The Variety of Anarchy
In the past
Originally there was just the idea of and the aspiration to anarchy. Only subsequently, the stress put on the individual or on the community, have resulted in a differentiation between various types of anarchy according to the preference given to certain aspects of personal choice and social organization.
One of the first differentiations was that between anarcho-collectivists
(like Bakunin) that were in favour of a distribution of products in relation
to the work performed, and the anarcho-communists (like Kropotkin) that wanted
a distribution of goods in relation to individual needs.
To overcome this contrast, some anarchists, at the end of the 19th century put forward the position of “Anarchism without adjectives”.
This expression was first introduced by Fernando Tarrida del Marmol in 1889 in Barcelona as a way to go beyond the division between communist anarchists and collectivist anarchists and favour a more open and more inclusive approach.
In more recent times, the revival of individualist anarchy and the crisis
of communism (state communism) have brought to the fore a current known
as anarcho-capitalists (in favour of personal property and free exchanges).
This current is present especially in the United States and most of the ideas expressed derive from previous thinkers like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker.
The coiner of the expression anarcho-capitalism was the economist Murray Rothbard who wanted, by that expression, to stress the primacy of the individual and the importance of the principle of non-aggression, to be implemented against whoever wanted to act as a master (public or private master).
Anarcho-capitalists are not considered, by anarcho-communists that favor common property, to be part of the anarchist conception.
An anarchist, willing to implement the core message of anarchy (free choices, voluntary communities) should not at all be interested in this split between anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalist or in any other split (e.g. between individualist anarchists and communitarian anarchists). For this reason he/she should not take active part for one current against the other.
This has been stressed many times by anarchist activists and thinkers. For example by:
Voltairine de Cleyre, Anarchism (1901)
“There are, accordingly, several economic schools among Anarchists; there are Anarchist Individualists, Anarchist Mutualists, Anarchist Communists and Anarchist Socialists. In times past these several schools have bitterly denounced each other and mutually refused to recognize each other as Anarchists at all. The more narrow-minded on both sides still do so; true, they do not consider it narrow-mindedness, but simply a firm and solid grasp of the truth, which does not permit of tolerance towards error. This has been the attitude of the bigot in all ages, and Anarchism no more than any other new doctrine has escaped its bigots. Each of these fanatical adherents of either collectivism or individualism believes that no Anarchism is possible without that particular economic system as its guarantee, and is of course thoroughly justified from his own standpoint.” “... this old narrowness is yielding to the broader, kindlier and far more reasonable idea, that all these economic ideas may be experimented with, and there is nothing un-Anarchistic about any of them until the element of compulsion enters and obliges unwilling persons to remain in a community whose economic arrangements they do not agree to.”
“Therefore I say that each group of persons acting socially in freedom may choose any of the proposed systems, and be just as thorough-going Anarchists as those who select another.”
Max Nettlau, Quelques idées fausses sur l'Anarchisme (1905)
« … we must consider it as the result of a pitiful and fake conception concerning the real nature of social progress this fight for the establishment of a special and unique economic system. Things will follow in future the line of less resistance as it has been in the past; but who will be capable to indicate which path will follow the multiple human necessities in view of obtaining an adequate satisfaction?
There is plenty of room for the activities of the anarcho-communists and the anarcho-individualists: this is the nature of Anarchy.”
Karl Hess, Anarchism without Hypens (1980)
“There is only one kind of anarchist. Not two. Just one. An anarchist, the only kind, as defined by the long tradition and literature of the position itself, is a person in opposition to authority imposed through the hierarchical power of the state. The only expansion of this that seems to me to be reasonable is to say that an anarchist stands in opposition to any imposed authority. An anarchist is a voluntarist.”
FutureIn the future, anarchists should get rid of this fake opposition and focus on real ones, as for instance the fact of talking in favour of anarchy but then asking from the state for measures of protection for specific interests. Anarchy is a process of empowerment and autonomy achieved from each single individual and not something bestowed from an external power.