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Anarchy 2 Essay Research Paper Anarchy is

Anarchy 2 Essay, Research Paper

Anarchy is the theory of life and conduct under which social interactions

exist without government interference or assistance. It is not chaos,

nor terrorism, and has no connection to senseless violence; anarchy is

simply existing without being governed. Harmony in such a society would

be obtained not by submission to laws, or by obedience to any form of

authority, but by freely entered agreements between individuals.

The United States has strong ties to anarchy, a rather paradoxical

situation. It was conceived by, and is even to this day constantly being

refined by anarchists; people who maintain the view that the highest

attainment of humanity is the freedom of individuals to express themselves

unhindered by any form of external repression. Men such as the likes of

Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers, whose views can best be

summarized in something he preached, “If you think people incapable of

exercising their choices with wholesome discretion, the solution is not to

take away their choices, but to inform their discretion.”

So where did the concept of anarchy come from? Could it be inherent in

human nature, a hold over from adolescence perhaps? Could it be people

are naturally opposed to being told what to do? Abraham Lincoln, during

the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, said something that summarizes human

view towards being governed, “No man is good enough to govern another man

without that other’s consent.”

The modern concept of anarchy as being a sort of ethical civil society

came during the French Revolution, around 1848. A man named Pierre Joseph

Pfoudhon envisioned a society in which people’s ethical nature and sense

of moral responsibility would be so highly developed that government would

be unnecessary to regulate and protect society, and is thus credited with

fathering modern anarchy. Anarchy requires a lot of commitment on the

part of the individual. How does the old saying go With freedom comes


On an individual level, no one wishes to be dominated, but at the

same time the individual does not want to be infringed upon by others. A

Russian-American anarchist and women’s rights activist named Emma Goldman

wrote, “I want full freedom and cooperation to evolve as a human being, to

gain wisdom and knowledge.” She does not refer to freedom of others,

merely herself. Greed of freedoms is understandable because it is so hard

to trust others to always do what is good. Socrates might respond, “To

know the good is to do the good.”

Can the idea of an ethical civil society, a term coined by Adam Michnik in

the 1970s, be not only applied to the individual, but can that individual

wish for government to be taken off of their neighbors as well? “Let us

treat the men and women well: treat them as if they were real: perhaps

they are.” wrote Ralph Emerson in an essay entitled Experience. What he

is implying is even a person who is not your friend, or even a person who

you do not know, can still have similar responsibility levels as yourself.

In the past government has been justified by people like James Madison,

who claimed, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary, but”

His quote implies that, since men are not angels, we need government to

function. Many have come to agree with him, feeling that law maintains

order and balance. It is very easy in the short run to agree with some

limited government when it helps you out.

So, why reject all the benefits of a governed society? If there was no

government there could be no governmentally sponsored health care, welfare

programs, education, national defense, prisons, post offices, or

maintained roads, right? What would happen? The Libertarian party puts

forth the idea that private companies would take over and be able to both

maximize the contentment for the individual and minimize spending waste;

charities would be run by private voluntary donations. Private

institutions are able to provide a more customized service, thus providing

greater satisfaction for the individual. They site examples such as

private schools being able to provide much better services than public

schools, private family doctors being far superior to public health

clinics, and private apartments being better maintained than low income

housing provided by the government.

Their views are criticized because a lot of people doubt in a

corporation’s ability to maximize anything other than profits. There

could be no government inspections, or even government standards. Because

in an anarchist society they wouldn’t be monopolies, due to a completely

free market theory being placed on the economy, customer satisfaction

would have to be insured by competition: each company would need to please

their customers or else run the risk of going out of business.

“Government functions could be funded by user fees,” say the Libertarians,

thus insuring that the individual only pay for what he uses.

Forcing people to pay money though is fairly minor in comparison

to another problem with government. The other problem, which is so

prominent in our culture today, is that Government says to people, through

laws, that they don’t have to think anymore. They can just do what is

legal, and there is no need to think about what is actually right. “The

State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral,

but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or

honesty, but with superior strength,” wrote Henry David Threau in an essay

entitled Resistance to Civil Government. The government is thus, just a

big bully who forces us to do it’s bidding.

Being an anarchist is like being the prisoner who Plato writes

about in his Allegory of the Cave. Once a person has seen the sun, or

rather how ideal anarchy is, they are not often welcomed by the people who

are still living in the dark, or rather under a governmental system. Even

so, Thomas Jefferson claimed, “A little rebellion, now and then, is a good

thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

The world needs anarchists, if only to provide ideas for a more liberated


What has kept anarchy from being a more prominent force in the world?

Perhaps it requires something that we as a society are not yet ready to

commit to: personal responsibility. Anarchy requires every person to take

responsibility for his own actions. We would have to rid ourselves of a

lot of our destructive tendencies: excessive greed, violence, and hatred.

Anarchy requires that the individual live his life without infringing upon

others, something hard for anyone. As Henry David Threau wrote in the

opening lines of his most famous essay:

“I heartily accept the motto, – “That government is best which governs

least,” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and

systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also

believe, – “That government is best that governs not at all;” and when men

are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government they will have.


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Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and Other Essays. New York, NY: Dover

Publications, 1969.

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States: Bantam Books, 1989.

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Corporation, 1998.

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