Anarchy & Liberalism
Liberalism represents the first stance against centralized, institutional power.
It affirms personal rights. The role of the state is reduced to ensuring personal
freedom and personal security.
Liberalism represents the birth of civil society, rejecting any invasive presence of political sovereignty.
« Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. »
Lord Acton, Letter to Mandell Creighton, 1887
Nowadays, many self-professed liberals seem to embrace rather than reject the current political, economic and monetary system based on a pervasive intervention of the state in every aspect of social life.
At the same time, many self-professed anarchists who are against liberalism, either do not differentiate between classic and current liberalism or are, in actual fact, attracted by the welfare state policies of forced income redistribution. However, anarchists are for equity (end of privileges) and not for imposed equality. Out of equity it is very likely that equality will emerge (promoted also by forms of mutual aid). Out of imposed equality it is almost certain that a new paternalistic power will emerge with new privileges granted to supporters and cronies.
« I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. »
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776
Anarchism is the continuation and further, deeper implementation of liberal aspirations. It is not against liberalism but beyond liberalism, and is more liberal than classic liberals have ever been.
“Political theorists usually classify anarchism as an ideology of the extreme Left. In fact, it combines ideas and values both from liberalism and socialism and may be considered a creative synthesis of the two great currents of thought.”
“Like liberals anarchists stress the liberty of choice. They advocate the freedom of enquiry, of thought, of expression, and of association.”
“Anarchism like liberalism is suspicious of centralized bureaucracy and concentrated political authority.”
“It is fearful of the triumph of mediocrity and the tyranny of the majority. It calls for social pluralism and cultural diversity. It echoes Alexis de Tocqueville’s ideal of liberty and community and J. S. Mill’s celebration of individuality.”
Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible. A History of Anarchism, 2008