Mutual anarchism supports the free market

Anarchy, anarchism

1. "Anarchy" and "Anarchism"

The word "anarchy" (A.) means in ancient Greek leaderlessness or masterlessness as well as a lawless state of the community without a ruling body. The semantics refer primarily to the political and exclude rule. “Anarchic” and “archic” mutually negate one another; Even if the latter adjective is seldom used in scientific vocabulary, its use seems to make sense for the sake of understanding the subject. A. has retained this meaning in his long history of words. In terms of the generally negative reference to rule, A. can be understood both as a weakening and disappearance of archic relationships, as well as their active questioning, refusal, defense or combat.

In substance, but not in name, A. is found as a theorem within the political contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 17th and 18th centuries. The word "state of nature" stands for a thought experiment in which the lives of a multitude of human individuals are faked without a state and without political rule. The purpose of subtracting the state is to show anthropological principles on individuals left only to themselves and their own kind and to derive the necessity of the state from this. T. Hobbes conceives the state of nature as a "war of all against all", resulting from the unlimited power thirst of selfish people. J. Locke initially assumes a peaceful A. in that individuals submit to moral laws and respect the natural right to freedom and property. This situation turns into war, since in moral conflicts there is no arbitrator instance capable of judging and sanctioning and since private property requires protection - tasks that the state then takes on. J.-J. Rousseau's natural man goes without reflection as a solitaire, but precisely for that reason in complete independence (indépendance) through his little world, which for lack of memory he encounters every day in pure presence. Only in the following civilized phase of culture do people with the newly acquired ability to reflect come into a network of dependencies through morality, convention and power. J.-J. Rousseau describes that homme civilisé culturally critical (cultural criticism) in order to then think of a new and higher level of human freedom in the social contract and the collective body created with it. However different: The aim of all three theories and their basic A. hypothesis is to show the necessity of statehood and an authority over individuals - an objective that exclusively opposes later anarchism (A.ism), too. but shows that A. could be brought into a meaningful connection with statehood.

The use of the term in the theory of international politics is linked to this matrix of the history of political ideas. Particularly with regard to T. Hobbes, A. is understood as an interstate state without an authority over the individual states. How this initial situation, described in so-called realism, and its danger of destabilization up to war can be contained is thematized by different approaches and theories.

In the term A.ism, which became widely known in the second half of the 19th century, several moments of meaning resonate. On the one hand, he refers to a system of beliefs with a corresponding theorization that is oriented towards the vanishing point of the elimination of political rule. Secondly, it stands for a political movement whose program is aimed at the practical bringing about a state of affairs for the A. - less often there is also talk of acracy. Theory and practice are closely linked. In the common result orientation, theory anticipates what practice seeks to realize. Theory can also be understood as a moment in anarchist practice - a way of thinking that is also characteristic of socialism and Marxism.

The rule to be eliminated relates to the state. It is important to critically analyze its power structures, practices and strategies of legitimation (legitimation), to actively combat it and to abolish it through revolution. According to Erich Mühsam, A.ism is the “liberation of society from the state”. The state is the ultimate enemy; conversely, in extreme cases, anarchists are declared enemies of the state. What is meant is the state in the narrower sense - government, jurisdiction and penal system, administration, police and military - as well as the institutions that support the system of rule: religion and church, economy, property relations (property), education and upbringing system. If the narrowly understood state is about its abolition, then with regard to the wider institutional environment the options sometimes fluctuate between polar opposites. It is true that these institutions lapse into rejection if they support state rule. However, they can also be rated positively if they are reversed anarchistically. There are anarchists who reject religion as atheists (atheism) and materialists (materialism); But this can also - as with Leo Tolstoy - act as the substance of anarchist conviction. The capitalist economy (capitalism) is rejected by anarchists of a socialist and communist orientation (communism); but it can also be advocated - see the libertarians and anarcho-capitalism. Private property is rejected by communist anarchists, and emphatically affirmed by libertarians as an essential guarantor of individual freedom. Upbringing is devalued on the one hand as a system of indoctrination and production of subjects, but it is also an indispensable aid in the development of individual independence. Morality can be radically negated, but it can also be affirmed as an element of a free personality. In between is the position of Mikhail Bakunin, who demands that anarchists strictly adhere to moral demands (e.g. for truthfulness) when dealing with their own kind, while he considers immoral behavior to be justified when dealing with enemies. The question of violence (violence) is treated controversially. The pendulum swings between pacifism and non-violence on the one hand and political murder on the other, which is supposed to mobilize the people and destabilize the state. The list of unsuccessful or successful attacks by people who called themselves anarchists or who were supporters between the 1970s and the 1930s is long and includes many European countries, including South America and the USA. Especially the conspiratorially organized Russian terrorists - to which anarchists, socialists and liberals (liberalism) belonged - found their "propaganda of action" in attacks on the tsars (murder of Alexander II. 1881) and on high representatives of the state as well as by their skillful ones Self-presentation in court received widespread public attention and approval. Until well into the 20th century, terrorism and terror were often equated in perception. This stereotype was confirmed by anarchist agitators such as Johannes Most, who called for a violent struggle against the bourgeoisie and the state, against the “property beast” and against the “divine plague” and wrote a booklet on “Revolutionary War Science”, where he made dynamite bombs and poisonous mixtures described in detail.

“A.ism” is spoken of in different perspectives: as a self-designation by individuals and groups, and as an external designation that is assigned to them by others. The speech can describe and analyze neutrally. This includes addressing the anarchist movement in terms of the history of ideas, the humanities and social sciences, as it began at the beginning of the 20th century. Paul Eltzbacher and Max Nettlau are examples of pioneers. The word A.ism is often used in a judgmental and polemical way - namely when the battlefield of politics is entered, where A.ism competes with socialist, liberal, conservative positions. Speakers identify themselves affirmatively with the term. Or they understand the anarchic in a pejorative way as a corrosive threat to the social, political, economic and cultural order or just - as with many Marxists - as a wrong, namely stateless, path to the common communist goal.

Explicit use of the word and the formation of terms in terms of content suggest that A.ism v. a. to be located in the modern and modern history of ideas and politics. More on that below. From a phenomenal point of view, it is of course worthwhile to look retrospectively at premodern phenomena of an anarchist nature. In this way, possible historical parallels and lines can be recorded. The trail goes back to the Middle Ages, where Norman Cohn discovered mystical-anarchist forms of life among chiliastically inspired religious groups in Europe - phenomena that Karl Mannheim researched in his research on historical awareness of the times in “Ideology and Utopia”. James Webb suggested the line drawn from the diggers of the 17th century and their leader Gerrard Winstanley to the diggers of the 1960s. In ancient times, the Stoic Zeno of Kition should be mentioned. Such cultural-historical perspectives tend to remain underexposed in today's social science perspective.

2. Anarchism: One conceptual core, several types

The guiding principle and basic norm of A.ism is freedom. "Anarchism is the doctrine of freedom as the basis of human society." (Mühsam 1978: 255) What is meant is the freedom of the human individual. It does not exclude anyone, so it is equal freedom. Most obviously this is understood negatively, as freedom from domination by authorities, from having to obey, from surveillance and control, from any external coercion from people, in short: freedom as independence. Complementary to negative freedom, there is the question of freedom to…, its positive content. Externalistically, freedom means the greatest possible freedom of movement, internalistically the development of one's own personality out of oneself, philosophically modern: subjectivity. It does not lead to equalization, but to the diversity of individuals in their plural characteristics, abilities, life plans and conceptions of meaning. In libertarian A.ism, the principle is Self-ownership Centrally significant, which was formulated for the first time - also with a view to freedom - by J. Locke: the individual as "master of himself, and proprietor of his own person, and the actions or labor of it" (Locke 1690: § 44 ).

Two other values ​​are of substantial importance. On the one hand there is justice, which is the normative basic orientation of the first theory of an individualistic A.ism, William Godwin's “An Inquiry Concerning Political Justice” from 1793. Furthermore, there is the repeatedly invoked solidarity: between the anarchists themselves, but also in the desired optimal society free individuals. To this end, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon developed his theory of “mutualism”, the mutual support of individuals and groups linked in a cooperative way. Pyotr A. Kropotkin connects the development of man with that of nature by formulating an evolutionary theory of helpfulness.

The field of A.ism has been recorded in classifications and registers since the early 20th century. Their main dividing and problem line runs between collectivism (just as examples for many: P.-J. Proudhon, M. Bakunin, PA Kropotkin) incl. The extreme of communism on the one hand and individualism (e.g. BW Godwin, Max Stirner) incl the Libertarians, on the other hand. To bring the two together would be to solve the square of the circle. This only works under two conditions. First as an ecstatic, intoxicating becoming one in a kairos-like moment, where time seems to stand still and all opposites merge into a total, immediate experience. Gustav Landauer, who regards socialism as a means of achieving the anarchist goal, describes this revolutionary event (revolution) as a concrete utopia, which, however, is quickly overtaken by everyday constraints (the latter he describes in his book “The Revolution” as “Topie "). The second condition is utopian in the sense that the unification of collective and individual is and remains a pure dream. Communist society (communism) is implicitly based on the assumption of a "new person" who overcomes normal human egoism in an almost quasi-religious effort towards a new human humanity. Communist heroes sing the song of this "new" person - who resort to coercive measures and repression when "old" people do not (allow themselves) to be renewed accordingly. The problem is already with J.-J. To visit Rousseau, whose collective body provides for re-education up to fatal sanctions for selfish dissidents who do not want to submit to the common will. At this point at the latest, at this paradoxical point, the consistent anarchist must intervene, as the whole thought experiment ends up in the bondage that needs to be eliminated.

Of a different caliber is the vision of both communist and individual-libertarian coexistence that Charles Fourier described in his fictional model settlements (phalansteries). C. Fourier only apparently realistically conceives detailed plan sketches of a stateless, self-organizing society, whose individuals realize their respective happiness, i.e. the maximum satisfaction of their desires, through the formation of constantly varying passionate series. The three main social and individual orders of the world of work, the world of gastronomic enjoyment and a love world with free sexuality emerge in tireless dynamism. The logic of this maximum satisfaction of passion is a combinatorial one and is based on the principle that the uninhibited movement of lust-seeking individuals creates wealth for society as a whole, precisely in the inequality of their abundance. As an early socialist, C. Fourier is counted among the forerunners of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which is problematic. Because C. Fourier can just as easily be perceived as a libertarian anarchist.

The individualistic or libertarian aism, the most radical author of which is M. Stirner, developed in the 19th and 20th centuries BC. a. developed in the Anglo-American area. Without having to invent a quasi-metaphysical “new person” or a Fourier self-organization machine, the individual becomes the ultimate authority. It is sovereign in its own right, towards whom everything general and its institutionalized orders are dealt with ideologically as mere illusions. The “property” of the individual, understood as his “peculiarity”, takes the place of the state, law, morality, etc. Already with J. Locke, property enters into a substantial connection with the individual, in that a “natural”, pre-state property right alone is derived from the individual work performance and from the appropriation made possible by it. Based on individual labor, property is necessarily private property. Work brings people a specific experience of freedom: by working on nature, they appropriate a whole world. In an early labor theory of value, it is the labor invested that gives the things it appropriates or creates their value. Against this background, in principle the Self-ownership Finds its most concentrated expression in the emphasis placed on private property, which is decisive for large parts of libertarian thought to this day. The principle takes on a dynamic dimension, in that in capitalist economics (capitalism) both work performance and the appropriation of the world experience an undreamt-of expansion and increase.

This is where anarcho-capitalism comes in, the main representative of which is Murray N. Rothbard. The aim is a stateless society of legitimate private owners who come to terms with one another through voluntary contracts (contract) on a free market and thus make the state superfluous, which deprives them of their property through taxes and makes them public in its schools (school) Subjugate forced upbringing and forcibly hold in bondage through its penal system and army. This sharp criticism, which revived the late antique identification of the state with a band of robbers, raises the question of how the free market and its actors who individually accumulate their property should replace or even improve the tasks of the state.In this context, the book “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” by Robert Nozick, published in 1974, provides a theoretical reflection which, in its pointed one-sidedness, makes the problem clear. Based on a pre-state A. la J. Locke, in which sovereign, self-owned owners acquire and increase fair property through work and exchange, the safeguarding of private property is guaranteed in a fictitious, rational reconstruction by security companies. In the evolution of this market process - referred to by R. Nozick as a “contract” (contract theories) based on the modern contractualists - the monopoly of a single service provider that grants protection and security through its monopoly of force asserts itself over time. This “minimal state” (minarchy) - which Wilhelm von Humboldt anticipated in his “Ideas for an attempt to determine the limits of the effectiveness of the state”, which was probably created in 1792 - is of course lacking in important policy areas that are essential in today's understanding of western politics are. If the social, welfare and pension state no longer exists, the question arises as to how its functions can nonetheless be realized. If the weak and needy cannot do it themselves, then in the minarchical society only the individual self-owners remain in order to fill the gap voluntarily alone or through contractual cooperatives - the utopian counterpart to the minimal state.

3. Think the "anarchic" today?

The tradition of anarchic thinking shows in many ways a theory that is striving towards the “great”, a total A.ism. It would correspond to the “great operation” of revolutionizing society, including the elimination of the state and its institutions. These projects end in a mere utopia that does not want to become concrete. In contrast, partial anarchisms in plural forms and sometimes with a short lifespan try to be more effective with a more modest claim. Instead of the utopian wish to anarchically colonize the entire area of ​​state rule, one restricts oneself to opening up limited areas for different periods of time. This includes the founding of local communities and cooperatives, but also regional alliances of a production and consumption economy, union (syndicalism) and ideological kind, which are internally anarchic, but exist in an etatistic external world. In addition to this creation of anarchic places within an archic topology of politics and society, a pragmatic A.ism (Colin Ward, April Carter) tries to realize its ideas of a more liberal sociality within the existing state and thus moments of direct democracy - e.g. citizens' initiatives to a wide variety of urban planning, educational, etc. problems - to be implemented.

Various tactical means are used to generate political effects. The operational spectrum ranges from the use of print media (books, magazines, pamphlets, posters) through the use of social media to direct action of concrete resistance, which varies depending on the situation and goal: demonstrations, Sit-ins, Strikes (labor disputes), non-cooperation, service according to regulations, squatting, the street fighting of so-called autonomous groups and the wide field of civil disobedience (Civil Disobedience, practiced and propagated by Henry D. Thoreau in the 19th century). Targeted provocations and symbolic actions by activists of various origins, in which anarchic moments can mix, have recently become very popular. The striking signal effect remains. The revolting impetus is systemically appropriated and rendered ineffective in modern media society. It is doubtful whether the multitude of small groups with their constant growth and decay, with their left and right, feminist (feminism) and ecological self-definitions and motivations at all can be subsumed under the term neo-aism, especially since the anarchic is rather incidental Moment appears and a connection to the fund of classical A.ism does not take place.

From this fund comes M. Stirner's book “The Only One and His Property” whose radical explosive power makes it topical even in times of postmodern thinking (postmodernism). The egoistic absolute sovereignty and freedom of the ego deconstructs the despotic authorities such as state, people, law, law, morality and religion as merely illusory “fixed ideas” (Stirner 1981: 46), “spooks” (Stirner 1981: 42) and “ghosts “(Stirner 1981: 43 ff.). This work of destruction is also directed against the general concepts of essence such as “humanity” (Stirner 1981: 232) or “moral person” (Stirner 1981: 231), in which the ego seeks to be reflected as in an image. Freed from all these "ghosts", only the ego remains, which the final sentence of the book sums up: "I have put my 'matter' on nothing." (Stirner 1981: 412) The individualistic A.ism In the final analysis, it turns out to be nihilism, which in turn opens up new ways of anarchic existence through a reevaluation of the individual will and its decision. The darkest way is the nihilistic terror, which sacrifices the individual life without hesitation and senseless to the general of some abstract concepts. A protest against it can be found in the permanent revolt à la Albert Camus, which responds to the absurdity of existence with a turn to the other. “I revolt, therefore I am. I am outraged, therefore we are. ”Is his motto. A path that changes from activity to inaction is described in Ernst Jünger's fictional city “Eumeswil” using the figure of the “anarch”: He cultivates the A. that is inherent in every human being through self-control, and - in contrast to the anarchist - lets himself into the political game not one of domination and counter-domination, guards against internal participation, but obeys the external rules. Its distance corresponds to self-care in a poor time.


Texts: P. Kellermann (ed.): Propaganda de fact. Viewpoints and Debates (1877–1929), 2016 • J. Most: Anarchism in a Nutshell, 2006 • A. Camus: The Man in Revolt. Essays, 242001 • J. Most: Revolutionary War Studies, 1999 • J. Most: Die Gottespest, 1999 • M. N. Rothbard: For a New Liberty. The Libertarian Manifesto, Revised Edition, 1996 • P. A. Kropotkin: Mutual help in the animal and human world, 1993 • G. Landauer: Signature: g.l. Gustav Landauer in the "Socialist". Essays on culture, politics and utopia (1892–1899), 1986 • M. Stirner: The only one and his property, 1981 • M. Bakunin: Violence for the body, betrayal for the soul? A letter from Michael Bakunin to Sergej Necaev. A debate on the ethics and morals of the revolutionaries and the “Revolutionary Catechism”, 1980 • E. Mühsam: The Liberation of Society from the State. What is communist anarchism ?, in: ders .: Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 4, 1978, 251–298 • C. Fourier: From the new world of love, 1977 • E. Jünger: Eumeswil, 1977 • R. Nozick: Anarchie Staat Utopia, 1976 • E. Oberländer (ed.): Der Anarchismus, 1972 • M. Bakunin: God and the State and other writings, 1969 • HD Thoreau: On the duty to disobey the state and other essays, 1969 • C. Fourier: Theory of the Four Movements and General Provisions, 1966 • G. Landauer: Die Revolution, 1907 • W. Godwin: An Inquiry concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on Modern & engl; Morals and Manners, Vol. I 1793, Vol. II 1796 • J. Locke: Two Treatises of Government, Second Treatise, 1690 • J. Most: The Property Beast, undated Literature: P. Seyferth (Ed.): Den State smash! Anarchist State Understandings, 2015 • J. Webb: The Age of the Irrational. Politics, Culture and Occultism in the 20th Century, 2008 • N. Cohn: The New Earthly Paradise. Revolutionary Millenarianism and Mystical Anarchism in Medieval Europe, 1998 • H. Diefenbacher (ed.): Anarchismus. On the history and idea of ​​a society free of domination, 1996 • P. C. Ludz: Anarchie, Anarchismus, Anarchist, in: GGB, Vol. 1, 41994, 49–109 • P. Heintz: Anarchismus und Gegenwart. Attempt at an anarchist interpretation of the modern world, 31985 • P. Lösche: Anarchismus, 1977 • F. Neumann: Anarchismus, in: ders .: (Ed.): Political theories and ideologies. Introductions, 1974/75, 147–199 • C. Ward: Anarchy in action, 1971 • A. Carter: The political theory of anarchism, 1973 • D: Guérin: Anarchismus. Concept and practice, 41971 • J. Joll: Die Anarchisten, 1969 • K. Mannheim: Ideologie und Utopie, 1929 • M. Nettlau: Geschichte der Anarchy, so far 5 vols., 1925 ff. • P. Eltzbacher: Der Anarchismus, 1900.

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U. Weiß: Anarchy, Anarchism, Version 10/22/2019, 5:30 p.m., in: Staatslexikon8 online, URL:,_Anarchismus (accessed: May 21, 2021)