The Anarchists

The Anarchists, Anarchism

The social creed of the anarchist is a curious fusion of Liberal and socialist doctrines. Its economic criticism of the State, its enthusiasm for individual initiative, as well as its conception of a spontaneous economic order, are features which it owes to Liberalism; while its hatred of private property and its theory of exploitation represent its borrowings from socialism.

Doctrinal fusions of this kind which seek to combine two extreme standpoints not infrequently outdo them both. Dunoyer, for example, was the extremest of Liberals, but he took great care to remind his readers of at least one function which none but the State could per­form: no other authority, he thought, could ever undertake to provide security. True bourgeois of 1830 that he was, Dunoyer always con­sidered that 'order' was a prime social necessity. But, armed with the criticism of the socialists, the anarchists soon get rid of this last vestige of the State's prerogative. In their opinion the security of which Dunoyer spoke merely meant the security of proprietors; 'order' is only necessary for the defence of the possessors against the attack of the non-possessors. The socialists themselves (with the exception of Fourier, perhaps, whom the anarchists claim as one of themselves), however opposed to private property, were exceedingly anxious to retain considerable powers in the hands of the State, such as the superintendence of social production, for example. Armed this time with the criticism of the Liberal school, the anarchists experience no difficulty in demonstrating the economic and administrative incapacity of the State. "Liberty without socialism means privilege, and socialism without liberty means slavery and brutality"—so writes Bakunin.
It is only fitting that a few pages at this stage of the book should be devoted to a doctrine that attempts to fuse the two great social currents that strove so valiantly for the upper hand in nineteenth-century history.

It is not our first acquaintance with anarchy, however. It has already been given a "local habitation and a name" by Proudhon, who is the real father of modern anarchism. This does not imply that similar doctrines may not be discovered in writings of a still earlier date, as in Godwin's, for example. But such writers remained solitary exceptions, while the links connecting the anarchical teaching of Proudhon with the political and social anarchy of the last thirty years are easily traced. Not only is the similarity of ideas very striking, but their transmission from Proudhon to Bakunin, and thence to Kropotkin, Reclus, and Jean Grave, is by no means difficult to follow.

Alongside of the political and social anarchism which form the principal subject of this chapter there is also the philosophical and literary anarchism, whose predominant characteristic is an almost insane exaltation of the individual. The best-known representative of this school, which hails from Germany, is Max Stirner, whose book entitled Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum appeared in i844. The work was forgotten for a long time, although it enjoyed a striking success when it first appeared, and was bitterly criticized by Marx. Later when Nietzsche was beginning to win that literary renown which is so unmistakably his to-day, it was seen that in Stirner he had a precursor, although Stirner's works probably remained quite unknown to Nietzsche himself, with the result that Stirner has since enjoyed post­humous fame as the earliest immoraliste. A few words only are neces­sary to show the difference between his doctrines and those of Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin.