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+1 vote
I was having an argument one time with an "anarchist" that accepts capitalism(an anarcho-capitalist). I argued that anarchism is an ideology that advocates certain ideas(like abolishing private property, capitalism, and being against hierarchy). This person argued that anarchism is just the belief in the abolition of the state and nothing more. They said that anarchism isn't anti-hierarchy either, just abolishing established authority. So, rulers and government could still exist. As long as there is nothing "established".

Who is right?

or are we both mistaken?
by (260 points)
So-called anarcho-capitalism is an Anglophone aberration; since the beginnings of anarchism being a recognized/recognizable political current, it has been anti-capitalist; this is what makes anarchism historically part of a broader Left. In addition, since at least the end of the 1960s, anarchism has been explicitly anti-oppression and therefore anti-hierarchy. Your interlocutor is operating with a 19th century Liberal understanding of how economics and authority work.

anarchy, the presumed objective of anarchism, means - quite literally - something very close to "no rulers". so saying "rulers and governments could still exist" is not consistent with any concept of anarchy that i relate to.


i would say anarchism could be considered a political ideology, even though those with a more post/anti-left perspective would probably consider themselves anti-political as well as anti-ideology. as rs666 alludes to below, ideology is kind of a loaded word. the differences between ideology and dogma can be quite subtle, but they do exist. after some interesting recent discussion (irl) about exactly that, i want to try to be more clear when using those terms.

1 Answer

+2 votes
In the jargon of many ultra-left (non-Party, and non-Leninist) Marxists and most intelligent anarchists, the terms Politics and Ideology have a negative connotation. To this vague grouping of folks, politics is explicitly tied to statecraft; for a critical examination of how Politics has become a negative term, take a brief look at the work of Michel Foucault. Ideology, as mentioned above, has a connotation of dogma and inflexible thought, as opposed to Theory. This is how libertarian Marxists and critical anarchists use the term. There is a witticism that runs something like "Theory is when you have ideas; Ideology is when ideas have you." This is not a semantic issue, but one of particular usage among a self-selected group of people (i.e., jargon).

see also: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wolfi-landstreicher-critical-thinking-as-an-anarchist-weapon
by (550 points)

"for a critical examination of how Politics has become a negative term, take a brief look at the work of Michel Foucault"

what does this mean???