The Anarchist Manifesto was written in 1850 by French thinker Anselme Bellegarrigue, just a couple of years after the publication of another famous political manifesto. Whether or not it was a direct counter-response to Marx and Engels, I'm not sure, but I definitely sense some tension.
Bellegarrigue's manifesto was quite an individualistic and defiant screed. In my theme-reveal post, I contrasted two basic urges of many manifestos: do your own thing versus be nice to one another. There's no ambiguity about which side this one is on!
However, Bellegarrigue did try to be careful about definitions. He started by flat-out rejecting the common interpretation of Anarchism as an incitement to chaotic violence. In fact, he turned that stereotype on its head by saying that civil unrest was the direct result of governments exerting too much power. These opposing syllogisms say a lot...
Who says anarchy, says negation of government;Nope, he didn't like any societal rulers, "from Aaron right up to Monsieur Bonaparte." He even distrusted the idea of an elected government of representatives...
Who says negation of government says affirmation of the people;
Who says affirmation of the people, says individual liberty;
Who says individual liberty, says sovereignty of each;
Who says sovereignty of each, says equality;
Who says equality, says solidarity or fraternity;
Who says fraternity, says social order.
Who says government, says negation of the people;
Who says negation of the people, says affirmation of political authority;
Who says affirmation of political authority, says individual dependency;
Who says individual dependency, says class supremacy;
Who says class supremacy, says inequality;
Who says inequality, says antagonism;
Who says antagonism, says civil war,
From which it follows that who says government, says civil war.
What is the voter expressing when he drops his ballot paper into the box? By such an act, elector is telling the candidate: I give you my freedom, unrestrictedly and unreservedly; I place at your disposal and abandon to your discretion my intellect, means of action, possessions, revenues, activity and entire fortune; I surrender to you my rights of sovereignty.I shouldn't have been surprised that his libertarianism became a bit libertine (and thus echoed Rabelais' and Crowley's "Do what thou wilt"):
I am encapsulated within the span of my existence, and the only problem I must resolve is the problem of my well-being. I have but one doctrine and that doctrine has but a single formula, and that formula but a single word: ENJOYMENT.For me, this brings to mind Ursula Le Guin's 1974 novel The Dispossessed. Reading this novel was the first time I got my head around the idea that this kind of anarchist society might possibly "work" in practice. Of course, there's a loooong way to go between might possibly and would actually. :-)
... Does my selfishness do you some harm? If you say no, you have no grounds for objection, because I am at liberty in respect of anything not likely to do you harm. If you say yes, you are cheats, because my selfishness is nothing more than my assertion of self-ownership, an appeal to my identity, a protest against all overlordship. If you feel harmed by the carrying out of this act of self-possession, by my assertion of rights over my own person ... you are acknowledging that I am your possession, or, at the very least, that you have designs upon me.