The Idea of Anarchism

In this article I will first define the term “anarchism.” Then I will follow the historical development of this idea. I will give answers to the question whether we are living in an anarchic society, whether this will happen in the future and whether it should happen.

The definition

According to the official definition, anarchism is a political philosophy that motivated anarchist movements around the world. Anarchism stands in opposition to power and hierarchical organization in all human relationships. As a consequence, anarchism opposes any form of state and protects anarchy as an alternative form of the public device. Etymologically speaking, the word anarchism comes from the ancient Greek term “anarchia” and implies a lack power. In other words, anarchism is a political ideology which denies all forms of inhibition of one person from another, that is any hierarchy societies” (Göhler, 1993).

Thus, human coexistence should not be confused with the shape of a “segmented society”. The latter implying social structures that are not determined by political institutions, but still have a hierarchical nature, such as class, social status, positions and circles. Anarchism is a kind of a “third way” anti-capitalist and anti-totalitarian/ anti-commusist movement, which from the very beginning denied fascism and bolshevism. The term “third way” is appropriated illegally by some contemporary right-wing ideologies.

The core of anarchy

The central idea of anarchism is freedom. The freedom of society is expressed in the capacity of individuals to organize themselves. A key factor here is the interaction between “collective and individual”.

Both components must be equal and not subordinate one to the other.

The following ideas can be defined as management of anarchism:

  • balance between the collective and individual (dialectic interaction),
  • elimination of power structures,
  • elimination of prison, psychiatrists and governments,
  • overcoming the hierarchical structures such as classes, bureaucracy, etc.,
  • cancellation of the capitalist model of production and application of solidarity based on fraternal principle economy to replace humiliating the individual and environmentally destructive economy based on endless growth (neoliberalism),
  • federalism rather than centralism,
  • direct democracy and self-determination instead of representative democracy and oligarchy (delegation of responsibility),
  • antimilitarism,
  • preservation of cultural diversity and opposition to leveling version of globalization imposed by imperialism and capitalism
  • opposition to placing limits based on political power and randomness in societal processes
  • preservation of spiritual and religious beliefs, respect towards all believers, but the removal of the church hierarchy, dogma and authoritarian religious institutions – anti-clericalism
  • opposition to the mechanisms of oppression and dependence, especially those that discriminate against women and children,
  • challenging the patriarchal system (feminism),
  • advocating voluntary unions and freely selection of a partner; opposition to forced marriage and the institution of “marriage.”
  • search for harmony with nature (conscious connection with it); opposition to the exploitation of resources and environmental pollution.

History of Anarchy

For centuries, the use of the term anarchism is negatively conditioned. From the 19th century it became fully conscious with the apparent aim of discrediting the political idea. Generations of politicians, capitalists, communists, aristocrats and clerics have tried to impose a negative sense in this concept. This is an example of the role of language as a subversive form of influence over reality – something that was established by Michel Foucault and post-structuralism. In simple terms, the language is being used to influence public opinion.

Who was the first anarchist?

We could only speculate about this matter. It should be noted that many anarchists have not been defined as such. According to my findings the first individual, who gained international prominence, demonstrating anarchic traits and actions are Socrates (469-399 BC. N. A) and Jesus Christ (5 BC. – 28 AD.).

Both did not abide the norms and looked at everything from a critical point of view, refusing to accept any dogma (anticlerical tendencies) and fought against the existing power structure (society, subject to state). And both cost them their lives (receiving a death sentence).

Let’s look at the theory of anarchism by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). He believes that the law and freedom, which are applied without violence are anarchism. If you follow this formula, then Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) may in some sense be defined as an anarchist (Stowasser, 1995: 14). For Kant’s concept of law is not a state law but a set of social rules under its deontology

Criticizing the state

Most citizens are aware that lying politicians and representatives of the administration, and that financial services are actually a means of plundering (Stowasser, 1995: 28). The army evaporates  the money paid by taxpayers, while the political and economic elite is parasitise on the back of productive workers.

Here is the chain of arguments for the existence of a state which maintains the monopoly of power and has the right to legally collect funds in the form of taxes: “The state takes care of the mail, vehicles, hospitals, universities and schools, the construction of roads and bridges and many other things, going to pensions.” However, if you look at things closely, we find that all these benefits did not arise as a consequence of the state, and absolutely independent of any governments. Their roots are in rural communities, monasteries, craft guilds, individual initiatives and collective assistance to the affected (Stowasser, 1995: 28).

More about the process by which the state was born can be found in the book of Professor. David Gräber – here.

Another argument for the existence of the state is that if it was not for the state, we the people would have killed each other and not be able to control all those impulses without control of power. First, the state controls and almost always reacts in consequence, once something has already happened. In other words, the state prevents a tiny fraction of crimes such as robbery, murder and such. Moreover, this pessimistic anthropology is a recipe for “moral bankruptcy.” Do you really believe that there should be a moral elite, carring about the primitive, uncontrolled, untamed and wild people? In other words, do you really need a strict father, such as the “state” or stepmother called “government” to monitor, control and educate us?

The neo-liberal idea for ​​man (homo economicus) is so embedded in the basic structures of our society that we are all forced to believe in strongly in that man by nature is selfish? How has the neoliberal idea  contributed to “the taming of the subject,” that is how the calculation has taken over our passions in the time of globalization is described in his book, austrian philosopher, Prof. Gabriele Michalitsch.).

We can break this neoliberal and social Darwinist myth through education. Let’s consider again the functions of the state. French philosopher Jozeph Prudon describes the interaction between citizens and state (respectively government) as follows: “Being ruled upon means to be under police surveillance, investigation, controlled, assessed, censured, commanded by people who have neither the right nor knowledge, nor the power for that. Being driven means every action, every activity, every movement to be recorded , registered, analyzed, charged, stamped, measured, taxed, patented, licensed, authorized, confirmed, punished, reformed, take precautions, to be condemned.”

“It means to be used, managed, mistreated, monopolized, to act behind you, to be blackmailed, conned, robbed under the pretext of public benefit and in the common interest. It also means the slightest complaint, to be repressed, punished, humiliated, insulted, persecuted, condemned, cursed, deported, sacrificed, sold, lock, fired and you should deprived of dignity. Such is the government with its justice and morality. “(Proudhon, 1963: 363).

Nowadays, multi-channel monitoring has come into existence, such as PRISM. Another critical moment in the force monopoly of the state, which serves to protect the property and privileges of the minority against the majority.

Criticism of Democracy

The difference between dictatorship and representative democracy lies in the fact that in the first case a minority (elite) suppresses majority in the second – the majority (citizens) inhibit many minorities, take numerical majority in the election and decide for them. Therefore the legitimization of every government should be viewed critically. Here is the solution: you need to create a network of small groups and societies that create together federations. This requires active participation and awareness of the responsibility of all. It is here that fails enlightenment, because despite the technical and economic progress it produces totalitarianism, concentration camps and world wars (Horkheimer, Adorno, 2016).

Criticism of the current understanding of Western society can be found in the books of Belgian political scientist Chantal Mouffe (Democratical Paradox) and British sociologist Colin Crouch, Post-Democracy.

Another important aspect is the external forces influencing the democratic process. More than 200 years the author of the US Constitution Tomas Dzhefersan (1743-1826) states that democracy is in danger, when banks become too strong.

Criticism of authoritarian communism

The Bolsheviks talk about the “withering of the state” and Karl Marx sees this destination. Not only history but also common sense leads us to the conclusion that dictatorship (of the proletariat in authoritarian communism) does not lead to the building of a free, cohesive society without power structures.

A prophetic quote by perhaps the most important anarchist, Mikhail Bakunin (1814 – 1876) is directed against Marxism. He predicts that the power of authoritarian communists will grow into a brutal dictatorship and never bring freedom. He says: “Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Mikhail Bakunin was able to foresee the consequences of the establishment of authoritarian communism in Romania, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union and Latin America (Bakunin, 1980).

There is no single anarchist manifesto because anarchism has no dogmas. However, in its rich history can distinguish the following trends:

  • Individual anarchy (Max Stirner)
  • Social anarchy (Gustav Landauer)
  • Collective anarchy (Michail Bakunin)
  • Political anarchy (Pjotr Kropotkin)
  • anarchosindicalism (Rudolf Rocker)
  • “Recent approaches of anarchy “ – (Noam Chomsky, David Gräber, Russell Brand)

Here are some famous professors, scientists, authors and activists who speak on the topic of anarchy:

  • Harold Barclay (American anthropologist)
  • Janet Biehl (American author and economist)
  • Prof. Murray Bookchin (American economist, historian and political scientist)
  • Walther Borgius (German classic economist и lawyer)
  • Albert Camus (French philosopher bearer of a Nobel prize for literature)
  • Bernd Drücke (German sociologist)
  • Prof. Paul Feyerabend (Austrian philosopher)
  • Prof. David D. Friedman (American scientist in the field of law)
  • Emma Goldman (American feminist and peace activist)
  • Daniel Guérin (French author)
  • Gildardo Magaña (Mexican author and politician)
  • Todd May (American philosopher)
  • Max Nettlau (German historian and linguist)
  • Saul Newman (Australian political scientist)
  • Frank Tannenbaum (American sociologist, historian)
  • Lew Nikolajewitsch Tolstoi (russian writer)
  • Oscar Wilde (Irish author)


Published from Josef Muehlbauer, translated into English: Hristo Stratiev, Mar. 26, 2017.