Posts Tagged ‘classical anarchism’

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.

This  paragraph is in my mind a defining summary of what has come to be known as “classical anarchism”. A beautiful vision of human emancipation.

Emma Goldman’s (1869–1940) closing summary of anarchist principles, circa 1900, from her essay:
Anarchism: What it Really Stands for’ (link to the youtube audiobook (part 2of 3, part 3of 3)):

“Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the domination of religion;
the liberation of the human body from the domination of property;
liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.
Anarchism stands for a SOCIAL ORDER based on
* the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth;
an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life  according to; individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.” – (Goldman, 1969: 62)

Goldman critiques religion for oppressing us psychologically, capitalist economics for endangering our
corporal well-being, and government for shutting down our freedoms.

She also asserts that the purpose of anarchism is to liberate humanity from these
tyrannies. She posits a situated politics in which individuality differentiates endlessly,
according to each subject’s ‘desires, tastes and inclinations’.