Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Anarchy 101

What this movement needs is a good “short course” on anarchism.

But wait, we’ve finally got one! In the past couple of weeks, two slim volumes have been released that — bundled together — provide as good an Anarchy 101 course as we could hope for.

The first book is Anarchism for Beginners, the latest addition to the For Beginners documentary comic book series. This is an English translation of a book first published in Spanish five years ago in Argentina. Written by Marcos Mayer and illustrated by Héctor Alberto Sanguiliano (aka Sanyú), it provides a good, quick, 170 heavily cartooned page overview of anarchism, touching almost all the bases but limiting its examination of individualist anarchism to just Max Stirner, ignoring Spooner, Tucker, De Cleyre, and the rest. Of course, no mention is made at all of Rothbard and the radical market anarchists, but that’s not particularly surprising. Even with these shortcomings, Anarchism for Beginners is a handy little history lesson and a non-intimidating philosophical introduction to anti-statism that’s perfect for any young (or middle-aged, or even old) radical seeking knowledge.

The second volume is, as Brad Spangler’s already reported elsewhere, the most essential libertarian book of 2009 — and we’re only six days into the year. It’s Samuel Edward Konkin III’s An Agorist Primer, published posthumously just this month by Victor Koman at KoPubCo.

A lot of us have waited two decades for the release of this slender tome, written and ready (but not financed, alas) for publication way back in 1986. And although the delay is unfortunate, it proves to have been worth it. Clocking in at just over 100 pages, An Agorist Primer offers not only a simple-but-thorough explanation of what agorism is, it also builds a rock-solid case for it. Sure, I’m biased. Yes, I’ve been in the agorist “camp” of Libertarian Leftists for almost 30 years. Granted, SEK3 was my philosophic plumb-line for a long, long time. But trust me, Konkin’s well-structured argument for a free society of the open marketplace (“as near to untainted by theft, assault, and fraud as can be humanly attained”) is compelling. And he shows convincingly that such a society is absolutely achievable and sustainable.

Sam’s book truly is a primer; he strips down heavy-duty economic theory and libertarian philosophy without diminishing either of them. An Agorist Primer may be a quick walk through the basics, but it never shortchanges the reader. And best of all, it’s awfully entertaining.

We lost a terrific libertarian thinker and writer when SEK3 died five years ago. But this little treasure stands ultimately as a testament to the vitality he brought to modern libertarianism — or, as Sam himself used to call it, This Movement of Ours.

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At 1:25 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

If it doesn't have Tucker or Spooner, it's not worth shit.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Dan Clore said...

The following is my own brief explanation, including a reference to another "Anarchy 101":

There is a great deal of misunderstanding of the nature of anarchism.

Anarchists (also known as libertarians or libertarian socialists, in the original sense of socialism as worker-ownership-and-control of the means of production) oppose illegitimate authority and hierarchy, and therefore oppose capitalism and the state; anarchists do not oppose all organization: anarchists favor voluntary, non-hierarchical, self-organization. Anarchists do not oppose all rules and laws; anarchists oppose rules and laws imposed involuntarily by illegitimate authorities, such as the state, and favor voluntarily-agreed-upon rules and laws.

"Anarchy 101", an excellent introduction to anarchism, can be found here:

"An Anarchist FAQ", giving an in-depth treatment of anarchism, can be found here:


News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

The so-called "Anarchist FAQ"- we all know how biased it is. You're not fooling anyone, commie.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger chris lempa said...

The Anarchist FAQ is a great tool when it comes to spreading Anarchist ideas.

It even seems that Kevin Carson and Shawn Wilbur contributed to it. What are your main problems with it?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

"The Anarchist FAQ is a great tool when it comes to spreading Anarchist ideas."

As long as they're the "correct" ideas (i.e. communist ideas). The Anarchist FAQ is pretty clear that all other Anarchist ideas are not Anarchist, and will even go to deliberately lying about quotes to do so.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Dan Clore said...

"An Anarchist FAQ" clearly accepts the entire spectrum of traditional anarchism, from communist to individualist, though it doesn't accept capitalism. (Since I've been called a "commie", I'll point out that I personally favor the individualist end of the spectrum.)

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay said...

Okay, well that's your position. I can tell you that left-libertarians in general aren't too hot about it.

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I like Konkin's libertarian writings, his support of the Institute for Historical Review (a holocaust denial outfit) left me more than a little queasy.


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