Maintaining anarchism Being anarchist Raising anarchy
Eliminating political authority and institutions in order to realize social justice and individual freedom.
Assuming that human beings are fundamentally altruistic by nature, anarchists since Zeno (c. 320 - c. 250 BC) have advocated voluntary associations by which people can use these natural proclivities without the corrupting influence of centralized organizations such as the state. The first major exposition of anarchistic theory is often attributed to the English radical William Goodwin, whose [Enquiry Concerning Political Justice] was published in 1793 in the wake of the French Revolution. Godwin's treatise was an attack on the very idea of government, 'that brute engine' as he described it, 'which has been the only perennial cause of the vices of mankind'. A citizen of the Enlightenment, Godwin argued that the one legitimate form of authority to which anyone should defer was the individual's own judgement, arrived at by force of reason. Throughout history, anarchists have differed as to whether the envisioned new society would be achieved by peaceful or violent means. About 1880 Bakunin advocated assassination as a trigger to a massive uprising that would abolish the centralized authority of formal government. Tolstoy, on the other hand, advocated a non-violent anarchism to be achieved by non-cooperation with the state. A distinctive post-war factor in the perpetuation of anarchist and other libertarian ideas has been the advent of youth culture. Along with socialism, pacifism and situationism, anarchism was one of the defining influences on the protest politics of the 1960s New Left and practitioners of alternative lifestyles in the West. Since then the word 'anarchy' itself has become a generalized catchword and badge of abrasive defiance against 'straight' society.
In an interview in Active Transformation, a US anarchist journal, one participant in the Seattle Black Blocs anti-WTO protests explained it this way: "...Anarchists were not isolated in the black block. There were anarchists involved in every possible way. There were anarchist labor activists, puppeteers, non-violent lockdown blockaders, marching musicians, medics, communication people, media people, whatever - as well as a group of about two hundred in black masks who had prepared, also in affinity groups, to do as much symbolic physical damage to multi-national capitalism as possible. I have seen black blocks used in protests in the U.S. a lot but never so successfully. It is important to note that the black block was not the result of some conspiracy. It too happened quite spontaneously, with people who came from all over the country - with similar desires."
The concept of anarchism has been twisted by its detractors to mean the inverse of its true meaning. Just as communism has been corrupted to denote the embodiment of the centralized state rather than its antithesis, so anarchism has been appropriated as a synonym for chaos and violence. Historically, anarchism is a body of philosophy and deeds dedicated to the (usually) peaceful creation of a social order that does not depend on government to enforce it.
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