Anarchy vs. Liberalism

Topics: Political philosophy, Democracy, Liberalism Pages: 7 (2807 words) Published: May 29, 2002
Contemporary liberal and anarchist philosophy are both two very different ways of trying to see what would be the best way to run society. While discussing these two ideologies I will try to show how both, in their purist sense, are not able work in today's society effectively. Contemporary liberals are involved in every day politics but through over regulation and dependence on government they loose their chances of running a reliable democracy. Anarchist have very good ideas of how a natural society could function without government or modern institutions but the biggest problem they have is how to get to that point. Both theories look good on paper but once they hit the real world they change due to alternating conceptions and individual influences. The root of the word anarchism comes from the Greek word "anarchos," which means "without ruler." The main philosophy behind anarchism is that people can reside in an unregulated community with no real authority and maintain a sustainable life. Anarchists see government and capitalism as an institution that creates liberty for the rich and enslavement of the masses. Emma Goldman best describes anarchism as: "The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary." With anarchism there is a belief that once all government is abolished by the people that everyone will come together in a community of mutual aid and understanding without laws or authority to direct. Their philosophy can be considered opposite of most other ideologies, especially that of contemporary liberalism. Contemporary liberalism strives to hold on to the classic liberal's ideals pertaining to political, economic, and social liberties but it tends to look at democratic government as a tool rather than a hindrance. John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are established ideologues of contemporary liberalism. Just opposite of anarchism, modern liberalism puts its' faith in government to change and adapt to the failures of capitalism. The emergence of this political philosophy started around the end of the nineteenth century with John Stuart Mill's ideas in his book Principles of Political Economy. The philosophy became an ideology in the twentieth century with the main points of enhanced democracy, widening the role of the government, and rethinking capitalism. The original liberals were reacting to the aristocracy, their domination over the masses, and a lack of opportunity of the individual to pursue happiness and freedom from the tyranny from above. Contemporary liberalism is a reaction to the problems that arose following the failures of democracy and capitalism in a changing world. They are still seeking to insure liberties but to do this they believe there needs to be more involvement from government. Authority to anarchist is looked at as being a tool for the rich and powerful. It creates a sense of competitiveness for power which intern creates social disorder, and can lead to moral depravity which inhibits a well ordered society. Kropotkin wrote on the use of authority by the rich and he says: "Three quarters of all the acts which are brought before our courts every year have their origin, either directly or indirectly, in the present disorganized stated of society with regard to the production and distribution of wealth- not in the perversity of human nature." This means that because society and capitalism create these classes, the people on the bottom sometimes commit crimes because they have to fulfill essential needs that are denied to them do to uneven distribution of resources. If a woman that is homeless with three children and has no other choice but to steal food to feed her family, she is considered a criminal. Contemporary liberals would say it is because she hasn't been given the resources through the government to get herself out...

Citations: "What is anarchism," An Anarchist FAQWebpage,, Internet Explorer, 5/4/98. Schumaker Paul, Dwight C. Kiel, Thomas Heilke, Great Ideas/Grand Schemes: Political Ideologies in the 19th and 20th Centuries, New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 1996. Schumaker Paul, Dwight C. Kiel, Thomas W. Heilke, Ideological Voices: An Anthology in Modern Political Ideas, New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1997.
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