Anarchism And Liberalism Contemporary liberal and anarchist philosophy are both two very different ways of trying to see what would be the best way to run society. While discussing these two ideologies I will try to show how both, in their purist sense, are not able work in today’s society effectively. Contemporary liberals are involved in every day politics but through over regulation and dependence on government they loose their chances of running a reliable democracy. Anarchist have very good ideas of how a natural society could function without government or modern institutions but the biggest problem they have is how to get to that point. Both theories look good on paper but once they hit the real world they change due to alternating conceptions and individual influences. The root of the word anarchism comes from the Greek word “anarchos,” which means “without ruler.” The main philosophy behind anarchism is that people can reside in an unregulated community with no real authority and maintain a sustainable life.
Anarchists see government and capitalism as an institution that creates liberty for the rich and enslavement of the masses. Emma Goldman best describes anarchism as: “The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.” With anarchism there is a belief that once all government is abolished by the people that everyone will come together in a community of mutual aid and understanding without laws or authority to direct. Their philosophy can be considered opposite of most other ideologies, especially that of contemporary liberalism. Contemporary liberalism strives to hold on to the classic liberal’s ideals pertaining to political, economic, and social liberties but it tends to look at democratic government as a tool rather than a hindrance. John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are established ideologues of contemporary liberalism.
Just opposite of anarchism, modern liberalism puts its’ faith in government to change and adapt to the failures of capitalism. The emergence of this political philosophy started around the end of the nineteenth century with John Stuart Mill’s ideas in his book Principles of Political Economy. The philosophy became an ideology in the twentieth century with the main points of enhanced democracy, widening the role of the government, and rethinking capitalism. The original liberals were reacting to the aristocracy, their domination over the masses, and a lack of opportunity of the individual to pursue happiness and freedom from the tyranny from above. Contemporary liberalism is a reaction to the problems that arose following the failures of democracy and capitalism in a changing world.
They are still seeking to insure liberties but to do this they believe there needs to be more involvement from government. Authority to anarchist is looked at as being a tool for the rich and powerful. It creates a sense of competitiveness for power which intern creates social disorder, and can lead to moral depravity which inhibits a well ordered society. Kropotkin wrote on the use of authority by the rich and he says: “Three quarters of all the acts which are brought before our courts every year have their origin, either directly or indirectly, in the present disorganized stated of society with regard to the production and distribution of wealth- not in the perversity of human nature.” This means that because society and capitalism create these classes, the people on the bottom sometimes commit crimes because they have to fulfill essential needs that are denied to them do to uneven distribution of resources. If a woman that is homeless with three children and has no other choice but to steal food to feed her family, she is considered a criminal.
Contemporary liberals would say it is because she hasn’t been given the resources through the government to get herself out of that situation. The anarchist would say that if there wasn’t any uneven distribution and more mutual aid from the community the woman would be taken care of and wouldn’t be in that position. Anarchists believe that competitiveness for power creates a social disorder and cruelty to anyone standing in the way of a person in the search of authority. Anarchists see the struggle to get into the position of power creating more disorder than if there was no authority at all. Government authority can also be corrupted under certain leaders and therefore it becomes the authority of whoever controls the position and is not protecting the liberty of all. According to the anarchist government laws lead to a basic demoralization of society which inhibits an efficient society.
The masses only follow these laws in fear of being caught and not for the better good of the community. Therefore if a person feels they can get away with a crime they have no morals to fall back on to prevent them from infringing on someone else’s liberty. Paul Wolff claims in his In Defense of Anarchism that there is a contentious conflict between authority and autonomy. Conservatism and liberalism contend that authority of government is needed to insure stability of the society. Governments can’t make laws that fit all of its’ peoples’ morals and standards therefore the people have to give up some of their liberty.
Wolff states that if there were no laws people would act in a responsible way through a “process of reflection, investigation, deliberation about how [they] ought to act.” Social laws are the morals or standards that would support accord in society through social pressure from other members in society rather than through fear of the government. Contemporary liberals are on the opposite side when it comes to the role of government authority. They think that the government needs to expand its’ role to help the economy grow, increase the liberty of all, and to create means of figuring out what these needs are by use of the scientific method. They believe that the government first needs to find out exactly what social problems attribute to the blocking of liberal goals. To do this there needs to be a system of identification of these problems by utilizing economic and social indicators.
Through monthly reports of statistics the contemporary liberals believe they can create government programs to fix these inequalities. They do not want a micro-managment of these problems but more of a broad framework made up of laws, conditions, and programs to coerce people and organizations into stopping these problems. The Anarchist would see this as trimming the branches of the problem not cutting the roots. In the economic realm the modern liberals would like to see a mixed economy of government influence and stimulate the private sphere in order to produce an effective economy. They highly support any government agency or program that will “help” the society in a unilateral way. Anarchists are right in the sense that excessive government agencies only inhibit progression.
Our tax money is taken, mainly from the middle class, and is spent throughout the bureaucratic system with little money going to the intended cause. In theory I think if people were stripped of government and had to start from scratch without any recollection of government or structured society, people would mutually help each other. Unfortunately, we are here today with a government in place and regulations up and working. That is where I agree with the liberals in that there needs to be a change in the system to try to help those oppressed by capitalism. Both ideologies have one main flaw in their thinking and that is the faith in human beings.
The anarchist’s theory is dependent on humans having intrinsic mutual aid and the liberals are dependent on the morals of capitalist society and the ability of it to want to help the less fortunate. There will always be people that will want to dominate and there will always be people to follow. Contemporary liberals like the classic liberals see a need for representative democracy and seek to find new ways to strengthen the representation. They would like to see more representation of minority groups. They are aware of the unequal distribution of power.
To balance this inequality out the liberals propose to have more intere …