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This is the place for an encyclopedic, not polemic, discussion of what Traditional Anarchism is all about.
Anarchism, in its traditional, socialist variety (see AnarchisM), is a movement dedicated to the abolition of illegitimate authority and the establishment of a social order without hierarchy. In this article "anarchism" and "anarchist" will refer to this traditional, socialist variety, as distinguished from AnarchoCapitalism.

Anarchy is frequently portrayed as chaos and anarchists as terrorists. Proponents of any extant (i.e., non-anarchist) system equate its abolition with the abolition of all social order. For example, in their time, Monarchists accused Republicans of seeking the destruction of all social order. Very few anarchists are nihilists, however (see NihilisM?).

Anarchism has a long and rich tradition. Its philosophy and history begin with rejection of aristocracy and of capitalism and their hierarchical structures. Anarchists reject the claims of the property owner and the landlord. Having rejected private property, they reject the political machinery (the StatE?) which defends and supports private property. In place of private property, anarchism is based on personal possessions and democratically controlled communal property.

A simple and common objection to anarchism is that any notion of communal control implies something akin to a StatE?. Anarchists reply that there is only a superficial similarity between the power hierarchies of and supporting corporations, on the one hand, and the layered division of labour in cooperatives, on the other. The State is created when private property is legitimized. By contrast, cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual aid societies are the principal instances of communal control and anarchists maintain that they do not involve the kind of authoritarianism found in corporations. Anarchists argue that co-operatives behave in a more humane, warm, feeling and stable manner, while corporations use workers for their own ends.

Communal control is subject to the danger of a state developing, anarchists hold, but does not logically or practically entail it (nor something like it). For example--one might argue--the Mondragon system of cooperatives in Spain is slowly devolving. There was, one might say, a crucial flaw in the charter of the Caja Laboral Popular; it has the capability and incentive to accumulate vast cash reserves to the point where it can (almost) act independently of its members. Anarchists claim that people cannot slack off after "the revolution" (i.e., after a revolution that abolishes the corporation-supporting state in favor of collectives). Even if Mondragon does fail, an anarchist might hold it is significant that it took more than three decades for it to do so: it provided three decades in which the inhabitants of the region enjoyed one of the highest standards of living available. (We need a citation for this dramatic claim.)

The rejection of government is not essential to traditional anarchism, but derives from the desire to eliminate the political machinery which supports private property. In any event, the rejection of the state entails the rejection of electioneering (see DemocracY). Insofar as politics refers to the actions of power structures then anarchism seeks the abolition of politics itself. Hence, it is helpful to regard anarchism as a social and economic movement with ramifications in the political sphere. To regard anarchism as a political ideology, anarchists hold, is an error. In place of political maneuvering, anarchists champion the use of direct action of which the general strike, occupation of workplaces and sabotage are prime examples. Anarchists who engage in sabotage do to impair or destroy the machinery of capitalism and not to terrorize otherwise innocent people.

Before the twentieth century, "anarchism" strictly meant traditional, socialist anarchism. By the mid-twentieth century, however, some radical proponents of CapitalisM began calling their view "anarchism" and in particular, AnarchoCapitalism. This usage is geographically limited to Austria and the Anglo-American countries. Since the beliefs and actions of AnarchoCapitalists are rarely compatible with those of traditional anarchists, traditional anarchists do not regard the AnarchoCapitalists as anarchists.



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Last edited February 17, 2001 3:39 am by cobrand.bomis.com (diff)