If one were to seek a single leading idea within the anarchist tradition, it should be that expressed by Bakunin when, in writing on the Paris Commune, he identified himself as follows:

“I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition under which intelligence, dignity, and human happiness can develop and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby and fictitious liberty extolled by the School of J.-J. Rousseau and the other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each man – an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero.

No, I mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that consists in the full development of all of the material, intellectual and moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognises no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of our material, intellectual and moral being – they do not limit us but are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom.” – Noam Chomsky.

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