In the words of anarchist L. Susan Brown:
"While the popular understanding of anarchism is of a violent, anti-State movement, anarchism is a much more subtle and nuanced tradition then a
simple opposition to government power. Anarchists oppose the idea that power and domination are necessary for society, and instead advocate more
co-operative, anti-hierarchical forms of social, political and economic organisation." [The Politics of Individualism, p. 106]
However, "anarchism" and "anarchy" are undoubtedly the most misrepresented ideas in political theory. Generally, the words are used to mean
"chaos" or "without order," and so, by implication, anarchists desire social chaos and a return to the "laws of the jungle."
This process of misrepresentation is not without historical parallel. For example, in countries which have considered government by one person
(monarchy) necessary, the words "republic" or "democracy" have been used precisely like "anarchy," to imply disorder and confusion. Those with a
vested interest in preserving the status quo will obviously wish to imply that opposition to the current system cannot work in practice, and that a
new form of society will only lead to chaos. Or, as Errico Malatesta expresses it:
"since it was thought that government was necessary and that without government there could only be disorder and confusion, it was natural and
logical that anarchy, which means absence of government, should sound like absence of order." [Anarchy, p. 16]
Anarchists want to change this "common-sense" idea of "anarchy," so people will see that government and other hierarchical social relationships
are both harmful and unnecessary:
"Change opinion, convince the public that government is not only unnecessary, but extremely harmful, and then the word anarchy, just because it
means absence of government, will come to mean for everybody: natural order, unity of human needs and the interests of all, complete freedom within
complete solidarity." [Op. Cit., pp. 16]
The word "anarchy" is from the Greek, prefix an (or a), meaning "not," "the want of," "the absence of," or "the lack of", plus archos,
meaning "a ruler," "director", "chief," "person in charge," or "authority." Or, as Peter Kropotkin put it, Anarchy comes from the Greek
words meaning "contrary to authority." [Anarchism, p. 284]
While the Greek words anarchos and anarchia are often taken to mean "having no government" or "being without a government," as can be seen, the
strict, original meaning of anarchism was not simply "no government." "An-archy" means "without a ruler," or more generally, "without
authority," and it is in this sense that anarchists have continually used the word.
Q's & A's of Anarchism
By nature social animals and mammals in our case... always end up with a ruler... It's part of nature.
Man can be summed up in hunter and gather. Or leader and follower, you will never find humanity one sided, some people like less government, some
people want more because they feel they need it... Since humanity is evolving don't you think it's time countries around the world evolved and since
the USA is supposed to be the most modernized country youd think the politics would be too...
A) We're not united in terms of politics because some people want more gov't some want less...
Does anybody think this centralized power (federal government) is working?
It's not getting smaller... Adn you'll find that big government is getting bigger and your finding politics inching it's way into your everyday
It's becoming part of us... It's not just an interest to partake in anymore.
anarchism is an expression of the struggle against oppression and exploitation, a generalisation of working people's experiences and analyses of what
is wrong with the current system and an expression of our hopes and dreams for a better future. This struggle existed before it was called anarchism,
but the historic anarchist movement (i.e. groups of people calling their ideas anarchism and aiming for an anarchist society) is essentially a product
of working class struggle against capitalism and the state, against oppression and exploitation, and for a free society of free and equal
[edit on 8-11-2004 by TrueLies]