The Political Theory of Anarchism
by April Carter

An introductory survey of various conflicting anarchist philosophies. It is obvious that some of these philosophies are mutually exclusive, yet Carter tries to smooth over the differences by dropping the individualist, pacifist, and capitalist anarchists from her finale.

This small book is a report on anarchism by an outsider. It could have been a college term paper in an undergraduate level political science course. She relies heavily on two paperback anthologies of anarchist writings that were available in 1971 when this book was published: The Anarchists edited by Irving Horowitz and Patterns of Anarchy edited by Leonard Krimerman and Lewis Perry. She gives the impression that anarchism is new to her and that she hasn't read much more of it than I have. She quotes De Tocqueville more than anyone else and she mentions Martin Buber several times, although they were not anarchists.

But it is clearly impossible to transpose a model of administering justice appropriate to a small, traditional and tightly knit community to a large, mobile and anonymous urban population. (82)

Informal justice presupposes an agreement on moral and judicial principles, and their procedural application, unlikely except in a society with the cohesion and tradition which rationalism tends to destroy. (82)

...individualism is usually associated with the breakdown of medieval institutions, or the escape of the individual from the clan. (86)

... only a religious life-conception will enable men to live in an anarchist society and to co-operate without violence. (94)

Tolstoy recognizes that turning to the village commune entails a rejection of urban and 'civilized' culture, science and art. Proudhon is less willing to reject philosophy and science. But like Tolstoy he accepts a peasant mode of living, including the patriarchal family as an ideal, which assigns women to their permanent place in the home. (86)

Moreover, whatever the values of community by comparison with the anonymity and inhumanity of large cities, loss of anonymity may also mean a serious loss of personal freedom. (86)

Solution: A free nation will have cities and rural communities. People who prefer the freedom of the city will probably choose to live in the city. People who prefer the particular values of a rural community or village will probably choose to live there.

Year Read: 1976 and 1996


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