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Albert Meltzer: Anarchism. Arguments for and Against

Albert Meltzer: Anarchism. Arguments for and Against

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Published by Bloom
It is not without interest that what might be called the anarchist approach goes
back into antiquity; nor that there is an anarchism of sorts in the peasant movements that struggled against State oppression over the centuries. But the modern
anarchist movement could not claim such precursors of revolt as its own more
than the other modern working class theories. To trace the modern Anarchist
movement we must look closer to our own times. While there existed libertarian
and non-Statist and federalist groups, which were later termed anarchistic in
retrospect, before the middle of the nineteenth century, it was only about then
that they became what we now call Anarchists.
In particular, we maycite three philosophicalprecursors of Anarchism, Godwin,
Proudhon, and perhaps Hegel. None of these was in fact an Anarchist, though
Proudhon first used the word in its modern sense (taking it from the French
Revolution, when it was first used politically and not entirely pejoratively). None
of them engaged in Anarchist activity or struggle, and Proudhon engaged in
parliamentary activity. One of the poorest, though ostensibly objective, books
on Anarchism, Judge Eltzbacher’s Anarchism, describes Anarchism as a sort of
hydra-headed theory some of which comes from Godwin or Proudhon or Stirner
(another who never mentions anarchism), or Kropotkin, each a different variation
on a theme. The book may be tossed aside as valueless except in its description
of what these particular men thought. Proudhon did not write a programme for
all time, nor did Kropotkin in his time write for a sect of Anarchists. But many
other books written by academics are equally valueless: many professors have a
view of anarchism based on the popular press. Anarchism is neither a mindless
theory of destruction nor, despite some liberal-minded literary conceptions, is it
hero-worship of people or institutions, however liberated they might be.
It is not without interest that what might be called the anarchist approach goes
back into antiquity; nor that there is an anarchism of sorts in the peasant movements that struggled against State oppression over the centuries. But the modern
anarchist movement could not claim such precursors of revolt as its own more
than the other modern working class theories. To trace the modern Anarchist
movement we must look closer to our own times. While there existed libertarian
and non-Statist and federalist groups, which were later termed anarchistic in
retrospect, before the middle of the nineteenth century, it was only about then
that they became what we now call Anarchists.
In particular, we maycite three philosophicalprecursors of Anarchism, Godwin,
Proudhon, and perhaps Hegel. None of these was in fact an Anarchist, though
Proudhon first used the word in its modern sense (taking it from the French
Revolution, when it was first used politically and not entirely pejoratively). None
of them engaged in Anarchist activity or struggle, and Proudhon engaged in
parliamentary activity. One of the poorest, though ostensibly objective, books
on Anarchism, Judge Eltzbacher’s Anarchism, describes Anarchism as a sort of
hydra-headed theory some of which comes from Godwin or Proudhon or Stirner
(another who never mentions anarchism), or Kropotkin, each a different variation
on a theme. The book may be tossed aside as valueless except in its description
of what these particular men thought. Proudhon did not write a programme for
all time, nor did Kropotkin in his time write for a sect of Anarchists. But many
other books written by academics are equally valueless: many professors have a
view of anarchism based on the popular press. Anarchism is neither a mindless
theory of destruction nor, despite some liberal-minded literary conceptions, is it
hero-worship of people or institutions, however liberated they might be.

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Published by: Bloom on Jun 01, 2013
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07/13/2013

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Albert Meltzer 
Anarism: Argumentsfor and against
 
2
Contents
What Constitutes an Authoritarian Society? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21Can One Do Without the State? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22e Money Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23e Myth of Taxation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24e Effect of Immigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25e Abolition of the Wage and Monetary Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25Is Anarchism Compatible with Capitalism? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26Community Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27Need ere be a Transitional Society? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27A Free Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28e Employers Do Not Give Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29Objections to Anarchism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31Can Public Opinion Itself be Authoritarian? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32Unity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

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