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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Anarchy is defined by the OED as the “absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder”. Anarchy stems from the Greek word ἀναρχία- of a state, and ἄναρχ-ος -without a chief or head. Anarchy may have been immediately taken from the medieval ‘Latinanarchia’, or the French ‘anarchie’. 

The word anarchy is deeply rooted in political philosophy. As a result anarchy has many connotations. In Western popular culture we associate anarchy with chaos and destruction but anarchy is purely defined as the absence of government. Our interpretation of anarchy has been distorted from its original context. Throughout history the absence of a government or supreme power has often lead to chaos. More often than not, governments collapse through violent means. Many historians have used the word anarchy to describe conflicts in which government is opposed or abolished such as the Russian civil war. Nestor Makhno led the Anarchist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine that emerged from the conflict between the Communists and Monarchies. Nestor Makhno organized an anarchist society in the Ukraine that was committed to resisting state authority. He condemned both capitalism and communism. In this instance, anarchy was not seen as a means of destroying government but rather as a means of liberating a people from the clutches of a dictatorship. Nestor Makhno was a man of the people and earned the name ‘Batko’ or ‘Father’ among his comrades. 

Most anarchist schools of thought support the disassembling of government through nonviolent means. Anarchist philosophies range from complete collectivism to total individualism. An anarchist, one who practices anarchy, would define anarchy as a state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty. The reality, a society functioning under anarchy is similar to the concept of communism; theoretically sound but fails in practice.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant spoke about the philosophy of anarchy as "Law and Freedom without Force". Immanuel Kant describes anarchy as being closely tied to a true civil state. The Problem with this theory is that law becomes an empty recommendation with the absence of force. For society to function, force must be incorporated into law and freedom without compromise, a state which Immanuel Kant calls republic.

Work cited
"anarchy, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. 21 November 2012 <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/7118?redirectedFrom=anarchy>.

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