Nineteenth Century Philosophy


What is anarchism?

Both the working class and the owning class have their own ideologies, which unreconstructed are the ideology of the owning class. That is, the owning class sees the world in a way that justifies their position: for example, in believing that all who have great wealth have earned it by hard work. The politically dominant class in a society is the class that economically controls the main means of production. In general, the ideology of any social class is the result of where that class is located in terms of the dominant means of production in its society.

Workers and others need to realize that workers are human beings who become alienated from their own labor when it is merely treated as a commodity on which their employers make a profit. The short-term solution to this situation is for workers to unite and demand better pay and working conditions. The long-term solution is a historical process through which capitalism will destroy itself through its own internal contradictions. The erstwhile workers will then become socialist owners who are able to pursue self-fulfilling activities, instead of merely laboring to survive from one day to the next.

Anarchism is a theory and political movement that is based on ideals of freedom and equality. All forms of domination, authority, and subordination are considered unjust and backed up by force. The state and all of its supporting institutions, as well as the institutions supported by the state, are deemed unacceptable. Society should be reorganized into small, self-governing communities in which members cooperate toward the same ends and produce their livelihood together. English journalist and political philosopher William Godwin (1756–1836) initiated modern anarchism in the eighteenth century, and in the nineteenth, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (1814–1876), and Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (1842–1921) were leading figures.


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