the yearning for a strongman to give them safety and security , which came in the form of Mussolini and Hitler. Seeking to bring about an Empire like that of Rome, they took its model as their own: ultra-nationalism, ultra-militarism, ultra-imperialism, totalitarian. Again, the individual was thrown to the side, and all was done for the good of the regime or reich. Any critics or opposing ideologies were persecuted and sent to labor camps or executed.
Even in modern times, the State has impressed its power through violence. In Hong Kong, China has used the police force in order to silent protestors who wanted to keep their independence from Chinese rule. In Spain, violent action was taken against the residents of Catalonia on the day of their voting on whether they secede from Spain or stay a part of it. In France, protestors were in fierce conflict with police as they were protesting against the current administration’s inability to run the country properly. And so on and so forth.
There are countless other examples, both past and present, of the actions of the State. As this was merely a brief history, the most pertinent and relevant examples were presented to form a picture. The underlying principles in work form a philosophy in which all states adhere to, and which must be defined clearly from these anecdotes from history.
Philosophy of the State
The inner reasoning of the State can be summed in one word: power. That is its purpose, its center, to gain power and to keep it, and to use it as it would like. It cares not for the rights of the singular person, does not allow it to believe anything contradictory to the wishes of the State. Any reasoning, whether for safety or for a movement, is used by it to justify its monopoly on power, and when persuasion fails, violence is used.
But what exactly is Violence, in this sense? For that matter, what exactly is Power? If we are to examine the underlying concepts of the State, we must be familiar with its axioms and their definitions, as we must with all axioms of any principle. Their connection to each other will be made easier to comprehend if we understand what they mean.
First we must define what exactly Power is? For our purposes, two definitions can be used as a starting point: (1) the ability to do something or to act in some way; (2) the ability to direct or influence others or a course of events. As using two separate definitions may make things confusing, we can form a synthesis definition from these two. Thus Power would be defined as: the ability to perform an action or make others perform an action in order to influence certain objects or events.
With this definition in mind, we can go on to the first principle of the State: the assumption of absolute power. The State wishes to gain ultimate authority over all, to make all do its bidding. It wishes to answer to no one, and to do as it pleases, not caring whether it affects the people it is supposed to serve. It cares not for life, nor for liberty, nor for any other right that Man has. And it will use whatever it can in order to gain that absolute power.
Which brings us to our second inquiry: what is Violence? Its standard definition is as follows : the act of using physical force with intention to hurt, damage, or kill someone. However, we will need to add an important aspect to it: non-physical harm, such as emotional or social harm. While a person may not hurt someone physically, they can destroy the person via other means, such as libel and slander, which has real world effects, such as companies firing a person or refusing service because of not wanting to associate with them, making them unable to either get a job or certain supplies. Thus the definition of Violence is so: the use of force, whether one’s own or another’s, to harm or damage a person, whether physically, emotionally, or socially.
Now, we move on to the second principle: the use of any means, including violence, as it sees necessary to achieve power. The State will do all it can in its current power to extend that power farther. Propaganda is one of the passive techniques, as well as bribery. Lying, either by downplaying a situation, exaggeration, omitting, or just making problems up, is one of its favorite ways to make people listen to them, in order that the people would allow them to gain power. Pretending that they are reaching for more power only for the greater good of the people is one of the State’s greatest lies, and possibly one of its most successful. However, if certain individuals become too much of a nuisance, they will use violence or the threat of violence in order to silence them. All in all, they are all means to the end of absolute power of the State.
While there are particulars and details that each nation has in regards to philosophy, the underlying principles are the same throughout. Each State wishes to gain absolute power, and will use any means fit to do so. It is a philosophy wholly antithetical with Man himself, wishing to degrade him to a mere servant, cattle to be led to slaughter. It is a philosophy that has also done the most harm to humanity when put into practice.
The Wrongdoings of the State
Throughout history, we can find examples of what happens when the philosophy of Statehood is put into place. Countless disasters caused by it, countless lives destroyed, innumerable amounts of blood spilled all in its name. Multiple volumes could be written just outlining the sins committed by one nation, one example of the State. To outline all examples would take years. Only one example is really needed, though, as it shows the main recurring wrongs shown throughout all States.
Let us look back at Rome. As said before, the Empire could be seen as the best example of a successful State. It was ruthless, totalitarian, the ultimate follower of the philosophy of Statehood. As such, it is no wonder that its atrocities are great in number.
First, let us look at its conquests. Rome had conquered great parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. The civilizations they met were either conquered and assimilated by them or completely annihilated. The amount of people killed during these conquests range in the hundreds of thousands. Once great civilizations and cultures, such as Greece, were ravaged, their discoveries in the sciences and philosophies stolen or thrown away by Rome, caring for no art unless in honor of the Emperor, no science unless in aid to warfare or to structure of buildings and roads necessary to support the Empire.
Second, we may look at how it treats the individual. He is treated as merely a unit in service of the State. If he is called to serve in war, he must go and serve in war. If he is told to surrender his goods for the State, he must surrender his goods. He must do whatever the Empire asks of him, and cannot question any actions made. Otherwise, he is either sent into slavery, imprisoned, or sentenced to death. He cannot critique the Empire or the Emperor, he cannot say that a certain law even seems unfair. He is, in effect, a mere number, used by the State for its own interests.
Thirdly, we can look at how corrupt it is on the inside. The love of power surged throughout all of the establishment. The Senate, who’s bickering and bureaucracy has caused great trouble for the people, now wished to find a way to restore the power they once had before the Empire was created, and Augustus took rein. Either they conspired against the Emperor, in which they were caught and punished, or they kissed up to the Emperor in order to get special privileges. Either way, they sold their dignity and honor in order to gain a small bit of power. The military also became corrupt, with the Praetorian Guard, ordered to protect the Emperor, assassinated him on many occasions, either in response to a possible decrease in their own power, or merely unpopular with the military. Corruption is rampant throughout the whole system.
Only in one example is a wealth of sins against the people revealed. Corruption, barbaric invasion, and the erosion of an individual’s rights as a sovereign being. While this may seem small, it is a pattern shown throughout all Statehood. If we look to the kingdoms of Europe, we can see how the king may force any citizen into his service, and if he so grumbled, he was sent to the prisons or made serfs to serve the king.
As time has gone on, it would appear that the power and presence of these wrongs have slowly washed away with the rise of democracy and liberalism. The printing press and the new philosophies outlining the rights of individuals have done their best to return the respect of the sovereign individual to the public sphere. The rulers are instead chosen by the people to do the people’s will, instead of focus on their own interests.
However, it all appears to merely be a misdirection. The rise of demagogues have made it that people who merely seek power will say whatever they think the public wants to hear to get votes. When they have gained their power, they would then leave off the promises made, saying that he must be elected again in order to fulfill those promises, while making sure to further his own power.
Along with that, the conquests made to further the State’s power and influence did not end with the middle ages. Britain, seen as a pillar of liberalism in Europe, was still a colonial power, an empire, controlling India and parts of Africa. Even America, seen as a bastion of liberty, had its own interests in furthering their international power, fighting in the East against supposed communists, trying to influence the political landscape of Cuba, invading the Middle East in order to gain some economic advantage in oil, the list goes on and on.
Even the sovereignty and independence of the individual is not respected in these ‘democratic’ States. Regulations created by the State stifle out the ability to create a business or to live out on the land, the State conspiring with Big Business in order to secure each other’s power. People are taxed out of their hard earned money in order to pay for useless wars, and influence people to go against what they wish to do through the economic pressure of living check to check, unable to seek better change for themselves since they are filled only with the need to survive. Whistleblowers who reveal the wrongs of the State, who are journalists critical of the State, are jailed or gotten rid of, via destruction of either their physical bodies or their social standing and mental health.
With such wrongdoings being rampant, and thousands of detailed examples of the sins committed by the State, it would be a only matter of time in which Man would have to choose between submission or revolution. A new ideology must be made in order to combat the ideology of the State. Thus, people have turned to one philosophy that acts as the antithesis to the State: Anarchy.
Part III: On Anarchy
A Response to the State: The History of Anarchism
For every thesis, there is an opposing antithesis. If the State is our thesis, then Anarchy is its antithesis. While the State is all about the rulers, Anarchism is all about the absence of rulers. While the State considers itself above the individual, Anarchism sees nothing above it. As black is to white, as cats are to dogs, Anarchy is to the State.
As all ideologies go, Anarchy itself has a lengthy history. While there are possibly cases of Anarchist thought dating as far back as Socrates, the origin point of organized Anarchist philosophy started in the 1830s and 1840s, brought upon by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. The founder of Mutualism, a subset of Anarchism, Proudhon had wrote one of the first pieces of Anarchist literature, including What is Property?, a critique on private property and the role of government, and General Idea of The Revolution, outlining his vision of an Anarchist society, as well as being a further critique of government. A self proclaimed anarchist, he promoted the use of voluntary contracts as well as the association of workers into cooperative organisations, self regulating and running their own production and exchange, helping to eliminate exploitation by capitalists, as well as having workers trained in polytechnic education and rotate jobs amongst workers in order to not numb their brain. He saw this as the best way to create a free society for all.
Along with Proudhon, there was Johann Kaspar Schmidt, more well known as Max Stirner. Stirner is mostly known from his book, The Ego and Its Own, a work propounding Individual Anarchism and Egoism. The work was a critique of all institutions, from nationalism and traditional morality to liberalism and the growing socialist movement of his time. He regarded these institutions as “spooks” or illusions, and advocated for amoralism, in which nothing is ethically wrong or right. He believed that until one understands that all supposed “sacred truths” are recognized as artificial concepts can one be able to act freely. His belief that one should act for his own self interests, and that no institutions should block such action, made him a prominent figure of Anarchist philosophy.
Moving back to Proudhon, his influence would branch to other subsets of Anarchism that were to come. In Spain, he influenced the Spanish Federalist Francesc Pi i Margall, who later spread Proudhon’s ideas throughout Spain, laying down the basis for the coming Spanish Anarchist Movement. In Russia, he inspired the likes of Leo Tolstoy and Mikhail Bakunin, the former being a leading figure in Christian Anarchism, the latter a prominent figurehead in Anarcho-Communism and Anarcho-Socialism. Proudhon’s influence went as far as the United States, with prominent Anarchists following his writings.
As Anarchism spread throughout the world, its influence would take hold in certain areas. Latin America would be an important center, with people taking up Anarchism as a response to the colonial rule they were put under. São Paulo would become a stronghold for Anarcho-Syndicalism, becoming the most prominent left wing ideology there. In Europe, Ukraine and Spain would become hotspots of Anarchism, and in Russia, Anarchists would play an important role in the October Revolution.
The October Revolution of Russia was a revolt against the Tsar and an overthrow of the governing powers. While it was led by the Bolsheviks, Anarchist and Socialist groups also contributed in helping the revolution, in hopes of creating a more fair Russia. However, the Bolsheviks started suppressing such groups after they took power. The Anarchists fled to Ukraine, with the surge later leading to Kronstadt rebellion and the struggle in the Free Territory, both cases of Anarchists revolting against the Bolshevik government. The rebellion lasted 16 days, and the Free Territory lasted three years, before dissolving after its protecting military force, known as the Black Army, were executed in 1921. Anarchism had been squashed in Russia.
Meanwhile, in Spain, an anarchist-inspired movement took control of Barcelona and other rural parts of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, collectivizing the land and creating a syndicalist society. In the beginning of the war, such forces were given support by the Soviet Union. However, Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, tried to gain control of the revolting forces, the anarchist and communist sects bitterly fought each other, accumulating in the May Days events. George Orwell, famous author and a libertarian socialist, participated in the Spanish War and wrote the book Homage to Catalonia, which chronicled the May Days.
While Anarchy had receded in Europe, it began to bloom in America. Benjamin Tucker, an anarchist and follower of Proudhon, as stated earlier, translated an english version of Proudhon’s What is Property? for American audiences, and also created the periodical Liberty in 1881, which published essays by, and was used as a platform of debate for, anarchists. One of the most notable contributors to Liberty would be Lysander Spooner, an American political philosopher and individualist anarchist, who wrote The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, a book advocating and arguing for the abolition of slavery, and No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, a work outlining his belief in Natural Law and his opposition to trying secessionists in the Civil War for treason, as well as his feelings against the Constitution, seeing it as violating Natural Law. He also created the American Letter Mail Company, in order to compete with the Post Office. His writings influenced both left- and right-leaning libertarianism in America.
In 1885, Emma Goldman migrated from Lithuania to the United States. Inspired by the Haymarket Riot of Chicago, Goldman wrote essays, pamphlets, and articles on anarchist philosophy, as well as other issues, such as women’s rights, the First World War, the prison system, and many others. She also lectured about these subjects, going around the U.S. talking about her personal beliefs and philosophy of anarchism. She was firmly a revolutionary, believing that voting is, at best, useless, and that more targeted forms of resistance, such as strikes, protests, and even targeted violence, such as propaganda of the deed, should be used for the goal of revolution. Her legacy as “the most dangerous woman in America” and a founder of Anarcha-Feminism, which challenges Patriarchy as an unjust hierarchy, has influenced future generations of anarchist thought in America and around the world.
After the Second World War, Anarchism grew in new ways, on both the left and right. With the rise of the New Left and the counterculture in the 1960s, Anarchism took a pacifist turn, advocating for peaceful means in resisting the State. It also added a new emphasis on such beliefs as free love, and the creation of communes and collectives running independently from current society. Music and Art became leading forces, influencing an entire generation to turn away from the current social standards and to be skeptical of old institutions.
Noam Chomsky would become an influential personality for American Anarchism during this time. Describing himself as an Anarcho-Syndicalist and Libertarian Socialist, he is well known for his writings on propaganda and his opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as his critique of American foriegn policy. His anti-war essay, The Responsibility of Intellectuals, brought him into the national spotlight, with his critique of the political and social scientists of the day as subservient to power and justified the crimes of the state striking a chord in the intellectual establishment. The work cemented his place as a leading American Intellectual, while his association with the New Left cemented where he stands politically. His later work, Manufacturing Consent, laid down how mass media could be used to spur propaganda, and in which he laid out the propaganda model of communication, which outlines how mass media filters news in a way to spread propaganda, and what influences these filters. These works, as well as his participation in the Occupy movements and his criticisms of war, made him a figurehead of left leaning Anarchism, inspiring revolutionaries and activists alike.
Meanwhile, right leaning libertarianism was beginning to rise as well. Economists such as Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell became early inspirations, who started advocating for a more laissez-faire system of economics, citing how government intervention had caused problems and issues, making situations worse by messing with the economy. The Libertarian Party, an independent political party, based its political views on the idea of minimal government intervention in both social and economic affairs, vouching for a free market capitalist system. A school of economics, known as the Austrian school, espoused a form of economic thinking, saying that all social events and phenomena resulting exclusively from individual action, and has become a source of study for all sets of right libertarianism and individual Anarchism.
A leading figure of this new libertarian right was Murray Rothbard, an economist of the Austrian School. With major influence from Ludwig von Mises, he became the founder and leading theoretician of Anarcho-Capitalism. A fervent anti-statist and anti-interventionist in his youth, he was originally part of the Republican Party. He started to move away from it, believing it had become controlled by the establishment, and advocated for an alliance with the anti-war New Left, though he also had his critiques of them. With his colleague, Karl Hess, he created Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought, which published Anarchist articles, both left-leaning and right-leaning. He was also very active in the Libertarian Party, and founded the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank. His most popular work was the book For a New Liberty: The Libertairan Manifesto, which advocates for Anarcho-Capitalism. Outlining Libertarianism’s origins back to classical liberal philosophers such as John Locke and Adam Smith, he wrote that the core principle of libertarianism, and ipso ergo Anarchism, was the Non Aggression Principle, an idea which influenced and has been expounded in all aspects of Anarchism since the book’s publication. For a New Liberty has shown itself as the classic book on Anarcho-Capitalist ideology, and has put Murray Rothbard in a revered place in history.
His protege, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, would also play a role in right-leaning Anarchism. Emigrating from Germany to America, he was a professor at the University of Nevada and a member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He moved to New York from Germany after reading Murray Rothbard’s books, and worked alongside Rothbard. He founded the Property and Freedom Society, with a goal of both showing the evils of the state and providing a free, stateless alternative in economic and cultural subjects. He also created argumentation ethics, in order to justify libertarianism through a value-neutral system of ethics. It claimed that, since both the speaker and listener has exclusive control to their own bodies, that is, self ownership, and can exercise such control to settle an argument, that if either argues against self-ownership, they are making a performative contradiction, that is, a logical contradiction regarding one’s words and one’s actions,. Thus arguing against self-ownership, and by extension private property, cannot be justified in argument. This was criticised by fellow libertarian and Anarchist thinkers as going against fundamental principles of praxeology and relying on circular reasoning, making itself logically farce.
Hoppe is most famously known from his book, Democracy: The God That Failed. The book is a critique of democracy, citing many problems that come from it, such as rising unemployment rates and expanding public debt. He attributes these supposed failures of democracy to certain pressure groups that wish to increase the power of the government in order to right certain wrongs. He concludes that democracy is the cause of the breaking down of civilization, and must be delegitimized, even going so far to say that monarchy would be preferable to democracy. (though he claims both are inefficient in comparison to Anarcho-Capitalism) Democracy: The God That Failed also lays down Hoppe’s own view of Anarcho-Capitalism, which later became known as Hoppeanism. Hoppe reasoned that a fully libertarian society would be made up of ‘covenant communities’, made up of residents that have signed an agreement determining the nature and culture of that community, and that any such individual that goes against such agreement may be excluded forcibly, in respect to private property’s freedom of association and exclusion. This idea has been heavily criticised by many libertarians and Anarchists, as being antithetical to the very idea of libertarianism. Hoppeanism has, as an Anarchist subset, been written down in notoriety amongst Anarchists of all types.
Another view of Anarcho-Capitalism comes from the Anarchist Samuel Edward Konkin the Third. Considering libertarianism in a radical light, he rejected voting as inconsistent with libertarian values, and was in opposition of the Libertarian Party, which he thought was taken control of by Statists. Inspired mainly by Rothbardian Libertarianism, he created a subset of Anarchism known as Agorism, which advocated for the participation of black markets and grey markets, as they would not be taxed and act as bypassing the state, calling this participation counter-economics. Konkin himself wrote a treatise, called the New Libertarian Manifesto, outlining the philosophy of Agorism. It offered various arguments for how a truly free society would function, and describing which actions should be taken and how the state can be dismantled through counter-economics.
Agorism, though being the youngest subset, also seems to be one of the most prevalent. The divide of Anarcho-Capitalists is into either Hoppeans and Agorists, specifically with the youth, who are becoming more radical in reaction to the past. Besides Agorists and Hoppeans, the main sects of Anarchism today seem to be of the left leaning types, such as communist and socialist anarchism. The leading anarchist force that appears to have been in some success as of late would be the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a libertarian socialist paramilitary group that controls a substantial amount of Chiapas, a state in Mexico. Synthesizing Mayan tradition and anarcho-socialist principles, they have created communities based on autonomy and mutual aid, and creating a radical democracy with the people’s choice as the final say, in a sense creating one of the most free societies in modern times.
The history of Anarchism is long and detailed, with only the most prominent and important parts recorded here. It details the struggle made between the State and Power, and the people and liberty. It is a tradition of resistance and revolution, with focus being on autonomy and liberty. Though it may branch out and grow in different ways, its core principles have remained the same and have guided revolutionaries and radicals for centuries.
The Philosophy of Anarchism
Any philosophy, whether political or otherwise, needs a set of guiding principles to adhere to. While the ideas that guide Anarchism have been spoken previously, it is best to outline as well what has been left out, yet vital to the ideology of Anarchism.
Firstly, life is inherent to all things, and is in that way precious. The sanctity of life is valued by all Anarchists, as it should rightfully be. Man is given life and deserves to keep it, and no force should even have an inkling of being able to remove that right to live as one wishes to live. It is a theme present in the totality of Anarchist philosophy.
Secondly, liberty and autonomy is, amongst all variations of Anarchism, a universal value. The individual should have total freedom to do as he pleases and to do what he thinks is best for him. No force has any authority to control what one does, and such force must be combated to protect the sovereignty of the individual.This fact alone contains the core of all Anarchist thinking and philosophy.
Thirdly, man cannot infringe on others liberty using their own liberty. This principle, stated earlier as the Non Aggression Axiom, more commonly known as the Non Aggression Principle, guides anarchists in their choices, save for those subscribing to Stirner’s Egoism. Also known as the Golden Rule throughout the world, it is the cornerstone of much of Anarchism, and is dogmatically followed by almost all subsets of it. As the compass is the pilot, the sword is to the soldier, and the map to the traveler, the Non Aggression Principle is to Anarchists all throughout the world.
These three precepts are like commandments to the Anarchist. It is what gives us our direction, and what our decisions amongst others and amongst ourselves are dependent on. However, we have seem to forget such guidance, and have become bickering birds over a seed, going hungry from the fighting instead of peacefully sharing the seed to both be satisfied.
A Call to Arms
Throughout its lifespan on this earth of ours, there has been infighting from the different forms of Anarchism. Instead of trying to cooperate and work together for the same goal, they fight over certain specifics, whether it is economic, social, or some other issue where the subsets disagree on. It has, in a way, been feeding in to its destruction, as we have become more and more divided, while our enemies have become more and more powerful.
While logic would dictate that fellow Anarchists, such as Anarcho-Communists and Anarcho-Capitalists, would work together to create an Anarchist society. Instead, we see Anarcho-Communists aligning with Marxists and Authoritarian Communists, and Anarcho-Capitalists willing to align with Fascists and Plutocrats. Those who we thought should be our allies are instead our enemies. The work to create their Utopias with no regard to the consequences to come.
A reaffirmation of our guiding values is needed. Our principles, our creed, must be given renewal, so that no false ideals muddle what we wish for our future. If we must act, we must act towards the good of our brothers, and for the ideals that we have set from our fellowship in Anarchy.
The State has committed egregious crimes against its people. They have stamped down on their liberties, and have taken away their lives. They have seeked to destroy all those that oppose them and seek freedom for themselves or their brethren. Are we to forget all that in our bickering?
Our brothers have fought for the principles of liberty and autonomy that we hold dear. They have died in the name of Anarchy, of Freedom. They threw away their differences in order to establish a fairer society for all. Are we to smear their name with our infighting?
Anarchism wishes for all to have freedom, for all to associate as they want. If they wish to join a commonwealth, they may join a commonwealth. If they wish to be an entrepreneur, then they may be an entrepreneur. They may choose however they wish to live, as they are free. Are we to abandon this wish in order to satisfy such perverted fancies as total Communism or total Capitalism, against the wishes of individuals?
We must realign with each other, friends, and must remember what we vowed and aimed to do when we chose Anarchy as our mother. We must not throw her away for any mere harlot. A man cannot have two masters. We must choose and decide for ourselves whether we will return, as prodigal sons, to Mother Anarchy, or shall we go about blindly with the prostitutes of other ideologies and fall to our pit of subservience.
We must learn from others before, look at their failures and successes. We must do our best to rekindle in the people a respect for liberty, a thirst for independence. If we must fight, let us fight together against all tyranny, against all oppression, for freedom, for liberty. Divided, we shall have lost any progress gained from our forefathers. Together, we may move forward to help create a world in which we, our children, our grandchildren, and their children, and all future generations, may live in freedom, independence, and peace.
To hell with Tyranny. To hell with War. To hell with Plutocracy, with Bureaucracy, with taxes and laws meant to weaken the individual, and to hell with all oppression, wherever it may rear its head. Let us come together to fight all forms of tyranny, and to create a better world for all.
ANARCHISTS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
Bibliography and Further Reading
Anarchist Literature for Further Studying
What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
The Ego and Its Own, Max Stirner
The Conquest of Bread, Peter Kropotkin
Anarchism and Other Essays, Emma Goldman
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, Lysander Spooner
Anarchism: A Theoretical Analysis, Alan Ritter
Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, Daniel Guerin
No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, Daniel Guerin
Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky
On Anarchism, Noam Chomsky
For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Murray Rothbard
New Libertarian Manifesto, Samuel Edward Konkin III
An Agorist Primer, Samuel Edward Konkin III
Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
The Anarchist Manifesto
By Anselme Bellegarrigue
Most people do not consider the problem of government: it is not a person, nor a family, but a detached bureaucratic thing by which a few must rule over others they have not met. It does not consider the finer points of individual cases, but creates rigid abstract rules which inevitably come into conflict. For this reason, most governments spend their time in internal conflict over interpretation of rules, and inevitably oppress their citizens by forcing them to obey detailed regulations which fit an “average” citizen, yet apply to no actually living human being.
An anarchist is someone who agrees that civilization should exist, but believes that government is a parasite not necessary for civilization. Government both oppresses the citizens and takes from them the responsibility of making society work. Instead of taking it into their own hands, citizens are trained to sit back and call some distant acronymous agency to help them out. By this method, we domesticate ourselves and make even the best among us weak and passive. Even worse, we hand power to the bureaucrats, who are by definition people who could not succeed in actual work, and therefore take paper-pushing jobs so they have power over others.
The average person considers anarchy a state without order, but when looked at practically, it can be seen as a different kind of order. Centralized authority requires we all obey a single authority, but anarchy requires decentralized governments in which we are each our own authorities, and responsible to each other to collaborate and maintain what is needed for civilization. In centralized government, you have to convince a bureaucrat or jury that what you are doing is correct, but in decentralized government, you must maintain cooperation with your fellow citizens by showing them constantly that you are doing what is right. Centralized government is like watching television: you sit back and relax and pay attention to the show, but you are not actually part of it, and until it gets so bad you change the channel, you put up with its mediocrities.
Anarchists like to talk about “the n+1 problem.” This refers to the fact that, in any government, you have a division between citizens (sheep) and authorities (herders). However, the authorities are sheep as well, since they are also citizens and are not given by nature any greater wisdom or ability. Because centralized government requires passive citizens obeying its rules, and for that reason needs people to enforce those rules, it can be said that for every n citizens there must be a certain number of authority figures. Here is where it gets complicated: because these authority figures are also citizens, and thus we cannot assume that they either will obey all of the rules, government must watch itself, in order to be fair. Thus for every n citizens, you need a certain number of watchers, and another number of watcher watchers. This adds up to the equation that for every n citizens you need at least n+1 watchers to keep society working fairly. Obviously, this is mathematically impossible.
What is missing here is trust. Trust, however, cannot occur when you have a society divided between people assumed to be doing wrong (citizens) and those assumed to be doing right (watchers). Furthermore, trust is nearly impossible when you have a government in Washington, D.C. which is trying to administer laws to places as different as Seattle, Washington and Mobile, Alabama. The only way one achieves trust is a society in which there is no division between citizens and watchers, and for that reason the responsibility to work well with one another is thrust back onto the citizens. When this happens, those who can trust each other exclude those who are irresponsible, forcing them to create their own social group to ensure their survival.
In an anarchist society, there is a lack of a single rule for all people, and therefore people cannot criticize actions simply because “they are illegal.” However, actions which are unpopular because they are destructive or selfish will cause the person who committed said actions to be exiled from the society of his or her peers, without protection of law for actions that are “legal” but not ethical. Local communities are the focus of anarchist society, because informal decentralized systems encourage people to form social units only of those that they know. Anarchist society does not rely on “enforcement,” or punishment of bad acts, but it relies on trust, or continued reinforcement of human relationships based on the day-to-day good that people do.
The moral construct of “good” and “evil” by which society lives is a materialist notion: it is designed to protect life and property, and does not consider the intent behind or results from an action, for example the necessity of driving away destructive people or confiscating property used to pollute rivers, as in the case of a dirty factory. Morality says simply yes or no depending on whether someone dies, or had their “rights” violated, or their property was taken away. Only secondarily do moral societies pass judgment over life and property, but by the very nature of morality, they are unwilling to do so on a large enough scale to have an impact. The death penalty is futile because a murderer stands good odds of beating it, and fining large corporations for their pollution is pointless because they will almost never pay anything commensurate to the actual damage done. Morality protects life and property, including those who by virtue of possessing both will do untold damage to the citizens, the environment, and the public goodwill.
Anarchist morality is simple: do what you will. Those who are of like minds will congregate and form their own allegiances without formalizing them and thus detaching themselves from the task of building trust, and those who act in conflict with others will eventually find their will driven away or terminated by those who have a different agenda. This means that local communities will form according to the shared values of the individual wills involved; some communities will be dedicated to crime and drug use, and other communities will be intolerant of such choices and will defend against them. It is worth noting that no central government has ever solved the problem of crime, which is almost completely eliminated in local communities where everyone knows each other and have established a communal trust and values system, against which any transgression is clear and unwanted, whether it is “legal” or “moral” — or not. You cannot make enough rules to identify every destructive act, and those acts will differ from community to community.
Many people fear anarchy because they reason that, without some clear central authority saying right/wrong, people will act selfishly and destructively. The truth is that some people will always do that, and while they are protected under centralized authority, they are not in anarchies and therefore cannot get away with their legal and moral but unethical and destructive acts. Anarchy is not a revolt against morality, but as with government, a decentralization of it.
One great misconception about anarchy is that it is entirely an individual process, since the individual defines the values and rules by which he or she lives. This is not the case, as anarchy is not an impulse against civilization, but toward a decentralized civilization because it is inherently superior in design. Anarchists collaborate in an informal basis because of the values they share, upon which they act.
Instead of having our lives be organized by distant abstractions and rigid rules, anarchists prefer to connect with real living experience: the trust bonds that form between individuals (who, unlike in centralized systems, actually know each other and interact on a daily basis) to create active communities of collaboration, instead of passive communities in which arbitrary laws are enforced upon us by a barely-trustworthy bureaucratic entity known as “government.” If we want a world without the “abuse” of power, we have to recognize that power is abuse.
Some might construe anarchy as “radical” or “extremist,” but when one recognizes that civilization is a natural impulse and government only a temporary means of asserting “control” for the benefit of centralized organizations like government and big business, it is anarchy that becomes natural and bureaucratic government that reeks of artificiality and extremity. Not all people need to be constrained by the laws that limit the lowest among us; in the name of avoiding that pitfall, our society rules us all inequally, ineptly. Anarchy is freedom from that delusion and the future for all who value experience over rules.