“Anarchism, then really stands for the liberation of human mind from the domination of religion, The liberation of the human body from the domination of property, Liberation from the shackles and restraints of government”#-Emma Golman. During the late 1800’s urbanization began to inflict the cities and the industrial revolution began resulting in governments gaining more and more power. “The state is authority; its force”#-Mikhail Bakunin. As the governments grew it was believed the state was more concerned with its growing power rather than the interests of the people.
A group known as the anarchist believed that the government should be abolished and then the people would be free to live co-operatively with full social and political. Anarchy began as a political philosophy and soon turned in to an all out revolution resulting in assignations, bombings and kidnappings spanning over the better part of the past century. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, anarchy started to become more of a fashion trend if you will, rather than a political philosophy. “I Wanna Be Anarchy”-Sex Pistols.
The Punk movement in music during the late 70’s was first to wide spread expose the public to anarchy and anarchist ideals. Followers of punk and punk music usually didn’t have the tendency to look of the proper meaning of anarchy, but since Johnny Rotten was saying it, it was cool. Today if you take a look at the public wither you are in a public school or a shopping mall, you can see teenagers with anarchy symbols on their shirts, pants, back packs and even drawn on their sneakers in an attempt to look what the public calls “hardcore”.
Anarchism is the sprit of the youth against out worn traditions”-Mikhail Bakunin, this would prove to be all too true in this new era of “anarchism”. This paper will further outline how anarchy started out as a political philosophy and turned in to a symbol of unconformity. Anarchism can be defined as a political philosophy and social movement designed to destroy the government in hopes of creating a society based on voluntary co-operation of free individuals.
In 1840 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a peaceful anarchist, published his controversial pamphlet titled “What Is Property”. Proudhon clamed that violence and crime was not caused by individuals but instead by the government. He believed that police and laws forced humans to live in an unnatural state of oppression and equality, according to Proudhon the ownership of property was the main root of all equality. “As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks justice in anarchy.
Anarchy-the absence of a sovereign-such is the form of government to which we are every day approximating” # In this quote, Proudhon predicts the eventual dissolve of the government and the rise of a natural social order. Proudhon felt it was possible to create and emplace anarchist organizations in an established society. Eventually the organizations would rise as the government was falling, thus freeing the people from property and oppression enabling the them to live in a free socially liberated society.
Mikhail Bakunin on the contrary was not a peaceful anarchist, he believed that the only way to achieve an anarchist society was through a violent revolution. “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion”#. Although he believed that anarchy was only achievable through a violent revolution, Mikhail Bakunin shared some of the same ideas with Proudhon. Bakunin agreed with Proudhon that human kind’s intentions were for the most part good, but oppression caused by the government had forced the natural quality of human kind to become corrupted.
Bakunin viewed the government “as a negation and annihilation of all liberty”#. Bakunin summarized the intentions and attitude of the anarchist movement by saying this, In a word we reject all legislation, all authority, all privileged, licensed, official and legal influence, even though rising from a universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominate minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subject to them” # It was believed by Bakunin that the state should be replaced by a series of agreements and voluntary associations.
Eventually the state would be replaced by a free federation in which every individual would be equally privileged and have equal rights. To say that the anarchist movement started in 1840 with the publishing of Proudhon’s controversial pamphlet “What Is Property? ” would be untrue. The first plans for an anarchist uprising were conceived by Gerrard Winstanley almost 200 years prior to Proudhon publishing his pamphlet. In Gerrard’s pamphlet “Truth Lifting It’s Head Above The Scandals” he wrote what was to become the back bone of the anarchist theory in years to come.
The pamphlet declared that power corrupts the minds of the people and freedom is unachievable with the existence of property. In an experiment, Gerrard Winstanley established an anarchist community on a hillside with his followers. Ironically the community was destroyed by government oppression. Anarchism quickly spread its roots through the world and by 1845 it reached Spain and the first anarchist journal was established, but it was quickly destroyed by government censorship.
Anarchism in Spain gained more and more followers, in 1870 there were as many as 40 000, by 1873 there were 60 000 followers. Despite anarchism growing popularity in Spain, the movement was forced underground in 1874, by 1880 the Spanish anarchist front resorted to violence and terrorism. It wasn’t until the Spanish Civil War of 1936 that anarchist ideals were given an opportunity to be placed in to action. Railways, factories and land were seized and taken over, libertarian villages were established and the internal usage of money was abolished.
Within these libertarian villages the land was tilled collectively, products were distributed to each family according to their need and at equal shares. Due to their inability to sub stain warfare the anarchists failed, yet they succeeded in inspiring many people and showing the world that anarchism is possible. American anarchism was mainly sub stained by immigration from Europe and by the 1800’s anarchism was a large part of life for many people. America saw its fair share of anarchist activity. The Haymarket riot in Chicago left 7 policemen dead and 1 anarchist severally injured.
In 1901 president McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czlogosz. Due to violent acts including riots, bombings, assignations and kidnappings, anarchists are often perceived and mindless individuals and dangerous violent people, which is not entirely true. Anarchism has its pacifists who do not advocate the usage of violence and believe that the government can be brought down through peaceful and political means. The punk movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s associated its self with anarchy and anarchist ideals because of it’s wild unconformist past.
Anarchy and anarchist imagery were used primarily for shock value and nothing more. This became known and the anarco-punk scene. Anarco punks adopted what they call an anarchy symbol which consists of an irregular capitol “A” in the centre of a circle. This anarchy symbol has become the primary symbol for aggression and non conformity based on punk ideals. Anarchism took on a whole new meaning in 1977 with the release of The Sex Pistols’ first single “I wanna Be Anarchy”. The lyrics advocated a violent anarchist society and mindless destruction.