" 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. ... stereotypes associated with anarchism are sometimes
trampled by the popular misuse of the word anarchism. It is not uncommon
for a Middle Eastern nation in the midst of US.- imposed turmoil to be
labelled by the media as "complete anarchy," a phrase which undermines
the true definition of the word anarchism."
--'Defining Anarchism' by Jason Justice
at the Anarchist Propaganda Archives
Media Use ...
Still, Debra Guzman, director of an American organization, the Human Rights Information Network, called the Internet "a utopia for all kinds of hate groups, from neo-Nazis to anarchists" who are "targeting teen-age males with this propaganda."
- November 24, 1997 New York Times,
Nations Struggle With How to Control Hate on the Web
By ELIZABETH G. OLSON
The WWWebster Dictionary definition for:
Main Entry: an·ar·chy
Pronunciation: 'a-n&r-kE, -"när-
Etymology: Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler -- more at ARCH-
1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government
2 a : absence or denial of any authority or established order b : absence of order : DISORDER <not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature -- Israel Shenker>
3 : ANARCHISM
"The word anarchy is as old as the world. It is derived from to ancient Greek words, "an", "arkhe^", and means something like
the absence of authority or government. However, for millennia the presumption has been accepted that man cannot dispense
with one or the other, and anarchy has been understood in a pejorative sense, as a synonym for disorder, chaos, and
--Anarchism: A Matter of Words
So when the headline reads "Albania descends into Anarchy" does this mean that a utopian society has just been created?
It seems that journalists prefer to use the word anarchy associated with "lawlessness". If a "utopian society" broke out would it be news? Would it be called "anarchy"? Can you imagine the headline "Government dissolved, no longer needed".
Perhaps the association of anarchy with violence comes from turn of the century bomb throwers. As a political philosophy, however, anarchy has more to do with the use of force and coercion in a society.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes anarchism as,
"...a social philosophy whose central tenet is that human beings can live
justly and harmoniously without government and that the imposition of
government upon human beings is in fact harmful and evil. Anarchists are
distinguished from Marxists and other socialists in that the latter believe
that the state must first be taken over before it can "wither away";
anarchists are too suspicious of the corruptions of power to believe that
this is desirable or even possible."
"...circumstances have combined to make me somewhat
conspicuous as an exponent of the theory of Modern Anarchism, - a theory which is coming to be more and more regarded
as one of the few that are tenable as a basis of political and social life. In its name, then, I shall speak to you in discussing this
question, which either underlies or closely touches almost every practical problem that confronts this generation. The future of
the tariff, of taxation, of finance, of property, of woman, of marriage, of the family, of the suffrage, of education, of invention,
of literature, of science, of the arts, of personal habits, of private character, of ethics, of religion, will be determined by the
conclusion at which mankind shall arrive as to whether and how far the individual owes allegiance to the State.
--The Relation of the State to the Individual, by Benjamin R. Tucker (October 14, 1890)
A sign in the window of the Bound Together anarchist collective bookstore in San Francisco
offers another perspective ...
"You can't blow up a social relationship. The total collapse of this
society would provide no guarantee about what would replace it.
Unless a majority of people had the ideas and organization sufficient
for creation of an alternative society, we would see the old world
reassert itself because it is what people would be used to, what they
believed in, what existed unchallenged in their own personalities.
Proponents of terrorism and guerrillaism are to be opposed because
their actions are vangaurdist and authoritarian, because their ideas
are wrong or unrelated to the results of their actions, because
killing cannot be justified, and finally because their actions produce
either repression with nothing in return or an authoritarian
Anarchism has more to do with how "power" is distributed in a society.
One can imagine a society where people get along without an extensive police state - in fact some would argue that the police state itself and the coercion and corruption inherent in strong hierarchical structures in fact creates the rebellion and crime which is used to further justify the expansion of police powers.
The IMF talks about
Public Sector Downsizing.
and the World Bank has
"a clearinghouse for researchers, development practitioners, and government officials concerned about the difficulties encountered in downsizing a swollen public sector."
The concepts exposed by anarchists are perhaps as relevant today as they ever were. Companies competing in a fast moving and competitive global market are finding that top down "hierarchical" structures make them less able to respond to change. The bottom line is that good decisions are often better made closer to the market and customer. The resurgence of the interest in "values" represents an understanding of the difficulty in creating desirable outcomes by enacting laws and enforcing punishment.
"Although unintended, the internet is the quintessential example of a large scale anarchist organization. There is no hierarchical
authority controlling the internet, the subunits participate voluntarily, information flows freely, individuals join and exit
associations at will. Since the internet also contains abundant information about anarchism, it is the perfect medium for a course
on the political history and theory of anarchism."
--Anarchy and the Internet -
ANARCHISM IS USUALLY CONSIDERED a recent, Western phenomenon, but its roots reach deep in the ancient civilizations of the East. The first clear expression of an anarchist sensibility may be traced back to the Taoists in ancient China from about the sixth century BC. Indeed, the principal Taoist work, the Tao te ching, may be considered one of the greatest anarchist classics.
--Taoism & Anarchism
ABC of Anarchism
by Alexander Berkman,
For more, see: