The Anarchist Handbook - Michael Malice

A collection of essays, speeches and blog posts by leading figures of the anarchist history. Both by anarchists rejecting private property and the ones that do not. Socialists and capitalists or left and right. What unites them is regarding the state as evil. Or at least as innefficient and disincentived in providing better services than the free market or at providing the service at all.

William Godwin

A critique of social contract theory

the social contract, considered as the foundation of civil government, requires of me more than this. I am not only obliged to consent to all the laws that are actually upon record, but to all the laws that shall hereafter be made.

the social contract, considered as the foundation of civil government, requires of me more than this. I am not only obliged to consent to all the laws that are actually upon record, but to all the laws that shall hereafter be made.

Max Stirner

When a blockhead makes me out in the right, I grow distrustful of my rightness; I don’t like to receive it from him. But, even when a wise man makes me out in the right, I nevertheless am not in the right on that account. Whether I am in the right is completely independent of the fool’s making out and of the wise man’s.

Communism, which assumes that men “have equal rights by nature,” contradicts its own proposition until it comes to this, that men have no right at all by nature.

“What you have the power to be you have the right to.” I derive all right and all warrant from me; I am entitled to everything that I have in my power. I am entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, God, if I can; if I cannot, then these gods will always remain in the right and in power as against me, and what I do will be to fear their right and their power in impotent “god-fearingness,”

The Communists affirm that “the earth belongs rightfully to him who tills it, and its products to those who bring them out.” I think it belongs to him who knows how to take it, or who does not let it be taken from him, does not let himself be deprived of it. If he appropriates it, then not only the earth, but the right to it too, belongs to him. This is egoistic right: it is right for me, therefore it is right.

If you let yourself be made out in the right by another, you must no less let yourself be made out in the wrong by him; if justification and reward come to you from him, expect also his arraignment and punishment. Alongside right goes wrong, alongside legality crime. What are you?—You are a—criminal!

I do not demand any right, therefore I need not recognize any either.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Argues for mutualism, a socialist society where everyone worked voluntarily to the benefit of all

he who lays his hand on me to govern me is a usurper and tyrant; my declared enemy.

The socialists have fallen into the same error as the radicals; “St. Simon, Fourier, Owen, Cabet, Louis Blanc, are all for an organization of labor by means of the state, or by capital, or by some other form of authority! instead of teaching the people to organize themselves, and to appeal to their own reason and experience; they say “give us power.” They are Utopians, like the despots.

Governments are the scourges of God to discipline the world; for them to create liberty would be to destroy themselves.

Herbert Spencer

On the right to ignore the state

provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the State,—to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying towards its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one, and, whilst passive, he cannot become an aggressor.

Suppose, again, that of two races living together—Celts and Saxons, for example—the most numerous determined to make the others their slaves. Would the authority of the greatest number be in such case valid?

Suppose, once more, that all men having incomes under £50 a year were to resolve upon reducing every income above that amount to their own standard, and appropriating the excess for public purposes. Could their resolution be justified?

Josiah Warren

Every individual would have been “Free” to entertain any theory of government whatever for himself or herself, and to test it by experiment within equitable limits; an issue would be raised only where this sacred right was denied, or against any who should have undertaken to enforce any theory of government whatever upon any individual against his or her “consent.”

Government, strictly and scientifically speaking is a coercive force; a man, while governed with his own consent, is not governed at all.

Mikhail Bakunin

On communism without the state. Anarcho-communism.

[…] Marx. He loves government to such a degree that he even wanted to institute one in the International Workingmen’s Association; and he worships power so much that he wanted to impose and still means to-day to impose his dictatorship on us.

Forbidden fruit has such an attraction for men, and the demon of revolt, that eternal enemy of the State, awakens so easily in their hearts when they are not sufficiently stupified, that neither this education nor this instruction, nor even the censorship, sufficiently guarantee the tranquility of the State. It must still have a police, devoted agents who watch over and direct, secretly and unobtrusively, the current of the peoples’ opinions and passions.

being a slave is being forced to work for other people—as being a master is to live on the labor of other people.

A worker who does not find work or who is dissatisfied with the wages offered by the capitalist can always, if need be, emigrate to the far West to clear there some wild and unoccupied land.

In reality, it is minorities which govern. The so-called Democratic Party, up to the time of the Civil War to emancipate the slaves, were the out and out partizans of slavery and of the ferocious oligarchy of the planters, demagogues without faith or conscience, capable of sacrificing everything to their greed and evil-minded ambition, and who, by their detestable influence and actions, exercised almost unhindered, for nearly fifty years continuously, have greatly contributed to deprave the political morality of North America.

Nothing is more dangerous for man’s private morality than the habit of command.

It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant and contemptuous of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe betide the mass of ignorant ones!

The great misfortune is that a large number of natural laws, already established as such by science, remain unknown to the masses, thanks to the watchfulness of those tutelary governments that exist, as we know, only for the good of the people.

So that were we to try to force the practical life of men, collective as well as individual, into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science, we should condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes, which would soon end by dislocating and stifling them, life ever remaining an infinitely greater thing than science.

A scientific body to which had been confided the government of society would soon end by devoting itself no longer to science at all, but to quite another affair; and that affair, as in the case of all established powers, would be its own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need of its government and direction.

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure.

Lysander Spooner

Dissecting the sanctity of the constitution.

Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the Constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them.

As taxation is made compulsory on all, whether they vote or not, a large proportion of those who vote, no doubt do so to prevent their own money being used against themselves; when, in fact, they would have gladly abstained from voting

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber.

It is with government, as Caesar said it was in war, that money and soldiers mutually supported each other; that with money he could hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. So these villains, who call themselves governments, well understand that their power rests primarily upon money.

every man who puts money into the hands of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.

The very judges, who profess to derive all their authority from the Constitution—from an instrument that nobody ever signed—would spurn any other instrument, not signed, that should be brought before them for adjudication.

They say they are only our servants, agents, attorneys, and representatives. But this declaration involves an absurdity, a contradiction. No man can be my servant, agent, attorney, or representative, and be, at the same time, uncontrollable by me, and irresponsible to me for his acts.

What is the motive to the secret ballot? This, and only this: Like other confederates in crime, those who use it are not friends, but enemies; and they are afraid to be known, and to have their individual doings known, even to each other. They can contrive to bring about a sufficient understanding to enable them to act in concert against other persons; but beyond this they have no confidence, and no friendship, among themselves. In fact, they are engaged quite as much in schemes for plundering each other, as in plundering those who are not of them.

And the men who loan money to governments, so called, for the purpose of enabling the latter to rob, enslave, and murder their people, are among the greatest villains that the world has ever seen.

Johann Most

On the importance of knowing how to make dynamite for advancing one’s political position.

Louis Lingg

has become popularized as Lingg supposedly proclaiming, “I couldn’t have thrown that bomb. I was at home making bombs.”

“You have charged me with despising “law and order.” What does your “law and order” amount to? Its representatives are the police, and they have thieves in their ranks. Here sits Captain Schaack. He has himself admitted to me that my hat and books have been stolen from him in his office—stolen by policemen. These are your defenders of property rights!”

“I protest against the conviction, against the decision of the court. I do not recognize your law, jumbled together as it is by the nobodies of bygone centuries, and I do not recognize the decision of the court.”

“I despise you. I despise your order, your laws, your force-propped authority. Hang me for it!”

Peter Kropotkin

The anarcho-communist perspective.

Every day millions of transactions are made without Government intervention, and the greatest of them—those of commerce and of the Exchange—are carried on in such a way that the Government could not be appealed to if one of the contracting parties had the intention of not fulfilling his agreement. Should you speak to a man who understands commerce he will tell you that the everyday business transacted by merchants would be absolutely impossible were it not based on mutual confidence. The habit of keeping his word, the desire not to lose his credit, amply suffice to maintain this relative honesty. The man who does not feel the slightest remorse when poisoning his customers with noxious drugs covered with pompous labels thinks he is in honour bound to keep his engagements.

“Such a man,” we are told, “buys tea in China, brings it to France, and realizes a profit of thirty per cent on his original outlay. He has exploited nobody.” Nevertheless the case is analogous. If our merchant had carried his bales on his back, well and good! In early medieval times that was exactly how foreign trade was conducted, and so no one reached such giddy heights of fortune as in our days.

Everywhere you will find that the wealth of the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor.

Leo Tolstoy

The author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina was a committed anarchist.

The destruction of government will, say they, produce the greatest misfortunes—riot, theft, and murder—till finally the worst men will again seize power and enslave all the good people. But not to mention the fact that all this—i.e. riots, thefts and murders, followed by the rule of the wicked and the enslavement of the good—all this is what has happened and is happening,

the efforts of Governments to keep people in that childish condition in which an injured man feels as if it were better for him to have some one to complain to, people—especially the labouring people, both in Europe and in Russia—are more and more emerging from childhood and beginning to understand the true conditions of their life.

We are so depraved by long-continued slavery that we can hardly imagine administration without violence.

power is always seized by those who are less conscientious and less moral.

On abolishing government

And the possibility of governmental violence, like every other violence perpetrated by a small number of people upon a larger number, has always depended, and still depends, simply on the fact that the small number are armed while the large number are unarmed, or that the small number are better armed than the large number.

Discipline is the suppression of reason and of freedom in man, and can have no other aim than preparation for the performance of crimes such as no man can commit while in a normal condition.

The robber doing his work risked his life, while the Governments risk nothing,

People must feel that their participation in the criminal activity of Governments, whether by giving part of their work in the form of money, or by direct participation in military service, is not, as is generally supposed, an indifferent action, but, besides being harmful to one’s self and to one’s brothers, is a participation in the crimes unceasingly committed by all Governments and a preparation for new crimes.

What should each man do?

in order not to do the evil which produces misery for himself and for his brothers, he should, first of all, neither willingly nor under compulsion take any part in Governmental activity, and should, therefore, be neither a soldier, nor a Field-Marshal, nor a Minister-of-State, nor a tax- collector, nor a witness, nor an alderman, nor a juryman, nor a governor, nor a Member of Parliament, nor, in fact, hold any office connected with violence.

should not voluntarily pay taxes to governments, either directly or indirectly; nor should he accept money collected by taxes, either as salary, or as pension, or as a reward; nor should he make use of governmental institutions, supported by taxes collected by violence from the people.

a man who desires not to promote his own well-being alone, but to better the position of people in general, should not appeal to Governmental violence for the protection of his own possessions in land or in other things, nor to defend him and his near ones; but should only possess land and all products of his own or other people’s toil, in so far as others do not claim them from him.

Not every man will have the strength to refuse conscription (though there are and will be such men), but each man can abstain from voluntarily entering the army, the police force, and the judicial or revenue service;

not every one can refuse to make use of Government schools (though there are some who do), but every one can give the preference to private schools, and each can make less and less use of articles that are taxed, and of Government institutions.

Alexander Berkman

On the prison system, written in 1906.

Social progress, however, tends to check and eliminate the practice of direct, personal revenge. In so-called civilized communities the individual does not, as a rule, personally avenge his wrongs. He has delegated his “rights” in that direction to the State, the government; and it is one of the “duties” of the latter to avenge the wrongs of its citizens by punishing the guilty parties. Thus we see that punishment, as a social institution, is but another form of revenge, with the State in the role of the sole legal avenger of the collective citizen—the same well-defined spirit of barbarism in disguise. The penal powers of the State rest, theoretically, on the principle that, in organized society, “an injury to one is the concern of all”; in the wronged citizen society as a whole is attacked.

There is not a single prison or reformatory in the United States where either flogging and clubbing, or the straight-jacket, solitary confinement, and “reduced” diet (semi-starvation) are not practiced upon the unfortunate inmates.

How are inmates supposed to be reformed when people conducting victimless crime are put into the same cages as violent offenders, murderers and rapists? When they are violated by both the guards and fellow inmates?

The money annually expended for the maintenance of prisons could be invested, with as much profit and less injury, in government bonds of the planet Mars, or sunk in the Atlantic. No amount of punishment can obviate crime, so long as prevailing conditions, in and out of prison, drive men to it.

Voltairine de Cleyre

They have no idea why it should have been called a “revolution” instead of the “English War,” or any similar title: it’s the name of it, that’s all. And name-worship, both in child and man, has acquired such mastery of them,

The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless.

Ask any child what he knows about Shays’ rebellion, and he will answer, “Oh, some of the farmers couldn’t pay their taxes, and Shays led a rebellion against the court-house at Worcester, so they could burn up the deeds; and when Washington heard of it he sent over an army quick and taught ’em a good lesson”

Ask if he knows what was said on the other side of the story, ask if he knows that the men who had given their goods and their health and their strength for the freeing of the country now found themselves cast into prison for debt, sick, disabled, and poor, facing a new tyranny for the old;

for the nature of government is to become a thing apart, an institution existing for its own sake, preying upon the people, and teaching whatever will tend to keep it secure in its seat.

nine hundred and ninety nine men out of a thousand are more interested in drinking a glass of beer than in questioning the tax that is laid on it;

Emma Goldman

Essay with praise for the individual and harsh critiques for the masses.

Lacking utterly in originality and moral courage, the majority has always placed its destiny in the hands of others. Incapable of standing responsibilities, it has followed its leaders even unto destruction.

Politically the human race should still be in the most absolute slavery, were it not for the John Balls, the Wat Tylers, the Tells, the innumerable individual giants who fought inch by inch against the power of kings and tyrants.

The greatness and courage worshipped in Lincoln have been forgotten in the men who created the background for the panorama of that time.

Lincoln and his minions followed only when abolition had become a practical issue, recognized as such by all.

Yet how long would authority and private property exist, if not for the willingness of the mass to become soldiers, policemen, jailers, and hangmen.

The quote above displays her socialist background. The anarcho-capitalist would not regard “private property” as something bad. One might replace it with “unjust laws”.

Charles Robert Plunkett

A short essay proposing political violence

When Free Speech is suppressed, when men are jailed for asking food, clubbed for assembling to discuss their grievances, and stoned for expressing their opinions, there is but one recourse—violence. The ruling class has guns, bullets, bayonets, police, jails, militia, armies and navies. To oppose all this the worker has only—dynamite.

Off with the mask! This is war. Violence can be met only with violence. “If they attack us with cannon, we will attack them with dynamite”—and, whenever possible, let us attack first. To oppression, to exploitation, to persecution, to police, jails, militia, armies and navies, there is but one answer—DYNAMITE!

Morris and Linda Tannehill

Insurance companies, covering loss of value by aggression, as an alternative for the current police and prison system.

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” which means: “When you destroy a value of mine, I’ll destroy a value of yours.” Present day penology no longer makes such demands; instead of the eye or the tooth, it takes the criminal’s life (via execution), or a part of his life (via imprisonment), and/or his possessions (via fines).

Since a crime can only be committed against individuals, a criminal cannot be rationally regarded as “owing a debt to society,” nor can he “pay his debt to society:” the only debt he owes is to the injured individual(s).

First, the insurance company’s representatives would attempt a voluntary settlement with the accused aggressor. If he was obviously guilty and the amount of reparations requested was just, it would be in his interest to agree to this settlement and avoid involving an arbitration agency, since the cost of any arbitration would be added on to his bill if he lost in his attempt to cheat justice.

Any free-market business, including an arbitration agency, can survive and prosper only as customers choose to patronize it instead of its competitors. An arbitration agency must be chosen by both (or all) disputants in a case, which means that its record of settling previous disputes of a similar nature must be more satisfactory, to both complainant and defendant, than the records of its competitors. Any arbitration agency which consistently set reparations too high or too low in the opinion of the majority of its customers and potential customers would lose business rapidly. It would have to either adjust its payments to fit consumer demand … or go out of business.

loss of reputation, would be even more damaging to the aggressor. Just as specialized companies would keep central files, listing poor contractual risks, they would also list aggressors so that anyone wishing to do business with a man could first check his record. Insurance companies in particular would make use of this service. So our bank robber would find insurance companies listing him as a very poor risk and other firms reluctant to enter into contracts with him.

The fear of a tyrant is a very real one, and, in the light of history, it is well justified. But, as can be seen from the foregoing examination, it applies to a governmentally run society rather than to a free society. The objection that a tyrant might take over is actually a devastating argument against government.

David Friedman

Friedman goes through ways in which stateless societies defend themselves. Police and Military. The necessity for police would be greatly reduced by legalizing victimless crimes. Other disputes can be taken care of by private security agencies. An alternative to the military would be an armed militia - People that do firearm training in their free time and pay for their own equipment already do exist. So do folks playing paintball in their free time.

Murray Rothbard

David Friedman focusses on implementation details, the inefficiencies of the state. Rothbard on “the virulent reign of the State”.

Therefore, the chief task of the rulers is always to secure the active or resigned acceptance of the majority of the citizens.

The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.

The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige.

For while individual persons tend to indulge in “selfish greed,” the failure of the State’s rulers to engage in exchanges is supposed to signify their devotion to higher and nobler causes—parasitic predation being apparently morally and esthetically lofty as compared to peaceful and productive work.

For if a judicial decree of “unconstitutional” is a mighty check to government power, an implicit or explicit verdict of “constitutional” is a mighty weapon for fostering public acceptance of ever-greater government power.

A man is drafted, though he finds nothing in the Constitution about being drafted. . . .

A man goes to the federal penitentiary for saying what he wants to, and he paces his cell reciting . . . “Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of speech.”

While social power is over nature, State power is power over man.

John Hasnas

While anarchy is often regarded as lawlessness, or “without rules”, the word anarchy literally means “without rulers”. Hasnas makes the argument why “objective” law does not exist in our current governments.

[…] is both an incoherent concept and a utopian fantasy impossible to put into practice.

Law is inherently political and the constitution can be interpreted as the current ruling class seems fit.

Michael Malice

On why he does not vote and does not intend to. Because:

[…] governments will continue to act regardless of any sort of popular approval – and certainly regardless of any approval of mine. State action proceeds independently of any democratic justification.

George W Bush did the same thing when he sought United Nations authority to invade Iraq in 2003. Having seen that the votes were not there, he simply grounded his invasion in earlier resolutions.

the vote was a formality; an ex-post-facto justification for an organization to do whatever it intended to do anyway.