Although there are many different types of Anarchists, most are– or at least think they are– against centralized authority (however, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I contend that numerous self-labeled “anarchists” are not altogether anti-authoritarian and are, instead, merely against the current version of the State).
Some Anarchistic thinkers have traced the problems of State-power to the inherited worldview underlying the State-system. Anarchist Emile Henry, in a famous proselytizing letter to his prison’s Director, stated that “the two underlying principles of the existing State are– Authority and Property.” Anarchist Emile Pouget called these same two socio-economic traditions instruments of servitude and said that they comprised the fundamental “oppressive institutions” of society. For Anarchists like Pouget and Henry, most of the socio-political ills suffered by mankind can be traced back to these two corrosive principles of Authority and Property.
Pytor Kropotkin , echoing the great anarchist Mikhail Bakunin almost verbatim, wrote in 1883 that “in the eyes of Anarchists, the evil resides not in this form of government as against some other, but in the very idea of government as such, in the Authority Principle.”
Proudhon, in a famous tirade against government, said that to be governed is to be…
noted, registered, inventoried, licensed, authorized, taxed, fined, hounded, reprimanded, disarmed, admonished, thwarted, reformed, repressed, vilified, and sacrificed–
–and that’s only a partial list of the over two dozen choice descriptors he hurled at government. “As far as the authorities are concerned,” asserts Proudhon, “the people is the enemy.”
Anarchist Adhemar Schwitzguebel maintained that where-ever the Authority Principle is established, Police Power and other armed government troops naturally follow.
Not surprisingly, being Anti-Statist, Anarchists are often Anti-Patriotic, considering Patriotism a tool used by Authority for its own nefarious ends– a tool based on the darker emotions of mankind, such as Racism and Clanism and Xenophobia, which in turn often stem from the evils of Pride, Ignorance, and Fear. “No more fatherlands!” cried Emile Henry. “No more hatred between brothers pitting, one against the other, men who have never even laid eyes upon one another.”
Writing along similar lines, Kropotkin wrote of the need for “the slaughter of prejudices” if humanity wished to be truly free.
Most Anarchists sense a collusion between the State and Big Capitalists, the two groups becoming braided together into one monstrous unity. “There is but one war,” declares the 1915 Anarchist manifesto (Errico Malatesta et al). “The one waged in every country by the Oppressed against the Oppressor, by the Exploited against the Exploiter.” Echoing Marx, the 1915 manifesto goes on to state that “whatever the form it may assume, the State is merely oppression organized for the benefit of a privileged minority.”
Malatesta believed that governments encourage, enlarge, and anchor class antagonisms. He felt that governments… “are all founded upon the presumption, confessed or not, that men have contrary interests and that it takes an outside force to compel some to respect the interests of the rest.” This would be the “Leviathan” of Thomas Hobbes and/or the “necessary evil” of Thomas Paine argument for the existence of government– which surely has a large element of truth to it… though one can argue over whether governments make better or worse the tendency for clans to go to war.
Max Stirner is another of my favorite Anarchists– although I’m not sure he labeled himself as such. What Stirner was first and foremost was an Individualist, and he was very interested in education and the development of a person’s full potential… not unlike Kropotkin and J.S. Mill in this. Stirner argued that the State has outlived the purposes for which it was set-up, and today lingers on malignantly. “Our societies and our States exist without our having fashioned them,” he declares. “They are put together without our consent. They are pre-ordained, having and independent and indissoluble life of their own.”