Criticisms of anarchism

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Critics of anarchism include allegations of utopianism, tacit authoritarianism, and vandalism towards feats of civilization.

Allegation of utopianism[edit]

Anarchism is evaluated as unfeasible or utopian by its critics, often in general and formal debate. European history professor Carl Landauer, in his book European Socialism argued that social anarchism is unrealistic and that government is a "lesser evil" than a society without "repressive force." He also argued that "ill intentions will cease if repressive force disappears" is an "absurdity".[1]

Anarchists often counter this assertion by arguing that it is merely a misconception. Mainstream anarchism does not expect such an outcome and instead offers other, decentralized mechanisms for crime prevention and adjudication.[2][3] An Anarchist FAQ states the following: "Anarchy is not a utopia [...] anarchists make no claims about human perfection [...] disputes would be solved by reasonable methods, for example, the use of juries, mutual third parties, or community and workplace assemblies [...] some sort of "court" system would still be necessary to deal with the remaining crimes and to adjudicate disputes between citizens [...]".[4][5]

Tacit authoritarianism[edit]

The anarchist tendency known as platformism has been criticized by Situationists,[6] insurrectionaries, synthesis anarchists[7][8] and others of preserving tacitly statist, authoritarian or bureaucratic tendencies. The anarcho-capitalist economist Bryan Caplan argues that the treatment of fascists and fascist sympathizers by Spanish anarchists in the Spanish Civil War was a form of illegitimate coercion, making the anarchists "ultimately just a third faction of totalitarians," alongside the communists and fascists. He also criticizes the willingness of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) to join the Republican government during the civil war, and references Stanley G. Payne's book on the Franco regime which claims that the CNT entered negotiations with the government of Spain six years after the war.[9] Many anarcho-syndicalists, anarcho-communists, and other types of anarchists have criticized the CNT-FAI for entering the Spanish government during and since the events of the Civil War.[10]

Anarchism and civilization[edit]

In his essay On authority, Friedrich Engels claimed that radical decentralization promoted by anarchists would destroy modern industrial civilization, citing an example of railways:[11]

Here too the co-operation of an infinite number of individuals is absolutely necessary, and this co-operation must be practised during precisely fixed hours so that no accidents may happen. Here, too, the first condition of the job is a dominant will that settles all subordinate questions, whether this will is represented by a single delegate or a committee charged with the execution of the resolutions of the majority of persona interested. In either case there is a very pronounced authority. Moreover, what would happen to the first train dispatched if the authority of the railway employees over the Hon. passengers were abolished?

In the end, it is argued that authority in any form is a natural occurrence which should not be abolished.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Landauer, Carl. European Socialism: A History of Ideas and Movements (1959)
  2. ^ Gelderloos, Paul. "'Anarchy Works.' Crime".
  3. ^ Black, Bob. "An Anarchist Response to 'An Anarchist Response to Crime'". theanarchistlibrary. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  4. ^ Anarchist FAQ, does anarchism require "perfect people" to work?
  5. ^ Anarchist FAQ, what about crime?
  6. ^ Debord, Guy. "paragraph 91". Society of the Spectacle. Translated by Ken Knabb. London: Rebel Press. ISBN 0-946061-12-2.
  7. ^ "Reply by several Russian Anarchists to the ‘Platform’" by Various Authors
  8. ^ "Tras la victoria de los plataformistas en el Congreso de París de 1929, una sección de los que consideraron que las ideas tradicionales del anarquismo estaban siendo atacadas se separó de la UACR para formar la Asociación de los Federalistas Anarquistas a comienzos de 192821. La principal figura de la AFA fue Sébastien Faure que, como respuesta a la Plataforma, expuso sus propuestas para un movimiento anarquista unificado en La síntesis anarquista, que apareció primero como un suplemento del informe de la AFA de febrero de 1928 titulado Le Trait d’Union Libertaire"Jason Garner. "La búsqueda de la unidad anarquista: la Federación Anarquista Ibérica antes de la II República." Archived October 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Caplan, Bryan. "The Anarcho-Statists of Spain", An Anarchy FAQ
  10. ^ Dolgoff, Sam. "Controversy: Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution"
  11. ^ Friedrich Engels, On Authority (1872) on the Marxists' Internet Archive
  12. ^ Goodwin, B., 2014. Using political ideas, Sixth edition. ed. John Wiley and Sons, Inc, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kinna, Ruth, 2009. Anarchism: a beginners guide., Revised ed. edition. ed, Beginner’s Guides. neworld Publications, Oxford, ISBN 1-85168-717-3

External links[edit]