“The Big Four”
As noted above, the theoretical backbone for classical anarchist theory comes from four main thinkers.
In 1793, he spoke out against state authority, legal authority, and economic control of private property in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.
The prevailing intellectual circles of the day were hostile to this radical work, and it was forgotten by the mainstream, although it circulated
underground for decades, read and admired by various types of radicals. Also, it should be noted that William Goodwin was the father of Mary Shelly,
author of Frankenstein
. Make of that what you will.
Proudhon was the first person to proudly call himself an “anarchist.” The word had been in use before, but as a derogatory or negative term. He
was the originator of the early anarchist slogan, “Property is Theft.” He did believe families had a right to their own property, however. His
vision of anarchy was based on the idea of a successful federation of small local communities, perhaps like the Swiss model of the cantons. He has
been criticized for having a romantic or unrealistic idealism of rural community life, but his vision of loosely-federated, autonomous local
communities of ruralists and artisans continues to be appealing to anarchists.
Bakunin earned fame for his role as a leading figure of anarchism in the Russian revlolution. His arguments with Marx in the 1870s were important for
both communist and anarchist theorists. Bakunin’s greatest achievement was predicting – with eerie accuracy – exactly how communisim would turn
into authoritarianism, as with Mao and Stalin, and eventually lose its way. “Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, but socialism
without freedom is slavery and brutality,” he said.
Originally a geographer, he made his name as a theorist with The Conquest of Bread , his 1892 book on how a post-revolutionary society might be able
to organize itself from the bottom up rather than top-down through government. He was a fan of Darwinism, but in contrast to the right-wing Social
Darwinists, he interpreted evolution with an emphasis on the cooperative and mutualist aspects. Life is not only competition: cells organize to make
tissues, tissues make organs, and organs cooperate to make beings. His 1899 book Fields, Factories and Workshops was about how to make work more
humane. One example: blend agriculture and industry, paperwork and physical work, so that people get a chance to use their whole beings in a balanced
way. His idea of mutual aid is an inspiring example of the possibilities of organic, non-violent anarchy, simply through people helping each other.
Next, we will look at the sub-varieties of anarchism, and how they fit together (or don’t). I guess I’ll try to answer some points posters have
made one of these times.
edit on 17-3-2012 by SilentThundersGF because: (no reason given)