Printer Friendly

Man, 'Quite a World of Federations' or Man 'is a Group': The Incompatibility of Anarchism and Individualism.

This essay attempts to answer a difficult question: what is the place of anarchist thought in the history of political ideas? Specifically, is there an anarchist canon that allows us to rightly include or exclude certain systems of thought? The usual approach to questions such as this is to define anarchism by what seem to be its main characteristics. The basic one is antistatism: anarchism is the political ideology that rejects any form of state authority. But, besides the fact that such a definition is not accepted by all, antistatism does not establish the distinctiveness of anarchism. (1) Anarchism is not the only political ideology that rejects or remains suspicious of the state. Liberalism first taught us to be so. The notion of anti-centralisation is also insufficient. The concentration of power by the modern state and the dis-empowerment of local authorities were first denounced by conservative thinkers; it would be difficult to distinguish between Tocqueville and Kropotkin on this score. The commitment to the revolutionary transformation of the society is likewise not enough, because it is questionable whether anarchism is, or ought to be, revolutionary. (2) Besides that, a lot of other political ideologies are revolutionary, too. And so on, and so forth.

Attempts to shape the canon around the three major thinkers, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, raise the objection that it excludes others, such as Malatesta, and especially women, notably Goldman. Moreover, the formation of a canon situates anarchism in a system of thought rooted in western philosophy, that is, in the Enlightenment. The objection here is that it excludes non-western traditions and movements that have enriched anarchism in various ways.

If we do not want to succumb to the thesis that anarchism is by its nature impossible to define, we have to find a way, a method that will allow us to provide a valid definition of anarchism, or at least to help us see what anarchism is or is not. Specifically, and after taking into account the fact that anarchism is a combination of two main currents, the social--or communist--and the individualist, we must come up with a method that will help us examine the validity of such a claim. In what way are two so incompatible ways of thinking part of the same tradition? Why do we assume that Stirnerite individualism and Kropotkian communism are both anarchism?

'Reasonings are so mutually connected that as the last are demonstrated by the first which are their causes, the first are in their turn demonstrated by the last which are their effects' Descartes declares, after breaking with the scholastic tradition and setting the foundations of the methodology of rationalistic philosophy. (3) His method is derivative, starting from the one and moving towards the many, from the part to the whole from the core of every system, the principum that makes the fact conceivable. At first this movement is downward, but it soon returns, to become a constant spiralling explanatory movement, moving from the founding principles to the multiple parts of the system. Putting aside the metaphysical assumptions of such a methodology, we may keep its form, applying it to the--so to speak--metaphysics of political philosophy. In Locke's words, we have to move from the foundations to the fabric, and back again. (4)

So, following this form of Cartisian method, I will try to answer to the opening questions by adopting a two-step argument: first, I will claim that in the core of each and every political philosophy lies its idea of human nature. Our political ideas are based on and formed by what we assume man is. (5) Second, I will argue that the most valid way to decide about the compatibility of two systems of thought is by comparing their view of human nature. By removing what appear to be their ideological similarities we have to delve into their very depths: ideas about human nature. What we might find there will help us to decide whether or not they are compatible. So, by applying Descartes methodological tool to anarchism I will try to show that the social/communist and the individualist current are in no way compatible and, furthermore, that we have to exclude the latter from the anarchist tradition. In order to do that I will first examine in parallel the Lockean and Stirnerite theory of human nature and point out the theoretical starting points that they share. Then, by examining the concept of human nature in social anarchism I will try to show that not only is it incompatible with the individualist concept, but they are also clearly mutually exclusive.

The modern era begins with this extremely crucial thought: it breaks with the ancient and medieval concept of man as an organic and inseparable unit of the whole, be it the polis, the community, or Christendom. The modern era applies the protestant idea of the unique and autonomous relation between the divine and the secular: the individual becomes the initial point of reference. (6) Locke's anthropology makes the argument quite powerfully and with that the new era in political philosophy begins: society is not an organic whole but the combination of individuals, whose actions form the community. Equally important is the idea that the individual is autonomous, in that we assume the existence of a sphere of non-interference which no-one, not even state authority, has the right to disrupt. (7) In order to support such a concept Locke is obliged to assume the following: if man is an individual, that is an autonomous being, he must be the owner of that sphere of non-interference. My sphere is private because it is mine, I own it. As that sphere is I, I am the owner of myself. 'Every man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right but himself'. (8) This is an anthropology based on the idea of property. 'Man, by being master of himself, and proprietor of his own person, and the actions or labour of it, had still in himself the great foundation of property'. (9) Property is here understood primarily as the person's qualities such as life and freedom followed by the material goods. Of course, in order for Locke to avoid a paradox he has to admit that 'God having made man such a creature, that it was no good for him to be alone, put him under strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination to drive him into society'. (10) This first society is family, but in no way is this a political society. We are still in the natural state, which we can and ought to abandon and enter into the political or civil society. This we can only achieve by voluntarily abandoning some of our natural rights, such as absolute freedom, and form the political society, the commonwealth. The formation of the commonwealth is possible only by consent, by the mutual agreement of all of its members, namely by contract. We have to bear in mind that this is a property-oriented theory, so we departed from the person who is an owner, who is his own property, (11) and conclude with the commercially inspired idea, that of the contract.

Stirner is a strong advocate of that tradition and he declares it loudly even in the title of his magnum opus: the Ego and His Own; even though the Ego is not the man of the liberals, Stirner's individual forms himself in a very similar way: 'My power is my property. My power gives me property. My power am I myself, and through it am I my property'. (12) All the abstract ideas and generalities of this world, such as religion or humanity or social structures such as the state, by demanding to sacrifice myself for their sake, prevents me from realising my real essence is, that is an Egoist. (13) And I am an egoist only when I re-establish my authority over myself, being master of myself, the owner of I. This is unquestionably an anthropological theory based on the idea of property. 'In tangible property the person stands foremost: my person is my first property'. (14) The Stirnerite individual forms himself through his power, contrary and in clear opposition to everything external to it, be it other people, or established ideas and structures. (15) It is more than clear that Stirner accepts the idea of an autonomous sphere of action for the individual and in a strong polemic sense, pushing that idea to its extreme: 'Take hold, and take what you require! With this the war of all against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have'. (16) Of course Stirner, along with Locke, and in order to avoid paradox, has to admit that: 'Not isolation or being alone, but society, is man's original state'. (17) Even Stirner is unable to deny the reality of the family being the primary state of being, and in order to support his individualism he is obliged to suggest that the individual ought to break these ties by stepping into the state of manhood, as a true egoist. In that state the person recreates the necessary social bonds only through agreement, by voluntary association with others, in other words, by contract.

What is man, asks Proudhon? 'Man is a synopsis of the universe', (18) he replies. But we should not be put off by the poetic language of this passage or what appears to be Proudhon's abstraction--don't forget that Stirner is round the corner--for Proudhon says it in a more concrete way: man is nothing but an animal and an animal that lives in a society. No matter where reasoning may lead us or what Hegelian dialectics may dictate, we have to ground our anthropology in the best available knowledge, and for Proudhon that is science and specifically the science of biology. So man is 'social by instinct', but because man possesses some faculties unique to his species, such as the ability of thought and reason, he is 'social by instinct, but every day he becomes social by thought and choice'. (19) In other words, that synopsis of the universe is nothing but matter, a biological unit that receives and recomposes in its turn all the infinite elements and forces whose constant collisions and re-compositions are the material world. Man is shaped by others and in his turn he shapes them as well, and that constant process goes on without end. (20)

Bakunin also uses natural science and specifically biology to understand what man is. With Proudhon he considers man as a mere animal, among all the other animals of this planet. (21) Man comes to life in the exact same manner as all living organisms, shaped and defined by the natural laws, that is, those natural necessities that determine his whole biological existence. And what does that strong naturalistic view have to tell us about the undeniable uniqueness of each person? Man is the product of his environment. He enters life without soul, consciousness, ideas or feelings. His atomic nature is defined from an infinite number of circumstances and conditions, prior to the appearance of his will, the outcome of centuries of evolution, transferred to him as social heritage. (22) Man is nothing but an heir and in his turn he leaves his legacy to future generations.

In the same way Kropotkin's naturalism turns its back on metaphysics and seeks the help of science: 'The physiological study of the phenomena of life, of intelligence, and of emotions and passions [show] that they can all be resolved into chemical and physical phenomena'. (23) Man is nothing more than an inseparable part of that material world, an animal among the other social animal species. This sociability is just a biological fact, a biological necessity for the collective effort for survival. Sociability, and particularly its practical expression which is mutual aid has been shaped in turn by the slow transformation of social life as expressed in habits, customs and modes of behaviour. Each person is the concrete personalisation of this ongoing process. In this way, man in Kropotkian anthropology is also conceived of as an heir, even more as 'three- fourths of our relations with others [...] are the result of our unconscious life [...] our ways of speaking, smiling, frowning, getting heated or keeping cool in discussion, are unintentional, inherited from our human or pre-human ancestors'. (24)

The common ground for Lockean and Stirnerite anthropology can be summed up in the following proposition: they are both grounded on the idea of property. Man, the individual or the egoist, is conceived as owner; owner of material goods, and what is more important, for it is the theoretical starting point, as the owner of himself. Being the owner of me, means that I alone form, shape and develop myself through submission to God's laws, or by reasoning or using my powers. It follows that a sphere is formed around me, in which I exercise my property rights, and that no one, not even the church or the state, has any right to interfere. As a consequence the value that is most praised is individual personal autonomy, be it in the form of Locke's autonomous individual or Stirner's egoist. Both Locke's radical liberalism and his caution towards the state's authority and Stirner's egoistic extremism and his strong hostility to the state are based on this ground. Moreover, as they both assume a state of being that is pro-political, in Locke because the natural state is prior to the formation of the commonwealth, in Stirner because humans are not fully egoists until they have reached maturity and are able to use their powers, they both also treat the political as an artificial outcome of a technical procedure. For Locke people form the commonwealth by mutual agreement and consent. For Stirner egoists voluntarily associate with each other. (25) What is important here is that both these procedures are conceived in purely economic terms. They are procedures where owners exchange part of their properties in order to achieve something, or expand their property rights to gain, to make profit from these commercialised modes of exchange or expansion. (26)

If we want to find a system of thought whose theoretical anthropological grounds are in no way compatible and moreover clearly hostile to that property based anthropology, we may turn to anarchism. Man is conceived as nothing but an heir of humanity's achievements and developments, one who in his turn redefines and reproduces what he receives and sends it back to the whole. There is no clearer formulation of this than in Bakunin's writing:
So much the worse for those who are fully unaware of the natural and
social law of human solidarity, that they imagine the mutual and
absolute independence of individuals and masses. At every moment, every
individual, even the most intelligent or the strongest, and above all
the most intelligent and strongest, contributes to the production of
the will of the masses as well as their effect, and is simultaneously
the product of them. The very freedom of every individual results from
this great number of material, intellectual and moral influences which
every individual around him and which society--in whose midst he is
born, grows up, and dies--continually exercise on him. To wish to
escape this influence in the name of a transcendent, divine, absolutely
egoistic and self- sufficient freedom is to condemn oneself to
non-existence [...] The independence so exalted by idealists and
metaphysicians, and individual freedom conceived in that sense, is
hence nothingness. (27)

The argument is strong and clear. There is no room in anarchist anthropology for any property-based conception of man as an owner. (28) On the contrary, as man is a social product, meaning that the individual does not form itself on its own, he cannot own himself. The individual is derived from society, it receives itself from society, so we cannot conceive of it as an owner, only as an heir. And an heir that has no claim on himself, because the inherited self is not a static, closed outcome but a constantly ongoing fluent process. As Landauer poetically expressed this idea: 'Heredity is a very real and present force which signifies the survival of the ancestors in new forms and shapes. The individual is a spark of the soul stream that we know as humanity [...] what we are, is what our ancestors are in us'. (29) As individualism takes as its starting point the notion of the individual in self-ownership, anarchism rejects individualism on the grounds of self as a social inheritance. As there is no such thing as a natural, biological, real individual there cannot be a philosophically-imagined individual. It follows that as there is no individual and there cannot be an artificial formulation of society. Proudhon quotes Aristotle: man is a zoon politicon. His primal state of being is society, that is, the political state. On these grounds anarchism rejects any notion of a prior natural state and what is more important, the idea of the contractarian theory of the political. (30) Yet the most important theoretical assumption arising from this kind of anthropology, and the one that differentiates anarchism from most other modern Western philosophy is this idea: anarchism not only denies and rejects any notion of the structural tension between society and the individual, but it also finds such an idea as mere nonsense, as inconceivable.

The rejection of that dualism is more than enough to separate anarchism apart from all individualist theories, specifically the Stirnerite one. The 'external' similarities, such as anti-statism, cannot reconcile the two, as one notion of antistatism is grounded on the basis of personal autonomy, on egoism, and the other on sociability and mutuality, that is on solidarity and unquestionable equality. The individualistic notion of oppression is derived from the man-society dualism, in a way that sees society as a constant threat to the individual's autonomy. It follows as a consequence of the rejection of as one aspect of the organised, institutionalised expression of society's oppressive character. It is, in other words, an anti-statism on principled grounds. On the contrary, as anarchism neglects the man/society dualism, it cannot face society as a threat to a person's autonomy--to begin with, because there is no such autonomy. In the same way that man as a natural being is subject to natural necessities, as the unconditional basis of his existence, he is subject--also as a natural being--to the natural necessity of society. Therefore, anarchism's rejection of the state cannot be a matter of principle, as the rejection of the organised form of society's oppression. (31) It can only be based on the grounds of the state's construction, as an institution thus formed that promotes heteronomy, uniformity and centralisation. It follows that anti-statism is not the common ground that we are seeking, due to different and contradictory premises and goals, and the same is true about freedom. Even though Stirner is careful enough to distinguish freedom, in the existential form of absolute freedom, from what is really at stake, ownness, anarchism's notion of freedom seems to be far removed. And that is why the only meaningful way to understand freedom is only through liberty, meaning the inalienable and non-negotiable right of each and every citizen to participate equally in the decision-making processes and the right of every society to set its own laws, autonomously. This way of seeking freedom as political liberty, can be seen as the fulfilment in politics of Kant's second formulation of the categorical imperative, 'act so that you use humanity as much in your own person as in the person of every other, always at the same time as end and never merely as means'. (32) And that is clearly a philosophical tradition and an ethical commitment that Stirner so violently breaks with.

Anarchism cannot--and ought not--be everything. And there is nothing to prevent us from expanding or reducing anarchism to what we may think is right. The argument presented here is that we must have and use a tool in order to define what anarchism is or is not. The best tool is anarchism's theoretical anthropological assumptions. Kropotkin's wonderful expression of the man as a world of federations and Proudhon's, man as a group may serve as the mottos for such an anthropology. (33) Let us separate anarchism from Stirnerite individualism then, but nevertheless pay our respects and recognise our debts to Stirner's thinking. To do this, we must first and foremost respect both his wish and the implications that flow from his philosophy. That means not associate him with or ascribe to him to a philosophical and political tradition that he undeniably regarded as hostile. (34)

Costas Galanopoulos was born in 1974. He studied at the Political Science and History Department of Panteion University of Athens. He is now completing his thesis 'Anthropological and ontological premises of political philosophy. Locke's liberalism and classical anarchism'. He had published three books on the history of the Greek socialist movement and on the political philosophy of anarchism.


(1.) Fowler argues for the 'general ambiguities in nineteenth-Century anarchists' writings about the state [that] do not make it obvious that they all sought to abolish government as we might understand it today', reminding us that we 'should be hesitant before we conclude that the leading anarchist theorists were merely a diverse group of nineteenth-Century Europeans who shared little but a hatred of government as they knew it', R.B. Fowler, 'The Anarchist Tradition of Political Thought', The Western Political Quarterly, 25 (4) (December 1972): 739 & 740. 'Anarchists do reject the state, but to claim that this central aspect of anarchism is definitive is to sell anarchism short', Paul McLaughlin, Anarchism and Authority. A Philosophical Introduction to Classical Anarchism, (London: Ashgate Publishing, 2007), p28.

(2.) We can trace a non-revolutionary tradition, going back to Proudhon and to Read, Woodcock and Clark, see Ruth Kinna, Anarchism. A Beginner's Guide, (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005), p169, as well to the non or anti-revolutionary anarchism of Berti, Breda, Staid and of Chomsky.

(3.) Rene Descartes, A Discourse on Method. Meditations on the First Philosophy. Principles of Philosophy, translation by John Veitch, (London: Dent 1969), p60.

(4.) Locke uses this scheme commenting on Filmer's political ideas: '[Filmer's] great Position is that Men are not naturally free. This is the Foundation on which his absolute Monarchy stands [...] But if this Foundation fails, all his Fabric falls', John Locke, First Treatise of Government, in John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, critical edition by Peter Laslett, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p162.

(5.) Rawls speaks about 'political thought as the conception of human nature', John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, (Cambridge, MASS: Harvard University Press, 2008), p29.

(6.) 'It was only in Christianity that individualism could develop [...] Western conceptions of individualism tend, therefore, to identify urban Puritanism as the catalyst of individual autonomy [...] individualism starts therefore from dissent--the dissent of Protestants from Catholicism', Bryan S. Turner, Religion and Social Theory, (London: Sage, 1991), pp157 & 171.

(7.) As Mill states: 'a circle around every individual human being which no government, be it that of one, of a few, or of the many, ought to be permitted to overstep', John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy. Books IV and V, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p306.

(8.) John Locke, Second Treatise, in Two Treatises, op. cit., p305.

(9.) Ibid., p316.

(10.) Ibid., p336.

(11.) The external manifestation of the proprietary rights is the goods that the individual holds, his property. Giving that the formation of one's self is achieved by Labour, not every one is capable of doing so. From this notion derives the elitism of liberalism, formed in the political language as the discourse of capacity, see Alan S. Kahan, Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe. The Political Culture of Limited Suffrage, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.) Locke sets his elitism early on as in The Two Tracts on Government (1660), where he uses the metaphor of society as a ship. That ship is always in danger of sinking by the storm-tossed sea, which is the multitude. 'Locke's deepest assumptions about the natural inclinations and proclivities of men [found] expression in [the] claim that most men are incapable of civilized and collective life', Philip Abrams (ed., intro., trans.), John Locke, Two Tracts on Government, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), p64. This will follow him for the rest of his life. For an opposite view see, among others, Matthew H. Kramer, John Locke and the origins of private property. Philosophical explorations of individualism, community, and equality, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Although Kramer admits that the Lockean theory of self-ownership supports the idea that 'people [that] owned themselves, of course they would also own their other proprietary possessions', Locke's 'service as an apostle of individualism was merely part of his service as an apostle of collectivism' and equality, p318.

(12.) Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own, Steven T. Byington (trans.), (London: Verso, 2014), p171.

(13.) Even in this, Stirner is characteristically close to liberals. 'From seeing individuals as primary and society secondary, from seeing individuals as more 'real' than society and its institutions, it is not a great step to seeing social institutions as 'logical fictions' [...] it follows that no rational person could elevate the supposed interests of fiction above the real interests of real individual people', Anthony Arblaster, The Rise and Decline of Western Liberalism, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987), p38.

(14.) Stirner, The Ego, op. cit., p229.

(15.) Stirner's failure to escape from abstraction was noted early on. Landauer writes that 'Stirner replaced God with the concrete single being, the individual [on the contrary] our task is to prove that the concrete and isolated individual is as much a spook as God', Landauer, Through Separation To Community, in Gustav Landauer, Revolution, and other writings. A political reader, Gabriel Kuhn (ed., and trans.), (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p101.

(16.) Stirner, The Ego, op. cit., p240.

(17.) Ibid., p286.

(18.) P.J. Proudhon, System of Economic Contradictions, or the Philosophy of Misery (1847), Benjamin Tucker (trans.), available at, p339

(19.) P.J. Proudhon, What is Property, Donald R. Kelly and Bonnie G. Smith (eds. and trans.), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp170-189.

(20.) 'Proudhon argued that we have animal instincts towards what is right and wrong that have been shaped on the margins by history and context', Alex Prichard, The Ethical Foundations of Proudhon's Republican Anarchism, in B. Franks & M. Wilson (eds.), Anarchism and Moral Philosophy, (Baskingstoke: Palgrave, 2010), p104.

(21.) Even abilities that seem specifically human, like intelligence is 'a property of the animal body and especially of the quite material organism of the brain', Michael Bakunin, God and the State, (New York: Dover Publications, 1970), p65.

(22.) In Malatesta's words: ' Man cannot be and cannot do everything that he wants, because he is curtailed and obliged, not only by brute natural environment. But also by the actions of every other man, by social solidarity which, like it or not, ties him to the fate of the entire human race' (my emphasis), Errico Malatesta, Ideal and Reality (1924) in Davide Turcato (ed.), The Method of Freedom. An Errico Malatesta reader, Paul Sharkey (trans.), (Oakland & Edinburgh: AK Press, 2014), p449.

(23.) Peter Kropotkin, Modern Science and Anarchism, in P. Kropotkin, Anarchism, a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, Roger N. Baldwin (ed.), (New York: Dover Publications, 2002), p151. 'Taken as a whole man is nothing but a resultant, always changeable, of all his divers faculties, of all his autonomous tendencies, of brain cells and nerve centers', Kropotkin, Anarchism: It's Philosophy and Ideal, in Kropotkin, Anarchism, ibid., p119.

(24.) Peter Kropotkin, Anarchist Morality, in Kropotkin, Anarchism, ibid., p101.

(25.) 'A society which I join does indeed take from me many liberties, but in return it affords me other liberties; (such as by any contract)', Stirner, The Ego, op. cit., p287.

(26.) The common basis of the proprietary idea of the self is the philosophical ground that supports our claim that Stirnerite, and generally, individualist anarchism, may better be seen as Nathan Jun puts it 'an extremely radical form of classical liberalism', Nathan Jun, Anarchism and Political Modernity, (New York: Continuum, 2012), p132. Jun supports his claim on the grounds of the individualists' rejection of public ownership in sharp contrast with the socialist orientation of anarchism. Nevertheless, the philosophical basis of that rejection can be found on the anthropological theories that support individualism.

(27.) Mikhail Bakunin, 'The Organization of the International', in The Basic Bakunin. Writings 1869- 1871, Robert M. Cutler (ed. and trans.), (New York: Prometheus Books, 1992), p141.

(28.) Saul Newman accuses those who make the allegation that Stirner's 'philosophy of "egoism" glorifies a model of "possessive individualism" have never read [him], or never read him properly'. Newman, conversely, argues that Stirner's 'notion of "property" is far too broad to be assimilated into the normal understanding of private property', Saul Newman (ed.) Stirner, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p7. Newman seems to forget that liberalism's notion of property is also broader than the normal understanding of private property. Locke's famous and much annotated definition of property as ones' 'life, liberty and estate' is an extended definition, John Locke, Second Treatise, in Two Treatises, op. cit., p341. As Tully states, Locke 'means by "property" what he says he means: any sort of right, the nature of which is that it cannot be taken without a man's consent', James Tully, A Discourse on Property. John Locke and his Adversaries, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p116. Furthermore, Locke's notion of property as owning oneself and as the natural right to preserve oneself, meaning to preserve one's life, liberty and estate, 'functions as the foundation for the right to resist arbitrary g'vernment', James Tully, An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Contexts, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p117. That seems to be a definition that would serve Stirner's aim well, too.

(29.) Landauer, Through Separation, in Landauer, Revolution, op. cit., p102.

(30.) The use of the term 'society' by the anarchists 'suggests that people already live in some kind of social unit, so social organization is not just imposed artificially by contract', April Carter, The Political Theory of Anarchism, (New York & London: Harper Torchbooks), 1971, p25. The notion that anarchists reject social contract theories because they reject 'the basic argument found in all the contractarians: that freedom is pre-social and must be limited by government if men are to coexist in society', as Crowder states, is falsely setting the emphasis on the wrong term, i.e. freedom. Instead, the emphasis must be placed on the 'pre-social', George Crowder, Classical Anarchism. The Political Thought of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p21.

(31.) Given that, the emphasis on personal autonomy as the 'refusal to be ruled' of Wolff's philosophical anarchism can better be seen as derived from liberal grounds. For philosophical anarchism the primal question of political philosophy must be the one that sets the state the constant obligation to justify its demand for political obligation. As Wolff puts it 'if all men have a continuing obligation to achieve the highest degree of autonomy possible, then there would appear to be no state whose subjects have a moral obligation to obey its commands', Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism, (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970), p19. For anarchism the primal question has to be 'which social forms best guarantee [...] the greatest sum of happiness, and therefore the greatest sum of vitality', Kropotkin, Modern Science, in Kropotkin, Anarchism. A Collection, op. cit., p150. That means, for instance, that in the case of some state functions, such as the distributive one, and as long as it points towards an egalitarian direction, anarchism is obliged to be closer to a 'more' than to a 'lesser' State, see Alan Carter, A Radical Green Political Theory, (London: Routledge Press, 1999), pp258-260.

(32.) Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Allen W. Wood (ed. and trans.), (New Haven: Yale University Press, , 2002), pp46-47.

(33.) Kropotkin, Anarchism. It's Philosophy, in Kropotkin, Anarchism. A Collection, op. cit., p119 and Daniel Colson, 'Anarchist Readings of Spinoza', Journal of French Philosophy, 17, (2) (2007): 99.

(34.) Newman does it in the case of liberalism, invoking 'Stirner's forthright rejection of liberalism in all its forms', Newman, Stirner, op. cit., p7. It's plain mystery why we don't have to do the same when it comes to anarchism (a system of thought that Stirner also rejected, at least as Proudhon had expressed it).


Arblaster, Anthony (1987). The Rise and Decline of Western Liberalism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Abrams, Philip (ed.) 1967. John Locke, Two Tracks on government, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bakunin, Michael (1970). God and the State, New York: Dover Publications.

--.(1992). The Organization of the International, in The Basic Bakunin. Writings 1869-1871, New York: Prometheus Books.

Carter, April (1971). The Political Theory of Anarchism, N.Y. & London: Harper Torchbooks.

--.1999. A Radical Green Political Theory, London: Routledge.

Colson, Daniel (2007). 'Anarchist Readings of Spinoza', Journal of French Philosophy, (17) 2.

Crowder, George (1991). Classical Anarchism. The Political Thought of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Descartes, Rene (1969). A Discourse on Method. Meditations on the First Philosophy. Principles of Philosophy, London: Dent.

Fowler, R.B. (1972). 'The Anarchist Tradition of Political Thought', The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 25. No. 4.

Jun, Nathan (2012). Anarchism and Political Modernity. New York: Continuum.

Kahan, Alan, S. (2003). Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe. The Political Culture of Limited Suffrage, Baskingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kant, Immanuel (2002). Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Kinna, Ruth (2005). Anarchism. A Beginner's Guide, Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Kramer, Matthew H. (1997). John Locke and the origins of private property. Philosophical explorations of individualism, community, and equality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kropotkin, Peter (2002). Modern Science and Anarchism, in Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, R.N. Baldwin (ed.), New York: Dover Publications.

--.(2002). Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal, in Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, a Collection of Revolutionary Writings. New York Dover Publications.

--.(2002). Anarchist Morality in Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, New York: Dover Publications.

Landauer, Gustav (2010). 'Through Separation To Community', in Gustav Landauer, Revolution, and other writings. A political reader, Oakland: PM Press.

Locke, John (1980). Two Treatises of Government, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Malatesta, Errico (2014). Ideal and Reality in Davide Turcato (ed.), The Method of Freedom. An Errico Malatesta reader, Oakland & Edinburgh: AK Press.

McLaughlin, Paul (2007). Anarchism and Authority. A Philosophical Introduction to Classical Anarchism, London: Ashgate Publishing.

Mill, John Stuart (1985). Principles of Political Economy. Books IV and V, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Newman, Saul (ed.) (2011). Stirner, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Prichard, Alex (2010). 'The Ethical Foundations of Proudhon's Republican Anarchism', in B. Franks and M. Wilson (eds.), (2010), Anarchism and Moral Philosophy, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Proudhon, P.J. (1847). System of Economic Contradictions, or the Philosophy of Misery, available at

--.(2018). What is Property, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rawls, John (2008). Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, Cambridge MASS. & London, England: Harvard University Press.

Stirner, Max (2014). The Ego and His Own, London & New York: Verso.

Tully, James (1982). A Discourse on Property. John Locke and his Adversaries, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

--.(1993). An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Contexts, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Turner, S. Bryan (1991). Religion and Social Theory, London: Sage.

Wolff, Robert Paul (1970). In Defense of Anarchism, New York: Harper Torchbooks.
COPYRIGHT 2017 Lawrence & Wishart Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Galanopoulos, Costas
Publication:Anarchist Studies
Article Type:Essay
Date:Sep 22, 2017
Previous Article:'A Feminist Disciple of Nietzsche': The Case of Dora Marsden's Unstable Anarchism.
Next Article:Attack the machinery of permitted consumption.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters