Anarchism And Liberalism

.. st groups to represent the labor force, minority groups, and any apathetic and helpless citizens. The presence of sub-government groups, such as big industry, are recognized as being insufficient in representing the public’s interest and so the liberals call for more regulations to control these sub-governments from abusing their power. This goes right along with the whole philosophy of contemporary liberals in that they don’t want to start over and rebuild the government, but rather reform it and ad more regulations to control it. The idea of a ruler goes against the basic stance of anarchism. Proudhon best describes this view when he said, “Whoever puts his hand on me to govern me is usurper and a tyrant; I declare him my enemy.” The only kind of authority that the anarchists see as being legitimate is that of unanimous direct democracy.

This would entail decision making by a small community in which all people can be involved in the process. They emphasize that all people must be able to rule themselves. According to the anarchist the two aspects of democracy that threaten individual rights are representative governments that can’t cover everyone’s view and majority rule implies that there is a minority to be oppressed. Human nature is a complex thing. Environment plays an important part in defining what human nature is. This does not mean that human beings are infinitely plastic, with each individual born a blank slate waiting to be formed by “society” (which in practice means those who run it).

I do not wish to enter the debate about what human characteristics are and are not innate. Anarchist will say that human beings have an innate ability to think and learn, that much is obvious, they also feel that humans are sociable creatures, needing the company of others to feel complete and to prosper. These two features suggest the viability of an anarchist society. The innate ability to think for oneself automatically makes all forms of hierarchy illegitimate, and our need for social relationships implies that we can organize without the state. The deep unhappiness and alienation afflicting modern society reveals that the centralization and authoritarianism of capitalism and the state are denying some innate needs within us. For the great majority of its existence the human race has lived in anarchic communities, with little or no hierarchy. Anarchists like to emphasize the human malleability.

If someone is put into a capitalist society they are going to form to the standards of the capitalist. If someone is put into a free society with no external pressures then they will cooperate and help the community in the way best suited for them. Contemporary liberals unlike the classic liberals believe that human nature is not a set of standards that we are all born with. They assert, like the anarchist, that humans are malleable and are influenced by the community around them. They believe that all humans have a need to obtain all the things that a good life entails.

In other words humans will work to obtain the good things in life but these needs could change depending on what that person has learned are essential. It seems that the liberal’s view is somewhat compatible with the anarchist. It almost affirms the anarchist view. According to the liberal idea of human nature, if someone were to be born into an anarchical society their needs would be formed by that community therefore the whole society would have the same needs. In other words the only reason that democracy and capitalism function is because we are taught that it does.

The only problem is getting from one frame of mind to another. The contemporary liberals feel that change is good. Through change, policies can be implemented to reform economic and government problems. They also believe that power can be distributed more evenly but the liberals have certain ideas about how to achieve change. The most ideal way for change to take place for the contemporary liberals is through democratic, non-revolutionary reform. The only time that revolution is seen as being useful is if a nation is not democracy already established.

They hold to their system is reliable and in no need of drastic reformation but gradual transformation through the institutions already in power. Many American presidents have used reform to largely change the government in order to increase the liberty of many deprived citizens. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was one of the most impressive reforms of the federal government. After the depression had crushed the economy he helped people get back on their feet through public works programs.

He also put into place other government organizations to prevent another depression from happening. The modern liberals work towards change gradually through due process but in the end could reach a state of revolution. Change for the anarchists is much more drastic. They do not look to violence as a tool of change but rather rebellion. Revolution would only call for the changing of the institutions already in place but the anarchists want all government to be done away with.

There are four basic steps to rebellion that the anarchists call for. The first one would be that all people would have to voluntarily choose to rebel against government not rebel just out of popular movement. Not only does it need to be voluntary, but the second step is that it should happen spontaneously. A country would have to completely fall apart for all to agree to rebel spontaneously. The third qualification is for the rebellion to be total.

This proposes a total destruction of all conventional institutions that may promote values or allow anyone to have power over someone else. The final step in this grand scheme is after the rebellion begins that it should swiftly move to the international level. For an anarchist society to exist there would have to be no threat of violence by another state because anarchy does not call for a military to protect itself. The anarchists stand on change is fairly drastic. I see how in theory this is the only way that there could ever be an anarchical society. In my eyes it seems a little to far fetched for it to ever happen this way.

Some anarchists call for some violence when it is against property of a business because property to an anarchist is considered unjust. Bakunin believes that violence is sometimes unavoidable in human history and is a good means for resisting authority. Regardless of how the conventional institutions are destroyed, be it violent or not, it needs to be done. To reach a utopian anarchical society the government and religions of today need to be done away with. Anarchy and contemporary liberalism are far from being compatible ideologies.

They both are drastically opposite on most of there stances. Anarchy reaching for a non-government communal society and contemporary liberalism seeking to extend the role of government to fix what is wrong with the existing pollicies. Anarchy in theory seems like a very good idea. I would love to live in a society where you just did what was good for you and helped others while they helped you. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to live in a society like that.

The only problem is that to get to this utopian society the whole world would have to spontaneously decide they wanted it and I can guarantee there are many politicians and CEOs that would not like that. Contemporary liberals are right in wanting to reform institutions of today but I can’t see how over regulation of government in all areas is going to help fix things. I do see the need for some government action towards the eradication of poverty, equal rights, and unemployment. The biggest problem I see with the help in these areas is the government trying to cure the problem not the cause. I attribute most of the social problems of today to big business, the lack of family, and the lost sense of community.

Bibliography “What is anarchism,” An Anarchist FAQWebpage,, Internet Explorer, 5/4/98. Schumaker Paul, Dwight C. Kiel, Thomas Heilke, Great Ideas/Grand Schemes: Political Ideologies in the 19th and 20th Centuries, New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 1996. Schumaker Paul, Dwight C. Kiel, Thomas W.

Heilke, Ideological Voices: An Anthology in Modern Political Ideas, New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1997.