23 Must-Know Anarchy Facts: History And Ideas Disclosed | Kidadl


23 Must-Know Anarchy Facts: History And Ideas Disclosed

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The word 'anarchy' is an extremely well-known term for anybody interested in political ideologies or politics.

While some look up to the anarchist theory to guide their way of life and actions, others consider anarchy to mean lawlessness and chaos. Therefore, it is probably one of the most divisive political terminologies, interpreted differently by different groups of people.

While there is no single founder or proponent of the theory of anarchism, political philosophers like William Godwin from England and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon from France are credited with formally arguing for it for the first time. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, anarchism as a theory and political ideology had been wildly successful. As the foundational ideas of anarchism were quite similar to those of socialism, many workers' unions and peasants' collectives were influenced by the concept of anarchism. In addition, several mass movements were executed by leaders and followers who believed in the tenets of anarchism. While anarchism has not made much of a mark in Africa or Asia, it has been pretty influential in Europe and Latin America. Nowadays, people mainly consider anarchism as a chaotic political ideology that advocates for an absence of law and order. In reality, it is a very complex set of ideas that ultimately seek to free oppressed people from domination. Keep reading this article to learn more amazing facts about anarchy or anarchism!

The History And Origin Of Anarchy

The history of anarchism is quite complex as no single person can be credited with creating the concept. Both William Godwin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote about it in their seminal texts. From there, the idea was carefully nurtured, elaborated, and expanded upon by other well-known thinkers like Bakunin and Kropotkin. However, the ideas also garnered much criticism from other philosophers.

Some thinkers have noted that anarchist ideas can be traced back to Taoism or Buddhist principles. Some have also noted similarities of anarchist thoughts with the Stoics and Cynics in ancient Greece.

In 1793, English thinker William Godwin first produced a statement of anarchist principles in his work 'Enquiry Concerning Political Justice'.

In 1840, French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon formally came up with the idea of anarchy and proclaimed himself to be an anarchist in his work 'What Is Property?' Proudhon went so far as to suggest that society seeks order in anarchy.

A famous English political thinker and philosopher Thomas Hobbes considered anarchy a negative thing equivalent to chaos. For realists like him, the creation of a proper state which would be at the top of the hierarchy in society and control all the power would be required to stem anarchy and chaos in society.

Well-known political thinker John Locke, the founder of the liberal school of thought, also considered anarchism a state of total lawlessness where there would be no law and order. For Locke, the state was a necessary form of authority to protect an individual's private property.

Examples Of Anarchy

Anarchy was quite popular as a belief for many people in Europe and Latin America. Thus, their faith led to the rise of several mass movements where people protested against the dominant classes who would exploit them.

One of the earliest examples of anarchist ideal in action has to be syndicalism (a movement in labour organisations to help establish fair workers rights) in certain parts of Europe. Syndicalism and revolutionary trade unionism helped spread ideas of anarchists among the masses in France, Italy, and Spain.

The CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) union in France was quite powerful and was entirely dominated by anarchists until 1914. Michael Bakunin created the Alliance for Social Democracy that led to movements based on anarchism in France and Italy. Russian Populists and Malatesta in Italy were also influenced by this political ideology of anarchism.

Even in Spain, The CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) union that was anarchist in nature was very popular. During the Spanish Civil War, it had a membership of over two million people.

Basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-communism spread to Latin America during the early 1900s. The tenets of anarchism massively influenced ordinary people of Argentina and Uruguay due to the Mexican Revolution led by Emiliano Zapata.

However, none of these mass anarchist movements could sustain for long because of changes in the political atmosphere in Latin America. General Franco's win in Spain effectively ended the influence of anarchism in the nation. CNT was also brutally suppressed, and the government arrested all left-leaning, anti-capitalist political leaders as they considered anarchy a crime.

Even though anarchism and socialism shared quite a few features, the success of Lenin and Bolsheviks in Russia during the October Revolution also challenged the popularity of anarchists. People were stunned by the victorious Russian Revolution and started to follow the tenets of communism or socialism.

It is important for political scientists to learn about anarchy facts.

Beliefs Of Anarchy

Even though some people believe anarchists only want war and violence, it is in fact a sophisticated political philosophy. Several political thinkers have contributed to the ideas. Well-known thinkers like Robert Nozick and Noam Chomsky have even spoken of it in the latter half of the 20th century.

Anarchist theory advocates the abolition of law and government. Anarchists want an end to the government, which they feel serves the interests of oppressive capitalists in society.

Anarchists, quite like communists, believe that a new set of self-governing and spontaneous social order will develop with the abolition of government.

Anarchists believe that political authority or state institution directly attacks a free society and the ideals of liberty and equality. Therefore, they severely critique the modern state concept, which they consider an integral part of a hierarchical society. In contrast, they preach the notions of direct democracy.

Anarchists don't believe in hierarchical forms of power as they feel any sort of authority in society may lead to the domination of one group over others. Thinkers like Proudhon, Kropotkin, and Bakunin agreed that while people could be easily corrupted, they were naturally friendly and cooperative. Hence, they believed that state destroyed society's natural order, which could be substituted by a voluntary association of anarchists who would self-govern themselves. Thus, there is no government in anarchy, nor does it lead to war.

In the 19th century, anarchism was also firmly against the authority of the Church and followed a distinct path of anticlericalism. They did not believe in a God.

For an anarchist, wealth and domination were inseparable in the social hierarchy. They argues that a division was created between those who oppressed people using their social and economic privilege, and those who were oppressed. Thus, an anarchist considered the capitalist class to be an oppressor like a socialist, but an anarchist also looked at the Church, the government, or the king as an oppressor.

There are two main sects or ideals within the anarchist ideal. Individualist anarchists would support the market and private property, something that the socialists vehemently disagreed with. On the contrary, a collectivist anarchist would support a unique economic system where the economy was run by cooperation and collective ownership rather than being controlled by just one group or an individual.

Collectivist anarchism believed that humans are essentially social creatures who would thrive only if they worked with each other for the common good rather than acting selfishly for their own personal self-interest. One of the most important concepts to come out of collectivist anarchism has been the term 'mutual aid' first formulated by famous anarchist thinker Kropotkin. Mutual aid stressed the ability of humans to work with each other for the benefit of all.

Purpose Of Anarchy And Its Effect On Society

While anarchism has not yet successfully lasted for a long time in society, it was still an influential ideology that had a profound impact on ordinary people's lives. Anarchism encouraged them to mobilize together and protest against injustice.

Anarchists are often considered to be violent and use violence as a way of expressing opposition to the established government. Anarchists are also seen participating in terrorist activities or bombings to undermine the established authority. In reality, anarchists are mostly opposed to any form of violence or war and consider them to be morally unacceptable.

Anarchist theory has not been able to gain much attention amongst all political ideologies since no nation or state has ever been modeled based on anarchist ideology like socialism, liberalism, conservatism, or fascism.

Contemporary anarchist schools often point out how anarchists almost succeeded in taking over power during the Spanish Civil War. During the Spanish Civil War, anarchists controlled significant parts of eastern Spain and even set up workers' and peasants' collectives in Catalonia.

Many critics of the ideals of anarchy believe that it is challenging to sustain mass movements based on anarchism for a long time since they entirely depended on direct action and revolution rather than relying on a structure of a planned and systematic organization.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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