Most people associate anarchy with chaos, looting and revelry, imagining violent punks with coloured mohawks screaming ANARCHY! as they throw petrol bombs for the good of humanity. In fact, anarchy is a theory of peace and respect for one’s fellow Man, as Ximin Luo points out. Introduction Anarchism used to be quite strong in the early part of last century. Indeed, anarchists played a significant part in the 1917 Russian Revolution, later to be crushed by the Bolsheviks. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Anarchist Catalonia existed for over 2 years before being crushed by the Soviet-backed Communists. There are various other examples, such as the Paris Commune (1871), and Anarchist Ukraine (1919-1921). Fast forward to today and there are very few political anarchists. That’s understandable, when authority is threatened it lashes out and it did so early last century. Amongst many other things, there was an enormous propaganda campaign to discredit these ideas, and the effects continue to this day. You probably imagine riots, bombs and looting when someone mentions anarchism, in the same way that you probably imagine the USSR when someone mentions communism. So what is anarchy? Anarchist theory formed out of a reaction
to hierarchical society, which we still have today. To understand anarchism, we must first look at society.
Politics and Authority “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (“Who will guard the guards?”) Juvenal, Roman Poet Most organisations today, such as states and corporations, are hierarchies. Politics is just the discussion of “how to rule”. Authority is assumed to be justified - humans “need” a higher power to maintain order. This power is filled by “qualified” and “responsible” people who rule over the rest. People accept this to varying extents, the general trend being that those who are better off are more stubborn (sometimes even fanatical) believers. There are several issues that anarchists take with authority. On an individual scale, authority distorts people’s perceptions of each other, of ethics, and of reality. On a societal scale, hierarchy causes a great many number of
people to be suppressed, degraded, and discounted as humans. For example, authority restricts free discussion by putting pressure on people to conform, rather than debate. The idea of authority also lends validity to moral absolutism where people judge things by some arbitrary moral standard, instead of by their actual effects.
Anarchy vs. Hierarchy “La société cherche l’ordre dans l’anarchie.” (“Society finds order in anarchy.”) - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anarchism is the negation of
VIVID 3rd Edition May 2008