The Anarchist Township

Fight the war, fuck the norm!

Month: August 2010

Blog Roll Call for the week of 8/23/10

Anarchoblogs

DB0 talks about how firms need to downsize and not centralize via management consulting.

An excerpt,

“It doesn’t matter that the people doing this job are bright. It doesn’t matter if they have more time than the management they are consulting (who are surprisingly being paid to do this but “don’t have enough time”). What matters is that there is no handbook on how to make such decisions that can ever apply to every kind of market in the same way, and yet management and their consultants keep weaving this lie that one can possibly make decisions on every kind of business given enough time and spreadsheets.

It’s nonsense. A scam. A fraud on a criminal scale perpetuated by the new nobility and their lackeys who get to make the big bucks by pulling decisions out of their arse.”

Well it’s not that we have an empire addiction, it’s more accurately that the government does.

Here you can find Phil talking about how cruelty in response to cruelty is no real response at all.

FSK seems to like to talk about the court system and how it’s busted, this is just another reason why. He also has this excellent post on the double standards of the state.

Arm Your Mind For Liberty

George has three posts I found worth sharing on his thoughts on some of the Stateless U’s questions which can be found here, here and here.

Free Dissent*

I had my third part of examining “thick” libertarianism and Scott Ferrie had two posts on mutualism, with non-vulgar market anarchists as mutualists and the mutualist cost principle.

Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

Finally Carson delivers a substantial post here, as Gary Charier said it’s long overdue and can be found here.

And with that a little bit shorter than usual Roll Call ends, I will not be blogging next week with maybe an exception of the Roll Call due to me moving to NH and settling into college so expect an update on that situation on my Facebook profile.

And although there wasn’t much from Anarchoblogs this week that I found worth reposting but I encourage anyone who can to donate to them here, they’ve extended their fundraiser till December 31st so get on it if you can!

Have a good one everyone.

An Anarchist History IV: Contemporary Anarchism and the Future of Anarchism

Big thanks to my friend Big Red on Facebook for revising a lot of the grammatical and structure in the original post

Anarchism and its history, schools, thinkers have been discussed just about ad nauseum by this point and by now perhaps you’re tired of it. Well, you’re in luck since this is the last part of the series and I shall diverge slightly from the tradition of my previous posts. This shall happen predominately in the second part where I discuss whether anarchism has a future and if it does, what sort of future that might be. First off, though, I’d like to discuss contemporary anarchism, that is, anarchism in the 21st century. I admit to having taken the name from this Wikipedia post but I felt this was the best name for this title. I’ve also generally used Wikipedia references and even some of Wikipedia itself, though I don’t think this a bad thing necessarily as most information I have used has been backed by other reputable citations.

Now with that out of the way, I’d like to discuss one of the biggest influences on the anarchist movement in the late 90s and still today, which is the anti-globalization movement.

The anti-globalization movement and its effect on anarchism as a movement

A tactic (please note that it’s not a an organization as it is typically referred) called Black Bloc, which is a tactic used by the reserves of the last guard of revolutionary anarchists (not to mention pseudo-anarchists and sometimes even cops in disguise just to discredit any type of rebellion that may go on). In general this tactic has been used at anti-WTO (World Trade Organization) protests as well as G3 protests and so forth and also where there is a collection of many social-anarchists.

The question is whether such a tactic has a positive effect on the movement; I think the answer to this question can be easily seen just from the simple fact that this is the part of the anarchist movement on which the media concentrates, and by that I mean with little or no exception calls this “true anarchism”, demeans it, and puts it down and patronizes the movement as a bunch of rebellious teenagers with no aim. I think this claim by the by is fairly accurate for some of the people in this movement, especially when a lot of the people in “charge” of the movement have said this themselves. Though, as they’ve noted, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I should also note I’m not just explaining the history (both current and past) of anarchism but also criticizing it at certain points where I think it is appropriate. This is why I’m talking about the anti-globalization movement in this sense of how effective it is and it (at least for the anarchists) seems to be a losing cause and one that anarchists should avoid.

Although I could offer my own criticisms of the tactic of Black Bloc and these demonstrations and their relation to anarchism, I think the criticism I found on Molly’s blog, which can be found here. , certainly puts a lot of nails in the coffin of this tactic and I certainly don’t find much value in it. That all aside, I think allies in this movement CAN be made but they certainly have trouble with the terms “free market” and any sort of “capitalism” you may like. Also, I’d like to say that Black Bloc tactics are not inherently violent; there can be people within it showing solidarity peacefully and using direct action to help others and block police, etc. So I’m not on a whole oppose to the Black Bloc tactic, but the violent types of it I certainly am. And thus I am also not wholly against the anti-globalization movement either, but I certainly think there’s some things to be improved on and should be reevaluated.

The Internet and Anarchism

A recent development within the 80s and 90s resulted in the most magical and wonderful thing in the world (well, up there anyways): the Internet! That’s right, the series of tubes you’ve been using for years is actually pretty heavily related to anarchism. How, you might ask? Well, through things like the the Free Software Movement, Cyrpto Anarchism and even some anarchistic things in independent media such as the Independent Media Center which is supposed to serve as an alternative to the corporate media of the day. But it’s more than just what organizations and philosophies came out of the creation of the Internet, but also the internet itself. It’s about what the Internet is itself and the idea of Crypto-Anarchism gets into this a bit like I am right now.

Kevin Carson has gotten into this on articles in C4SS found here, here, and you can find more probably on his blog or elsewhere. As for myself I concur with Carson that Internet is a great resource for networking for others on an anonymous and decentralized manner and is the best way to topple the top-down hierarchies that in current society rule with the state, not to mention the state itself. The Internet is therefore a great tool to be used by anarchists to go against the state in perhaps a great way, depending on what you use and how you use it. Agorists can use it to build the counter-economy more effectively, and writers can use it to get their opinions and essays and so forth out there faster, which is why anarchist literature is a lot more prominent than it ever was. And it can be good for other anarchists as well just as tool to network and meet up with other anarchists and plan events from there; this is something very prominently done on sites like Facebook.

Overall, the Internet can be a great resource for almost any anarchist (well besides the anarcho-primivitists) and I really encourage people to become familiar with it. Whether for social networking, activism, planning activism, agorism, opposing the state, or distributing your ideas, the Internet can simply not be ignored by anarchists as a tool for the coming revolution – whenever that happens anyways.

Current thinkers and schools of thought

Thinkers of anarchism I did not talk about include Murray Rothbard, Konkin, Karl Hess, H.L. Menken, Albert Jay Nock, and so many others, because (i) There was simply no room in most c…ases, (ii) I can wrap what remaining thinkers were really influential in this post as well as the schools of thought they helped start or continue/influence, and finally (iii) A lot of the remaining thinkers were covered by my take on anarcho-capitalism anyways.

So what’s the point of mentioning them now, then, and the other schools of thought that may have emerged? Well, to be as accurate as possible, I should include all of the information I feel is relevant to anarchist history. Fortunately for myself, I have already mentioned one of the newest schools of anarchist thought that I have not investigated thoroughly in the least and so as far as I am concerned it’s still in an infant phase but has a lot of potential — that being the school of crypto-anarchism. Past that, however, I have not discussed anarcho-capitalism, agorism, free market anarchism (though this is usually conflated with anarcho-capitalism and considered one and the same), anarchism without adjectives, panarchism, anarcho-pacifism, and anarcho-socialism; though, those last two have been mentioned in passing previously and I’ve already stated why I’ve not gotten into anarcho-socialists.

So with all of that, what is there left to discuss? Well, I shall discuss a general theme of “market anarchism”, including agorism, anarcho-capitalism and discuss some odds and ends like panarchism and anarcho-pacifism. After that, I shall go into whether anarchism has a future and if it does, what sort of anarchism.

Market Anarchism

Market anarchism is a broad category. Almost all forms of anarchism could fall under it; even social-anarchists generally favor some sort of egalitarian market in place of the “capitalist” exploiting marke…t place.So from mutualists, libertarian-socialists, anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, agorists, panarchists, and more. But what I want to discuss is anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, and agorists, and what could possibly be seen as “right anarchism” (with possibly the exception of agorism in certain cases). With that in mind, I’ve already talked about market anarchismbefore and brought up Rothbard and David Friedman, two of the main proponents of anarcho-capitalism, but there are still some more modern-day proponents.

Modern days proponents of anarcho-capialism
Such examples would include Stephan Kinsella, Walter Block, and more or less the crowd from the Mises Institute that advocate a stateless society in any sort of manner. Both advocate also that anarchism is a non-political winged ideology: it’s neither left nor right, but it’s something that either transcends or for some strange reason just doesn’t exist on the political spectrum at all. Hans-Herman Hoppe is also a well-known anarcho-capitalist and most known for advocating monarchic rule over democracy in his book Democracy: The God That Failed. David Friedman is still a major proponent of anarcho-capitalism as well; though, he does it strictly on a utilitarian basis, which Rothbard criticized him here. Kinsella is well known for his work against intellectual property as well as his defense of “plumbline” libertarianism, while Block is more known for the study of economics and his defense of what he calls “plumbline” libertarianism. Such a libertarianism prescribes no adjectives to it (besides plumbline) or as to where it stands on social issues and leaves that to property rights, the NAP, and self-ownership. Anarcho-capitalists may defend politics; though, some do not and make a point to oppose it, which is where the idea of voluntaryism comes from…

Voluntaryism

Carl Watner is probably one of the most well-known voluntaryists, leading the site voluntaryist.com, which has a plethora of information and writings on it. Other prominent voluntaryist types would be anarcha-feminist and individualist Wendy McElroy; Auberon Herbert (while not alive), who coined the term in the first place; and George H. Smith. As anarcho-capitalism is generally considered on the libertarian right, voluntaryists are known for their rejection of politics and generally embracing many forms of civil disobedience and peaceful direct action. Some are even on the libertarian-left and embrace a sort of left variant of market anarchism (this is what I have done personally to still call myself a voluntaryist).

So while voluntaryism can basically be seen as a variant of anarcho-capitalism with only non-political action, a possible tendency to favor left-wing market anarchism and peaceful direct action, it does have a nice function as a secondary or utopian idea of what anarchism should be, not what it most likely is going to be. I think holding the philosophy of voluntaryism as an ideal is something that should be more advocated along side thick and left libertarianism, which means a value of equality in its proper libertarian context, social justice, mutuality and solidarity.

Agorism

Agorism was something developed by Samuel Edward Konkin III and is basically described as a strategy towards achieving a free society through a political revolution of a market type. The process is the so-called “counter-economy” or peaceful black market out-competing the state’s white markets and red market,s where legal things are exchanged on a basis of the state’s permission and deemed legal in the first case and through violence dealt with by whomever in the second. J. Neil Schulman was also a contributing agorist with his book Alongside Night.. Agorism can be understood as either being a strategy or a political philosophy all on its own: when it’s a philosophy, it generally is considered left-libertarian, but when used as an occasional strategy, it can be used in some amount of successful cohesion with anarcho-capitalists.

The Future of Anarchism

So, anarchism quite clearly has a past and while a mixed one, it is a past that has been filled with tons of thinkers, schools of thought, communities tried and failed, communities still going, questions answered and unanswered, tactics used and failed and some even marginally successful; but does anarchism have any sort of future left here in the 21st century? I am returning to one of my previous sources, Harold Barclay, who wrote People Without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy, in which Barclay at the end of his book asks the same question and adds the proposition that perhaps history is a one way street for anarchism.

He begins by saying,

“Whether anarchy has any future requires us first to consider how to dispense with the state which now prevails everywhere. Secondly, we may inquire into the general pattern of historic and cultural trends regarding state development and the prospects for a libertarian age from that vantage point.” (p. 142)

He then lists some techniques to abolish the state, such as creating counter-institutions to make the states services unnecessary (agorism, dual power, mutualism, etc.), revolutionary tactics of violence, a third and final one is non-violent direct action. Just like myself, Barclay does not advocate for the second method or politics, saying,

“Why anarchists should avoid electoral politics should be obvious from what has already said about anarchism. But, in short, they do not believe one can defeat an enemy by joining him.” (p. 142)

“Anarcho-cynicism”

Barclay insists that those who try to “build the new shell within the old” actually have no stake in the new system and cites the use of intentional communities advocated by some people like Josiah Warren but here I believe Barclay is mistaken. The left-libertarian idea of doing so, which originated from the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) slogan, takes many different forms, and sure, some are just self-interested and just want quick personal change, but I see nothing wrong with that. I also don’t think this is even the case in most left-libertarians and think Barclay would be hard pressed to prove such a thing. Regardless, his tactics and mine are aligned: we both believe in the same sort of tactics and ends, but what about their effectiveness?

I think revolutionary change is possible but only through a combination of non-violent direct action, the building up of counter-institutions, a counter-economy, education, protesting, and other sorts of civil disobedience. In short, what I believe is that a plurality of tactics is needed if we as anarchists are ever to completely undermine the state and have it abolished eventually. But how hopeful of an endeavor is this to begin with? I myself believe it shall not happen, if ever, past a few more lifetimes but I’m not too optimistic it’ll happen in my life for sure. Barclay takes it a bit further and says he doubts anarchy will ever happen, citing intentional communities always failing by themselves or through the state intervening. He always cites how history is against us as anarchists, with states currently more and more centralizing and getting bigger and bigger with no signs of slowing down.

Here I must depart from the “anarcho-cynicist” view of things as Barclay terms it, for I see the possibility of anarchism as a real one and if I did not, I’d hardly know what to work towards or do with myself politically speaking. I suppose I could just reign to apathy like many people in the United States have, but for me that does not sit well. I cannot imagine standing idly by and not writing out my dissatisfaction with the current system, networking with other anarchists, trying to educate others and show my solidarity with other anarchists through various means at the least. Barclay talks how the state shall eventually suppress voluntary institutions. I agree, this is a real grave threat to this sort of tactic, but this is why the institutions need to be built from the bottom up and done through an anonymous and decentralized manner so as not to draw attention to itself until its garnered enough support to stand on its own. Tarrin Lupo, for example, has some wonderful tips on how to start a black market business and should really be given a good look at by anyone interested.

Means to an end

In the end, Barclay discredits violent action in a word as fantastical and incapable of not contradicting some of the core principles of anarchism. In replace of that, he advocates voluntary institutions and non-violent direct action as the only viable ways to undermine the state; though, he doubts it’ll work due to the trend of state politics. Still, I think Barclay misses one point: that state politics recently has been failing, the American empire is starting to show more and more cracks in it, Greece has a 20% black market counter-economy in it, and while it’s not perfect by any stretch, it still shows that empires can and DO still fall. (Though, of course, Barclay did not write this book when this was happening, he even wrote this before 9/11; he wrote it when something called “the Internet” was still in its infant stages.)

And this brings me to my second major point: that the internet really shows that anarchic politics can still survive, albeit in a secluded section of the world; but its a big part of the world and the amount of illegal activity, the people disobeying bad laws and engaging in agorism and building up counter institutions via the market place is probably enumerable.

The number of people disobeying the state, doing what they want without hurting others, contributing to the state, doing things in a voluntary and peaceful manner in an anonymous decentralized manner, networking (whether they know it or doing it intentionally or not), and working to undermine the state likewise should be almost enumerable. But of course Barclay could counter, “Couldn’t the state just shut this down, too?” Well, first of all, I’d say that thinking the state is some sort of “modern God” is a mistake some anarchists make a lot; the state is made up of individuals, like any organization, and like any organization they can mess up and get the job done wrong. So, I don’t think it’s good to really consider anything anarchists will do will be “shut down” by the state. This seems counter-productive to imagine and have that sort of mindset straight from the get-go. And past that, it’s just not true that the state could shut down such an organization or at least do it and not have the public be heavily frustrated. Witness WikiLeaks; has it been shut down? Perhaps Assange will be discredited, but for now he’s still in business, even when the US government wants his head.Those documents keep coming in and out of the organization Assange leads.

What sort of future?

So I think it can be determined anarchism has a sort of future, the radical notion that others belong to you and they’re not your property to begin with. So does such a movement have a future? I think by what I’ve said it seems anarchists can have at the very least a slightly hopeful outlook especially with things like organizations like the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, the Free State Project, and there are so many other organizations, radio shows, internet blog shows, blogs, writers, institutes and so forth, so what sort of a future does anarchism have?

I’ll leave that up to you and me to figure out and decide for ourselves, after all, isn’t that what anarchism is all about?

Conclusion of series: An Anarchist History

1. Anarchist history dates back all the way to the first days of man, from hunter-gatherer tribes to horticultural tribes, from agricultural societies to even some still today. An…archist thought has always found a home in some place in this world. It could even be said that anarchic thought and organization is one of the oldest in history and the most natural; of course, this does not mean it is the best or most moral necessarily. Societies like Celtic Ireland, Medieval Iceland, and the not-so-Wild-Wild West were also heavily anarchistic in a lot of their traits and all lasted a good length of time with decent results showing, at the very least, that people can associate in a big society and still have a healthy sort of anarchy even if it’s not completely anarchic.

2. From ancient China to Greece, some of the first thinkers of anarchism were highly respected philosophers; in Greece they were the cynics and in China it was people like Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu who warned of the evils of government. Agricultural societies also sometimes had anarchistic trappings, but generally fell short of an anarchist society like the earlier tribesman societies were, though places like Pennsylvania were genuinely anarchic for the most part for a few years; however, this was the exception, not the rule. Pierre-Joseph Produhon and other anarchists, whether they proclaimed it or not, started filling the ranks of anarchist thought and schools of thought and philosophical anarchism and mutualism were born.

3. In the 20th century Anarchism got more ground in the individualist field from people like Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, Stephan Pearl Andrews and others, while insurrection anarchism was also highly prevalent. The complicated schools of anarcho-socialism and anarcho-capitalism were also born and got more out of their early stages in the late 90s with the help of past thinkers like Emma Goldman and thinkers before her for social-anarchism. For anarcho-capitalism, individualist anarchists were their inspiration.

4. Anarchism is not hanging on with the help of the Internet; alternative media; new technology; new forms of anarchist thought; and strong-hearted individuals like Julian Assange, who leads the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. It also exists through the valuable tactics of “building the new shell within the old” through non-violent direct action, the building of the counter-economy, the use of dual power, and other methods of education and protest. Anarchism has a future but how bright it is, is to be determined by the individuals within the movement and the organizations that now represent it.

There are many divides within the current movement and this is something I hope to address next, namely, the divides within the movement and how best to patch them up.

Blog Roll Call for the week of 8/16/10

Anarchoblogs

DB0 talks how about spontaneous creativity is happening on Reddit.

Molly has a great post here on the Black Bloc and the tactics it uses. The post has some good things worth quoting including,

“Before engaging in any political act, it is of the utmost importance to first determine the intended goal of the act. In almost every case, the goal of the highest import is to affect change; often, this is impossible or implausible to achieve directly. Therefore, one must frequently resort to to affecting change indirectly; often by winning ideological converts.

I long to engage in this debate with my friends on the left. Do tactics matter? If so, how should they be guided? Should we do what feels good or should we do what works? What does “works” mean in the context of protests? What are the goals we are seeking to achieve? I contend that if we are hoping to achieve radical change, then tactics are foundational to that pursuit. The way to achieve radical change is to gain popular support from a wide swath of society. This doesn’t mean watering down ideology to make it palatable to the masses, but it does mean that we need to communicate our ideas in such a way that people will be able to hear, understand and consider them.”

A lot of the article criticized the tactics and also calling for an opening of conversation which I’m all for, this article is definitely worth checking it out.

FSK talks about how nullification is a very contradictory idea for libertarians to embrace here. And he also talks about the myth of George Washington and how this emulates the state propagandizing the population. And makes the case for having assault rifles here.

Government regulation isn’t doing much to stop the organ trade from going on as shown here and in fact is only benefiting the black market in the end.

Here’s some worker solidarity I can get behind, non-governmental politics involved, direct action, mutual aid, great stuff can be found here.

Arm Your Mind for Liberty

George compares the defense for private police and courts by Rothbard in For a New Liberty to his previous praise for Murphy’s defense of it here. He also talks about how taxation is theft.

Free Association

Sheldon discusses the contradictions in conservatism here and here. And awards the Nobel Prize to George W. Bush on this post.

Free Dissent*

While Free Dissent as mostly been inactive as of late I’ve been keeping it alive (barely) with my series on Thick Libertarianism which is continued in part two here.

Rad Geek

Charles has some cognitive dissonance by police offers to talk about.

And that’s all for this week, Anarchoblogs is still in need of some donations and my birthday is next week on Tuesday! So I look forward to a great week. 🙂

An Anarchist History III: The 20th century

I moved the “Events in the 19th century” here because, (i) it was incorrectly labeled the 19th century (ii) as such it should be here and not on the last post (iii) and it makes the last post a bit less dense in the reading time so there are tactical as well as logical reasons for this move.

Anarchism really got a boost in popularity (or you could say infamy) in the 20th century, here are just some of the things that happened:

Some 20th Century Events

Assassinations and violent sabotage was all the rage with bombings of senators and judges in America and elsewhere the attempted assassination of cruel bosses and tyrannical rulers it was easy for the media to collectivize and call anarchist hoodlums and bomb throwers. Unfortunately this stereotype has not gotten any less by the media conflating the anti-globalist and anti-capitalist movement as anarchist especially when they destroy things. Persecution of anarchism was also very strong resulting in the unjust imprisonment of 7 anarchists during what would be called the Haymarket Affair and the trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Most anarchists did not live long and were either killed or died of diseases, associations like the IWW were formed out of anarchist sentiments but eventually died down and many intentional communities with anarchists trappings were established and most eventually failed.

Places like Somalia have been called anarchic though this point has been disputed among anarchists, for more information on Somalia there are some readings located here, here, here and here. Catalonia Spain was supposed to be a left-anarchists paradise (left-anarchist as in anarcho-socialist/communist/syndicalist, etc.) but this has brought up a debate among the “anarcho-capitalist” Bryan Caplan in The Anarcho Statists of Spain but then a reply was made to him which can be found here.

Anarchist Schools of Thought in the 20th Century

What about the schools of thought though? How were they developing? Well one of this writers favorite anarchist schools of thought, that of the American Individualist Anarchist school was being built by some very important individuals. Not only that but schools of thought like anarcho-socialism and insurrectionist-anarchism (that is anarchists who advocated violence as means of abolishing the state and generally the system of capitalism they said exploited workers, women, people in general, take your pick) were also heavily popular within the time of the early 20th century as mentioned about with bombs mailed to judges and other government officials.

Insurrectionist-Anarchism

Insurrectionist anarchism was done by those who oppose capitalism in most cases and thought that violence was the best way to get rid of the state once and for all. This was done through violent sabotage by workers, assassination attempts on government officials through bombs or other weapons by prominent anarchist organizations or thinkers. It was also done through something called “propaganda of the deed” or alternatively by the deed in which major officials were assassinated not as a means to see the revolution but a start in other people’s minds that the ruling class was weak and beatable if the poor rose up and revolted. But of course this method failed as the article states,

“Propaganda by deed inherently failed in its purpose. It led to the public associating violence with the ideals of anarchism. People had difficulty relating to someone they viewed as a murderous fanatic. This in turn alienated people from the ‘fanatic’s’ cause.

Another problem with the attentat (political assassination) is that many a time it has given governments licence to introduce further oppressive laws.”

Nevertheless some insurrectionist anarchists are worth discussing even if this means of abolishing the state never panned out in the short time it was so popular (or again infamous).

Luigi Galleani

One of the more prominent insurrectionist-anarchists was Luigi Galleani who was well known for his publication of an Italian newsletter that ran for 15 years before it was shut down the US government. He influenced many to join him and use violence against the system but the violence he advocated never worked even in his long life. At the age of 70 Galleani died of a heart attack, never seeing the violent world in which he hoped to end through his own violence.

Johann Most

Most was at first a socialist or a democratic socialist but eventually came to anarchism and soon started advocating violent revolution against the US government to get it abolished. He’s also noted for getting his ass kicked by Emma Goldman after making remarks about her lover Alexander Berkman via her whip during a speech he was giving. She remarked,

“At Most’s next lecture I sat in the front row, close to the platform. My hand was on the whip under my long grey cloak. When he got up and faced the audience, I rose and declared in a a loud voice: “I’ve come to demand proof of your insinuations against Alexander Berkman. There was instant silence, then Most mumbled something about “hysterical woman,” but nothing else. I then pulled out my whip and leaped towards him. Repeatedly I lashed him across the face and neck, then broke the whip over my knee and three the pieces at him. It was done so quickly that no one had time to interfere. ” (Source: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmost.htm)

Anarcho-socialism

Anarcho-socialism can also be called libertarian socialism or other times left-libertarianism or even other times left-anarchism and is used to differentiate between the three main schools of present anarchist thought, collectivist, socialist and individualist (though I’d say that there is a fourth that being capitalist and that individualist is not necessarily capitalist and can be mutualism or egosim or can be free market anarchism which is not necessarily capitalist because the free market does not equate to capitalism in my view). Keith Preston talks about how an anarcho-socialist economy may look. He says,

“In short, I aim to abolish the state altogether. On this point, market anarchists and I would agree. However, I also wish to go a step further and convert from an economic order where capital commands labor to one where labor commands capital. The pertinent question at this point is the matter of how this can be done without a coercive state apparatus. Indeed, a systemic economic conversion of this type must be done non-coercively and without a state. Otherwise, the centralization of capital into the hands of the state would produce a new type of ruling class as we have seen in such political degenerations as the Soviet Union, Peoples’ Republic of China, Democratic Republic of Vietnam and so on. ”

And further down he says,

“[…] [T]he dominant forms of economic organization in an authentic free market would be worker-owned and operated industries, partnerships, cooperatives, a mass of small businesses, modestly sized private companies and self-employed persons. Industries that remained nominally owned by outside shareholders would largely function on a co-determined basis, that is, as partnerships between shareholders and labor with labor having the upper hand.(8) So the traditional anarcho-syndicalist ideal of an industrial system owned and operated by the workers could, for the most part, be achieved in the context of a stateless free market.”

And so anarcho-socialists would favor a generally decentralist society in which the state is abolished and the worker’s bargaining power is much more focused on then whether the capital is monopolized and focused on bosses and top-down hierarchies. Instead anarcho-socialists would advocate a sort of egalitarian (egalitarian in the sense of equality in authority not an expectation for everyone to be the same or some sort of equality in socioeconomic outcome or input) and horizontal organizations competing in a market system based on anti-capitalist (in the sense of anti-state capitalism) free associations.

Prominent thinkers of anarcho-socialists would be Emma Goldman, Benjamin Tucker (who also advocated individualist anarchism and is most known for that though he regarded himself as a “socialist” in the Thomas Hodgeskinian sense), Thomas Hodgeskin himself, Pierre Joseph Proudhon could have also been said to advocate anarcho-socialism in the form of mutualism as noted before. Anarcho-socialism can also be called social-anarchism for it’s emphasis on the social aspects that need to be free in order to have a free society as well as economic considerations.

The wide-spectrum of anarcho-socialists leads me to be hesitant to talk about one out of all of these people because some could also be considered market anarchists or individualist anarchists in some aspects as well. The line between the schools of anarchists thought is something I shall write about at more length in an essay at some point.

Individualist Anarchim

As mentioned before this is my favorite school of thought because it contains where I personally subscribe to which is free market anarchism (with a leftward bent and inclinations towards libertarian socialism though I’d never call myself such nor a free market socialist as I believe the word socialist is about as dead as capitalism is) which is a certain subset of individualist anarchism. Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, Max Stirner, Pierre Joseph Proudhon can be put here as well. Lysander Spooner, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Thoreau, Godwin, and Herbert Spencer could all be called this as well, though none decidingly called themselves anarchists let alone individualist anarchists. Even Rothbard and Samuel Edward Konkin III could be considered individualist anarchists though this is only if you want to conflate individualism with capitalism which I do not and do not regard as a useful equivocation. I shall discuss three of the thinkers who I think were legitimately individualist anarchists, regardless of what they called themselves.

Lysander spooner

Although Spooner never said he was an anarchist explicitly he had all of the trapping it, from his work to his life and also more on his life here. Specifically in his work No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority which can be read there or heard here by Marc Stevens. Spooner was led by natural rights and so was a somewhat close associate known as Benjamin Tucker until he later became an egoist and made the split between individualist anarchists into natural rights and egoism even bigger and more noticeable.

Spooner can be more personally noted in his life to (although he was a lawyer and somewhat well respected one at times) never really live in any fame or massive wealth he was more often then not scraping by and portrayed the stereotypical “starving artist” in some ways. Spooner also attempted to outcompete the US postal service causing it to drive it’s prices down and have the US government eventually shut his company down. Oh, and finally Spooner is noted (along with Tucker) or at least should be noted for having a kickass beard.

Josiah Warren

I have mentioned Warren briefly before but now I shall go more in depth with his views and his life. For more on his life there is a short biography done by his son George Warren here. Josiah is noted for his theory on prices, the “sovereignty of the individual” and his work with the more state-socialist (though Warren did not know it at the time) community of Robert Owen called Utopia and later tried to find a community of his own in Ohio. He also started a time store and was an inventor of sorts. Tucker in his work State Socialism and Anarchism talked about Warren briefly when he said,

“From Smith’s principle that labor is the true measure of price – or, as Warren phrased it, that cost is the proper limit of price – these three men made the following deductions: that the natural wage of labor is its product; that this wage, or product, is the only just source of income (leaving out, of course, gift, inheritance, etc.); that all who derive income from any other source abstract it directly or indirectly from the natural and just wage of labor; that this abstracting process generally takes one of three forms, – interest, rent, and profit; that these three constitute the trinity of usury, and are simply different methods of levying tribute for the use of capital; that, capital being simply stored-up labor which has already received its pay in full, its use ought to be gratuitous, on the principle that labor is the only basis of price; that the lender of capital is entitled to its return intact, and nothing more; that the only reason why the banker, the stockholder, the landlord, the manufacturer, and the merchant are able to exact usury from labor lies in the fact that they are backed by legal privilege, or monopoly; and that the only way to secure labor the enjoyment of its entire product, or natural wage, is to strike down monopoly.”

Benjamin Tucker

The last thinker I shall discuss for this school of thought and most likely my favorite thinker in some aspects is Benjamin Tucker, who is talked about here, here, also the biggest collection of his works Instead of a Book can be found on that link, I intend to get to it at some point and read it all. Tucker is most noted for having distinguished between state socialism and anarchism as well as the four monopolies which have been a good topic to discuss specifically among left-libertarians and anarchists of most stripes those predominately the left variants. Tucker, later in life repudiated his natural rights theories and embraced egosim which lead him to (in my opinion and others who prefer natural rights theory) some horrible conclusions such as that children were the property of their parents and that getting involved in child abuse was a violation of the parents property rights. He also began to regard land and property as something no based on use and occupancy but by might although slightly backtracked and then said that in the end though people would find use and occupancy the most useful in a free society. Whatever Tucker’s theories though his intellectual achievements such as translating The Ego and his Own by Max Stirner And Proudhon’s What is Property? and his anarcho-individualist periodical Liberty should never be disregarded. Tucker had a huge impact on anarchism and this can be seen today through more modern philosophies of “anarcho-capitaism” and free market anarchism as well as mutualism and libertarian socialism.

Some remarks on “anarcho-capitalism”

Finally I’d like to make a brief mention of the idea of “anarcho-capitalism” and explain why I put this in quotes at times. First off I don’t really have anything against those who identify as such what I DO have a problem with however is the label and how it’s been used and a basic bastardization of individualist anarchism. While it’s true no type of anarchism has a monopoly on the idea (kind of self-defeating isn’t it?) I can’t really say I like the fact that anarcho-capitalists just rehash what has already been said and just add Austrian economics, a liking of Any Rand, a denial of the labor theory of value (which I admit I’m not sold on either though the cost principle when it was explained to me by a mutualist friend of mine sounded good) and then slap the gross title of “anarcho-capitalism” on to it. I consider this just a different version of market anarchism (perhaps “right” market anarchism if we want to put even MORE division into the anarchist schools of thought, though I think it should be limited to collectivist, mutualist and individualist with anarcho-capitalism (again) being “rightward” of other forms of individualist anarchism like libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism, and so on) within the limits of individualist anarchism. Mutualism is an anarchist economic theory that is market related but staunchly anti-capitalist in most senses hence why it would be a school of it’s own. But again the lines of all of these schools are hard to untangle and I shall bring this up an essay I plan on doing at some point. I want to be clear though that in the end those who call themselves “anarcho-capitalists” I have no substantive issue on most things and gladly call them comrades in the evolution towards statelessness and individual liberty, I do however think some of the anarcho-socialists criticisms of them are certainly not unwarranted however.

Towards the current century and the future

Although I wanted to do both the 20th century and the current one I’d like to not make this even more dense than it already is and so I will stop here and talk about current anarchism and whether it has a future at all in the next post.

Blog Roll Call for the week of 8/9/10

Anarchoblogs

Apparently DB0 has never heard of what Sakura can actually do with posts like this, he’ll have to give Naruto a lot more time til Sakura actually becomes useful but she DOES indeed become useful and while perhaps it is a bit sexist that she is useless until that point her character does develop and she becomes a lot stronger. Still though, I understand his problem with this perception of girls and you can look at the comments on his website for more information why this is.

The ever infamous Francois Tremblay talks about which should go first capitalism or the state?

He claims both institutions of oppression are formulated on the ideas of private property and goes on to say,

“So we can now see that the issue of accountability doesn’t even enter the picture. Both institutions proceed from the same basic principle (controlling objects, controlling people). Even very intelligent people like Chomsky can be fooled into believing that the institutions give people some form of choice or freedom, such as representative democracy. But the main feature of representative democracy is that all supposed choices are limited, molded and engineered by its leaders. And when a result does not please them, they simply ignore it or it is overturned by opposing factions when the time is right. Whatever one may believe, no actual positive change has been brought about by voting in a representative democracy, simply because its leaders have no reason to offer people a positive change.”

Shawn Wilbur brings out a text that discusses why plurality in a free society is necessary and why anarchism is both individualism and communist.

“Will they, then, be always dissatisfied, always struggling, never enjoying rest? They might feel at ease in a state of society where all economic possibilities had full scope, and then their energy might be applied to peaceful emulation and no longer to continuous struggle and demolition. This desirable state of things could be prepared from now, if it were once for all frankly understood among Anarchists that both Communism and Individualism are equally important, equally permanent; and that the exclusive predominance of either of them would be the greatest misfortune that could befall mankind.”

Is the problem in Afghanistan WikiLeaks? Not exactly.

FSK reveals how voting is even more of a waste of time then you might think it is here and also talks about how the state can manufacture consent through taxes and regulations. And while I’m not sure sexual harassment wouldn’t exist in a really free market I have no doubt that the bargaining power of workers would be greater.

1, 2, 3, 4 some Greeks aren’t going to take the poll tax no more! Mr. Gross also reports how he walks the walks when it comes to paying his war taxes, well done Mr. Gross. I also reccommend Mr. Gross’s Don’t Owe Nothin’ method and Gina Lunori’s If you Work For Peace, Stop Paying For War!

While I’m not always on board with the anarcho-left on certain things, I think this post is more or less a good one and worth reading. Phil also posted a good post on why community support and mutual aid need to be revived which can be found here.

Finally some people are giving up on the corporate life and moving to New Hampshire

Arm Your Mind For Liberty

George Donnelly also took a look at Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy? by Alfred Cuzan and Robert Murphy’s ideas on private law and finally how the government acts like monopolies and to what extent here.

Austro-Athenian Empire

First off Mr. Long has some things to say about The Politics of Equality but more importantly he posted this never before scene of Return of the Jedi, get on it before it get deleted by the IP Nazis!

Free Association

Sheldon Richman talks about the evasion of the issue of gay marriage by some libertarians here and while I don’t oppose gays being married or having relationships I don’t think the state should be giving anyone privileges.

I oppose marriage in general something I may write about elsewhere at some point but for now I’d just like to say that I don’t support the state getting involved in other people’s lives. Yes not being able to see your partner is wrong but don’t hospitals also bar friends from seeing their dying friends in the ER? Aren’t there restrictions regardless? How far does the state have to open things up for you to be happy?

Generally I won’t make these sorts of comment but this issue bugs me and I shall post about it most likely on FB and tag Sheldon for further discussion.

Free Dissent*

Not much has been going on here but I did post an entry examining thick libertarianism via Charles Johnson’s “Libertarianism Through Thick and Thin” and plan on doing the second part sometime soon.

That’s all for this week and if you can please donate to anarchoblogs they could use a LOT more moeny for their fundraiser for the month of Julty and (this month) August, thanks and have a good one!

An Anarchist History II: More beginnings and the 18th and 19th Century

In this post I aim to show early thinkers of anarchists including the first ones whether they called themselves or not is irrelevant to the fact that they were anarchists in some way philosophical or otherwise. Once more I’ll be using Barclay and Worden but now I’ll add more references such as Rothbard, de Cleyre, Tucker, and more for the societies that were in the beginning and 19th century and the schools of thoughts and thinkers that made them up.

No thinkers or schools of thought were mentioned before because none were really started until we got past Ireland and Iceland. Although in retrospect the Not So Wild, Wild West should be here and not in the last section all three societies were classic examples of what is claimed to be “anarcho-capitalism” and so it’s fitting either way that they are together and examine them one after the other.

Earliest thinkers

Apart from the fact that Barclay has already mentioned for the longest period of human history almost all people were anarchists or at the very least lived in anarchic conditions and even perpetually strived to keep them in some cases. Besides that one of the earliest thinkers of radical libertarianism is Lao Tzu a Taoist out of China who Rothbard has written about him here and said of Lao Tzu,

“By far the most interesting of the Chinese political philosophers were the Taoists, founded by the immensely important but shadowy figure of Lao Tzu. Little is known about Lao Tzu’s life, but he was apparently a contemporary and personal acquaintance of Confucius. […] For Lao Tzu worked out the view that the individual and his happiness was the key unit of society. If social institutions hampered the individual’s flowering and his happiness, then those institutions should be reduced or abolished altogether. To the individualist Lao Tzu, government, with its “laws and regulations more numerous than the hairs of an ox,” was a vicious oppressor of the individual, and “more to be feared than fierce tigers.” Government, in sum, must be limited to the smallest possible minimum; “inaction” became the watchword for Lao Tzu, since only inaction of government can permit the individual to flourish and achieve happiness. Any intervention by government, he declared, would be counterproductive, and would lead to confusion and turmoil.”

Clearly Lao Tzu if not at the very least a philosophical anarchist was a straight out libertarian in his respect of staunch anti-statism and opposing institutions that limit the individuals personal freedom.

But Rothbard agues not Tzu but his follower was the first anarchist in history, explicitly anyways,

“Two centuries later, Lao Tzu’s great follower Chuang Tzu (369–c.286 BC) built on the master’s ideas of laissez-faire to push them to their logical conclusion: individualist anarchism. The influential Chuang Tzu, a great stylist who wrote in allegorical parables, was therefore the first anarchist in the history of human thought. ”

If Lao Tzu was at worst a minarchist then Chaung Tzu was at worst a philosophical anarchist which is nothing that bad at all really.

Past that the Greek Stoics usually held some very individualist beliefs in general but a man by the name of Zeno actually adhered to anarchism (though he most likely never called it that) and believed that,

“[…][T]he necessary instinct of self-preservation leads man to egotism, nature has supplied a corrective to it by providing man with another instinct – that of sociability. When men are reasonable enough to follow their natural instincts, they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the cosmos.”

More anarchist history of other thinkers as well as Zeno can be found on this Anarchist Timeline. There are other anarchist timelines out there of course, even the Wiki on the History of Anarchism isn’t too bad and has many references to it, some of which I shall use later in this post.

Other early communities

Anarchist communities?

(These would also go along with agricultural societies and can be seen as an extension of where I left off)

Although there is talk of free communities in the Middle Ages Barclay personally disputes such claims,

“The liberal characteristics of these communes did vary considerably, however not only from place to place, but also the same city might experience a period of relative liberality,and, then, ultimately decline into tyranny. Indeed, the latter seems to be the historic process of them.” (p. 102)

He continues,

“The residents of the medieval commune, as [Peter] Kropotkin notes, swore a collective oath to follow the decisions of the city’s elected judges. However this collective oath was not always freely given; residents were often forced to make it. In addition it soon become only a perfunctory act. Judges and the other city administrators were chosen often in a popular assembly, from the wealthy and influential family who were precisely those most interested in having a free city – free of the interference of neighboring dukes and kings so they might better pursue their business interests.” (p. 103)

So while the communes were not exactly anarchic or at least not as much as Kropotkin would like people to think that is not to say the communes were always unfree or other communities like the Anabaptists were always tyrannical. Indeed both style of communities certainly had trappings of anarchic ideas and a far less centralized authority then the modern state. But again the anarchic ideas that were espoused should not be treated as if they were more than they were, ideas that were put into practice in some cases and not in others.

The Holy Experiment

In, The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in America Rothbard discusses a few communities that may have also had some anarchic qualities to them what I shall focus on mainly however is the Holy Experiment done in Pennsylvania.

This is discussed at length by Rothbard who says,

“[…] [T]he people of Pennsylvania continued to refuse to vote to levy taxes. They even infringed upon the monopoly of lime production, which Penn had granted to himself, by stubbornly opening their own lime quarries. William Penn found that deprived of feudal or tax income, his deficits from ruling Pennsylvania were large and his fortune was dissipating steadily. Freedom and a taxless society had contaminated the colonists. As Penn complained, “the great fault is, that those who are there, lose their authority one way or other in the spirits of the people and then they can do little with their outward powers.”

Clearly monopolies and unjust authority was not respected and this remained for a few years even during the time where there was a council and Penn left a governor in charge no one respected his authority just like in Iceland and Ireland where any usurping authority over the people was hardly ever respected and usually fell apart. The same thing held true for Penn and any council he tried to set up and Rothbard explains why,

“Why did the Council rarely meet? For one thing because the Councilors, having little to do in that libertarian society and being unpaid, had their own private business to attend to. The Councilors, according to the laws of the colony, were supposed to receive a small stipend, but as was typical of this anarchistic colony, it proved almost impossible to extract these funds from the Pennsylvanian populace.

If the colonial government ceased to exist except for the infrequent days of Council meetings, what of local governments? Did they provide a permanent bureaucracy, a visible evidence of the continuing existence of the State apparatus? The answer is no; for the local courts met only a few days a year, and the county officials, too, were private citizens who devoted almost no time to upholding the law. To cap the situation the Assembly passed no laws after 1686, being in a continuing wrangle over the extent of its powers.”

And so even past the councils little to nothing was done in the way of governance and anarchic type lifestyles were lived rather freely for a few years. But of course things did not last like this, Rothbard laments as any anarchist should that eventually Penn got fed up with the lack of authority he had and tried to set up another council. Rothbard tells us that eventually this council took more power as the protests of the people died down and the state was back on top once more.

More information about Rhode Island in general, Ryan Faulk talks about it here as Rothbard did and Pennsylvania specifically.

The beginnings of widespread anarchist thought (18th Century)

Philosophical Anarchism

The idea that the state is necessary but not necessarily should be abolished is referred to as philosophical anarchism and sometimes the people that hold these ideas may be called “Closet anarchists”, several people were certainly philosophical anarchists such as William Godwin, Thoreau and likely ones may have been Thomas Jefferson and there are even some who think Ludwig von Mises was a closet anarchist. For more information a good resource would be the Wiki article on it or perhaps the texts of the people themselves some of which I shall share.

These sorts of anarchists are generally considered to be gradualists of some sort seeing the state as a necessary evil for now but eventually must be done away in some way. And although some anarchists (such as myself) partly agree with this this does not make us philosophical anarchists.

I for one see the state always an unnecessary evil but still take the gradualist approach through peaceful actions. But I consider politics a waste of time and instead focus on social-networking, educating, direct action, agorism and civil disobedience and as such would probably not be classified as a philosophical anarchist.

William Godwin

William is widely considered one of the first philosophical anarchists and was most likely one of the first well known anarchist in England specifically due to his work in Political Justice. Later on in his life however Godwin became a sort of conservative or reactionary in defense of the state. More information about Godwin can be heard on this episode of The Libertarian Tradition in which Godwin’s life is talked about at length.

Henry David Thoreau

Another non-self proclaimed anarchist would be Thoreau who is famous for his quote,

“I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe–“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

Which started his just as famous essay Civil Disobedience.

Thoreau is also well known for his refusal to pay a certain tax and opposing the American-Mexican war and being thrown in jail for refusing the tax which lead to him writing CD, as well as him living right near Walden Pond and living on his own for many years.

Other debatable philosophical anarchists

Herbert Spencer, Max Stirner and Thomas Jefferson can call be said to be some sort of philosophical anarchist (I find the term “conservative anarchist” ludicrous) due to the work they put out and the philosophies they sometimes advocated. Though Spencer eventually regressed to conservatism and it’s not clear whether Stirner really advocated anarchism or he was just an extreme individualist to the point of atomitism and of course while Jefferson may have spoken like an actual radical sometimes he certainly did not walk the walk when it came time to decide whether he would be president or not.

Stirner also is famed within the anarchist movement as starting the egoist anarchist movement but it’s not too prominent now within the anarchist now and it’s also disputed whether he was an anarchist or not as I’ve said before. It is worthy of note here though because of the debate about who exactly is an anarchist and is not. Stirner’s claim to fame is his read The Ego and his Own and his very radical individualism and considering the idea of Gods, rights and so forth as spooks. Stirner’s ideas are also looked on with a positive outlook in Ken Knudson’s A Critique of Anarchist History (p. 35-42) and so obviously Stirner’s “egoist anarchism” is looked on with respect, even Benjamin Tucker later in his life adhered to Stirner’s line of thinking saying,

“”In times past…it was my habit to talk glibly of the right of man to land. It was a bad habit, and I long ago sloughed it off. Man’s only right to land is his might over it. If his neighbor is mightier than he and takes the land from him, then the land is his neighbor’s, until the latter is dispossessed by one mightier still.”

This adheres to the egoist ideas on property.

First self-proclaimed anarchist theorists and further development of anarchist schools of thought (19th century)

Mutualism

Mutualism is a political philosophy that advocates free market anti-capitalism in the sense of capitalism taken in the historic sense of being aided by the state in order to become the dominant system in today’s society. The most popular figure within mutualismw as it’s founder Pierre Joseph Proudhon who will be talked more in length later on. He advocated cooperation between freely associating individuals and oppose government property when he yelled the “Property is theft!” but believed people getting property through their own means instead was liberty, hence him also claiming liberty is property. Mutualism has recently been revitalized through contemporary mutualists like Shawn P. Wilbur and Kevin Carson among others including left-libertarians. Mutualism was also discussed in What is Mutualism? by Clarence Lee Swartz and was also advocated by Josiah Warren and William B. Greene for his theories on mutual forms of banking. It was one of the first well established anarchist theories drawn from the first self proclaimed anarchist.

It might be good to also check out this resource for more information on mutualism.

Pierre Joseph Proudhon

Credited as being the first self-proclaimed anarchist in history Produhon proudly called himself an anarchist and wore the mantle for most of his life. He advocated free associating individuals without the state through workers owned firms and cooperatives as well as mutualist style banks and property rights not based on the state. Mutualists generally called for reform in currency in a more efficient way and Proudhon was not different however is oft quoted work What is Property? tells us Produhon’s opposition to government interference, in fact one of Proudhon’s most famous quotes is what government is, namely interference in our personal lives,

“To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated, regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded, all by creatures that have neither the right nor wisdom nor virtue[.] […]To be governed means that at every move, operation, or transaction, one is noted, registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, authorized, recommended, admonished, prevented, reformed, set right, corrected. Government means to be subject to tribute, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, pressured, mystified, robbed; all in the name of public utility and the general good. Then at first sign of resistance or word of complaint, one is repressed, fined, despised, vexed, pursued, hustled, beaten up, garroted, imprisoned, shot, machine gunned, judged, sentenced, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to cap it all, ridiculed, mocked, outraged, and dishonored. That is Government. That is its justice and morality!”

Prodhon though did have his faults, he is widely considered to be anti-Semitic and also used his idea of federations more federal than some present day anarchists or even past anarchists may have liked and Barclay adds to that criticism in his first chapter that he eventually reached some sort of federalized minarchism.

Anarcho-Communism

While the idea of anarcho-communism may not be as popular as it once was (at least in America and perhaps globally otherwise) it certainly has had a huge impact on anarchist whether anarchists of other stripes want to admit it or not. The work of Peter Kroptkin, Mikhail Bakunin and some even claim Emma Goldman was in some respects an anarcho-communist (though I personally consider her a radical anarcho-socialist if anything having read some of her works and many quotes by her) cannot be denied as important in the anarchist history.

Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin

To save some space on his already huge post I’ll reference both by saying that they were both staunch opponents of the Marxist type of communism or as they would probably called it “authoritarian communism”, Kropotkin put a special benefit on mutual aid that is voluntary helping others and freely associating with others for mutual benefit and wrote Mutual Aid which is regarded as one of his most known works. While Bakunin’s most known work (actually a collection of unfinished word) is God and the State

Towards the 20th century and current history

And another century passes with many schools of thoughts being started in America, in the next part 20th century and current anarchism will be discussed and the divides of the many anarchist ideas and even some communities that have been tried.

An Anarchist History Part I: Early Anarchist History

Introduction

Before I formally begin my introduction I’d like to refer my viewer/reader to these three pieces, first a recent book I’ve read by Harold Barclay called People Without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy, this lecture by Darian Worden in the most recent Porcfest about the History of Anarchism which can also be found in MP3 format. The final piece is a great essay Murray Rothbard did on early individualist type societies that were in America that I shall review along the way in this four part series. That piece can be found here. All pieces will be referenced in one way or another and as well I shall use my basic knowledge of historical events in anarchism to outline a very basic scheme of what the anarchist should reflect on and look back on with disdain or praise and why.

With that all out of the way I do not propose to be an expert on anarchist history nor a history expert in general I just happen to be an anarchist who loves history and so I've decided to mix two things I love into this four part series. I will tell the tale of early anarchist history, 20th century anarchist history and current history within the movement and then discuss whether the movement itself has any steam left in it as an added bonus and conclusion to the series. I shall focus on several notable thinkers, places, times, activities, acts, writings and so forth as I deem so if you're favorite anarchist or place or what have you is not included you should know why.

If you want to know why you should study or look at anarchist history Worden's first 4 minutes of his presentation gives a good idea (or many ideas) of why it's something worth doing.

Early Tribal Anarchism

Most of the work here is derived from Harold Barclay's wonderful People Without Government which in turn draws a lot of his work from fellow anthropologists which whether on purpose or not drew the conclusions that many early societies had highly egalitarian, non-hierarchical and monopolized societies in which there was no central authority. Of course in most of the societies there were some inequalities among women and men but even this was solved in a few societies by a dual leading societies in which women could also have leading roles in society. It's important to note that in such societies the only sort of leaders were not any sort of coercively imposed rulers but there because of their wisdom, age, stength or persuasive taking skils or perhaps it was for religious reasons and they were the local shaman or some other sort of religious figure. Nonetheless most communities of tribal influences specifically the hunter-gatherer societies were farily free especially compared to the society of today. A though again this is not to say they were perfect.

The fact that the hunter-gatherer society was one of the longest running sort of types in human history it logically follows that anarchism is the most natural and longest lasting idea in human history of social organization historically speaking. Such societies were horizontals organized for the most part and as Barclay points out,

"Anarchy is the order of the day among hunter-gatherers. Indeed, critics will ask why a small face-to-face group needs a government anyways. And certainly any which may be called fully egalitarian according to Fried's definition are anarchic.
If this is so we can go further and say that since the egalitarian hunting-gathering societies is the oldest type of human society and prevailed for the longest period of time - over thousands of decades - then anarchy must be the oldest and one of the most enduring kinds of polity. Ten thousands years ago everyone was an anarchist." (p. 42)

For specific tribes I'll generally just use the one I like the best or use a good example (good being whatever I consider useful in the specific situation or topic at hand) so as not to get too bogged down in specifics. So in this case I could use almost any tribe that Barclay uses, from the Inuits to the Yuroks, I could pick any one of these and more and have a good example of a relatively egalitarian and free small-scale society. The great thing about these early and "primitive" societies (even though many of them were structured around one concept yet had many advanced variations of them within their small communities that were largely autonomous) is that most of them if not all were completely or nearly anarchistic in all aspects. The trading of women in some societies and the holdings of slaves obviously denotes a lack of equality but this was not widespread and was only a short amount of time and only in rare cases of warfare of major offense such as in Northwest Coast Indians,

"Thus society was divided into three groups: those who held one or more ranks; freemen who held no rank but who were kinsmen of those who did and were expected to assist in amassing wealth for potlatch part engagements; and, finally, at the bottom there were slaves. There were persons captured in war or others giv
en to pay damages for offenses. This ranking system should not be confused with a class system. Ranking involves differential status of individuals; class involved differential status of groups. this among individuals; class involves differential status of groups. Thus among the Northwest Coast Indians a man might acquire many titles and be of highest rank. Yet other members of his family might well not have this status at all. An eldest song would inherit 'nobility' from his father, while the youngest son with little more than a commoner."

This system was one of the more mixed Hunter-Gatherer societies and clearly had it's inequalities but even through that the inequalities are not solid and the slaves I presume could be released and freed once the offense was paid. Though it should be noted this is obviously not the most anarchist type friendly of restitution and justice. Nevertheless early societies were by and large anarchic in their social organizations.

Horticultural societies

Past the hunter-gatherer societies there were herding societies, gardening societies and agricultural societies that all had anarchist elements in some way and will be using Barclay and Worden as main insights to these societies with an emphasis on Barclay.

In societies such as this like gardner societies are usually done through human labor as Barclay there can be specialists such as religious shamans or craftsmen and the majority of them are still egalitarian for the most part with a few hiccups here and there. Some have petty chiefs or some other kinds of ruler but is generally gotten this privilege through their skills or persuasiveness and not through coercion or force and any sort of ruler that manages to get such a position through such means usually loses their place as the head soon. Though it should be noted the fact that leaders can be coercive imposed at all means that society is becoming (if just marginally) more centralized in the grand scheme of things.

Because of the closeness of these societies many measures are done to prevent violence and hostile feelings this can go from shamans putting "spells" or "curses" on the offending member of the society or perhaps an animal of the offender will be donated to the victim or his or her family. In other societies your rank my be stripped or you may have to leave the community altogether, in only the worst scenarios is further violence generally considered a good option by the largely egalitarian society whether hunter-gatherer or horticultural violence is generally not used as a solution to previous violence. Elders can also sometimes come in and help settle disputes though in most cases such arbitration is voluntary and therefore bears little to no resemblance of the current state-enforced court system.

Many points could be made about these societies in Sub-Saharan Africa many societies are roughly egalitarian but with patriarchal authorities abound, slave and women trade (although minimal) taking place it is as Barclay puts it hardly a oases of freedom even though there is no central government or state. This marks the important point that the culture like the general political situation must be free, anti-statism and opposition to force is not enough to secure a society. Just as Anna Morgenstern as pointed out in her recent article in C4SS how anarchsim is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a free society. While the Lugbara have many non-violent tactics for dealing with offenders within the society.

Some societies are kept through religious ties and no actual leaders possibly giving some anarchists of the social kind how religion may still exist in a free society and yet not exploit people or act as a state by itself. For example in the society of the Plateau Tonga Barclay comments that,

"...they have no leaders. From the Tonga point of view, however, they are held together by a mystical bond with the ancestral ghosts." (p. 67)

Furthermore the societies organization is somewhat unique in that it is matrillineal meaning that it is based off of women instead of men predominately meaning women are seen as more important or just as important as the men are and so goes against many early societies.

Pastoral societies

Society then becomes a bit more complex as these societies focus on the gathering of domesticated wildlife for human exploitation and use of their resources. Generally pastoral societies rely on four legged animals, such as llama herders in the highlanders of South America, reindeer herders of Arctic and Sub Arctic Eurasia, Central Asiastic herders of mixed kinds and so forth are noted by Barclay along with a few others (p. 83).

An ugly side of such a society is that protection rackets and warfaring tribes and so froth become fairly popular and start to look like the early callings of what Franz Oppenheimer described in his book The State.

As society becomes more condensed societies like The Nuer which have many trapping of an anarchic society which actually still exist according to Barclay at probably around 400,000 people and relies on a localized and decentralized village system of freely association people. Each community is self-sufficient and usually contains from 5 to 45,000 people. Disputes are usually brought to a chief though he has no real chief like powers and so the name is deceiving because he has no monopoly on such a service and generally speaking people bring him to arbitrate a dispute. Though sometimes it is done under threats of curses and so forth but this is only to keep the family the chief belongs to good standing in the community as someone who can solve issues fast and would seem not to result in violence generally speaking. There are also specializes in this society but hardly any of them have any special political privileges and if they do they are not monopolized. And while all of this sounds nice the Nuer are one in few who have retained so many anarchic qualities after all of these years.

Anarchism and Agricultural Societies

In the last category of this blog I shall discuss the ideas of anarchism in agricultural societies which are next to current societies in recent developments, however our current type of society will not be discussed until the next two posts. But for now several societies will be discussed there were during the time of agricultural, this will include three popular examples of anarchism namely Celtic Ireland, Midevil Iceland and the Not So Wild, Wild West.

Celtic Ireland(650-1650)

For more information on Ireland see these videos by fringelements here and here. As well as Property Rights In Celtic Irish Law.

Obviously as Barclay notes no societies during the agricultural period is pure and there were problems in this society such as in others for this society but eventually power accumulated was enough for kings to be made and rulers coercively imposed. Part of this instability was due to the invasions that took place and kingdoms trying to rise up but it was difficult as fringe points out there was no central authority to really help them take place. There was centralization but it was weak and so societies like these agricultural ones generally reflect minimal states or if you will minimal archies existing in society even if weakly imposed.

Medieval Iceland (930-1262)

For more information about Iceland there was this paper by David Friedman and this article on Mises by Thomas Wiston draws from the Freidman paper and others. Fringe also did two videos on Iceland as well which can be found here and here.

Medieval Iceland was in ways very similar to Ireland and vice versa except that laws and so forth were applied different and in different ways as Ryan Faulk notes (Fringe's real name which it may be more useful to call him by).

Barclay also discussed Iceland and noted among other things the way authority was handled in Iceland,

"Thus a good chief was one respected and admired by his followers so that they supported him. A bad chief would find his will frustrated, his following declining and ultimately his own gory demise. Individual freemen who disliked their chief might renounce their allegiance to him and accept another. Because of this a given chiefdom was not characterized by a true notion of territorial sovereignty, since a govern territory identifies wirth one chief might actually be dotted wit farms whose owners adhered to another." (p. 94)

Another important note is that there was no real executive power at the top and social pressures were used instead of state violence or violence in general and were voluntary contracts and not forced on the Icelandic people.

The Western United States (Mid 1800s-1920)

Main references come from The Not So Wild, Wild West, George Donnelly's critique located here. As well as two videos by Faulk located here and here.

The Old West was not the disaster a lot of people or namely Hollywood names it to be, instead voluntary associations of land claims and law and protection and so forth was at the forefront of the society and most people were heavily armed leading to minimal deaths in most western societies especially compared to the east. Such societies relied on voluntary associations in place of the state for societal organization because the people there were claimed to be trespassing on the governments land such as if they were in a theocracy and were on God's lands because all land belongs to God as Faulk points out.

Many of the associations that were formed however were under the influence of the government and so in a sense there was government present if only minimal in most senses which leads Donnelly to say,

"Mining camps appear to be the only serious contender for the title of anarcho-capitalist society. While cattlemens’ associations employed private defense agencies, they carried out punishment without any kind of due process and demonstrate little else in the way of qualifications. Land clubs and wagon trains could just as easily be infant local limited constitutional governments, even if they do appear to have explicit consent from their governed. Many of these organizations would not have been feasible without their members’ shared respect for property rights."

Continuing on...

In the next part I will talk about the history of the anarchist schools of thought and thinkers in the 19th and 20th century.

Blog Roll Call for the Week of 8/2/10

I apologize to anyone who’s been looking forward to any of my articles on the history of anarchism, no the site is not dead, I’ve just been on a vacation on a vacation with my family but now I’m back and to make it up I’ll do three blogs next week, the first two parts of the history series out of four and the normal blog roll call.

Anarchoblogs

Some people still think the military should be strong and maintain the current American Empire (though they’d never call it that) but the real question is can the US afford an empire? It certainly doesn’t look like it:

“And to this date, he remains as optimistic—read: as arrogant—as ever, arguing, for example, that we need to bulk up our navy so it’s better able to “fight Somali pirates, police the Persian Gulf and deter Chinese expansionism in the Western Pacific.” Of course, our most recent imperial projects aren’t exactly going so well. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re not going to win the war in Afghanistan, as the people there continue turning against both us and the corrupt, illegitimate government we’ve installed. And we’re no more loved by Iraqis, whose government, for the first time in several decades, has allied itself with Iran. And yet Boot has his sights on Somali pirates and the Chinese.”

If you want any info on Tax Resisters David Gross is your man, from old school history of tax resisting to recent developments.

Looks like EMT’s have no real incentive to innovate on their services in saving people’s lives, lest they be arrested due to ridiculous regulations.

Let’s try and get that equality and freed markets down with a blog by NeverFox located here.

The state gives most of it’s agencies a nice name for the evil things it does, the “Ways and means committee” is no different.

Contradictions and UWSI in my government? It’s more likely than you think says Matt Crandall here.

Arm Your Mind For Liberty

George Donnelly and in full force too! He’s got too examinations of some very libertarian works such as No Treason and The Not So Wild, Wild West. He also has some other blogs worth checking out if you look at his site longer, which includes topic such as Wikileaks, Nonviolence and more!

Austro-Athenian Empire

Roderick has some things to say about the notion of equal protection

“Hence if the state of California denies to same-sex couples a right it grants to opposite-sex couples, or if the state of Arizona treats immigrants from Mexico differently from the way it treats immigrants from New Mexico (note that the clause’s language concerns persons, not citizens), how is this not a violation of the equal protection clause? ”

And the goes on to support the idea of state and most important individual secession,

“First, the Constitution cannot forbid state secession, since in view of the 10th Amendment it could do so only if the power to sever a state’s connection with the union were either reserved to the federal government or denied to the states, and no language in the Constitution does either. Hence any state has a constitutional right to secede.”

He continues in part two.

And that’s it for this week, once again I apologize for a lack of blogs lately but I plan on picking it up with my first ever four part series that I’ll be doing two parts of during the week as well as the blog roll call, see you then!

Blog Roll Call for the week of 7/26/10

Anarchoblogs

Looks like nothing has changed and workers are still under attack from governments, like the workers in New Zealand, I especially like the end part where the article encourages solidarity with your fellow workers and not to any party or employer. Workers must keep in mind that’s it’s their fight, not the corrupt bosses and not the corrupt unions that are both helped out by the state. The enemy is the state and it’s accomplices.

This is so wrong I have almost no words to sum it up, women are being chained up during their labor.

Can war be economically good for a country? Seems pretty easy to determine no but not to “deficit hawks” and the like.

“What you shouldn’t do in a debate over war, at least if you want to maintain your status as a Non-Despicable Person, is argue that bombing and occupying a foreign nation makes good economic sense. Even if it were true as an academic point, it’s grotesquely out of place in a discussion of matters of life and death. War, if it can ever be justified — and I have my doubts — can only be so on the grounds that it is absolutely necessary to protecting human life: there is no other choice, it’s a last resort.”

Bryan Caplan usually noted for being a well known and respected economist but apparently social issues do not deserve as much attention.

Arm Your Mind For Liberty

George Donnelly has some new blogs worth checking out not least of which is news about a play that may be going on at Liberty Forum 2011.

He also has an update on his prosecution.

Free Dissent*

I recently posted Where Anarchists Should Stand on IP which is worth looking at if you haven’t gotten into the IP fray yet.

LiberLaw

Gary Charier comes back with a new blog on a topic he’s addressed before in a new light which is left libertarianism

That’ll do it for today, I may be attending a Social Anarchist book fair so if you’re around say hi to me or take a look at the ALL table I may be manning. 🙂

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