Anarchy Throughout the ages, man has toiled with various forms of government. From early day aristocracies to modern day democracies, man has developed theories of the ideal government. Of these governments, Anarchy has proven itself to be an unrealistic form of government. Anarchists pose different views of absolute liberty and the degree of government intervention as to the governmental figure of the times. Anarchy comes from the Greek word, anarchos, prefix an meaning ‘not,’ ‘the want of,’ ‘the absence of,’ or ‘the lack of,’ plus archos, meaning ‘a ruler,’ ‘director,’ ‘chief,’ ‘person in charge,’ or ‘authority,’ derived as ‘having no government’ or ‘without rule’ (Ask.com).
Justice defines anarchism as “the name given to a principle of theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of the needs and aspirations of a civilized being[.] In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state of its functions” (Tigerden.com). It is the form of government where it rejects all forms of domination, as distinguished from power (Creagh). An example of anarchism in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia describes of a governmental system where each town sends three of its older to an annual meeting at Aircastle to discuss the general affairs of the island (74). It depicts a life of the least amount of governmental intervention within the individual and of the state. Anarchism was meant to be that an individual should be free; where no one has the right to enslave another, boss another, rob another of one’s belongings, or impose upon another person.
It generally means that the individual should be free to do the things he wants to do; and that the individual should not be compelled to do what the individual does not want to do (Tigerden.com). A brief history of what and how anarchy came about as depicted in the Anarchist Timeline. Anarchism is usually associated with its heredity found as a recent western phenomenon. But as one digs deep into anarchy, one finds its roots reach deep within the ancient civilization of the East. The first clear expression of anarchist awareness may be traced as far back as sixth century B.C.
to the Taoists in ancient China. Later on in history, in ancient Greece during 270 B.C., Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, who rejected the omnipotence of the state, its regiments and interventions, and proclaimed the sovereignty of the moral law to that of an individual. In 1793, during the upstart of the French Revolution, the English writer, William Godwin, was the first to devise the political and economical conceptions of anarchism (Zpub.com). During the nineteenth century and later on, as acknowledged in Ask.com, shows a vast majority of anarchist movements. For example, the Paris Commune in 1871 played an important role in the development of both anarchist ideas and movement.
It was a movement where a major city declaring itself autonomous, organizing itself, leading by example, and urging the rest of the planet to follow it. Shortly after on May 1, 1886, the Haymarket Martyrs of the labor movement closely linked with the anarchist movement occurred. The struggle of the working class using direct action in labor unions to change the world depicts another system of anarchy in action (Ask.com). The Russian Revolution of 1917 shows a glimpse of an enormous growth in anarchism within the country and many experiments in anarchist ideas according to Ask.com. The Revolution was not brought about by ordinary people struggling towards freedom but as the means by which Lenin imposed his dictatorship in Russia. The initial overthrow of the Tsar, thought by many, was not enough.
All across Russia, ordinary people seized workplaces and lands and eventually overthrew the feudal exploitation of the colonies and built organizations, unions and co-operatives in anarchist fashion. This paved the way of having recallable delegates and united the workplace. The anarchist had put in motion the movement for worker’s self-management of production (Ask.com). According to Zerzan in the 1920s was an era of discontent in North America. This was when a group of white males took the law into their own hands and declared war on any race other than that of white. It was during this time period that the Klu Klux Klan was considered a mass social movement of anarchy.
This was, in their part, an agreement that no other race had the right to live within, if you will, a white man’s backyard. They are the individualist anarchists who believe that it takes the action of here and now to make a change within their society to their liking (Spunk.org). Another incident of anarchy in action was that of the Spanish Civil War in 1930s (Zpub.com). During this period, according to Ask.com, on the 18th of July in 1936 was the greatest experimentation in libertarian socialism to date when the social revolution met the Fascist coup. “It was ordinary people, undoubtedly under the influence of Faistas (members of the FAI) and CNT militants, who, after defeating the fascist uprising, got production, distribution and consumption started again (under more egalitarian arrangements, of course), as well as organizing and volunteering (in their tens of thousands) to join the militias, which were to be sent to free those parts of Spain that were under Franco.
In every possible way the working class of Spain were creating by their own actions a new world based on their own ideas of social justice and freedom — ideas inspired, of course, by anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism” (Ask.com). From the publications of philosophical scholars and the actions taken by its readers emerged two types of anarchists, the individualist and the socialist. They both hold true of the same belief of anti-state, anti-authoritarian, and anti-capitalism (Ask.com). And that the law of anarchism stated by Nozick holds true in each form of anarchism as, “the bounds of the law of nature require that no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions” (10). The individualist anarchists described by Ask.com regards to the means of action in the here and now. They are primarily evolutionists, not revolutionists, and detest social anarchists’ use of direct action to generate revolutionary provisos.
They regard revolution as being in contradiction to anarchist principles as it involves the expropriation of capitalist property and, therefore, authoritarian means. Rather they seek to return to society the wealth taken out of society by property by means of a new, alternative system of economics based around mutual banks and co-operatives (Ask.com). Individualists emphasize the growth of an individual’s unique personality and the idea of individual freedom (nothingness.org). They believe that self-actualization is only achieved if there were to be no one telling them what to do or how to do something (nothingness.org). Social anarchists use both political philosophy and personal lifestyle, as it promotes community self-reliance, direct participation in political decision-making, respect for nature, and nonviolent paths to peace and justice (Nothingness.org).
Social anarchists tend to use direct actions to construct revolutionary situations. The anarchist movements throughout history may have started out as individualist proposals but ended up as socialistic movements. They rely on revolutions to change the world and mass movements to have an everlasting effect on the world. The general socialists idea is based on a communal society where everyone has ownership and access to everything (Ask.com). An idea generated from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia ideals.
Social Anarchism when examined closely has spawned into four major political theories: mutualism, collectivism, communism and syndicalism in accordance with Ask.com. Mutualism is based around a form of market socialism, where workers’ co-operatives exchange their product of their labor via a system of community banks. These banks in return would be formed by the community, not for the especial advantage of any person or class, but for the benefit of all. In collectivism, communism and syndicalism, these systems are based upon a common (or social) ownership by federations of producers’ associations and communes rather than mutualism’s system of individual co-operatives. They believe that communalizing production and sharing information and products freely would bring harmony and freedom for all (Ask.com).
Through these systems of social anarchism, the word anarchism and its significance has been failed by age and by the social working class as a whole. Although the word anarchism is understood in its classic tense as provided within this essay, the term has often been misused and misunderstood according to Jason Justice. Anarchism, for the reason that it imposes a threat upon the established authority, has been misconstrued as violence and chaos. “I must tell you, first of all, what anarchism is not. It is not bombs, disorder, or chaos. It is not robbery or murder. It is not a war of each against all.
It is not a return to barbarianism or to the wild state of man. Anarchism is the very opposite of all that” (Tigerden.com). These false proofs of stereotypes that are associated with anarchism are sometimes trampled by the popular misuse of the word. An example would be when the media would phrase a Middle Eastern nation in the midst of U.S. imposed turmoil as complete anarchy (Tigerden.com). Anarchy for some, is an ethical choice, for others a certain artistic perspective, a form of culture, or a utopia (RA).
In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates speaks of justice and it’s role within an individual’s life. Socrates concludes that justice is a quality of human character and thus brings about a true source of happiness (374). Anarchists believe that conducting a life without a government would bring about happiness. Meaning that less governmental intervention or no government at all would bring about justice in an anarchical society. Bibliography Work Cited Anarchist Action Network.
12 April 2001. Anarchist Timeline. . Ask Jeeves. 14 April 2001.
What is Anarchism?. . Creagh, Ronald. 21 June 1996. Research on Anarchism. 12 April 2001.
. Justice, Jason. 20 December 1999. Defining Anarchism. 16 April 2001.
. More, Thomas. Utopia. Turner, Paul. London: Penguin Books, 1965. Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
New York: Basic Books Inc., 1974. Plato. The Republic. 2nd Ed. Lee, Desmond, ed.
London: Penguin Books, 1955. Political Issues.