Anarchism is the philosophy that says we don’t need governments and bosses, we can make communities based on mutual aid and solidarity. Anarchism means rejecting all forms of domination, oppression, and exploitation, and living as free as we can, right here right now. Anarchism is a living tradition of struggle and creation.
Anarchism is the most beautiful idea we know. We think we need to get the positive message out about what anarchism really means. What can we learn from more than 200 years of anarchist history? What can anarchism mean in the 21st century?
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Some interesting anarchist texts:
Excellent brochure from Crimethinc: “Anarchy is what happens wherever order is not imposed by force. It is freedom: the process of continually reinventing ourselves and our relationships. Anarchism is the idea that everyone is entitled to complete self-determination. No law, government, or decision-making process is more important than the needs and desires of actual human beings. Anarchism is not a dogma or a blueprint. It is not a system that would supposedly work if only it were applied right, like democracy, nor a goal to be realized in some far-off future, like communism. It is a way of acting and relating that we can put into practice right now.”
A helpful contribution from writer David Goodway, published on The Guardian website: “Britain almost certainly has a greater number of conscious anarchists nowadays than at any previous point in its history and, in addition, there are many more natural anarchists: that is people who, while not identifying themselves as anarchists, think and behave in significantly anarchist ways.”
Peter Marshall’s authoritative book on the history of the movement is also available as a pdf.
Classic text by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), still an inspirational figure for so many anarchists today. “Anarchism, the great leaven of thought, is today permeating every phase of human endeavor. Science, art, literature, the drama, the effort for economic betterment, in fact every individual and social opposition to the existing disorder of things, is illumined by the spiritual light of Anarchism. It is the philosophy of the sovereignty of the individual. It is the theory of social harmony. It is the great, surging, living truth that is reconstructing the world, and that will usher in the Dawn.”
Despite its title, this is a call to anarchism and a forthright rejection of the limits of mainstream Marxism – by the great German anarchist thinker Gustav Landauer (1870-1919). “We must not give up our hope in the people, the whole people, all our peoples.”
Useful section on the Infoshop website.
Short contemporary text on the spirit of anarchism by Paul Cudenec: “For an anarchist, the tender green shoot of each new-born child, the precious potential of each wonderfully unique and beautiful human being, is blocked, crushed, destroyed by the steel toe-capped boots of capitalism.”
Not an intro to anarchism, but directly relevant for anarchists thinking about our role in mobilisations. This was written a few years back in the heyday of the big summit actions (Seattle, Genoa, etc.), but is still relevant today. One-off spectacular demos and actions against symbols like the G8 certainly aren’t all that our politics is about, but they can play a part.
Thought-provoking if somewhat depressing text. “The world will not be ‘saved’.” Okay, so what do we do now?
Some thoughts and reading on anarchism and black liberation struggles.
By Bob Black. A nice, short, recent intro to anarchism in plain language by a North American anarchist. Not all anarchists will agree with everything he says. But that’s part of what makes anarchism so great: we don’t all have to follow the same party line.
By Stuart Christie. A short recent definition.
By Colin Ward. Short book (about 100 pages) to download.
By Alexander Berkman. A classic from 1928.
By Alfredo Bonnano. Not really an introduction, but one person’s deeper view on “what it means to be an anarchist” today (written in the late 20th century), by the Italian anarchist and insurrectionist.
Loads more introductions and other texts on anarchism can be found at theanarchistlibrary.org/
There are many. Here are just some more active ones, from quite different perspectives.
Ian Bone UK anarchist blog by founder of Class War, always a good read
Freedom Press London’s 125 year old anarchist bookshop and newspaper, acting as an infopoint for Stop G8 week.
325 insurrectionist anarchist site, news of militant actions from around the world
a-infos multi-lingual inter-national anarchist news site
actforfreedomnow insurrectionist anarchist site with news from the struggle in greece and elsewhere
anarchist federation an anarchist-communist organisation
anarchist news US site that aims “to provide a non-sectarian source for news about and of concern to anarchists”
anarchy101 post a question about anarchism and get a few different answers
baring teeth blog on anarchism and animal liberation
christiebooks has a massive collection of films about anarchism you can watch online
IWW a non-hierarchical trade union, not strictly anarchist but with many anarchist members and ideas
Libcom. This is not exactly an anarchist website. But it has a very big and interesting library, and can be a good place to find information on workers’ struggles around the world
solidarity federation anarcho-syndicalist group: i.e., anarchists who emphasise organising in workplaces
active distribution DIY not-for-profit distribution of anarchist books and other stuff
“I believe that, thanks to our free actions, individual or collective, we can arrive at a future of love, fraternity and equality. I desire for all just what I desire for myself: the freedom to act, to love, to think. That is, I desire anarchy for all humanity. I believe that in order to achieve this we should make a social revolution. But I am also of the opinion that in order to arrive at this revolution it is necessary to free ourselves from all kinds of prejudices, conventionalisms, false moralities and absurd codes. And, while we wait for this great revolution to break out, we have to carry out this work in all the actions of our existence. And indeed in order to make this revolution come about, we can’t just content ourselves with waiting but need to take action in our daily lives. Wherever possible, we should act from the point of view of an anarchist, that is, of a human being.” America Scarfò, Argentinian anarchist writing in 1928, then aged 16.