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Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

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0 votes
What principals does the Anarchist believe?  I know they believe people should not work for others, or be subject to others desires; but if they don't believe a person should have the right to contract their labor for a wage, in exchange for the ability to use the employers property, is it really a moral position?  It seems many people could be self employed, but choose not to take the risk and feel working for a wage is more desirable.  Specialization in labor and property rights have increased life expectancy, and made all lives more nobel by increasing their power to communicate with others and travel around the world.

If my view is skewed, which I'm sure it is I haven't researched much, please explain and recommend ONE BOOK I should read to understand Anarchism.
there's no way to recommend one book when no one here knows you. do you want a classic or a modern book? do you want something practical or imaginative? do you want poetry or history or anthropology (sigh) or biography or essays or fiction...
really there is no one book regardless.
There is this book called "Anarchy 101"

Kidding. No need to buy what you can get here for free...
i'm not sure how well it holds up now, and i am no big fan of crimethinc, but many folks i know (including some that do not identify as anarchist) have gotten much out of an old pamphlet of theirs titled "fighting for our lives".

3 Answers

0 votes
Well fuck I accidentally hit backspace outside the text box and lost the three-paragraph-long explanation I wrote. Here's an abridged version I guess.

1. That's an odd question to ask. Anarchists reject private property (IE absentee property not based on use) as illegitimate, so in an "anarchist society," if such a thing could actually exist, your scenario would never arise. If you mean, do we reject/condemn working for a wage while under a system of private property, the answer is generally no; unfortunately, most anarchists are wage slaves ourselves. But since we reject private property on principal that's not really important.

2. That's a worthless argument. Technological advancement and life expectancy increased significantly under the Roman Empire and American and European slave societies, but that doesn't mean those systems were desirable either. And it's very easy for you to make that claim as someone who presumably is somewhat well-to-do and living in the first world; global statism/capitalism has certainly not been nearly so friendly as far as improving conditions goes to most of Africa, Latin America, etc.

3. Emma Goldman's "Anarchism and Other Essays" was the first book on Anarchist theory that I really "got." Whatever you do, don't start out with Bakunin- I tried reading "God and the State" when I was only 17 and totally unfamiliar with Anarchism and it was not a fun experience.
by (240 points)
+5 votes
Anarchist thought derives from the experiences of people who resent and/or refuse to be pushed around, whether by cops, bosses, clerics, or other kinds of bullies. It derives from the experiences of people who feel the sting of the arbitrariness of coercive authority.
by (570 points)
I really appreciate this answer. I wanted to write something similar, but you said it more succinctly than what I had in mind. Thanks.
I became interested in anarchist politics as a middle class teenager. While I had bosses and teachers who bothered me, and I never ever have enjoyed telling people what to do, I don't think that this is where my interest in anarchism came from. And I've met other anarchists who come from similar backgrounds and didn't clash with authority that often (back in the day at least).

I think a general dissatisfaction with the world, ones' resonance with anarchist values (mutual aid, free association), and the starry-eyed idealism of it all might explain where anarchist thought derives from nowadays more than/alongside of ones' resentment of authority.
This short little answer has popped into my head often. Really great 'in-a-nutshell.'
+1 vote
I don't feel well read enough to recommend a book, especially since as dot noted your request is rather nonspecific. In fact, I would quite appreciate it if someone would take the time to recommend a book accessible to the types of people who might ask your questions (not a slur, quite, different thought patterns like different expositions).

I'll try to answer the other questions from my own perspective (which is slightly idiosyncratic). Anarchist thought doesn't derive from ANY principles. There, I said it. The whole enlightenment style axiomatic social planning thing is boring. Instead of (better: in addition to) principles, why not allow thought (better: practice) to flow from actions, values, stories and rituals? But if you want a small list of things to give the flavor of anarchy, you can try:
    freedom of association (as opposed to coercive hierarchy)
    mutual aid (as opposed to competition)
    direct action (as opposed to reliance on a state, say)
For me, anarchism flows from my values of community, freedom, diversity, and responsibility. I feel the state works in opposition to all these.

To address your example, please note that since anarchists value freedom neither I nor anyone I know would be willing to stop someone from offering themselves for wage labor, if it didn't impinge on the freedom of others, even though such a choice would be an affront to our values and we would probably shun them a little. Historically, though, few people have made this choice without being forced, so the situation might not come up. The statements regarding the employers property are of course highly dependent on your notion of property, the modern one of which is an extreme example better suited to a war zone than to an orderly society. The concept of self employment, and its alleged risks, is again very specific to our cultural bloc. We don't want people to stop working as they do in the current culture, but rather to change the culture to allow different forms of activity.

Finally, you make a variety of claims as to the successes of a cartoon version of modern economics. The modern world has achieved some things that I value, but I feel you exaggerate the success, and your attribution is suspect. Are you seriously singing the praises of a system that can't even get gloves or water to Sierra Leone? Are you sure my life is more noble simply because I can fly to China and eat in a MacDonald's there, while looking at thousands of cute cat pictures from around the world? I have a MacDonald's here, for Chist's sake. And I don't like cats.
by (610 points)