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Forum Post: Your favorite anarchist sayings?

Posted 6 years ago on March 28, 2012, 11:55 p.m. EST by francismjenkins (3713)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Here's one of mine (I'm sure many will agree):

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. —P. J. Proudhon, "What Is Government?"



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[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 3 years ago

Interesting thread.

[-] 2 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 6 years ago

"The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another's labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live" -Leo Tolstoy


[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 6 years ago

“I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.”

― Noam Chomsky

[-] 1 points by 666isMONEY (348) 6 years ago

Abolish money quotes (from my website): http://666ismoney.com/MoneyQuotes.html

There is a very great deal to be said for the Anarchist plan of allowing necessaries, and all commodities that can easily be produced in quantities adequate to any possible demand, to be given away freely to all who ask for them, in any amounts they may require. The question whether this plan should be adopted is, to my mind, a purely technical one: would it be, in fact, possible to adopt it without much waste and consequent diversion of labor to the production of necessaries when it might be more usefully employed otherwise? I have not the means of answering this question, but I think it exceedingly probable that, sooner or later, with continued improvement in the methods of production, this Anarchist plan will become feasible; and when it does, it certainly ought to be adopted. — Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads to Freedom, 1919

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

I like that idea (first proposed by Proudhon I think, and echoed by many anarchist thinkers since). I'm not sure though that we need to reach this far in our thought. Is something like that economically feasible? To be honest, I'm not sure (and I'm not aware of anything like this in recent history that worked on a long term basis, although that fact certainly doesn't preclude the idea).

What we do know is some aspects of direct democracy have worked effectively for a long time in many of our states. We also know that employee owned and managed companies tend to outperform their conventional counterparts. We also know money has a corrosive influence in politics. We know sensible financial regulations have insured the stability of our financial sector for seven decades.

Moving in this direction implies moving towards a world where we can figure out the feasibility of more ambitious ideas. Put it this way, if we had the power to hold a recall election, and vote out people like Bloomberg, he would be more responsive to the people, and less likely to keep a police commissioner who can only be described as an aggressive authoritarian.

In general, I reject the consequentialist idea that the ends justify the means. However, this doesn't obligate us to a dogmatic ideology that doesn't recognize the obvious, like we're more like to induce change if we follow a logical sequence of actions e.g. we pick the low hanging fruit from the tree before we try and climb our way to the top.

In other words, we need to have a sufficient amount of flexibility. Things that are unable to respond to circumstances are more likely to die. This is a simple and unquestionable law of nature, adaptability promotes fitness, and fitness promotes success.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

My favorite is "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Anarchists presume that people are naturally good and that any coercive or hierarchical government is bad. Yet their own position makes no sense as seen by my first quote.

That is: anarchists presume everyone to be equally good - and equally bad. In this lies the core of the failure of the anarchist agenda.

In contrast the need for recognition of differential human character and the consequent right of some to rule others is the starting point for a better system, one that need not be capitalist either!

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

I mean, if "power corrupts" then "power" is a bad idea, right? So in essence, if you like your saying so much (and I agree, it's a good saying), then how can you advocate granting the few power over the many? Either you like corruption, or you don't like (or understand) the concept of logical contradiction.

[-] 2 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

No I do not accept that power corrupts in any necessary way! Hence I do not like corruption.

The reason that I do not accept that power always corrupts is that people have different characters and some are more corruptible than others. Power brings this out in some - but powerlessness among the masses can also engender a savage outpouring from the mob as well!

So I agree that it is a popular saying - but it is NOT a good saying, because it is wrong in that it covers up the vital essence of mankind viz: that individuals have different characters and that recognition of such character differences is vital for the future of mankind.

Hence too egalitarian democracy is NOT the viable future for mankind. Rather, the search for and promotion of better people to rule is the big task - as well as finding the correct philosophical line.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

What about, rather than throwing up our hands and believing that some humans simply aren't fit to rule themselves, we instead focus on improving the human race to the extent it can be improved? Just an idea. I think it's probably true that even the best of the best can be corrupted under the right conditions, and granting absolute power is (and always has been) corrupting. The idea that we should put so much faith in humans (no matter how "good" we perceive them to be), requires a level of potential human infallibility that simply isn't supported by the evidence.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Well the best can be corrupted - and that has happened under modernity, especially under the philosophical perversions paraded under the holy name of Sir Karl Popper. However this cannot be a permanent situation.

I am not throwing up my hands in hopelessless. Rather I am looking for those who realize and feel that they have the right to rule since they have the right ideas and the right character.

People are neither fully fallible nor fully infallible - but some have a better character for rulership than others and such character differences between individuals is obvious.

Once you concede that simple point, our task is to find and train such people rather than throwing everything back into the swamp of superstition and prejudice called "genuine democracy".

Your implied claim that genuine democracy should transcend all is NOT supported by any evidence since it puts the unreliable rabble - and their hidden capitalist masters - in the drivers' seat. Even Lenin realized this as he began to curb democracy as various disasters beset the Soviet Union.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

And look what Lenin accomplished (disaster) ... so I'm not sure how you use his approach as a demonstration case. I understand that the snails pace of ground up change makes a top down approach tempting, but there is evidence that genuine democracy can be a better approach. First, employee owned and managed firms are both more productive compared to their conventional counterparts, and they survive longer. Secondly, plenty of our states allow recall elections and referendum voting (and most of them seem to be doing just fine).

I'd love to see a rigorous study on this. My hypothesis is that liberty correlates with economic and societal success, and if we put different approaches to governance on a graphical scale, we would find that (in general) the closer a system reaches to genuine democracy, the more successful its society is (using all the standard metrics).

In the largest and most significant study to date of the performance of ESOPs in closely held companies, in 2000 Douglas Kruse and Joseph Blasi of Rutgers University found that ESOPs increase sales, employment, and sales/employee by about 2.3% to 2.4% per year over what would have been expected absent an ESOP. ESOP companies are also somewhat more likely to still be in business several years later. This is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that ESOP companies are substantially more likely than comparable companies to offer other retirement benefit plans along with their ESOP.


In addition to providing for voting[5][6] the people of Colorado have reserved initiative of laws and referendum of laws enacted by the legislature to themselves[7][8]

...the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly.[9]

and provided for recall of office holders.[10]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_and_government_of_ Colorado#Initiative.2C_referendum.2C_and_recall

As it turns out, trusting people to manage themselves results in higher productively, better performance, and overall improvement using all the standard metrics. Who would have thought?

[+] -6 points by DKAtoday (33491) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

How many Mother Teresa's are there in the world right now?

How many MLK's ?

How many Nelson Mandella's?

How many John Lennon's?

How many founding Father's?

How many selfless people?

Not many at all a very rare type are these.

So it only makes sense that we all work together for the benefit of all.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

I think there's "potentially" just as many of these people around as there's always been. I mean, we haven't biologically evolved since the 1960's (evolution is a very slow process). I think maybe there's a bit of each of these people in everyone, potentially, and none of the people on this list were infallible.

[-] 1 points by badreadnaught (55) 6 years ago

Just curious, is there any evidence of Fidel Castro being corrupt that you might know of?

[-] 1 points by brochomsky (208) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

The premise of anarchism is that power is granted to know one. Since power corrupts--this is true--if no one has it, then it can't be a corrupting force.

Anarchists don't think everyone is inherently equally good. I think that's naive; but it's cynical to think people can't be made better by a better system than the one we currently have.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

I presume you mean "no one" in your comment above.

The people generally can be made more content and more participatory in a better system - but such a better system that the one we have will not be an egalitarian democratic one.

Anarchists might not think everyone equally good but they continually cut down and abuse those who see further than their idiotic democratic-egalitarian phrases. Despite your misleading claim to the contrary anarchists DO IN PRACTICE treat everyone as inherently equally good. What can the egalitarian claim of "one man, one vote" refer to otherwise?

Rather, it will be a system that recognizes that power is essential and the best have to be found - and they have the right to rule.

You claim that power always corrupts - which is a stinking lie serving only the leveling claim that "everyone must be inherently good and thus equal" - but you forget that both learned ignorance and impotence each corrupt people just as much.

For example the hysterical rabble in the Spanish Civil War - quite happy to kill the local priest or run him out of the village - but unwilling to be involved in organized battle formations to fight the Catholic church reassembling elsewhere under Franco. Since they can "think locally" only they were completely oblivious to the larger issues - and unwilling to be told otherwise.

Consider Ken Loach's film "Land and Freedom" which brings out anarchist pariochiality beautifully. Franco won because he deserved to, not just because of Communist brutality, killing Trotskyists etc., but because of the anarchists impracticability and inherent disorganization (the best Communist fighters were better than the anarchists, as Hugh Thomas's work reveals).

If OWS clings to the anarchist nonsense (such as the Chomsky chumps serve it up) it has no future at all.

[-] 1 points by brochomsky (208) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

I said anarchists probably don't THINK everyone to be equally. "No one" ever said people weren't treated like equals. That's a big difference.

If you can give me an example in history where power didn't naturally corrupt a government over time, then I'll concede. Unfortunately, we have great examples in Greece, Rome, China, England, France, the United States, and Spain that suggest power eventually corrupts and dismantles a once dominant government. I suppose we can suggest that the Dalai Lama hasn't been corrupted by power, but, well, he'd probably be in favor of anarchism (or at least socialism) over what we have now.

So it's not a lie, but a historical analysis to suggest that power eventually corrupts.

Consider John Cassavetes' film "Faces." Capitalism is an institution which subverts human nature and forces us to carry around masks throughout our lives. That's what happens when you champion money over anything really meaningful.

If Americans cling to false principles of Capitalism/Imperialism, we're not going to last much longer as a dominant nation (like Rome, Greece, England).

[-] 0 points by Dumpthechump (96) 5 years ago

That we cannot find prolonged non-corrupt government (power) systems does not mean that uncorrupted leaders do not and cannot exist. Your negativism towards this implies that all mankind can ever achieve under anarchism is mere squabbling little communities regularly manipulated by middle men (capitalistic types) who can always fool them with democratic prattle about egalitarianism.

'And so I have to agree with you that capitalism/imperialism is based on false principles. What we have to do is to identify these since there is more than is obvious.

[-] 0 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

When power is granted to no one, it will be taken by someone. But in anarchy, the power structure that will evolve will be unelected and unaccountable. Which is tyranny.

[-] 1 points by brochomsky (208) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Anarchism can still be democratic. Anarchy would result in a more sophisticated system of checks and balances than what we have right now, since all social entities would be held accountable by their local communities. Anarchist tyranny would be less likely than in a Republic since greater power is both harder to obtain and the leaders in the anarchist community would be held accountable directly to their community.

[-] 0 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

Can we get some popcorn to go with this fantasy.

[-] 0 points by Skippy2 (485) 6 years ago

Favorite anarchist saying?? Hmmmm how about, "Ouch that hurts".

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

LOL .... or, officer, quit hitting me with that baton.

[-] 0 points by darrenlobo (204) 6 years ago

State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."

It is a lie! It was creators who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers are they who lay snares for the many, and call it state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.

Where there are still peoples, the state is not understood, and is hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.

This sign I give to you: every people speaks its own language of good and evil, which its neighbor does not understand. It has created its own language of laws and customs.

But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen.

Everything in it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites often. It is false down to its bowels.

Confusion of tongues of good and evil; this sign I give you as the sign of the state. This sign points to the will to death! it points to the preachers of death!

--Friedrich Nietzsche


[-] 0 points by Quark3 (54) 6 years ago

Washington stated, "“An army of asses led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by an ass”

This is why I worry but still have faith about OWS leaderless. We need a Lion Leader.

World Solidarity!

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

With respect to George Washington, whom I do admire, we're not building an army, we're advocating true democracy. What I think people should at least be aware of, is different circumstances often require a different approach, and dogmatic ideology is rarely a good approach to problem solving.

As someone who served in the Army for 9 years, I can attest to the fact that a strong structure, and chain of command, works very well in that context. However, this doesn't say anything about the effectiveness or lack thereof of a leaderless structure (maybe structure is a bad word here, but anyway) in the context of how we manage our every day lives.

Can anyone say more control over their own lives is a per se bad idea? I think the opposite is true, it's a per se good idea, and therefore if we're going to make presumptions, we should presume on the side of liberty. However, revolutionary change can happen in a gradual and peaceful way, giving us the opportunity to figure out what works best.

[-] 0 points by Quark3 (54) 6 years ago

We are building an army, an army of ideas. People like to think it is something new but there is nothing new under the sun. These conflicts we are discussing have been discussed since the beginning. You can't take food out of the wolves mouth. Peace is nice idea but an incomplete idea.

The saying is, "if you want peace prepare for war" Seneca.

World Solidarity!

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Well okay, but an army of ideas is not a military fighting force, although, they might both need to sleep in tents once in a while :)

[-] 0 points by Quark3 (54) 6 years ago

I see your point. :)

[-] 0 points by e2420 (-28) 6 years ago

" I know that great anarchy quickly leads to great exhaustion and that despotism, which is a kind of rest, has almost always been the necessary result of great anarchy."

duke of Aiguillon, 1789

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

So this duke is making a statement "against" anarchism .... and with what evidence? Or should we understand this statement for what it is, I'm a duke, I like being a duke, and it seems to me that any system where I can't be a duke, must suck :)



[-] -1 points by CCNN (8) from Walla Walla, WA 6 years ago

"we will continue to beat the drum for this childish nonsense because many of the products of the modern education system will continue to believe"!

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 6 years ago

Why don't we start with this one, "We the people"...

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 6 years ago

Government is manner of governance; it is present in all societies, not by design but as the product of interaction within community; it will exist regardless.

Those that assume that some isolated societies may exist without an internal polity, or any political entities, or communal code of any form, as "governance" are sadly misinformed.

"Limited" government IS anarchistic; anarchism was the intent of the Founding Fathers.

[-] 3 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

The Founding Fathers were going for anarchism? That's a new one on me. I don't think they would have worked so hard to put in place a Representative Republic if they were going for anarchism.

If anything, the fact that they thought the Federal government should have limited powers was more in line with, what would become, Classical Liberalism. Not anarchism.

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 6 years ago

I disagree. The original intent was to federate for the purpose of addressing four distinct issues; all else was to be deferred to the states as sovereign.

This is as close to anarchism as is humanly possible; no society lives without codification, formal or informal.

[-] 3 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

Ad hominem circumstantial - logical fallacy of association: Anarchism prefers limited or no authority. Our Federal government has limited powers. Therefore, our government is anarchistic.

Because two things share a property does not mean they are the same thing.

Our government has leadership, decision making powers, a hierarchical structure, elected representatives. It is absolutely not anarchy.

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 6 years ago

Simple terms: Although power often shifts in accordance with circumstance, I don't think anyone would deny that the family is possessed of power structure. And a family without any rules is "anarchy."

There has never been a society anywhere on earth that was truly anarchistic. It's an evolutionary impossibility.

[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

Q: Your favorite anarchist sayings?

A: This is a Anarchy forum, and your ideas are not compatible with our group consensus.

Next Question?

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Not my ideas (at least not originally), I quoted Proudhon (and if you're saying he wasn't a good anarchist, well, suffice it to say, I disagree). But anyway, I'm quite sure you don't speak for everyone (which is itself contradictory to the concept of anarchism).

[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

What you posted here has no relevance to the posting you are replying to. English a second language for you, perhaps?

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Did you forget to take your meds today? Where the fuck did I talk about the English language?

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

I'm not sure, but I think he was pointing out that anarchy often contradicts and is incompatible with itself.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Yet, he's implying that he's an anarchist?

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 6 years ago

I didn't get that impression. But I could be wrong. Seems you two established his sexuality anyway. lol.

[-] 0 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

You prove my point. Sorry for trapping you if we are on the same side. But if we are on the same side, you aren't helping our cause with this...

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

With what? Posting a comment by an anarchist thinker? What is "not" helpful about this? I mean, if you disagree with something, then at least articulate WHAT AND WHY?

[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

The last thing we need right now is more mental masturbation, Junior:

#OWS #Occupy Protested, #Anonymous Hacked, #WallStreet Responded:



Any Questions?

[-] 0 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Excuse me, is this a threat?

[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

Grow a pair, pantywaist. Or better yet, go swim in the kiddie pool.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Edit: just not worth it.

[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago


I am a flagrant heterosexual and have been for over half a century. But if my preferences ever shift, I will certainly keep you in mind.

Thanks so much for the invitation. I'm flattered!


[-] -1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 6 years ago

No miscommunication on my part, just another disconnect on yours. Again your reply has no relevance to the place where you posted it. Perhaps NYC has a 12-step program to help you identify which 12-step programs would benefit you the most. Good luck to you...

[+] -7 points by DKAtoday (33491) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Easy there dude, yes that is a bag, but it's mine.

[+] -7 points by DKAtoday (33491) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Mmmm pepper spray...........jalapeno? Damn no chips.