Anarchism aims to create a society without hierarchical authority. That means no divisions between rulers and ruled, workers and bosses, leaders and followers, order givers and order takers. It means decisions are made directly by those affected by them, not by authorities.
Anarchists seek freedom for all. Everyone should be free to determine their own destinies, limited only be the equal freedom of others. This freedom should be a real, actual possibility, not an abstract right.
Anarchists are opposed to patriarchy and to racism. A free society will not exist while women face fear, discrimination and dependence on men. Neither will it exist where people are judged because of the colour of their skin. Discrimination treats people as representatives of a stereotyped group, rather than free, unique individuals.
Anarchists are not opposed to organisation. Anarchy is about organisation. It is about voluntary co-operation between equals. We are opposed, however, to organisations based on authority and hierarchy.
Anarchists believe in the necessity of ‘direct democracy‘. Rather than taking the management of their own affairs away from people and putting it in the hands of others, anarchists favour organisations which minimise authority, keeping power in the hands of those who are affected by any decisions reached. Instead of electing politicians to rule us, we can make our own decisions through face-to-face neighbourhood and workplace assemblies and voluntary confederations.
Anarchists seek the destruction of the state. The state centralises decision making power into the hands of a few, giving them the power to use violence to enforce their will. It separates society into rulers and ruled, and robs us of the freedom to control over their own lives. We will not be free while the state exists.
Anarchists seek an end to private property and state property. Of course, we recognise everyone has a right to personal possessions – we don’t want to make our toothbrushes common property! Private property means the monopoly of wealth, the right to prevent others using it, whether you are using it or not. Property creates an authoritarian relationship between those who own the means of life, and those who use them but do not own them. We think that land should be managed by those who occupy or cultivate it. Houses should be managed by those who live in them, without having to grovel to landlords or local governments. Workplaces should be managed by those who work there, under the guidance of the wider community. In short, “property” should be controlled by those who use it or are affected by its use. No one should “own” (i.e. control) land, housing and productive tools that they are not personally using – whether they are “private individuals” or government officials.
Anarchists are socialists. But we are libertarian socialists. For us, socialism means management of production by the workers themselves, not owners, bosses or government bureaucrats. Workplaces should not be controlled by private owners or by the state, but by those who do the work and by those people that are effected by the work. We should manage our workplaces without bosses, through workers councils – face-to-face meetings of the whole workforce in every factory, office or farm. These would collectively make all “management” decisions on a basis of one-worker-one-vote.
Anarchists take action in the here and now. We don’t vote; we organise! We have as much freedom as we are willing to take. Only by taking direct action to change the world can a libertarian society be achieved. Anarchists are busy organising in their workplaces and communities, spreading our ideas and leading by example. We work to create the facts of the future, today, planting libertarian institutions like seeds within our authoritarian society.
Originally published in the Hereford Anarchist Federation newsletter ‘Black Apple Press’.