"Anarchy" is Greek and means, verbatim, without ruler-ship; not being ruled. According to our vocabulary, anarchy is a state of society in which the only government is reason."
"As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in anarchy."
-P.J. Proudhon, What is Property? 1840
"Anarchism is the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government-harmony in such a society being obtained not by submission to law or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups. territorial and professional, freely contributed for the sake of protection and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being."
Peter A. Kropotkin
"What we want....is the complete destruction of the domination and exploitation of man by man: we want men united as brothers by a consensus and desired solidarity, all cooperating voluntarily for the well-being of all: we want society to be constituted for the purpose of supplying everybody with the mans for achieving the maximum well-being the maximum possible moral and spiritual development: we want bread, freedom, love and science-for everybody."
-Errico malatesta 1920
"Our first work must be the annihilation of everything as it now exists."
-Mikhail A. Bakunin
"You are mistaken if you think I do not believe in God.....I seek God in man, in human freedom, and now I seek God in revolution."
-Mikhail A. Bakunin
"Anarchy is not the absence of power, it is the absence of force; it is the free outflowing of the spirit into the forms in which it delights; and in such forms alone, as they grow and change, can it find expression which is not also a bondage."
"The old world must be destroyed and replaced by a new one. When you have freed your mind from the fear of God, and that childish respect for the fiction of right, then all the remaining chains that bind you-property, marriage, morality, and justice-will snap asunder like threads."
-Mikhail A. Bakunin
"In this sense strict anarchy may be the highest conceivable grade of perfection of social existence; for, if all men spontaneously did justice and loved mercy, it is plain that all swords might be advantageously turned into plowshares, and that the occupation of judges and police would be gone."
Thomas H. Huxley
"In a word, we reject all legislation, all authority, and all privileged, licensed, official, and legal influence, even though rising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subjection to them.
This is the sense in which we are really anarchists.
-Michael Bakunin, God and the State, 1871
"Of all social theories, anarchism alone steadfastly proclaims that society exists for man, not man for society. The sole legitimate purpose of society is to serve the needs and advance the aspirations of the individual."
-Emma Goldman The Place of the Individual in society, 1930
"Beware of considering anarchy to be a dogma, a doctrine above question or debate, to be venerated by its adepts....No! The absolute freedom which we demand constantly develops our thinking and raises it toward new horizons (according to the turn of mind of various individuals) takes it out of the narrow framework of regulation and codification. We are not "believers."
-Emile Henry, note to his prison governor before being guillotined. 1894
"Anarchy is a game the police play better than you."
George Bernard Shaw
"Alas, how many and great evils are produced by anarchy! Famine, war, the devastation of lands, the deprivation of money, abductions, fears of slavery, and death."
Philo of Alexandria
"Anarchism is a theory, practice, and movement of people who believe in self-regulation. As such, its historical roots are not only global but timeless, evoking the unfettered human spirit itself. In this loose sense, poets such as Walt Whitman are part of this tradition ("Unscrew the locks from the doors!"), as are children, nudists and creators of puns.
Serious anarchist philosophy developed during the 19th century in the minds and writing of French journalist Pierre-Joseph proudhon, Russian writer Mikhail Bakunin, Russian geographer Peter Kropotkin, and others. Sharing a distaste for government and coercion of all kinds, they disagreed on how to abolish it and live in its absence. A "fanatical lover of liberty," Bakunin advocated outright revolt and the formation of worker federations, while Kropotkin focused on promoting the ideals of altruism, solidarity, and mutual aid."
Chris Dodge (Utne Reader, May/June 2001)
"Let us put our trust, he said, "in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life. The urge for destruction is also a creative urge....There will be a qualitative transformation, a new, living, life-giving revelation, a new heaven and a new earth, a new and mighty world in which all our present dissonances will be resolved into a harmonious whole."
Michael Bakunin (essay: The Reaction in Germany)
I long for my salvation,
To live without exploiters
who feed off the workers
In a thousand ways.
Let politics and religion
Disappear from the world.
The fruit of his labor
Let popes, kings, and presidents
Into the deepest abyss.
Let the bread that the worker kneads
Be eaten by him with complete contentment,
And let him enjoy the right to live
Without troubles and taxes.
Let the mason have a house.
And the hat maker, a hat.
Let the worker not be robbed,
Neither by inquisitor,
Spies, nor soldier Whatever name they go by.
Let people be free to love each other
Without having to humble themselves
Before an idle drone,
With great desire I await
The coming of that blessed day
When tyranny will be buried
In the graves of the past,
And love will be liberated
By the establishment of anarchy
"We desire freedom, that is to say, we demand for every human being the right and the means of doing whatever pleases him, and of not doing what does not please him; of satisfying integrally all his needs, with no limit except natural impossibilities or the needs of his neighbors, respected equally.
We desire freedom, and we believe its existence incompatible with the existence of any power, whatever may be its origin or shape, whether elected or imposed , monarchist or republican, inspired by divine right or popular right.....History teaches us that all governments are alike and equal government more than in another. It is in the governmental ideas itself, it is in the principle of authority.....The substitution, in human relationships, of a free contract, perpetually revisable, for administration and legal tutelage, for imposed discipline, is our ideal....We believe that capital, the common patrimony of humanity, since it is the fruit of the collaboration of past and present generations, should be at the disposal of all, so that none should be excluded form it....We desire equality, actual equality, as a corollary or rather as a primordial condition of freedom. From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs....Scoundrels that we are, we demand bread for all; for all equally independence and justice."
"I am sorry for anyone who has not been an anarchist at twenty"
"Philosophical anarchism has not, on the whole, been empathetically understood. The word 'anarchist' began as a pejorative term for someone who foments disorder; and to this day what it seems to conjure up for most people is a bomb-throwing terrorist. Towards the end of the century increasing numbers of anarchists were indeed this, but in its origins the philosophy of anarchism was a pacific creed. In fact, objection to the use of violence was the chief motive behind it, at least psychologically speaking. Its first formulation was by Proudhon, who defiantly appropriated the word 'anarchist' to himself in 1840. His view was that the need for leaders, which social animals and primitive man share, is outgrown when reason and civilization achieve certain levels of development. Then it becomes possible to sustain a society by voluntary co-operation. And it is then open to such a society to be conflict-free. A society based on the imposition of order by a leader or a government incites conflict, and itself consists in the containment of that conflict by force; that is to say its institutions and procedures are shaped by the requirements of the maintenance of order. Not only does social authority rest on force: so too does the institution of property. In any developed society the economy that each generation inherits from the past is a social, not an individual product, and is in any case not created by the people who inherit it. It should therefore be operated in common, again on the basis of voluntary co-operation. it is a perversion of natural justice for any person or persons to be allowed to 'own' more of it than they can put to their own use, additionally so if they then exploit the rights conferred on them by ownership to appropriate the labor of others, as with people who own land and do not work it but force landless fellow citizens to work for them. It is acceptable for individuals to own the land and the tools that they themselves work and use, because this guarantees them the fruits of their own labor, but beyond that, property is theft. By parity of reasoning everyone should have free access to the resources of Nature, and a right to the fruits of his own labor as applied to those resources."
The Tristan Chord
Books: Anarchism: Arguments for and against" by Albert Meltzer
Book: "The Anarchist Prince: Peter Kropotkind" by George Woodcock
"Elements of Refusal" by John Zerzan
"Future Primitive & other essays" by John Zerzan
"Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections" by John Zerzan
Book: "Anarchist Voices: an Oral History of Anarchism in America" by Paul Sharkey
Back to Chrestomathy Next Page