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Seminar notes for Leah’s Seminar on ANARCHISM 

Before reading, please remove all previous notions on anarchism such as the
belief that anarchism is violent, chaotic... And so on. Thank you.

The political philosophy of: Ⓐnarchism


Anarchism is the theory that society can function without any sort of government
authority governing the masses. The theory usually associates the government or
“state” as being immoral or unjust.

Main Principles of Anarchism:

1. Natural morality: also called the non-harm or non-aggression principle. This


is the presumed method (by an anarchist) used to settle arguments. In other
words, violence and chaos is not the preferred method to solve disputes.
2. Principles of equality: everyone is equal (but not identical). All rights are
equal; no-one person can control another person (see liberty)… And so on. No-
one person can have more power than another.
3. Property: is the “social organizing device” of society. In simpler terms,
property is used to organize how society will function. Whatever one person
owns, they are responsible for said aspect. For example, if Bob owns a hamster
farm, he is responsible for all the negative and positive outcomes from his
farm. Steve, another farmer does not own Bob’s hamster farm and therefore has
no responsibility over it.
4. Liberty (Freedom): every person should be able to have the right to realize
their own potential without limitations from the state/ government. For
example, if Bob wanted to build an underwater hamster farm, nothing should
limit him from doing so (if he owns the property of course).

Several points on why anarchism is against government/ the state:

1. Anarchism supports the greatest happiness principle1 (refer back to Emma’s


seminar on J.S Mill). Look at your own current or past governing system or
another one currently existing (i.e. The Libyan government) and see if there
has ever been no conflict between the people and the system. There probably

1
This is seen in William Godwin’s Political Justice. Godwin is commonly referred to as the founder of
anarchism. In Political Justice, he writes in support of utilitarianism by supporting those ideas with
his own. See chapter 2 of book II offered on for free at:
http://web.bilkent.edu.tr/Online/www.english.upenn.edu/jlynch/Frank/Godwin/pjtp.html

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Seminar notes for Leah’s Seminar on ANARCHISM 

has. So in short, governing systems whether they are communist, dictatorship


or democratic, all of them cannot keep the majority of people happy for very
long.

2. Anarchists see that government has no utility (supported by ideas of


utilitarianism, mainly by greatest happiness principle.). For example, many of
Canadians pay taxes for things they do not need such as the fake lake for the
G20 summit. If the government makes decisions such as this, are they really
trying to benefit us or themselves? (Anarchists says they are trying to
benefit themselves ∴ does not make public happy)

3. Anarchists believe that society can function without a government, and would
rely on a “social contract” (not the one proposed by Hobbes, but by Locke).
Locke proposed that people are willing to do something only if they chose to
do it. For example, Bob will trade some hamsters to Steve because both have
agreed to do so. The social contract supports anarchism because it firstly,
shows that government definitely cannot represent the social contract properly
and secondly, this would entitle the people to have control over what they
want. Hence, no government is needed because people can govern themselves.

In general, Anarchists do not support the government because they do not see a
need for it.

More information (links)

I recommend the videos since they take less time.

Videos

Lasers Manifesto (Lupe Fiasco): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqfv26Xzl0U


I thought what they were saying sounded very (for a lack of a better word,) anarchist.

Some guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMHqJDh4fZY


very detailed video on the history and basic concepts of anarchism. WARNING: has
inappropriate language (but still very informative).

Noam Chomsky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G6kf7XM9Nk&feature=related


more reputable source, but kind of boring.

Optional Readings (also see footnotes)

Chomsky interview: http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/19961223.htm

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Seminar notes for Leah’s Seminar on ANARCHISM 

Example from history:


http://books.google.ca/books?id=13Hck24xgHUC&pg=PA2&dq=politics+anarchism&hl=en&e
i=fWWBTe3gPMu70QGSw6X8CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v
=onepage&q=politics%20anarchism&f=false

Anarchism + Culture:
http://books.google.ca/books?id=B064aJShLDgC&pg=PT44&dq=politics+anarchism&hl=en&
ei=fWWBTe3gPMu70QGSw6X8CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAg#
v=onepage&q=politics%20anarchism&f=false

Discussion Questions:

1. From what you understand about Anarchism, What other –isms or thinkers have
been incorporated into the anarchism theory? Do these ideas justify Anarchism
effectively? Why or why not? (look back into summary and also incorporate your
own ideas)

2. If there was no governing system over the student body of Malvern, would the
student body still function? If so, how? And if not, why not? ( use evidence
from this and/or other seminars to justify your ideas)

3. Locke believed that a government must have a policing, judicial and


legislative power (separate from each other so that none was above another).
How could an anarchist society fulfill these roles? ( Pick one and justify
your answer)

4. Anarchism has inspired many artists to write music to promote the ideals of
anarchism. In Lupe Fiasco’s new album, Lasers, He writes songs that demote
the government and promote anarchism (as well the anarchism symbol is present
in the album cover). In his song, State Run Radio, what are some ideas of
Anarchism can be interpreted from the lyrics? (link to video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QKYUtemTs0&feature=related)

5. Anarchism is often regarded as a good idea on paper but not in real life.
Should this statement be regarded as true or false (in terms of an anarchist
society existing in real life)?

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Seminar notes for Leah’s Seminar on ANARCHISM 

Works Cited

Chomsky, N. (2005). Chomsky On Anarchism. Edinburgh ; Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Clark, J. P. (1977). The Philosophical Anarchism of William Godwin. Princeton, N.J. :


Princeton University Pres.

Godwin, W. (1926). An Enquiry concerning Political Justice (Vol. 1). New York: Alfred
A. Knopf.

Moseley, A. (2005, April 25). Political Philosophy. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/polphil/

Narveson, J. (2008). You and The State: a fairly brief introduction to political
philosophy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Parsons, A. R. (1971). Anarchism: its philosophy and scientific basis. New York:
Kraus Reprint Co.

Philp, M. (2009, April 8). William Godwin. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/godwin/

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