Anarchism is more closely linked to socialism than liberalism

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  • Topic: Individualism, Individualist anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin
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‘Anarchism is more closely linked to socialism than liberalism.’

The core principle and very definition of anarchism, is the opposition to the state, where individuals are free from any compulsory contracts e.g.- anarchists would go against Locke’ concept of rational individuals going into a ‘social contract’, in order to avoid, as Hobbes puts it, a ‘nasty brutish and short life.’ Some may argue anarchism is a reactionary movement but still it overlaps the two ideologies i.e.- socialism and liberalism, where all three reach an anti-statist conclusion. From this, it would appear both rivalling ideologies indeed have relations to anarchism.

A particular strand of anarchism i.e.- individualist anarchism, shares a similar approach to liberalism. One key similarity is the idea of sovereign individuals, the most radical ideas originating from Max Stirner’s ‘The Ego and His Own’. Like Marx, Stirner was hugely influenced by the works of Hegel, however coming to the conclusion of extreme individualism i.e.- ‘egoism’. Stirner like some liberal thinkers believed in the term ‘egoism’, e.g.- liberal thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke accepted that individuals are self-interested or self-seeking, as one of the definition of egoism suggests. However, these liberals would then go on to argue that self-interestedness causes conflict, hence the need of a state, going against every anarchist. Like the individual anarchist William Godwin, any restrictions held on an individual is evil, and if those constraints are enforced by the state, then it is absolute evil. Going back to human rationality, much like Mill and other classical liberals, anarchism tends to share the distrust of the state, and the concentrated importance of individual liberty. Where an anarchist argues the state is unnecessary and evil, many liberals believe the individual is rational, that they have reasoning above any collective body. In addition, as humans are self-interested, the state will inevitably be corrupt. However, unlike anarchism, liberals believe the state is a necessity, as it is the only institute that can provide meaningful protection to the people e.g.- ‘public goods like protection can only be provided by the state’. In addition, both have a different account to freedom, in particular liberals believe freedom is abstract, as though individuals act in a place where all things being equal. On the other hand, anarchists see freedom in terms of the individuals’ place in society.

Where anarchists and liberals share a common interest in the individual and egoism, socialist-communitarianists/collectivist anarchism compliment socialism more i.e.- the concept of cooperation. During the Spanish civil war (1936), the state was completely abolished by anarchism, a form of ‘mutualism’ came to fruition, this of course associates with the French (collectivist) anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. The Spanish people began using barter and cooperative behaviour, overshadowing wages and money, resembling a socialist/communist society. This communist like society inevitably, as too does the term mutualism, leads many to think of the socialist Marx. In addition to the similarities mutualism brings, Proudhon shared in common with Josiah Warren, the disapproval of private property. Moreover, Proudhon famously stated ‘Property is theft’, condemning a system of economic exploitation. This rejection of private property is also seen by Marx, more specifically Marx argued for the accumulated commodities/money to be distributed equally. However, in comparison to Marx, Proudhon did not discard private property completely. Proudhon believed that peasants ought to be entitled to ‘possessions’, creating a system of property ownership, but avoiding exploitation, while promoting social harmony.

Unlike the individualist anarchist, the collectivist anarchists favour common ownership, arguably to the full Marxist extent, in addition to communal organisation, both factors...
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