Topics: Anarchism, Individualist anarchism, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Pages: 7 (1998 words) Published: April 28, 2013


Anarchism is "The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished. Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy, which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism (known as "anarchists") advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. Etymologically, 'anarchism' comes from Greek words translating as "an" (without) + "arch" (rule or ruler).The word “anarchist” it’s often used as a term of abuse and its sometimes misused. In this presentation I will try to elucidate and explain what anarchism means.

II.Main Body

1) The Relationship With Other Ideologies.

Often people think that Anarchism has some relations with Socialism. Barbara Goodwin has written a separate chapter in her “Using Political Ideas” arguing that an anarchist isn’t a socialist who happens to dislike the state. Andrew Vincent has a separate chapter too on anarchism, and makes the point that the doctrine overlaps with both liberalism and socialism. However R.N. Berki in his book “Socialism” treats anarchism as a current within socialism. But definitely there is an anarchism that is explicitly non-socialist, and in some of its forms even anti-socialist.

2) Philosophical Anarchists and Free Market Anarchists.

All the philosophical anarchist have the problem of moving from the individual to some kind of collective organizations that is deemed necessary to realize anarchism, but contradicts anarchist principles. We will see if the free market anarchists are better able to tackle this problem.

Philosophical Anarchists

William Godwin (1756-1836)
William Godwin was the son of a poor Presbyterian minister. He, himself became a Presbyterian minister in 1768, but he didn’t succeed in this and decided to start writing. In 1794 he wrote his most successful novel “Caleb Williams”. Three years later he married Mary Wollstonecraft who died in childbirth 5 months after their marriage. Although he continued to write, he lived his final 30 years in dept and relative obscurity. His anarchism was based on a belief that individuals were rational and social beings whose autonomy was necessarily corrupted by government. Many commentators find his anarchism implausible and concentrate on his utilitarianism. Godwin was really a liberal, even though he abandoned the classical liberal view of natural rights and a state of nature. He argues that humans are social beings. All individuals have a right to private judgment.

Max Stirner (1806-1856)
Born Johann Kaspar Schmidt at Bayreuth in Bavaria. A Child of poor parents. He studied at the University of Berlin where he attended the lectures of Hegel. He returned to Berlin in1832 and managed to get a teacher’s certificate, but the Prussians government refused to appoint him to a full-time post. He married in 1837 but his wife died in childbirth. Then he acquired a post at a girls’ school. He wrote an article “The False Principle of our Education” in 1842 and in 1845 he published his work “The Ego and His Own”. He married a member of the Young Hegelian circle, so he lost his job and spent the rest of his life in poverty. To earn a living he translated the work of English Economists. His wife left him and in 1852 he wrote a History of Reaction. Max Stirner is often bracketed with Godwin as a philosophical anarchist. Stirner was the kind which sees the natural world as a war of all against all.

Free Market Anarchists

Nineteenth-century Americans such as Spooner and Tucker argued for an anarchism that was an extension of liberalism: if individuals are free and equal, why should they accept the compulsion of the state?

Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995)
Free market anarchists such as Murray Rothbard take the view that state welfare is as pernicious as state...
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