Varieties of Anarchism – Denis McManus



today what I'm going to talk about today is anarchy and what I'm going to talk about in particular some of the political philosophers who provide if you like the the driving ideas behind at least some kinds of anarchist thought how many of you are doing any of you doing philosophy or politics would any of you have done anything about anarchism as yet you would anybody have done anything on political philosophy as yet people like Hobbes and Locke and Rousseau and people like that okay yet again the same man nodding at the back but just the one okay well so I mean I won't be assuming any knowledge of these things anyway but it just helps me get a bit of a sense for where we're all at now when people talk about anarchists that is normally the kind of image that springs to mind all that conceivably if you're sufficiently old to know about this this kind of classical music but although we have that kind of image of the anarchists I'm afraid this is actually what they look like they look more like me then they look like him now what I want to do today is talk about some of these figures some of these old boys now what you get from the anarchists I mean the first thing to know about what you get from the anarchists is you do not get some kind of celebration of disorder of chaos people talk about anarchy sometimes that's that seems to be what they're having in mind instead what you will kind of certainly get is you'll get a bunch of criticisms of this state they'll give you some reasons why the state is as such a bad thing so they're not suggesting that this particular state of that particular state should be eliminated and replaced by different kind of state they're just saying that the state has such government as such ears in some way or an evil so you'll get various criticisms of the state crucially you'll then get an alternative vision of how society could be so to say you know the notion of Anarchy is some kind of disorder you don't get that from the that's where the real anarchists the real anarchists have quite specific ideas about how they think society should be organized should be structured and if anything as you'll see if they've got a fault when it comes to their thinking about these matters it's that they're too idealistic they're too positive about about human nature if you like so they're not lovers of chaos and destruction you'll also get obviously one things that they have to do is they have to try and convince you that previous attempts to make the state appear legitimate were mistaken we'll just touch on some of those but sort of you know one of the things I have to do is now have to try and convince you that arguments that you find in in other parts on the earlier typically earlier stages of political philosophy were confused they don't really work so those are the three things that you will principally get now what I'm going to do in this particular talk is is is talk about a way in which you can divide modern anarchism up into if you like two camps now whenever you do something like this you know that the person who's doing it is only kind of telling you half the truth there's always going to be interesting differences uncovering over in doing that I think you can broadly see a division between two broad camps of anarchists I've mentioned a couple of times that then principally gonna be talking about modern versions of anarchism you can actually find brands of anarchism going back to to ancient Greece you can find out brands of anarchism within Christianity so there are all sorts of different kinds of anarchism out there that's why you know go with this title the varieties of anarchism but I'm just going to talk about two particular kinds and just to start this off does everybody have a handout everybody's happy okay just want to start off with a quotation from a very influential book by Miller on anarchism this gives us a kind of an initial picture of the distinction on a draw he says individualís these are going to be individualist anarchists and communal anarchists would no doubt agree that their fundamental aim was personal freedom but whereas anarchists are so quick whereas individualist my readings not really where it should be but whereas individualist would define this negatively as the absence of interference of coercion communal anarchists would define it positively as the opportunity to satisfy needs and wants and claim that far from one person's freedom being limited by the freedom of others no one could be really free except in a solid eristic community where each person work to promote the well-being of the rest so we'll come back we look at this this distinction we look at some of those specific ways in which this distinction kind of works out a couple of other people who I want to just mention to you of these people Thomas Hobbes John Locke and jean-jacques Rousseau they are three of the most influential political philosophers in modern philosophy and each of them in their different way tries to give us an explanation of what of where and when state power is legitimate so whether we're States as which should be accepted nevertheless the anarchists in a way grow out of the ideas that these people present in particular the individualist anarchist as we'll see grow this chaps ideas locks and the communal anarchists go out of resolves so I'll just mention that now we'll come back to to that thought later so start off with the individualist anarchists here's a couple of them Spooner and Tucker now individual sonic ism is characteristically and I think significantly and that tends to be an American phenomenon and it's broadly you could describe it as a kind of right-wing anarchism so what these people will try and do is try and give a I'll give you well let's just look at the kinds of points that they make they're worried about the state and you'll see that in this respect they share this with the share these worries with these chaps these are the communal anarchists so these two views have if you like in common a particular criticism of the state and on your handout I've given you a version that you find in Tucker so Tucker thinks that a good nine tenths of the existing legislation serves either to prescribe the individuals personal habits or worse still to create and sustain commercial industrial financial and proprietary monopolies which deprived labor of a large part of the reward that it would receive in a perfectly free market so what Tucker is suggesting is but the problem with government is that though they will claim that they're as worth serving everybody they're not instead what government is is it's a tool another tool wielded by a certain powerful elite there will be a certain subset of individuals in our society who will characteristically have financial power they might have other kinds of authority maybe religious authority maybe legal authority and what that elite does is it uses government to exploit everybody else so the idea that government is serving us all is according to the anarchist mistaken government is really something in the service of that particular elite and you don't have to be hugely cynical to think there might be something in that particular thought I'm sure a lot of us you know those of us who can't take an interest in politics must occasionally think that governments seem to have a particularly close relationship with business for instance and is that because business is good for everybody well maybe maybe not anyway the thought of the individuals Anika's you'll see the communal Anika's share this particular thought is that government is there as a kind of instrument that a certain section of society uses to exploit the rest of society but just at the end of that passage you get a hint of how taka thinks society should be instead because he says there that you know the problem is that we deprive labor of a large part of the reward that it would receive in a perfectly free market so what's another Tucker thinks is that the problem with government is that decent hard-working individuals don't get their just reward it's not a genuinely free market instead we're in a way were exploited by this subsection of society but what we would really have ideally have is as we're all of those hardworking individuals would get the just reward that they should but why is it anarchism well they crucially have a notion of freedom in play here we've already seen the notion of a free market here but let's look more specifically at their vision of just what a free society would be like because it's quite interesting quite telling their views are an extension of what you might think of as classical liberalism who are the great representatives of that well the chap in the middle is perhaps the most obvious John Locke he's somebody who argues that we all have certain basic human rights and it's the job of government to ensure that those basic human rights are respected that's what Locke thought now the individualist anarchists agree that we have certain basic human rights but they think that government actually doesn't serve to protect those human rights and status it's a something that gets in the way of the satisfaction of the love the protection of those of those human rights now that stress on human rights tends to be one about you'll hear people talk about negative freedom the negative freedom this context means is well these are these are rights to be left alone rights to not be interfered with and you can see this in there in the individuals anarchists vision of what is what a happy society would be like so just look at the next passage ania handout this is Tucker he says my neighbor is not my enemy but my friend and I am his if we would but mutually recognized the fact we help each other to a better fuller happier living and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict hamper and oppress each other why can we not agree to let each live his own life neither of us transgressing the limits that separates our individuality now what I want to do is look a little bit more closely at that particular passage because as you'll see you know when he talks about my neighbor is my friend he seems to have a rather specific notion of friendship in mind so what he means by that so note what do you mean by that is that we should cease to restrict hamper and oppress each other what we have to do is let each live his own life we've got to respect these limits that separate our individuality so the notion of freedom that you get from the individualist anarchists is essentially one of being left alone being left alone to your own devices so we cease to restrict hamper and oppress each other that's their conception of what freedom looks like and this contrasts with the kind of vision we'll get from the communal anarchists that passage from Miller at the start might have prepared you for somebody's thoughts the kind of slogan that you'll get from communal anarchists is that you only get liberty through solidarity bakunin Kropotkin he says Humanity is one great family no member which can be injured without the injury being felt by a wide circle of his fellows and ultimately by the whole of society so what the communal anarchists think is that we're only ever really free if we're not free together if we stand towards each other in non exploitative healthy happy social relations with the individualist anarchist you almost feel like they're perfect vision of social relations is not having any or at least the minimum they require is that the social relations be one in which we're essentially left to do what we like we're not nobody imposes upon that our freedom movie invades that freedom and of course this is quite a it makes them very strong claims this particular line that I like Chuck and mind your own business is anarchism the only moral law and we'll see when we come to look at some of the difficulties that the anarchists face that a lot of the difficulties they face come back to these underlying conceptions of just what human freedom is and their their underlying conceptions of if you like what a meaningful fulfil teaming life is like we'll come back to these particular flurries now I mentioned that what you will get from the anarchists is also a set of criticisms of previous attempts to convince you know that the state is a jolly good thing and the kind of thing that they'll have in mind here are the kinds of social contract theories as they're known that both Hobbes Locke and Rousseau offer and the kinds of complaints that they raise it about the sort of contract view our important worries it's not a contract in its in its rough very rough style I'm is well it comes in the form of a little kind of quasi history a coin to which government was formed as a result of free individuals coming together and decided that they face certain kinds of problems and they needed something that would deal with those problems and government is going to provide it so they all kind of get together and they all agree to a particular set of arrangements the particular set of systems for introducing law and so on and that's how government came about now there are lots of different ways of looking at this idea of a sort of contracts you know different ways of thinking about what might be right and what might be wrong about the idea of a sort of contract one of the crucial ideas within it is there's a certain suggestion that we have we're willingly governed that if we could just sort of see through to the nature of government we'd see that actually we're pretty damn pleased this is here that the structure of government is here such that for instance if it didn't exist we'd want to create it we'd want to produce it so there's this suggestion that in a way government rests on some kind of willing agreement on our part something like a willing signing of a contract whereby you know we agree that you know if we cooperate with government then the government will do certain things back for us it'll protect us or provide services or whatever it might be now when the sort of contract for you is try and convince you that there was there is somewhere there is this kind of agreement the problem they always face is no one can remember doing any such agreeing so what they end up having to do is they'll have to try and convince you that maybe some other actions that you perform show that you agree to be governed they might say well if you didn't accept government you wouldn't say here you'd leave the country now I dare say you have some concerns about that particular thought but let's just look at what the the individuals anarchists have to say the particular criticism that that they make is essentially that this whole idea of a social contract is just a bit of a myth it's a myth put about by those who want to convince you that government is a jolly good thing so for instance this past year Anika's look upon all obligations not really as obligations except as those that being consciously and voluntarily assumed at this time point if a man makes an agreement with men the latter may combine to hold him to his agreement but in the absence of such agreement no man so far as the anarchists are aware has made any agreement with God or any other power of any other any order whatsoever so they'll try and convince you that this idea that we're all in a waist willingly ruled the way either in some sense or other have signed up to a social contract or would sign up to a social contract it's just myth making it's just a set of ideologies put about ultimately by those who have an investment in the existence of the state and they will get the anarchist will regard these boys as essentially in the service of that elite they'll see these individuals who do characteristic um from a certain kind of middle-class mercantile background they'll see them as or ultimately if you like the ideologues of government we believe ourselves we're spinning us these these more complex lies going to the anarchists about why government is legitimate so that's the kind of criticism that you get from the individual scientists let's move on to our other Bunch the communal anarchists now communal anarchism tends to be more a European phenomenon and you could describe it again very crude terms but you could describe it as a kind of left-wing anarchism and they're great inspiration as was the great inspiration for Marx was Rousseau jean-jacques Rousseau so we'll have a little mention of him later on now among the things that Rousseau did was he tried to convince us that for instance institutions like private property are not quite what they seem Locke makes a lot of private property he says that one of the most important things that government does is it protects your private property Rousseau thinks the private property is actually one of the ways in which people are made unfree it's one of the ways in which people eyes were bound he's famous for these lines about everybody being born free but everybody but everywhere is it are in Chains one of the chains through self thinks is private property so we'll see the way in which that idea figures for the communal anarchists first of all let's just look at the kind of criticisms that they make of the of the state you'll know it's the connection with with Tucker's passage pretty well story whatever thought so this is Bakunin he says the bourgeoisie with its various social and political organizations in industry agriculture banking and commerce as well as in all administrative financial judiciary education police and military functions of the state turned increasingly to weld all of these into a really dominant oligarchy on the one hand and on the other hand into an enormous mass of more or less hopeless creatures who live in a perpetual illusion steadily and inevitably pushed down into the proletariat by the irresistible force of the present economic development and reduced to serving as blind tools of this all-powerful oligarchy so again you've got this vision of a certain section of society that's all-powerful oligarchy exploiting the rest of society this this the more or less hopeless proletariat and the proletariat is being exploited by that oligarchy and one of the most effective instruments that this oligarchy has is the state is state power and state power is used to serve the interests of that oligarchy it's not used to serve all of our interests it's used to serve the interest of that particular little elite so they want the state to be eliminated but what do we have in its place well if you remember they have a vision which is not ours we're us all drifting off into our own private little spheres in a way that the individuals anarchists would have us instead they think that the only way in which you can genuinely be free is if you have a certain kind of solid aristocratic art of what we as human beings are and the only way in which you can be free is if you've got the right kinds of social relations now spelling out what they are is going to be the tricky bit but here's just to give you a little intimation of that so here for instance Bakunin talks about the spontaneous organization of labour and the collective ownership of property by freely organized producers associations and equally spontaneous Federation of communes and that's all going to replace this domineering paternalistic state so there's a vision of a certain kind of happy social life a certain kind of a vision of us of non exploitative set of social relations that they think would naturally arise amongst human beings if there were as were left to their own devices and if they were left in particular if they were not interfered with by the domineering fraternal istic state so here's another part of dishes from Bakunin as well he says the future social organization should be carried out from the bottom up it can be this spontaneous form of socialization by the free association of Federation of workers starting with the associations then going on to the communes the regions and nations and finally culminating in a great international and universal Federation it's only then that the true life-giving social order of Liberty and general welfare will come into being social order which far from restricting will affirm and reconcile the interests of individuals and of society now I just say the difficulty is always for these for these thinkers to try and paint a convincing picture of just what this kind of life-giving social order is going to be like but the kind of thoughts that drive this is and these are ideas that that stem from from Rousseau is that a vision of human beings is all basically competing with one another as all having interests which are in tension with one another may just be another ideology it may just be another set of ideas we've been fed for instance by those who want government to if continue some of like a Hobbes for instance will tell us that we're all fundamentally self-seeking agents we're all basically out for our own goods and lo and behold he tells us that if we didn't have a state it would descend the society would descend into chaos there'd be a war of each against or and our life would be sold to poor nasty brutish and short it's one of the great famous lines but the reason he thinks that is because he thinks we're all fundamentally self-seeking individuals if you think you're a self seeking individualist then you might read hobb something yeah this fellas right we really do need a state but the communal anarchists will come in and this is this is where they take some ideas from Rousseau I said well are we really self seeking individualist is it really true that human beings flourish when they are as were allowed to just pursue their own individualistic ends their own self seeking ends is that a vision of happy social existence and when you think about that then you might well start to think yeah maybe this vision of government as being necessary because we're all self seeking individualist may rest on a myth of human nature the story of about you know just what it is to be a fulfilled human being well what is it to be as we're a successful self seeking individualist maybe that's just a myth maybe that's a distorted picture of just what it is for human beings to live a fulfilled life what if for instance to live a fulfilled human life really depended upon you having good social relations having friendship love and so on so these kinds of ideas are crucial to the individualist let's sue the communal panicles um I just say some of these ideas they take specifically from Rousseau I just want to give you show you a particular famous passage this in a way is his response to to Hobbes he says before those dreadful words thine and mine were evented before there was the cruel and brutal species of men called masters and the other knavish and lying species of men called slaves before there were men so abominable as to dare to have superfluities while other men die of hunger before mutual dependence had forced all of them to become deceitful jealous and treacherous I would like to have it explained to me where in those vices those crimes from which primitive men neither the other basic human being are so incessantly blamed could have consisted so what Rousseau argues is yeah we've been persuaded to think of ourselves as individuals we've been persuaded to think of ourselves as having our own little private needs our own little private ends and that therefore everybody else that I deal with isn't in a way if like an obstacle to might put my pursuing laws ends everybody else represents a kind of threat to me if you think that way then you get people like this you get your cruel and brutal masters you'll get your neighbors and lying slaves but maybe that's not what we fundamentally are instead maybe our genuine freedom general genuine autonomy NZers this is Russo's thought to comes from recognizing the West's social entities and that there isn't a genuine satisfying human existence to be had out of simply pursuing your own private selfish egocentric needs so say this these particular ideas are you know these are some of the ideas that inspire the the communal anarchists where they differ from result is that Rousseau thought that the way in which you'd get that kind of freedom is through a superior kind of state the communal Anika's thought no the state's the problem the state is one of the principal reasons why we don't have that kind of happy life-giving social order but they see Rousseau was kind of on to now as I've mentioned for them this idea of a kind of individualistic self seeking human being plays a complex role it plays a role within the society that we is with you know in our lived social life because we look at one another as competitors it also as I mentioned figures within our political philosophies so if somebody like Hobbes builds his account why we need a state on the assumption that that's what we are for the communal anarchist as I say it's a kind of myth it's metaphysics to use that that term to mean in this case something like a little fanciful notions that don't really have any connection with with human life if you do philosophy you'll find the metaphysics is actually quite respectable really but it's something quite different from what these boys mean when they talk about metaphysics but anyway what they mean by metaphysics is a certain kind of set of ideologies stories we've been told about human beings and about our condition which just verges fantasies and often fantasies to serve some particular party's ends so here's Bakunin he says metaphysics failing to recognize the social character of human nature looked upon society as a mechanical and purely artificial aggregate of individuals remember that that vision of the social contract as were free individuals all coming together to construct the state so purely artificial aggregate of individuals suddenly brought together in the name of some formal or secret compact contract concluded freely or under the influence of a superior power before uniting in society these individuals enjoyed completely




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