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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Anarchism

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Anarchism

This classic statement of anarchism was written by a diverse group of anarchists in Cardiff around 1980 and it remains a testimony to the timeless relevance of anarchist ideas.

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INTRODUCTION

There is probably more rubbish talked about anarchism than any other political idea. Actually, it has nothing to do with a belief in chaos, death and destruction. Anarchists do not normally carry bombs, nor do they ascribe any virtue to beating up old ladies.

It is no accident that the sinister image of the mad anarchist is so accepted. The State, the press and all the assorted authoritarian types, use every means at their disposal to present anarchy as an unthinkable state of carnage and chaos. We can expect little else from power-mongers who would have no power to monger if we had our way. They have to believe that authority and obedience are essential in order to justify their own crimes to themselves. The TV, press and films all preach obedience, and when anarchy is mentioned at all, it is presented as mindless destruction.

The alleged necessity of authority is so firmly planted in the average mind that anarchy, which means simply 'no government' is almost unthinkable to most people. The same people, on the other hand, will admit that rules, regulations, taxes, officiousness and abuse of power (to name but a few) are irritating to say the least. These things are usually thought to be worth suffering in silence because the alternative - no power, no authority, everybody doing what they pleased - would be horrible. It would be anarchy.

Yet there are a limitless range of possible societies without the State. Not all of them would be unpleasant to live in. Quite the contrary! Any kind of anarchist society would at least be spared the horrible distortions the State produces. The 'negative' side of anarchism - abolition of the State - has to be balanced against what replaces it - a society of freedom and free co-operation.

Various sorts of anarchists have differing ideas on exactly how society ought to be organised. They all agree that the State must be replaced by a society without classes and without force. It is because of this belief in freedom that we are reluctant to put forward a rigid blueprint. We offer only possible models backed up by evidence drawn from life. Actually, there has already been an anarchist society and it took nothing less than mass murder to stop it.

Another common misunderstanding from those who know slightly more about it, is that anarchism is a nice daydream, a beautiful but impractical idea. In fact, the anarchist movement has a long history and it arose not in the heads of ivory tower philosophers, but directly from the practical struggle for survival of masses of ordinary, downtrodden people. It has always been intensely practical in its concerns and its ways of doing things. The movement has come quite close to success a few times. If it is really so hopelessly impractical, then why is the State so determined to stamp it out?

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