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Title: Anarchy
Author: Malatesta, Errico
Language: English
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                          Errico Malatesta

            Published by the Free Society Library in 1900



ANARCHY is a word which comes from the Greek, and signifies,
strictly speaking, _without government:_ the state of a people
without any constituted authority, that is, without government.

Before such an organization had begun to be considered possible
and desirable by a whole class of thinkers, so as to be taken
as the aim of a party (which party has now become one of the
most important factors in modern social warfare), the word Anarchy
was taken universally in the sense of disorder and confusion;
and it is still adopted in that sense by the ignorant and by
adversaries interested in distorting the truth.

We shall not enter into philological discussions; for the question
is not philological but historical. The common meaning of the word
does not misconceive its true etymological signification, but is
derived from this meaning, owing to the prejudice that government
must be a necessity of the organization of social life; and that
consequently a society without government must be given up to
disorder, and oscillate between the unbridled dominion of some and
the blind vengeance of others.

The existence of this prejudice, and its influence on the meaning
which the public has given the word, is easily explained.

Man, like all living beings, adapts and habituates himself to
the conditions in which he lives, and transmits by inheritance
his acquired habits. Thus being born and having lived in bondage,
being the descendant of a long line of slaves, man, when he began to
think, believed that slavery was an essential condition of life; and
liberty seemed to him an impossible thing. In like manner, the
workman, forced for centuries, and thus habituated, to depend upon
the good will of his employer for work, that is, for bread, and
accustomed to see his own life at the disposal of those who possess
the land and the capital, has ended in believing that it is his
master who gives him to eat, and demands ingenuously how it would be
possible to live, if there were no master over him?

In the same way, a man who had had his limbs bound from his birth,
but had nevertheless found out how to hobble about, might attribute
to the very hands that bound him his ability to move, while, on the
contrary, they would be diminishing and paralyzing the muscular
energy of his limbs.

If, then, we add to the natural effect of habit the education
given him by his masters, the parson, teacher, etc., who are all
interested in teaching that the employer and the government are
necessary; if also we add the judge and the bailiff to force those
who think differently--and might try to propagate their opinions
--to keep silence, we shall understand how the prejudice as to
the utility and necessity of masters and governments has become
established. Suppose a doctor brings forward a complete theory,
with a thousand ably invented illustrations, to persuade that man
with the bound limb whom we were describing, that, if his limb were
freed, he could not walk, could not even live. The man would defend
his bands furiously, and consider any one his enemy who tried to
tear them off.

Thus, since it is believed that government is necessary, and
that without government there must be disorder and confusion,
it is natural and logical to suppose that Anarchy, which signifies
without government, must also mean absence of order.

Nor is this fact without parallel in the history of words. In
those epochs and countries where people have considered government
by one man (monarchy) necessary, the word republic (that is, the
government of many) has been used precisely like Anarchy, to imply
disorder and confusion. Traces of this signification of the word are
still to be found in the popular language of almost all countries.

When this opinion is changed, and the public convinced that
government is not necessary, but extremely harmful, the word
Anarchy, precisely because it signifies without government, will
become equal to saying natural order, harmony of the needs and
interests of all, complete liberty with complete solidarity.

Therefore, those are wrong who say that Anarchists have chosen their
name badly, because it is erroneously understood by the masses and
leads to a false interpretation. The error does not come from the
word, but from the thing. The difficulty which Anarchists meet with
in spreading their views does not depend upon the name they have
given themselves, but upon the fact that their conceptions strike at
all the inveterate prejudices that people have about the function of
government, or the _State_, as it is called.

Before proceeding further, it will be well to explain this last
word (the State) which, in our opinion, is the real cause of much

Anarchists, and we among them, have made use, and still generally
make use of the word State, meaning thereby that collection of
institutions, political, legislative, judicial, military, financial,
etc., by means of which the management of their own affairs, the
guidance of their personal conduct and the care of ensuring their
own safety are taken from the people and confided to certain
individuals. And these, whether by usurpation or delegation, are
invested with the right to make laws over and for all, and to
constrain the public to respect them, making use of the collective
force of the community to this end.

In this case the word State means government, or, if you like, it is
the impersonal expression, abstracted from the state of things, of
which the government is the personification. Then such expressions
as abolition of the State, or society without the State, agree
perfectly with the conception which Anarchists wish to express of
the destruction of every political institution based on authority,
and of the constitution of a free and equal society, based upon
harmony of interests, and the voluntary contribution of all to the
satisfaction of social needs.

However, the word State has many other significations, and among
these some which lend themselves to misconstruction, particularly
when used among men whose sad social position has not afforded them
leisure to become accustomed to the delicate distinctions of
scientific language, or, still worse, when adopted treacherously by
adversaries, who are interested in confounding the sense, or do not
wish to comprehend. Thus the word State is often used to indicate
any given society, or collection of human beings, united on a given
territory and constituting what is called a social unit,
independently of the way in which the members of the said body are
grouped, or of the relations existing between them. State is used
also simply as a synonym for society. Owing to these significations
of the word, our adversaries believe, or rather profess to believe,
that Anarchists wish to abolish every social relation and all
collective work, and to reduce man to a condition of isolation, that
is, to a state worse than savagery.

By State again is meant only the supreme administration of a
country, the central power, distinct from provincial or communal
power; and therefore others think that Anarchists wish merely for a
territorial decentralization, leaving the principle of government
intact, and thus confounding Anarchy with cantonal or communal

Finally, state signifies condition, mode of living, the order
of social life, etc., and therefore we say, for example, that it is
necessary to change the economic state of the working classes,
or that the Anarchical state is the only state founded on the
principles of solidarity, and other similar phrases. So that if
we say also in another sense that we wish to abolish the State,
we may at once appear absurd or contradictory.

For these reasons, we believe it would be better to use the
expression _abolition of the State_ as little as possible, and to
substitute for it another clearer and more concrete--_abolition of

In any case, the latter will be the expression used in the course of
this little work.


We have said that Anarchy is society without government. But is the
suppression of government possible, desirable, or wise? Let us see.

What is the government? There is a disease of the human mind called
the metaphysical tendency, causing man, after he has by a logical
process abstracted the quality from an object, to be subject to a
kind of hallucination which makes him take the abstraction for the
real thing. This metaphysical tendency, in spite of the blows of
positive science, has still strong root in the minds of the majority
of our contemporary fellow men. It has such an influence that many
consider government an actual entity, with certain given attributes
of reason, justice, equity, independently of the people who compose
the government.

For those who think in this way, government, or the State, is the
abstract social power, and it represents, always in the abstract,
the general interest. It is the expression of the right of all, and
considered as limited by the rights of each. This way of
understanding government is supported by those interested, to whom
it is an urgent necessity that the principle of authority should be
maintained, and should always survive the faults and errors of the
persons who succeed to the exercise of power.

For us, the government is the aggregate of the governors; and the
governors--kings, presidents, ministers, members of parliament,
and what not--are those who have the power to make laws, to regulate
the relations between men, and to force obedience to these laws.
They are those who decide upon and claim the taxes, enforce military
service, judge and punish transgressions of the laws. They subject
men to regulations, and supervise and sanction private contracts.
They monopolize certain branches of production and public services,
or, if they wish, all production and public service. They promote
or hinder the exchange of goods. They make war or peace with the
governments of other countries. They concede or withhold free trade
and many things else. In short, the governors are those who
have the power, in a greater or less degree, to make use of the
collective force of society, that is, of the physical, intellectual,
and economic force of all, to oblige each to do the said governor's
wish. And this power constitutes, in our opinion, the very principle
of government, the principle of authority.

But what reason is there for the existence of government?

Why abdicate one's own liberty, one's own initiative in favor
of other individuals? Why give them the power to be the masters,
with or contrary to the wish of each, to dispose of the forces of
all in their own way? Are the governors such very exceptionally
gifted men as to enable them, with some show of reason, to represent
the masses, and act in the interest of all men better than all men
would be able to do for themselves? Are they so infallible and
incorruptible that one can confide to them, with any semblance of
prudence, the fate of each and all, trusting to their knowledge
and their goodness?

And even if there existed men of infinite goodness and knowledge,
even if we assume what has never been verified in history, and what
we believe it would be impossible to verify, namely, that the
government might devolve upon the ablest and best, would the
possession of governmental power add anything to their beneficent
influence? Would it not rather paralyze or destroy it? For those who
govern find it necessary to occupy themselves with things which they
do not understand, and, above all, to waste the greater part of
their energy in keeping themselves in power, striving to satisfy
their friends, holding the discontented in check, and mastering the

Again, be the governors good or bad, wise or ignorant, who is it
that appoints them to their office? Do they impose themselves
by right of war, conquest, or revolution? Then, what guarantees have
the public that their rulers have the general good at heart? In this
case it is simply a question of usurpation; and if the subjects are
discontented, nothing is left to them but to throw off the yoke, by
an appeal to arms. Are the governors chosen from a certain class or
party? Then certainly the ideas and interests of that class or party
will triumph, and the wishes and interests of the others will be
sacrificed. Are they elected by universal suffrage? Now numbers are
the sole criterion; and numbers are certainly no proof of reason,
justice or capacity. Under universal suffrage, the elected are those
who know best how to take in the masses. The minority, which may
happen to be half minus one, is sacrificed. And that without
considering that there is another thing to take into account.

Experience has shown it is impossible to hit upon an electoral
system which really ensures election by the actual majority.

Many and various are the theories by which men have sought to
justify the existence of government. All, however, are founded,
confessedly or not, on the assumption that the individuals of
a society have contrary interests, and that an external superior
power is necessary to oblige some to respect the interests of
others, by prescribing and imposing a rule of conduct, according to
which the interests at strife may be harmonized as much as possible,
and according to which each obtains the maximum of satisfaction
with the minimum of sacrifice. If, say the theorists of the
authoritarian school, the interests, tendencies, and desires of
an individual are in opposition to those of another individual, or
mayhap all society, who will have the right and the power to
oblige the one to respect the interests of the others? Who will
be able to prevent the individual citizen from offending the general
will? The liberty of each, say they, has for its limit the liberty
of others; but who will establish those limits, and who will cause
them to be respected? The natural antagonism of interests and
passions creates the necessity for government, and justifies
authority. Authority intervenes as moderator of the social
strife, and defines the limits of the rights and duties of each.

This is the theory; but the theory, to be sound, ought to be
based upon facts, and to explain them. We know well how in social
economy theories are too often invented to justify facts, that
is, to defend privilege and cause it to be accepted tranquilly by
those who are its victims. Let us here look at the facts themselves.

In all the course of history, as at the present epoch, government
is either the brutal, violent, arbitrary domination of the few over
the many, or it is an instrument ordained to secure domination and
privilege to those who, by force, or cunning, or inheritance, have
taken to themselves all the means of life, and first and foremost
the soil, whereby they hold the people in servitude, making them
work for their advantage.

Governments oppress mankind in two ways, either directly, by brute
force, that is physical violence, or indirectly, by depriving
them of the means of subsistence and thus reducing them to
helplessness at discretion. Political power originated in the
first method; economic privilege arose from the second. Governments
can also oppress man by acting on his emotional nature, and in this
way constitute religious authority. But there is no reason for the
propagation of religious superstitions except that they defend and
consolidate political and economic privileges.

In primitive society, when the world was not so densely populated
as now, and social relations were less complicated, when any
circumstance prevented the formation of habits and customs of
solidarity, or destroyed those which already existed, and
established the domination of man over man, the two powers,
the political and the economical, were united in the same hands
--and often also in those of one single individual. Those who
had by force conquered and impoverished the others, constrained
them to become their servants, and perform all things for them
according to their caprice. The victors were at once proprietors,
legislators, kings, judges, and executioners.

But with the increase of population, with the growth of needs,
with the complication of social relationships, the prolonged
continuance of such despotism became impossible. For their own
security, the rulers, often much against their will, were obliged
to depend upon a privileged class, that is, a certain number of
co-interested individuals, and were also obliged to let each of
these individuals provide for his own sustenance. Nevertheless
they reserved to themselves the supreme or ultimate control. In
other words, the rulers reserved to themselves the right to exploit
all at their own convenience, and so to satisfy their kingly vanity.
Thus private wealth was developed under the shadow of the ruling
power, for its protection and--often unconsciously--as its
accomplice. Thus the class of proprietors rose. And they,
concentrating little by little the means of wealth in their
own hands, all the means of production, the very fountains of
life--agriculture, industry, and exchange--ended by becoming
a power in themselves. This power, by the superiority of its
means of action, and the great mass of interests it embraces,
always ends by more or less openly subjugating the political
power, that is, the government, which it makes its policeman.

This phenomenon has been reproduced often in history. Every time
that, by invasion or any military enterprise whatever, physical
brute force has taken the upper hand in society, the conquerors
have shown the tendency to concentrate government and property in
their own hands. In every case, however, as the government cannot
attend to the production of wealth, and overlook and direct
everything, it finds it needful to conciliate a powerful class,
and private property is again established. With it comes the
division of the two sorts of power, that of the persons who
control the collective force of society, and that of the
proprietors, upon whom these governors become essentially
independent, because the proprietors command the sources of the
said collective force.

But never has this state of things been so accentuated as in
modern times. The development of production, the immense extension
of commerce, the extensive power that money has acquired, and all
the economic results flowing from the discovery of America, the
invention of machinery, etc., have secured such supremacy to the
capitalist class that it is no longer content to trust to the
support of the government, and has come to wish that the government
shall emanate from itself; a government composed of members of its
own class, continually under its control and especially organized
to defend its class against the possible revenge of the
disinherited. Hence the origin of the modern parliamentary system.

Today the government is composed of proprietors, or people of their
class so entirely under their influence that the richest of them do
not find it necessary to take an active part in it themselves.
Rothschild, for instance, does not need to be either M.P. or
minister, it is enough for him to keep M.P.'s and ministers
dependent upon himself.

In many countries, the proletariat participates nominally, more or
less, in the election of the government. This is a concession
which the _bourgeois_ (_i. e._, proprietory) class have made,
either to avail themselves of popular support in the strife against
royal or aristocratic power, or to divert the attention of the
people from their own emancipation by giving them an apparent
share in political power. However, whether the _bourgeoisie_
foresaw it or not, when first they conceded to the people the
right to vote, the fact is that the right has proved in reality a
mockery, serving only to consolidate the power of the _bourgeois_,
while giving to the most energetic only of the proletariat the
illusory hope of arriving at power.

So also with universal suffrage--we might say, especially with
universal suffrage--the government has remained the servant
and police of the _bourgeois_ class. How could it be otherwise?
If the government should reach the point of becoming hostile, if the
hope of democracy should ever be more than a delusion deceiving the
people, the proprietory class, menaced in its interests, would at
once rebel, and would use all the force and influence which come
from the possession of wealth, to reduce the government to the
simple function of acting as policeman.

In all times and in all places, whatever may be the name that the
government takes, whatever has been its origin, or its organization,
its essential function is always that of oppressing and exploiting
the masses, and of defending the oppressors and exploiters. Its
principal characteristic and indispensable instruments are the
bailiff and the tax collector, the soldier and the prison. And to
these are necessarily added the time-serving priest or teacher, as
the case may be, supported and protected by the government, to
render the spirit of the people servile and make them docile under
the yoke.

Certainly, in addition to this primary business, to this essential
department of governmental action other departments have been added
in the course of time. We even admit that never, or hardly ever, has
a government been able to exist in a country that was at all
civilized without adding to its oppressing and exploiting functions
others useful and indispensable to social life. But this fact makes
it none the less true that government is in its nature oppressive
and a means of exploitation, and that its origin and position doom
it to be the defence and hot-bed of a dominant class, thus
confirming and increasing the evils of domination.

The government assumes the business of protecting, more or less
vigilantly, the life of citizens against direct and brutal attacks;
acknowledges and legalizes a certain number of rights and primitive
usages and customs, without which it is impossible to live in
society. It organizes and directs certain public services,
as the post, preservation and construction of roads, care of
the public health, benevolent institutions, workhouses and such
like; and it pleases it to pose as the protector and benefactor of
the poor and weak. But it is sufficient to notice how and why
it fulfils these functions to prove our point. The fact is that
everything the government undertakes it is always inspired with
the spirit of domination, and ordained to defend, enlarge, and
perpetuate the privileges of property, and those classes of which
government is the representative and defender.

A government cannot rule for any length of time without hiding its
true nature behind the pretence of general utility. It cannot
respect the lives of the privileged without assuming the air of
wishing to respect the lives of all. It cannot cause the privileges
of some to be tolerated without appearing as the custodian
of the rights of everybody. "The law" (and, of course, those that
have made the law, that is, the government) "has utilized," says
Kropotkin, "the social sentiments of man, working into them those
precepts of morality, which man has accepted, together with
arrangements useful to the minority--the exploiters--and opposed to
the interests of those who might have rebelled, had it not been for
this show of a moral ground."

A government cannot wish the destruction of the community, for then
it and the dominant class could not claim their exploitation-gained
wealth; nor could the government leave the community to manage its
own affairs; for then the people would soon discover that it
(the government) was necessary for no other end than to defend the
proprietory class who impoverish them, and would hasten to rid
themselves of both government and proprietory class.

Today in the face of the persistent and menacing demands of
the proletariat, governments show a tendency to interfere in the
relations between employers and work people. Thus they try to arrest
the labor movement, and to impede with delusive reforms the attempts
of the poor to take to themselves that which is due to them, namely
an equal share of the good things of life which others enjoy.

We must also remember that on the one hand the bourgeois, that is,
the proprietory class, make war among themselves, and destroy one
another continually, and on the other hand that the government,
although composed of the _bourgeois_ and, acting as their servant
and protector, is still, like every other servant or protector,
continually striving to emancipate itself and to domineer over its
charge. Thus this see-saw game, this swaying between conceding and
withdrawing, this seeking allies among the people against the
classes, and among the classes against the masses, forms the science
of the governors, and blinds the ingenuous and phlegmatic, who are
always expecting that salvation is coming to them from on high.

With all this, the government does not change its nature. If it acts
as regulator or guarantor of the rights and duties of each, it
perverts the sentiment of justice. It justifies wrong and punishes
every act which offends or menaces the privileges of the governors
and proprietors. It declares just, _legal_, the most atrocious
exploitation of the miserable, which means a slow and continuous
material and moral murder, perpetrated by those who have on those
who have not. Again, if it administrates public services, it always
considers the interests of the governors and proprietors, not
occupying itself with the interests of the working masses, except
in so far as is necessary to make the masses willing to endure their
share of taxation. If it instructs, it fetters and curtails the
truth, and tends to prepare the mind and heart of the young to
become either implacable tyrants or docile slaves, according to the
class to which they belong. In the hands of the government
everything becomes a means of exploitation, everything serves as a
police measure, useful to hold the people in check. And it must be
thus. If the life of mankind consists in strife between man and
man, naturally there must be conquerors and conquered; and the
government, which is the prize of the strife, or is a means of
securing to the victors the results of their victory, and
perpetuating those results, will certainly never fall to those who
have lost, whether the battle be on the grounds of physical or
intellectual strength, or in the field of economics. And those who
have fought to conquer, that is, to secure to themselves better
conditions than others can have, to conquer privilege and add
dominion to power, and have attained the victory, will certainly
not use it to defend the rights of the vanquished, and to place
limits to their own power and to that of their friends and partizans.

The government--or the State, if you will--as judge, moderator
of social strife, impartial administrator of the public interests,
is a lie. It is an illusion, a Utopia, never realized and never
realizable. If in truth, the interests of men must always be
contrary to one another; if indeed, the strife between mankind
has made laws necessary to human society, and the liberty of
the individual must be limited by the liberty of other individuals;
then each one would always seek to make his interests triumph
over those of others. Each would strive to enlarge his own liberty
at the cost of the liberty of others, and there would be government.
Not simply because it was more or less useful to the totality of the
members of society to have a government, but because the conquerors
would wish to secure to themselves the fruits of victory. They would
wish effectually to subject the vanquished, and relieve themselves
of the trouble of being always on the defensive, and they would
appoint men, specially adapted to the business, to act as police.
Were this indeed actually the case, then humanity would be destined
to perish amidst periodical contests between the tyranny of the
dominators and the rebellion of the conquered.

But fortunately the future of humanity is a happier one, because
the law which governs it is milder.

This law is the law of _solidarity_.



Man has two necessary fundamental characteristics, _the instinct
of his own preservation_, without which no being could exist,
and _the instinct of the preservation of his species_, without which
no species could have been formed or have continued to exist.
He is naturally driven to defend his own existence and well-being
and that of his offspring against every danger.

In nature, living beings find two ways of securing their existence,
and rendering it pleasanter. The one is in individual strife with
the elements, and with other individuals of the same or different
species; the other is _mutual support_, or _co-operation_, which
might also be described as association for strife against all
natural factors, destructive to existence, or to the development
and well-being of the associated.

We do not need to investigate in these pages--and we cannot
for lack of space--what respective proportions in the evolution
of the organic world these two principles of strife and co-operation

It will suffice to note how co-operation among men (whether
forced or voluntary) has become the sole means of progress, of
improvement or of securing safety; and how strife--relic of an
earlier stage of existence--has become thoroughly unsuitable as
a means of securing the well-being of individuals, and produces
instead injury to all, both the conquerors and the conquered.

The accumulated and transmitted experience of successive generations
has taught man that by uniting with other men his preservation is
better secured and his well-being increased. Thus out of this same
strife for existence, carried on against surrounding nature, and
against individuals of their own species, the social instinct has
been developed among men, and has completely transformed the
conditions of their life. Through co-operation man has been enabled
to evolve out of animalism, has risen to great power, and elevated
himself to such a degree above the other animals, that metaphysical
philosophers have believed it necessary to invent for him an
immaterial and immortal soul.

Many concurrent causes have contributed to the formation of this
social instinct, that starting from the animal basis of the
instinct for the preservation of the species, has now become so
extended and so intense that it constitutes the essential element
of man's moral nature.

Man, however he evolved from inferior animal types, was a physically
weak being, unarmed for the fight against carnivorous beasts. But he
was possessed of a brain capable of great development, and a vocal
organ, able to express the various cerebral vibrations, by means of
diverse sounds, and hands adapted to give the desired form to
matter. He must have very soon felt the need and advantages of
association with his fellows. Indeed it may even be said that he
could only rise out of animalism when he became social, and had
acquired the use of language, which is at the same time a
consequence and a potent factor of sociability.

The relatively scanty number of the human species rendered the
strife for existence between man and man, even beyond the limits
of association, less sharp, less continuous, and less necessary.
At the same time, it must have greatly favored the development
of sympathetic sentiments, and have left time for the discovery
and appreciation of the utility of mutual support. In short,
social life became the necessary condition of man's existence,
in consequence of his capacity to modify his external surroundings
and adapt them to his own wants, by the exercise of his primeval
power in co-operation with a greater or less number of associates.
His desires have multiplied with the means of satisfying them, and
have become needs. And division of labor has arisen from man's
methodical use of nature for his own advantage. Therefore, as now
evolved, man could not live apart from his fellows without falling
back into a state of animalism. Through the refinement of
sensibility, with the multiplication of social relationships, and
through habit impressed on the species by hereditary transmission
for thousands of centuries, this need of social life, this
interchange of thought and of affection between man and man, has
become a mode of being necessary for our organism. It has been
transformed into sympathy, friendship and love, and subsists
independently of the material advantages that association procures.
So much is this the case, that man will often face suffering of
every kind, and even death, for the satisfaction of these sentiments.

The fact is that a totally different character has been given
to the strife for existence between man and man, and between
the inferior animals, by the enormous advantages that association
gives to man; by the fact that his physical powers are altogether
disproportionate to his intellectual superiority over the beasts,
so long as he remains isolated; by his possibility of associating
with an ever increasing number of individuals, and entering into
more and more intricate and complex relationships, until he
reaches association with all humanity; and, finally, perhaps
more than all, by his ability to produce, working in co-operation
with others, more than he needs to live upon. It is evident that
these causes, together with the sentiments of affection derived
from them, must give quite a peculiar character to the struggle
for existence among human beings.

Although it is now known--and the researches of modern naturalists
bring us every day new proofs--that co-operation has played, and
still plays, a most important part in the development of the organic
world, nevertheless, the difference between the human struggle for
existence and that of the inferior animals is enormous. It is in
fact proportionate to the distance separating man from the other
animals. And this is none the less true because of that Darwinian
theory, which the _bourgeois_ class have ridden to death, little
suspecting the extent to which mutual co-operation has assisted in
the development of the lower animals.

The lower animals fight either individually, or, more often,
in little permanent or transitory groups, against all nature, the
other individuals of their own species included. Some of the
more social animals, such as ants, bees, etc., associate together
in the same anthill, or beehive, but are at war with, or indifferent
towards, other communities of their own species. Human strife with
nature, on the contrary, tends always to broaden association among
men, to unite their interests, and to develop each individual's
sentiments of affection towards all others, so that united they may
conquer and dominate the dangers of external nature by and for

All strife directed towards obtaining advantages independently
of other men, and in opposition to them, contradicts the social
nature of modern man, and tends to lead it back to a more animal

_Solidarity_, that is, harmony of interests and sentiments, the
sharing of each in the good of all, and of all in the good of each,
is the state in which alone man can be true to his own nature,
and attain to the highest development and happiness. It is the
aim towards which human development tends. It is the one great
principle, capable of reconciling all present antagonisms in
society, otherwise irreconcilable. It causes the liberty of each
to find not its limits, but its complement, the necessary condition
of its continual existence--in the liberty of all.

"No man," says Michael Bakunin, "can recognize his own human worth,
nor in consequence realize his full development, if he does not
recognize the worth of his fellow men, and in co-operation
with them, realize his own development through them. No man
can emancipate himself, unless at the same time he emancipates
those around him. My freedom is the freedom of all; for I am not
really free--free not only in thought, but in deed--if my freedom
and my right do not find their confirmation and sanction in the
liberty and right of all men my equals.

"It matters much to me what all other men are, for however
independent I may seem, or may believe myself to be, by virtue
of my social position, whether as pope, czar, emperor, or prime
minister, I am all the while the product of those who are the
least among men. If these are ignorant, miserable, or enslaved,
my existence is limited by their ignorance, misery, or slavery.
I, though an intelligent and enlightened man, am made stupid
by their stupidity; though brave, am enslaved by their slavery;
though rich, tremble before their poverty; though privileged,
grow pale at the thought of possible justice for them. I, who
wish to be free, cannot be so, because around me are men who
do not yet desire freedom, and, not desiring it, become, as opposed
to me, the instruments of my oppression."

Solidarity, then, is the condition in which man can attain the
highest degree of security and of well-being. Therefore, egoism
itself, that is, the exclusive consideration of individual interests,
impels man and human society towards solidarity. Or rather egoism
and altruism (consideration of the interests of others) are
united in this one sentiment, as the interest of the individual is
one with the interests of society.

However, man could not pass at once from animalism to humanity;
from brutal strife between man and man to the collective strife
of all mankind, united in one brotherhood of mutual aid against
external nature.

Guided by the advantages that association and the consequent
division of labor offer, man evolved towards solidarity, but his
evolution encountered an obstacle which led him, and still leads
him, away from his aim. He discovered that he could realize
the advantages of co-operation, at least up to a certain point,
and for the material and primitive wants that then comprised
all his needs, by making other men subject to himself, instead
of associating on an equality with them. Thus the ferocious
and anti-social instincts, inherited from his bestial ancestry,
again obtained the upper hand. He forced the weaker to work
for him, preferring to domineer over rather than to associate
fraternally with his fellows. Perhaps also in most cases it was
by exploiting the conquered in war that man learnt for the first
time the benefits of association and the help that can be obtained
from mutual support.

Thus it has come about that the establishment of the utility
of co-operation, which ought to lead to the triumph of solidarity
in all human concerns, has turned to the advantage of private
property and of government; in other words, to the exploitation
of the labor of the many, for the sake of the privileged few.

There has always been association and co-operation, without
which human life would be impossible; but it has been co-operation
imposed and regulated by the few in their own particular interest.

From this fact arises a great contradiction with which the history
of mankind is filled. On the one hand, we find the tendency
to associate and fraternize for the purpose of conquering and
adapting the external world to human needs, and for the satisfaction
of the human affections; while, on the other hand we see the
tendency to divide into as many separate and hostile factions as
there are different conditions of life. These factions are
determined, for instance, by geographical and ethnological
conditions, by differences in economic position, by privileges
acquired by some and sought to be secured by others, or by suffering
endured, with the ever recurring desire to rebel.

The principle of each for himself, that is, of war of all against
all, has come in the course of time to complicate, lead astray,
and paralyze the war of all combined against nature, for the
common advantage of the human race, which could only be completely
successful by acting on the principle of all for each, and each
for all.

Great have been the evils which humanity has suffered by this
intermingling of domination and exploitation with human association.
But in spite of the atrocious oppression to which the masses submit,
of the misery, vice, crime, and degradation which oppression and
slavery produce, among the slaves and their masters, and in spite
of the hatreds, the exterminating wars, and the antagonisms of
artificially created interests, the social instinct has survived
and even developed. Co-operation, having been always the necessary
condition for successful combat against external nature, has
therefore been the permanent cause of men's coming together, and
consequently of the development of their sympathetic sentiments.
Even the oppression of the masses has itself caused the oppressed
to fraternize among themselves. Indeed it has been solely owing
to this feeling of solidarity, more or less conscious and more or
less widespread among the oppressed, that they have been able to
endure the oppression, and that man has resisted the causes of death
in his midst.

In the present, the immense development of production, the growth of
human needs which cannot be satisfied except by the united efforts
of a large number of men in all countries, the extended means of
communication, habits of travel, science, literature, commerce,
even war itself--all these have drawn and are still drawing
humanity into a compact body, every section of which, closely knit
together, can find its satisfaction and liberty only in the
development and health of all other sections composing the whole.

The inhabitant of Naples is as much interested in the amelioration
of the hygienic condition of the peoples on the banks of the Ganges,
from whence the cholera is brought to him, as in the improvement of
the sewerage of his own town. The well-being, liberty, or fortune
of the mountaineer, lost among the precipices of the Appenines, does
not depend alone on the state of well-being or of misery in which
the inhabitants of his own village live, or even on the general
condition of the Italian people, but also on the condition of the
workers in America, or Australia, on the discovery of a Swedish
scientist, on the moral and material conditions of the Chinese, on
war or peace in Africa; in short, it depends on all the great and
small circumstances which affect the human being in any spot
whatever of the world.

In the present condition of society, the vast solidarity which
unites all men is in a great degree unconscious, since it arises
spontaneously from the friction of particular interests, while
men occupy themselves little or not at all with general interests.
And this is the most evident proof that solidarity is the natural
law of human life, which imposes itself, so to speak, in spite of
all obstacles, and even those artificially created by society as at
present constituted.

On the other hand, the oppressed masses, never wholly resigned
to oppression and misery, who today more than ever show themselves
ardent for justice, liberty, and well-being, are beginning
to understand that they cannot emancipate themselves except
by uniting, through solidarity with all the oppressed and exploited
over the whole world. And they understand also that the
indispensable condition of their emancipation is the possession
of the means of production, of the soil and of the instruments of
labor, and further the abolition of private property. Science
and the observation of social phenomena show that this abolition
would be of immense advantage in the end, even to the privileged
classes, if only they could bring themselves to renounce the spirit
of domination, and concur with all their fellow men in laboring for
the common good.


Now, should the oppressed masses some day refuse to work for their
oppressors, should they take possession of the soil and the
instruments of labor, and apply them for their own use and
advantage, and that of all who work, should they no longer submit
to the domination, either of brute force or economic privilege;
should the spirit of human fellowship and the sentiment of human
solidarity, strengthened by common interests, grow among the
people, and put an end to strife between nations; then what ground
would there be for the existence of a government?

Private property abolished, government--which is its defender
--must disappear. Should it survive, it would continually tend
to reconstruct, under one form or another, a privileged and
oppressive class.

And the abolition of government does not, nor cannot, signify
the doing away with human association.

Far otherwise, for that co-operation which today is enforced,
and directed to the advantage of the few, would be free and
voluntary, directed to the advantage of all. Therefore it would
become more intense and efficacious.

The social instinct and the sentiment of solidarity would develop to
the highest degree; and every individual would do all in his power
for the good of others, as much for the satisfaction of his own
well understood interests as for the gratification of his
sympathetic sentiments.

By the free association of all, a social organization would
arise through the spontaneous grouping of men according to
their needs and sympathies, from the low to the high, from the
simple to the complex, starting from the more immediate to
arrive at the more distant and general interests. This organization
would have for its aim the greatest good and fullest liberty
to all; it would embrace all humanity in one common brotherhood,
and would be modified and improved as circumstances were modified
and changed, according to the teachings of experience.

This society of _free men_, this society of _friends_ would be



We have hitherto considered government as it is, and as it
necessarily must be in a society founded upon privilege, upon
the exploitation and oppression of man by man, upon antagonism
of interests and social strife, in a word, upon private property.

We have seen how this state of strife, far from being a necessary
condition of human life, is contrary to the interests of the
individual and of the species. We have observed how co-operation,
solidarity (of interest) is the law of human progress, and
we have concluded that, with the abolition of private property
and the cessation of all domination of man over man, there,
would be no reason for government to exist--therefore it ought
to be abolished.

But, it may be objected, if the principle on which social
organization is now founded were to be changed, and solidarity
substituted for strife, common property for private property, the
government also would change its nature. Instead of being the
protector and representative of the interests of one class, it would
become, if there were no longer any classes, representative of all
society. Its mission would be to secure and regulate social
co-operation in the interests of all, and to fulfil public services
of general utility. It would defend society against possible
attempts to re-establish privilege, and prevent or repress all
attacks, by whomsoever set on foot, against the life, well-being, or
liberty of each.

There are in society certain matters too important, requiring
too much constant, regular attention, for them to be left to the
voluntary management of individuals, without danger of everything
getting into disorder.

If there were no government, who would organize the supply and
distribution of provisions? Who regulate matters pertaining
to public hygiene, the postal, telegraph, and railway services,
etc.? Who would direct public instruction? Who undertake those
great works of exploration, improvement on a large scale, scientific
enterprise, etc., which transform the face of the earth and augment
a hundredfold the power of man?

Who would care for the preservation and increase of capital,
that it might be transmitted to posterity, enriched and improved?

Who would prevent the destruction of the forests, or the irrational
exploitation, and therefore impoverishment of the soil?

Who would there be to prevent and repress crimes, that is,
anti-social acts?

What of those who, disregarding the law of solidarity, would
not work? Or of those who might spread infectious disease in
a country, by refusing to submit to the regulation of hygiene by
science? Or what again could be done with those who, whether
insane or no, might set fire to the harvest, injure children, or
abuse and take advantage of the weak?

To destroy private property and abolish existing government,
without reconstituting a government that would organize collective
life and secure social solidarity, would not be to abolish
privilege, and bring peace and prosperity upon earth. It would
be to destroy, every social bond, to leave humanity to fall back
into barbarism, to begin again the reign of "each for himself;"
which would establish the triumph, firstly, of brute force, and,
secondly, of economic privilege.


Such are the objections brought forward by authoritarians,
even by those who are Socialists, that is, who wish to abolish
private property, and class government founded upon the system
of private property.

We reply:

In the first place, it is not true that with a change of social
conditions, the nature of the government and its functions would
also change. Organs and functions are inseparable terms. Take
from an organ its function, and either the organ will die, or the
function will reinstate itself. Place an army in a country where
there is no reason for or fear of foreign war, and this army will
provoke war, or, if it do not succeed in doing that, it will
disband. A police force, where there are no crimes to discover,
and delinquents to arrest, will provoke or invent crimes, or will
cease to exist.

For centuries, there existed in France an institution, now included
in the administration of the forests, for the extermination
of the wolves and other noxious beasts. No one will be surprised
to learn that, just on account of this institution, wolves
still exist in France, and that, in rigorous seasons, they do great
damage. The public take little heed of the wolves, because
there are the appointed officials, whose duty it is to think about
them. And the officials do hunt them, but in an _intelligent_
manner, sparing their caves, and allowing time for reproduction,
that they may not run the risk of entirely destroying such an
_interesting_ species. The French peasants have indeed little
confidence in these official wolf-hunters, and regard them rather
as the wolf-preservers. And, of course, what would these officials
do if there were no longer any wolves to exterminate?

A government, that is, a number of persons deputed to make
the laws, and entitled to use the collective forces of society to
make every individual to respect these laws, already constitutes
a class privileged and separated from the rest of the community.
Such a class, like every elected body, will seek instinctively to.
enlarge its powers; to place itself above the control of the people;
to impose its tendencies, and to make its own interests predominate.
Placed in a privileged position, the government always finds itself
in antagonism to the masses, of whose force it disposes.

Furthermore, a government, with the best intention, could never
satisfy everybody, even if it succeeded in satisfying some.
It must therefore always be defending itself against the
discontented, and for that reason must ally itself with the
satisfied section of the community for necessary support. And in
this manner will arise again the old story of a privileged class,
which cannot help but be developed in conjunction with the
government. This class, if it could not again acquire possession of
the soil, would certainly monopolize the most favored spots, and
would not be in the end less oppressive, or less an instrument of
exploitation than the capitalist class.

The governors, accustomed to command, would never wish to mix with
the common crowd. If they could not retain the power in their own
hands, they would at least secure to themselves privileged positions
for the time when they would be out of office. They would use all
the means they have in their power to get their own friends
elected as their successors, who would in their turn be supported
and protected by their predecessors. And thus the government would
pass and repass into the same hands, and the _democracy_, that is,
the government presumably of the whole people, would end, as it
always has done, in becoming an _oligarchy_, or the government of a
few, the government of a class.

And this all-powerful, oppressive, all-absorbing oligarchy would
have always in its care, that is, at its disposition, every
bit of social capital, all public services, from the production and
distribution of provisions to the manufacture of matches, from
the control of the university to that of the music hall.


But let us even suppose that the government did not necessarily
constitute a privileged class, and could exist without forming
around itself a new privileged class. Let us imagine that it
could remain truly representative, the servant--if you will--of
all society. What purpose would it then serve? In what particular
and in what manner would it augment the power, intelligence,
spirit of solidarity, care of the general welfare, present and to
come, that at any given moment existed in a given society?

It is always the old story of the man with bound limbs, who,
having managed to live in spite of his bands, believes that he
lives by means of them. We are accustomed to live under a
government, which makes use of all that energy, that intelligence,
and that will which it can direct to its own ends; but which
hinders, paralyzes and suppresses those that are useless or
hostile to it. And we imagine that all that is done in society is
done by virtue of the government, and that without the government
there would be neither energy, intelligence, nor good will
in society. So it happens (as we have already said) that the
proprietor who has possessed himself of the soil, has it cultivated
for his own particular profit, leaving the laborer the barest
necessities of life for which he can and will continue to labor.
While the enslaved laborer thinks that he could not live without
his master, as though it were _he_ who created the earth and the
forces of nature.

What can government of itself add to the moral and material
forces which exist in a society? Unless it be like the God of
the Bible, who created the universe out of nothing?

As nothing is created in the so-called material world, so in
this more complicated form of the material world, which is the
social world, nothing can be created. And therefore governors
can dispose of no other force than that which is already in society.
And indeed not by any means of all of that, as much force is
necessarily paralyzed and destroyed by governmental methods
of action, while more again is wasted in the friction with
rebellious elements, inevitably great in such an artificial
mechanism. Whenever governors originate anything of themselves, it
is as men and not as governors, that they do so. And of that amount
of force, both material and moral, which does remain at the
disposition of the government, only an infinitesimally small part
achieves an end really useful to society. The remainder is either
consumed in actively repressing rebellious opposition, or is
otherwise diverted from the aim of general utility, and turned to
the profit of the few, and to the injury of the majority of men.

So much has been made of the part that individual initiative
and social action play respectively in the life and progress of
human society; and such is the confusion of metaphysical language,
that those who affirm that individual initiative is the source and
agency of all action seem to be asserting something quite
preposterous. In reality, it is a truism, which becomes apparent
directly we begin to explain the actual facts represented by these

The real being is the man, the individual; society or the
collectivity, and the State or government which professes to
represent it, if not hollow abstractions, can be nothing else than
aggregates of individuals. And it is within the individual
organism that all thoughts and all human action necessarily
have their origin. Originally individual, they become collective
thoughts and actions, when shared in common by many individuals.
Social action, then, is not the negation, nor the complement
of individual initiative, but it is the sum total of the
initiatives, thoughts and actions of all the individuals composing
society: a result which, other things equal, is more or less great
according as the individual forces tend toward the same aim, or
are divergent and opposed. If, on the other hand, as the
authoritarians make out, by social action is meant governmental
action, then it is again the result of individual forces, but only
of those individuals who either form part of the government, or by
virtue of their position are enabled to influence the conduct of the

Thus, in the contest of centuries between liberty and authority,
or, in other words, between social equality and social castes,
the question at issue has not really been the relations between
society and the individual, nor the increase of individual
independence at the cost of social control, or _vice versa_. Rather
it has had to do with preventing any one individual from oppressing
the others; with giving to everyone the same rights and the
same means of action. It has had to do with substituting the
initiative of all, which must naturally result in the advantage of
all, for the initiative of the few, which necessarily results in the
suppression of all the others. It is always, in short, the question
of putting an end to the domination and exploitation of man by
man in such a way that all are interested in the common welfare;
and that the individual force of each, instead of oppressing,
combating or suppressing others, will find the possibility of
complete development, and every one will seek to associate with
others for the greater advantage of all.

From what we have said, it follows that the existence of a
government, even upon the hypothesis that the ideal government
of authoritarian Socialists were possible, far from producing an
increase of productive force, would immensely diminish it; because
the government would restrict initiative to the few. It would give
these few the right to do all things, without being able, of course,
to endow them with the knowledge or understanding of all things.

In fact, if you divest legislation and all the operations of
government of what is intended to protect the privileged, and
what represents the wishes of the privileged classes alone, nothing
remains but the aggregate of individual governors. "The State," says
Sismondi, "is always a conservative power that authorizes, regulates
and organizes the conquests of progress (and history testifies that
it applies them to the profit of its own and the other privileged
classes) but never does inaugurate them. New ideas always originate
from beneath, are conceived in the foundations of society, and then,
when divulged, they become opinion and grow. But they must always
meet on their path, and combat the constituted powers of tradition,
custom, privilege and error."


In order to understand how society could exist without a government,
it is sufficient to turn our attention for a short space to what
actually goes on in our present society. We shall see that in
reality the most important social functions are fulfilled even
now-a-days outside the intervention of government. Also that
government only interferes to exploit the masses, or defend
the privileged class, or, lastly, to sanction, most unnecessarily,
all that has been done without its aid, often in spite of and in
opposition to it. Men work, exchange, study, travel, follow as
they choose the current rules of morality, or hygiene; they profit
by the progress of science and art, have numberless mutual
interests without ever feeling the need of anyone to direct them
how to conduct themselves in regard to these matters. On the
contrary, it is just those things in which there is no governmental
interference that prosper best, and that give rise to the least
contention, being unconsciously adapted to the wish of all in
the way found most useful and agreeable.

Nor is government more necessary in the case of large undertakings,
or for those public services which require the constant co-operation
of many people of different conditions and countries. Thousands of
these undertakings are even now the work of voluntarily formed
associations. And these are, by the acknowledgment of every one, the
undertakings which succeed the best. Nor do we refer to the
association of capitalists, organized by means of exploitation,
although even they show capabilities and powers of free association,
which may extend _ad libitum_ until it embraces all the peoples of
all lands, and includes the widest and most varying interests. But
we speak rather of those associations inspired by the love of
humanity, or by the passion for knowledge, or even simply by the
desire for amusement and love of applause, as these better represent
such grouping as will exist in a society where, private property
and internal strife between men being abolished, each will find his
interests synonymous with the interests of every one else, and his
greatest satisfaction in doing good and pleasing others. Scientific
societies and congresses, international life-boat and Red Cross
associations, etc., laborers' unions, peace societies, volunteers
who hasten to the rescue at times of great public calamity are all
examples, among thousands, of that power of the spirit of
association, which always shows itself when a need arises, or an
enthusiasm takes hold, and the means do not fail. That voluntary
associations do not cover the world, and do not embrace every branch
of material and moral activity, is the fault of the obstacles placed
in their way by governments, of the antagonisms created by the
possession of private property, and of the impotence and degradation
to which the monopolizing of wealth on the part of the few reduces
the majority of mankind.

The government takes charge, for instance, of the postal and
telegraphic services. But in what way does it really assist them?
When the people are in such a condition as to be able to enjoy,
and feel the need of such services, they will think about organizing
them; and the man with the necessary technical knowledge will not
require a certificate from the government to enable him to set to
work. The more general and urgent the need, the more volunteers will
offer to satisfy it. Would the people have the ability necessary to
provide and distribute provisions? Oh! never fear, they will not die
of hunger, waiting for a government to pass laws on the subject.
Wherever a government exists, it must wait until the people have
first organized everything, and then come with its laws to sanction
and exploit that which has been already done. It is evident that
private interest is the great motive for all activity. That being
so, when the interest of every one becomes the interest of each (and
it necessarily will become so as soon as private property is
abolished) then all will be active. And if now they work in the
interest of the few, so much the more and so much the better will
they work to satisfy the interests of all. It is hard to understand
how anyone can believe that public services indispensable to social
life can be better secured by order of a government than through
the workers themselves, who by their own choice or by agreement made
with others, carry them out under the immediate control of all

Certainly in every collective undertaking on a large scale,
there is need for division of labor, for technical direction,
administration, etc. But the authoritarians are merely playing with
words, when they deduce a reason for the existence of government,
from the very real necessity for organization of labor. The
government, we must repeat, is the aggregate of the individuals
who have had given them, or have taken the right or the means to
make laws, and force the people to obey them. The administrators,
engineers, etc., on the other hand, are men who receive or assume
the charge of doing a certain work, and who do it. Government
signifies delegation of power, that is, abdication of the initiative
and sovereignty of every one into the hands of the few.
Administration signifies delegation of work, that is, a charge given
and accepted, the free exchange of services founded on free

A governor is a privileged person, because he has the right
to command others, and to avail himself of the force of others,
to make his own ideas and desires triumph. An administrator
or technical director is a worker like others, in a society, of
course, where all have equal opportunities of development, and
all are, or can be, at the same time intellectual and manual
workers; when there are no other differences between men than
those derived from diversity of talents, and all work and all social
functions give an equal right to the enjoyment of social advantages.
The functions of government are, in short, not to be confounded with
administrative functions, as they are essentially different. That
they are today so often confused is entirely on account of the
existence of economic and political privilege.


But let us hasten to pass on to those functions for which government
is thought indispensable by all who are not Anarchists. These are
the internal and external defence of society, that is, War, Police
and Justice.

Government being abolished, and social wealth at the disposal
of every one, all antagonism between various nations would soon
cease; and there would consequently be no more cause for war.
Moreover, in the present state of the world, in any country
where the spirit of rebellion is growing, even if it do not find
an echo throughout the land, it will be certain of so much sympathy
that the government will not dare to send all its troops to
a foreign war, for fear the revolution should break out at home.
But even supposing that the rulers of countries not yet emancipated
would wish and could attempt to reduce a free people to servitude,
would these require a government to enable them to defend
themselves? To make war, we need men who have the necessary
geographical and technical knowledge, and, above all, people willing
to fight. A government has no means of augmenting the ability of the
former, or the willingness or courage of the latter. And the
experience of history teaches that a people really desirous of
defending their own country are invincible. In Italy every one knows
how thrones tremble, and regular armies of hired soldiers vanish
before troops of volunteers, that is, armies Anarchically formed.


And as to the police and justice, many imagine that if it were not
for the police and the judges, everybody would be free to kill,
violate or injure others as the humor took him; that Anarchists,
if they are true to their principles, would like to see this
strange kind of liberty respected; "liberty" that violates
or destroys the life and freedom of others unrestrained. Such
people believe that we, having overthrown the government and
private property, shall then tranquilly allow the re-establishment
of both, out of respect for the "liberty" of those who may feel
the need of having a government and private property. A strange
mode indeed of construing our ideas! In truth, one may better
answer such notions with a shrug of the shoulders than by taking
the trouble to confute them.

The liberty we wish for, for ourselves and others, is not an
absolute, abstract, metaphysical liberty, which in practice can
only amount to the oppression of the weak. But we wish for a
tangible liberty, the possible liberty, which is the conscious
communion of interests, that is, voluntary solidarity. We proclaim
the maxim: _Do as you will;_ and in this our program is almost
entirely contained, because, as may be easily understood, we hold
that in a society without government or property, each one _will
wish that which he should_.

But if, in consequence of a false education, received in the
present society, or of physical disease, or whatever other cause,
an individual should wish to injure others, you may be sure we
should adopt all the means in our power to prevent him. As
we know that a man's character is the consequence of his physical
organism, and of the cosmic and social influences surrounding
him, we certainly shall not confound the sacred right of
self-defence, with the absurdly assumed right to punish. Also, we
shall not regard the delinquent, that is, the man who commits
anti-social acts, as the rebel he seems in the eyes of the judges
nowadays. We shall regard him as a sick brother in need of
cure. We therefore shall not act towards him in the spirit of
hatred, when repressing him, but shall confine ourselves solely
to self-protection. We shall not seek to revenge ourselves, but
rather to rescue the unfortunate one by every means that science
suggests. In theory, Anarchists may go astray like others, losing
sight of the reality under a semblance of logic; but it is
quite certain that the emancipated people will not let their dearly
bought liberty and welfare be attacked with impunity. If the
necessity arose, they would provide for their own defence against
the anti-social tendencies of certain amongst them. But how do
those whose business it now is to make the laws, protect society?
Or those others who live by seeking for and inventing new
infringements of law? Even now, when the masses of the people
really disapprove of anything and think it injurious, they always
find a way to prevent it very much more effectually than all the
professional legislators, constables or judges. During
insurrections, the people, though very mistakenly, have enforced the
respect for private property; and they have secured this respect
far better than an army of policemen could have done.

Customs always follow the needs and sentiments of the majority;
and they are always the more respected, the less they are subject
to the sanction of law. This is because every one sees and
comprehends their utility, and because the interested parties,
not deluding themselves with the idea that government will protect
them, are themselves concerned in seeing the custom respected.
The economical use of water is of very great importance to a
caravan crossing the deserts of Africa. Under these circumstances,
water is a sacred thing; and no sane man dreams of wasting it.
Conspirators are obliged to act secretly; so secrecy is preserved
among them, and obloquy rests on whosoever violates it. Gambling
debts are not guaranteed by law; but among gamblers it is considered
dishonorable not to pay them, and the delinquent feels himself
dishonored by not fulfilling his obligations.

Is it on account of the police that more people are not murdered?
The greater part of the Italian people never see the police except
at long intervals. Millions of men go over the mountains and through
the country, far from the protecting eye of authority, where they
might be attacked without the slightest fear of their assailants
being traced; but they run no greater risk than those who live in
the best guarded spots. Statistics show that the number of crimes
rise in proportion to the increase of repressive measures; while
they vary rapidly with the fluctuations of economic conditions and
with the state of public opinion.

Preventive laws, however, only concern unusual, exceptional
acts. Every-day life goes on beyond the limits of the criminal
code, and is regulated almost unconsciously by the tacit and
voluntary assent of all, by means of a number of usages and customs
much more important to social life than the dictates of law.
And they are also much better observed, although completely
divested of any sanction beyond the natural odium which falls
upon those who violate them, and such injury as this odium
brings with it.

When disputes arise, would not voluntarily accepted arbitration
or the pressure of public opinion be far more likely to bring
about a just settlement of the difficulties in question than an
irresponsible magistrate, who has the right to pass judgment upon
everybody and everything, and who is necessarily incompetent
and therefore unjust?

As every form of government only serves to protect the privileged
classes, so do police and judges only aim at repressing those
crimes, often not considered criminal by the masses, which offend
only the privileges of the rulers or property-owners. For the
real defence of society, the defence of the welfare and liberty of
all, there can be nothing more pernicious than the formation of
this class of functionaries, who exist on the pretence of defending
all, and therefore habitually regard every man as game to be
hunted down, often striking at the command of a superior officer,
without themselves even knowing why, like hired assassins and


All that you have said may be true, say some; Anarchy may be a
perfect form of social life; but we have no desire to take a
leap in the dark. Therefore, tell us how your society will be
organized. Then follows a long string of questions, which would be
very interesting if it were our business to study the problems
that might arise in an emancipated society, but of which it is
useless and absurd to imagine that we could now offer a definite
solution. According to what method will children be taught? How will
production and distribution be organized? Will there still be large
cities, or will people spread equally over all the surface of the
earth? Will all the inhabitants of Siberia winter at Nice? Will
every one dine on partridges and drink champagne? Who will be the
miners and sailors? Who will clear the drains? Will the sick be
nursed at home or in hospitals? Who will arrange the railway
time-table? What will happen if the engine-driver falls ill while
the train is on its way? And so on, without end, as though we could
prophesy all the knowledge and experience of the future time,
or could, in the name of Anarchy, prescribe for the coming man
what time he should go to bed, and on what days he should cut
his nails!

Indeed if our readers expect from us an answer to these questions,
or even to those among them really serious and important, which
cannot be anything more than our own private opinion at this present
hour, we must have succeeded badly in our endeavor to explain what
Anarchy is.

We are no more prophets than other men; and should we pretend to
give an official solution to all the problems that will arise in the
life of the future society, we should have indeed a curious idea of
the abolition of government. We should then be describing a
government, dictating, like the clergy, a universal code for the
present and all future time. Seeing that we have neither police nor
prisons to enforce our doctrine, humanity might laugh with
impunity at us and our pretensions.

Nevertheless, we consider seriously all the problems of social
life which now suggest themselves, on account of their scientific
interest, and because, hoping to see Anarchy realized, we wish
to help towards the organization of the new society. We have
therefore our own ideas on these subjects, ideas which are to our
minds likely to be permanent or transitory, according to the
respective cases. And did space permit, we might add somewhat
more on these points. But the fact that we today think in a certain
way on a given question is no proof that such will be the mode of
procedure in the future. Who can foresee the activities which may
develop in humanity when it is emancipated from misery and
oppression? When all have the means of instruction and
self-development? When the strife between men, with the hatred and
rancour it breeds, will be no longer a necessary condition of
existence? Who can foresee the progress of science, the new sources
of production, means of communication, etc.?

The one essential is that a society be constituted in which
the exploitation and domination of man by man are impossible.
That the society, in other words, be such that the means of
existence and development of labor be free and open to every
one, and all be able to co-operate, according to their wishes and
their knowledge, in the organization of social life. Under such
conditions, everything will necessarily be performed in compliance
with the needs of all, according to the knowledge and possibilities
of the moment. And everything will improve with the increase of
knowledge and power.

In fact, a program which would touch the basis of the new social
constitution could not do more, after all, than indicate a
method. And method, more than anything else, defines parties
and determines their importance in history. Method apart, every one
says he wishes for the good of mankind; and many do truly wish for
it. As parties disappear, every organized action directed to a
definite end disappears likewise. It is therefore necessary to
consider Anarchy as, above all, a method.

There are two methods by which the different parties, not
Anarchistic, expect, or say they expect, to bring about the
greatest good of each and all. These are the authoritarian or
State Socialist and the individualist methods. The former entrusts
the direction of social life to a few; and it would result in
the exploitation and oppression of the masses by that few. The
second party trusts to the free initiative of individuals, and
proclaims, if not the abolition, the reduction of government.
However, as it respects private property, and is founded on the
principle of each for himself, and therefore on competition, its
liberty is only the liberty of the strong, the license of those who
have, to oppress and exploit the weak who have nothing. Far from
producing harmony, it would tend always to augment the distance
between the rich and the poor, and end also through exploitation
and domination in authority. This second method, Individualism, is
in theory a kind of Anarchy without Socialism. It is therefore no
better than a lie, because liberty is not possible without equality,
and true Anarchy cannot be without Solidarity, without Socialism.
The criticism which Individualists pass on government is merely the
wish to deprive it of certain functions, to virtually hand them over
to the capitalist. But it cannot attack those repressive functions
which form the essence of government; for without an armed force the
proprietary system could not be upheld. Nay, even more, under
Individualism, the repressive power of government must always
increase, in proportion to the increase, by means of free
competition, of the want of equality and harmony.

Anarchists present a new method; the free initiative of all
and free agreement; then, after the revolutionary abolition of
private property, every one will have equal power to dispose of
social wealth. This method, not admitting the re-establishment
of private property, must lead, by means of free association, to
the complete triumph of the principles of solidarity.

Thus we see that all the problems put forward to combat the
Anarchistic idea are on the contrary arguments in favor of Anarchy;
because it alone indicates the way in which, by experience,
those solutions which correspond to the dicta of science, and to the
needs and wishes of all, can best be found.

How will children be educated? We do not know. What then? The
parents, teachers and all who are interested in the progress of the
rising generation, will meet, discuss, agree and differ, and then
divide according to their various opinions, putting into practice
the methods which they respectively hold to be best. That method
which, when tried, produces the best results, will triumph in the

And so for all the problems that may arise.


According to what we have so far said, it is evident that Anarchy,
as the Anarchists conceive it, and as alone it can be comprehended,
is based on Socialism. Furthermore, were it not for that school of
Socialists who artificially divide the natural unity of the social
question, considering only some detached points, and were it not
also for the equivocations with which they strive to hinder the
social revolution, we might say right away that Anarchy is
synonymous with Socialism. Because both signify the abolition of
exploitation and of the domination of man over man, whether
maintained by the force of arms or by the monopolization of the
means of life.

Anarchy, like Socialism, has for its basis and necessary point
of departure _equality of conditions_. Its aim is _solidarity_, and
its method _liberty_. It is not perfection, nor is it the absolute
ideal, which, like the horizon, always recedes as we advance towards
it. But it is the open road to all progress and to all improvement,
made in the interest of all humanity.


There are authoritarians who grant that Anarchy is the mode
of social life which alone opens the way to the attainment of the
highest possible good for mankind, because it alone can put an
end to every class interested in keeping the masses oppressed
and miserable. They also grant that Anarchy is possible, because it
does nothing more than release humanity from an
obstacle--government--against which it has always had to fight
its painful way towards progress. Nevertheless, these
authoritarians, reinforced by many warm lovers of liberty and justice
in theory, retire into their last entrenchments, because they are
afraid of liberty, and cannot be persuaded that mankind could
live and prosper without teachers and pastors; still, hard pressed
by the truth, they pitifully demand to have the reign of liberty
put off for a while, indeed for as long as possible.

Such is the substance of the arguments that meet us at this

A society without a government, which would act by free, voluntary
co-operation, trusting entirely to the spontaneous action of those
interested, and founded altogether on solidarity and sympathy, is
certainly, they say, a very beautiful ideal, but, like all ideals,
it is a castle in the air. We find ourselves placed in a human
society, which has always been divided into oppressors and
oppressed; and if the former are full of the spirit of domination,
and have all the vices of tyrants, the latter are corrupted
by servility, and have those still worse vices, which are the result
of enslavement. The sentiment of solidarity is far from being
dominant in man at the present day; and if it is true that the
different classes of men are becoming more and more unanimous among
themselves, it is none the less true that that which is most
conspicuous and impresses itself most on human character today is
the struggle for existence. It is a fact that each fights daily
against every one else, and competition presses upon all, workmen
and masters, causing every man to become a wolf towards every other
man. How can these men, educated in a society based upon antagonism
between individuals as well as classes, be transformed in a moment
and become capable of living in a society in which each shall do as
he likes, and as he should, without external coercion, caring for
the good of others, simply by the impulse of their own nature? And
with what heart or what common sense can you trust to a revolution
on the part of an ignorant, turbulent mass, weakened by misery,
stupefied by priestcraft, who are today blindly sanguinary and
tomorrow will let themselves be humbugged by any knave, who dares
to call himself their master? Would it not be more prudent to
advance gradually towards the Anarchistic ideal, passing through
Republican, Democratic and Socialistic stages? Will not an
educative government, composed of the best men, be necessary
to prepare the advancing generations for their future destiny?

These objections also ought not to appear valid if we have
succeeded in making our readers understand what we have already
said, and in convincing them of it. But in any case, even at the
risk of repetition, it may be as well to answer them.

We find ourselves continually met by the false notion that
government is in itself a new force, sprung up one knows not
whence, which of itself adds something to the sum of the force
and capability of those whom it is composed and of those who
obey it. While, on the contrary, all that is done is done by
individual men. The government, as a government, adds nothing
save the tendency to monopolize for the advantage of certain
parties or classes, and to repress all initiative from beyond its
own circle.

To abolish authority or government does not mean to destroy
the individual or collective forces, which are at work in society,
nor the influence men exert over one another. That would be
to reduce humanity to an aggregate of inert and separate atoms;
an impossibility which, if it could be performed, would be the
destruction of any society, the death blow to mankind. To abolish
authority, means to abolish the monopoly of force and of influence.
It means to abolish that state of things by which social force, that
is, the collective force of all in a society, is made the instrument
of the thought, will and interests of a small number of individuals.
These, by means of the collective force, suppress the liberty of
every one else, to the advantage of their own ideas. In other words,
it means to destroy a mode of organization by means of which the
future is exploited, between one revolution and another, to the
profit of those who have been the victors of the moment.

Michael Bakunin, in an article published in 1872, asserts that the
great means of action of the International were the propagating
of their ideas, and the organization of the spontaneous action of
its members in regard to the masses. He then adds:

"To whoever might pretend that action so organized would be an
outrage on the liberty of the masses, or an attempt to create
a new authoritative power, we would reply that he is a sophist
and a fool. So much the worse for those who ignore the natural,
social law of human solidarity, to the extent of imagining
that an absolute mutual independence of individuals and of
masses is a possible or even desirable thing. To desire it, would
be to wish for the destruction of society; for all social life is
nothing else than this mutual and incessant interdependence among
individuals and masses. All individuals, even the most gifted
and strongest, indeed most of all the most gifted and strongest,
are at every moment of their lives, at the same time, producers
and products. Equal liberty for every individual is only the
resultant, continually reproduced, of this mass of material,
intellectual and moral influence exercised on him by all the
individuals around him, belonging to the society in which he was
born, has developed and dies. To wish to escape this influence in
the name of a transcendental liberty, divine, absolutely egoistic
and sufficient to itself, is the tendency to annihilation. To
refrain from influencing others, would mean to refrain from all
social action, indeed to abstain from all expression of one's
thoughts and sentiments, and simply to become non-existent.
This independence, so much extolled by idealists and metaphysicians,
individual liberty conceived in this sense would amount to

"In nature, as in human society, which is also a part of this
same nature, all that exists lives only by complying with the
supreme conditions of interaction, which is more or less positive
and potent with regard to the lives of other beings, according to
the nature of the individual. And when we vindicate the liberty
of the masses, we do not pretend to abolish anything of the natural
influences that individuals or groups of individuals exert upon one
another. What we wish for is the abolition of artificial influences,
which are privileged, legal and official."

Certainly, in the present state of mankind, oppressed by misery,
stupefied by superstition and sunk in degradation, the human lot
depends upon a relatively small number of individuals. Of course,
all men will not be able to rise in a moment to the height of
perceiving their duty, or even the enjoyment of so regulating their
own action that others also will derive the greatest possible
benefit from it. But because nowadays the thoughtful and guiding
forces at work in society are few, that is no reason for paralyzing
them still more, and for the subjection of many individuals to the
direction of a few. It is no reason for constituting society in such
a manner that the most active forces, the highest capacities are, in
the end, found outside the government, and almost deprived of
influence on social life. All this now happens owing to the inertia
that secured positions foster, to heredity, to protectionism, to
party spirit and to all the mechanism of government. For those in
government office, taken out of their former social position,
primarily concerned in retaining power, lose all power to act
spontaneously, and become only an obstacle to the free action of

With the abolition of this negative potency constituting government,
society will become that which it can be, with the given forces and
capabilities of the moment. If there are educated men desirous of
spreading education, they will organize the schools, and will be
constrained to make the use and enjoyment to be derived from
education felt. And if there are no such men, or only a few of them,
a government cannot create them. All it can do, as in fact it does
nowadays, is to take these few away from practical, fruitful work in
the sphere of education, and put them to direct from above what has
to be imposed by the help of a police system. So they make out of
intelligent and impassionate teachers mere politicians, who become
useless parasites, entirely absorbed in imposing their own hobbies,
and in maintaining themselves in power.

If there are doctors and teachers of hygiene, they will organize
themselves for the service of health. And if there are none,
a government cannot create them; all that it can do is to discredit
them in the eyes of the people, who are inclined to entertain
suspicions, sometimes only too well founded, with regard to
everything which is imposed upon them.

If there are engineers and mechanics, they will organize the
railways, etc; and if there are none, a government cannot create

The revolution, by abolishing government and private property,
will not create force which does not exist; but it will leave
a free field for the exercise of all available force and of all
existent capacity. While it will destroy every class interested in
keeping the masses degraded, it will act in such a way that every
one will be free to work and make his influence felt, in proportion
to his own capacity, and in conformity with his sentiments and
interests. And it is only thus that the elevation of the masses is
possible; for it is only with liberty that one can learn to be free,
as it is only by working that one can learn to work. A government,
even had it no other advantages, must always have that of
habituating the governed to subjection, and must also tend to become
more oppressive and more necessary, in proportion as its subjects
are more obedient and docile.

But suppose government were the direction of affairs by the
best people. Who are the best? And how shall we recognize their
superiority. The majority are generally attached to old prejudices,
and have ideas and instincts already outgrown by the more favored
minority. But of the various minorities, who all believe themselves
in the right, as no doubt many of them are in part, which shall be
chosen to rule? And by whom? And by what criterion? Seeing that the
future alone can prove which among them is the must superior. If you
choose a hundred partisans of dictatorship, you will discover that
each one of the hundred believes himself capable of being, if not
sole dictator, at least of assisting very materially in the
dictatorial government. The dictators would be those who, by one
means or another, succeeded in imposing themselves on society. And,
in course of time, all their energy would inevitably be employed
in defending themselves against the attacks of their adversaries,
totally oblivious of their desire, if ever they had had it, to be
merely an educative power.

Should government be, on the other hand, elected by universal
suffrage, and so be the emanation, more or less sincere, of
the wish of the majority? But if you consider these worthy
electors as incapable of providing for their own interests, how
can they ever be capable of themselves choosing directors to
guide them wisely? How solve this problem of social alchemy:
To elect a government of geniuses by the votes of a mass of fools?
And what will be the lot of the minority, who are the most
intelligent, most active and most advanced in society?


To solve the social problem to the advantage of all, there is
only one way. To expel the government by revolutionary means, to
expropriate the holders of social wealth, putting everything
at the disposition of all, and to leave all existing force,
capacity and good-will among men free to provide for the needs
of all.

We fight for Anarchy and for Socialism; because we believe
that Anarchy and Socialism ought to be brought into operation
as soon as possible. Which means that the revolution must drive
away the government, abolish private property, and entrust all
public service, which will then embrace all social life, to the
spontaneous, free, unofficial and unauthorized operation of all
those interested and all those willing volunteers.

There will certainly be difficulties and inconveniences; but
the people will be resolute; and they alone can solve all
difficulties Anarchically, that is, by direct action of those
interested and by free agreement.

We cannot say whether Anarchy and Socialism will triumph after the
next revolutionary attempt; but this is certain, that if any of the
so-called transition programs triumph, it will be because we have
been temporarily beaten, and never because we have thought it wise
to leave in existence any one part of that evil system under which
humanity groans.

Whatever happens, we shall have some influence on events, by our
numbers, our energy, our intelligence and our steadfastness.
Also, even if we are now conquered, our work will not have been in
vain; for the more decided we shall have been in aiming at the
realization of all our demands, the less there will be of government
and of private property in the new society. And we shall have done a
great work; for human progress is measured by the degree in which
government and private property are administered.

If today we fall without lowering our colors, our cause is certain
of victory tomorrow.


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