Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Preach it, Peter

Anarchist Communism maintains that most valuable of all conquests
—individual liberty—and moreover extends it and gives it a solid basis—
economic liberty—without which political liberty is delusive; it does not ask
the individual who has rejected god, the universal tyrant, god the king, and
god the parliament, to give unto himself a god more terrible than any of
the preceding—god the Community, or to abdicate upon its altar his
independence, his will, his tastes, and to renew the vow of asceticism which
he formerly made before the crucified god. It says to him, on the contrary,
"No society is free so long as the individual is not so! Do not seek to modify
society by imposing upon it an authority which shall make everything right;
if you do, you will fail as popes and emperors have failed. Modify society so
that your fellows may not be any longer your enemies by the force of
circumstances: abolish the conditions which allow some to monopolise the
fruit of the labour of others; and instead of attempting to construct society
from top to bottom, or from the centre to the circumference, let it develop
itself freely from the simple to the composite, by the free union of free
groups. This course, which is so much obstructed at present, is the true
forward march of society: do not seek to hinder it, do not turn your back on
progress, but march along with it! Then the sentiment of sociability which is
common to human beings, as it is to all animals living in society, will be able
to develop itself freely, because our fellows will no longer be our enemies,
and we shall thus arrive at a state of things in which each individual will be
able to give free rein to his inclinations, and even to his passions, without
any other restraint than the love and respect of those who surround him."


We do not advocate Communism and Anarchy because we imagine men to
be better than they really are; if we had angels among us we might be
tempted to entrust to them the task of organising us, though doubtless
even they would show the cloven foot very soon. But it is just because we
take men as they are that we say: "Do not entrust them with the governing
of you. This or that despicable minister might have been an excellent man if
power had not been given to him. The only way of arriving at harmony of
interests is by a society without exploiters and without rulers." It is
precisely because men are not angels that we say, "Let us arrange matters
so that each man may see his interest bound up with the interests of
others, then you will no longer have to fear his evil passions."
-- Peter Kropotkin, The Place of Anarchism in Socialistic Evolution


  1. Brian M10:41 AM

    But many poeple fundamentally want certainty, want "answers" arguably want to be "ruled". If not the State, a religious cult, or a criminal gang, or a party of raider, can certainly be "coercive"-and perhaps even more violent. Hierarchy seems

    As for the claims that only the State could kill the millions of WWII...or Iraq...that is certainly true...But...and this is where my skepticism comes through on the other side of the issues, isn't part of the reason for these horrible numbers the sheer size of modern human populations?

    The anarchist/non state society could work fine, perhaps, when human numbers are very low and the stresses on the ecosystem and social systems so high?

  2. Brian M10:44 AM

    god, that was garbled.

    "hierarchy seems somewhat endemic to human societies. Maybe a hunting and gathering band is not coercive per se, but if you violate the norms of the Council of Elders or the Chief, and are expelled from the group or is the net result better?

  3. I actually appreciate you posting this. I think it would serve you well, especially to some of your less acquainted readers (putting it kindly - omitting the word ignorant) to post some pieces explaining the foundation of your advocacy....I struggle sometimes because the content on your blog can be advanced, and I'm just starting to learn about things like anarchist communism.

  4. Brian M3:43 PM

    Dittos,Charles. I really enjoy your posts, despite my questions.

  5. Good post, but I just don't see true freedom existing in any society because any collective will always have certain customs and/or laws that pressures individuals to conform.

    S.E. Parker said it best: "[Anarchists] have been denounced as 'enemies of society.' No doubt you would indignantly deny being such and claim that you are trying to save society from the vampire of the State. You delude yourselves. Insofar as society means an organized collectivity having one basic norm of behavior that must be accepted by all (and that includes your libertarian communist utopia) and insofar as the norm is a product of the average, the crowd, the mediocre, then anarchists are always enemies of society. There is no reason to suppose that the interests of the free individual and the interests of the social machine will ever harmonize, nor is it desirable that they should. Permanent conflict between the two is the only perspective that makes any sense to me."

    That being said, certain communities can have a positive influence on individuals. But they must exist as a cluster of pluralities and never a homogenized singularity.

  6. This really just shows that there are in fact no divisions among anarchists. You either accept control or you don't.

  7. Brian M8:06 AM

    But the point is, Jeremy, every social grouping inserts "control" in some way. Human beings are not atomized islands, existing independently of other human beings and, when unhappy, easily and simply floating off to join another independent group. What if, as a free individual, I want to dump a nice barrel of pcbs in the local water supply? What if my freedom demand s the right to rape all the women I want? Would you forestall coercion in such cases? I know, I know, there will be informal, independent,groupings that somehow come together to punish such transgressions. But such punishments or preventative actions will be by definition be "coercive". The victimizer will be "controlled" by the group. As with Ayn Rand, your hero would be the raper, the poisoner...for the average person, not so much????

    Name a single society in human history where "the group" in whatever form never exerted control over the individual. Name a single society where individuals existed in total "freedom". Please define in real terms how such a society could even function.

    Anarchism, just like communism and many other isms, makes a great critique of society and politics. I love the emphasis on voluntarism, mutualism, cooperatives, and the like. As a prescription for a real society in a crowded urban setting...not so much. Especially with bald pronouncements defining away anyone who does not have the social ethos of a particularly ill cultured 12 year old boy.

  8. Brian M8:37 AM

    Note I am not really claiming that Jeremy himself is a 12 year old boy.

    Mea culpa. :(

  9. ertchin9:18 PM

    Please come back soon, Charles.

  10. Where have you gone Charles? What happened to your twitter account?

    You are greatly missed.

  11. Anonymous6:29 AM

    Mr Thisbody raises a good point.

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