Anarchist Quotations

The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"
The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that 'the best government is that which governs least,' and that which governs least is no government at all. Benjamin Tucker

"Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us." Leo Tolstoy, Russian Novelist and Christian Anarchist

I build no system. I ask an end to privilege, the abolition of slavery, equality of rights, and the reign of law. Justice, nothing else. That is the alpha and omega of my argument.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first self-labeled anarchist

From my point of view the killing of another, except in defense of human life, is archistic, authoritarian, and therefore, no Anarchist can commit such deeds. It is the very opposite of what Anarchism stands for... Joseph Labadie, Anarchism and Crime

In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. Peter Kropotkin, "Law and Authority"

Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

Law never made man a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made agents of injustice. Henry David Thoreau

The main question ... is not what motive inspired the law, but what it will be possible for men of bad motive to do with the law ... Benamin R. Tucker

Governments and the military purport to protect the public from enemies, and if there were no enemies they would have to invent some, for the simple purpose of rationalizing their existence .... Laurance Labadie, son of Joseph Labadie

Every vote for a governing office is an instrument for enslaving me. Dr. M.E. Lazarus, II9

Voting is "merely a labor-saving device for ascertaining on which side force lies and bowing to the inevitable... It is neither more nor less than a paper representative of the bayonet, the bully, and the bullet." Benjamin R. Tucker, 1889

If we cannot by reason, by influence, by example, by strenuous effort, and by personal sacrifice, mend the bad places of civilization, we certainly cannot do it by force. Auberon Herbert, 1894

Is not the very beginning of privilege, monopoly and industrial slavery this erecting of the ballot-box above the individual? Benjamin R. Tucker, "The Ballot-Box Craze", 1882

Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man's subordination. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

It's sad to me that such a basic thing as the principled opposition to coercion is considered to be extremist, unreasonable, unrealistic. Why do I have to believe in permanent peace to oppose war? How is it utopian to denounce force? bkMarcus, Isn't Anarchism Unrealistic?

Statism is the claim that institutionalized proactive coercion is justified. bkMarcus, Isn't Anarchism Unrealistic?

An Anarchist is anyone who denies the necessity and legitimacy of government; the question of his methods of attacking it is foreign to the definition. Benjamin R. Tucker, III 2

"All government in essence," says Emerson, "is tyranny." It matters not whether it is government by divine right or majority rule. In every instance its aim is the absolute subordination of the individual. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

ANARCHISM:--The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

A practical scheme, says Oscar Wilde, is either one already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under the existing conditions; but it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to, and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

Dynamite ... is government in its most intensified and concentrated form ...
Auberon Herbert

Even were the workers able to have their own representatives, for which our good Socialist politicians are clamoring, what chances are there for their honesty and good faith? Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. popular paraphrase of Emma Goldman

The social revolution is seriously compromised if it comes through a political revolution. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

In 1903 the United States Congress passed legislation that banned immigrants who advocated the overthrow of government. Wouldn't that include the Founding Fathers? bkMarcus

Anarchy might be imaginary -- meaning that we don't now and may never have a society without coercive rulers -- but anarchISM is a value-set, like pacifism or Christian love, or Buddhist empathy. It is not a description of the world, but a standard for judging situations within the world. bkMarcus, Isn't Anarchism Unrealistic?

It takes less effort to condemn than to think. Emma Goldman

It was play rather than work which enabled man to evolve his higher faculties -- everything we mean by the word 'culture'. Herbert Read, Anarchy & Order

John Burroughs has stated that experimental study of animals in captivity is absolutely useless. Their character, their habits, their appetites undergo a complete transformation when torn from their soil in field and forest. With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities? Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

Liberty is the solution of all social and economic questions. Joseph Labadie

Perhaps it is this theory of all work and no play that has made the Marxist such a very dull boy. Herbert Read, Anarchy & Order

Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

The emotions of the ignorant man are continuously kept at a pitch by the most blood-curdling stories about Anarchism. Not a thing too outrageous to be employed against this philosophy and its exponents. Therefore Anarchism represents to the unthinking what the proverbial bad man does to the child,--a black monster bent on swallowing everything; in short, destruction and violence. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

The "health, education, and welfare" section of government is another boondoggle. First we manufacture indigent and superfluous people by legal monopolies in land, money and idea patents, erecting tariff barriers to protect monopolies from foreign competition, and taxing laborers to subsidize rich farmers and privileged manufacturers. Then we create "social workers, " etc., to care for them and thereby establish a self-aggravating and permanent institutionalized phenomenon ... Laurance Labadie, son of Joseph Labadie

The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

...There are some troubles from which mankind can never escape .... [The anarchists] have never claimed that liberty will bring perfection; they simply say that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow from authority .... As a choice of blessings, liberty is the greater; as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller. Then liberty always says the Anarchist. No use of force except against the invader.... Benamin R. Tucker

There is no freedom that I would grant to any man that I would refuse to woman, and there is no freedom that I would refuse to either man or woman except the freedom to invade ... whoever has the ballot has the freedom to invade, and whoever wants the ballot wants the freedom to invade. Give woman equality with man, by all means; but do it by taking power from man, not giving it to woman." Benjamin R. Tucker, II 8

The State is said by some to be a necessary evil; it must be made unnecessary. Benjamin R. Tucker, "Liberty's Declaration of Purpose"

The student of Liberty must constantly endeavor to disassociate his imagination from sanguinary dramas of assassination and revolt. Benjamin R. Tucker, 1883

They do not want to know that centralization is not only the death-knell of liberty, but also of health and beauty, of art and science, all these being impossible in a clock-like, mechanical atmosphere. Emma Goldman, "What is Anarchy?"

I believe that the people in power -- not only political power, but also economic and social power -- will not non-violently give up that power to the people. Power is not a material possession that can be given, it is the ability to act. Power must be taken, it is never given. The Anarchist Cookbook

Anarchy can no longer be defined as freedom from oppression or lack of governmental control. It has gone further than that. It has become, especially in the young people today, a state of mind, an essence of being. It can be expressed as "doing their own thing," or maybe just simply having the choice to do or not to do. The Anarchist Cookbook

Today has brought forth a great revivial of anarchy in all fields: politics, arts, music, education, and even to a small degree in business. Although this surge of individualism is present, you won't find too many people willing to call it anarchy. But that's just terminology. The Anarchist Cookbook

An anarchist is not necessarily a revolutionary, although it is more common than not that a person who has attempted to rid himself of exterior controls, for the purpose of developing his own philosophy, will find himself oppressed. The Anarchist Cookbook

This book is not for children or morons. The Anarchist Cookbook

If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of abolishing the State. Benjamin R. Tucker

Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression, invasion, government, are interconvertible terms. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy. Benjamin R. Tucker

He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man ... or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy. Benjamin R. Tucker

This, then, is the Anarchistic definition of government: the subjection of the non-invasive individual to an external will. And this is the Anarchistic definition of the State: the embodiment of the principle of invasion in an individual, or a band of individuals, assuming to act as representatives or masters of the entire people within a given area. As to the meaning of the remaining term in the subject under discussion, the word "individual," I think there is little difficulty. Putting aside the subtleties in which certain metaphysicians have indulged, one may use this word without danger of being misunderstood. Benjamin R. Tucker

This, then, is the Anarchistic definition of government: the subjection of the non-invasive individual to an external will...Benjamin R. Tucker

Anarchism does not repudiate the right of ownership, but it has a conception thereof sufficiently different from [others'] to include the possibility of an end of that social organization which will arise, not out of the ruins of government, but out of the transformation of government into voluntary association for defence.
Benjamin R. Tucker

"If it had not been for these thing, I might have live out my life, talking at street-corners to scorning men. I might have die unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. Never in our full life can we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man, as we now do by an accident. Our words - our lives, our pains - nothing! The taking of our lives, lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-pedlar - all! That last moment belong to us - that agony is our triumph." Vanzetti (of Saccho & Vanzetti) in a letter left in his cell before his exectution.

We see that not only is the emperor naked--he is a murder, tyrant, brigand, liar, and bungler. James W. Harris

Anarchism in its most mature form in the United States, has demanded freedom, not for one individual or one group, but for each and every individual. Eunice Minette Schuster, Native American Anarchism:A Study of Left-Wing American Individualism, 1932

The free and spontaneous inner life of the individual the Anarchists have regarded as the source of greatest pleasure and also of progress itself ... Eunice Minette Schuster, Native American Anarchism:A Study of Left-Wing American Individualism, 1932

The question is, and the Anarchists from the earliest time have asked this, will the people of the United States allow any authority to destroy that vital principle of Individuality which finds the greatest personal happiness and the highest social good in the free and spontaneous development of a rich individual life, both in thought and in action? Eunice Minette Schuster, Native AmericanAnarchism:
A Study of Left-Wing American Individualism, 1932

Viewed in perspective, therefore, the Anarchist movement both native and foreign suggests two things: first, that Democracy has failed to protect the critical minority, and second, that authority institutionalized, whether religious, social, moral, or economic strikes both the one who wields it and the one who suffers from it.
Eunice Minette Schuster, Native American Anarchism: A Study of Left-Wing American Individualism, 1932

All my life I was an "anarchist" without recognizing that such a term might also represent a formal philosophy I could possibly 80% agree with. The bulk of these "agreements" I now discover I have with Bakunin or Tucker or Spooner, I'd had no idea: I had to think all that stuff through myself. Paul Knatz

On the free market, everyone earns according to his productive value in satisfying consumer desires. Under statist distribution, everyone earns in proportion to the amount he can plunder from the producers. Murray N. Rothbard

They maintain that only a dictatorship -- their dictatorship, of course -- can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up. Mikhail Bakunin

I see anarchism as the theoretical ideal to which we are all gradually evolving to a point where everybody can tell the truth to everybody else and nobody can get punished for it. That can only happen without hierarchy and without people having the authority to punish other people. Robert Anton Wilson, the Utopia USA interview

The measure of the state's success is that the word anarchy frightens people, while the word state does not. Joseph Sobran, Anarchy without Fear

Even if we are all doomed to live under the state, it doesn't follow that there is, or even can be, such a thing as a good state. Joseph Sobran, The State: Evil and Idol

Thus does a 'necessary evil' become an idol. Maybe we're stuck with it. But do we have to worship it? Joseph Sobran, The State: Evil and Idol

Since outright slavery has been discredited, democracy is the only remaining rationale for state compulsion that most people will accept.

Joseph Sobran, The Myth of "Limited Government"

There can be no such thing as "limited government," because there is no way to control an entity that in principle enjoys a monopoly of power... Joseph Sobran, The Myth of "Limited Government"

Democracy has proved only that the best way to gain power over people is to assure the people that they are ruling themselves. Once they believe that, they make wonderfully submissive slaves.

Joseph Sobran, The Myth of "Limited Government"

Anarchism is my declaration of peace with you. It is a repudiation of the use of coercive power to achieve my own ends, or to abet the domination of any man by his fellows, or over his fellows. Cat Farmer

Good intentions are no excuse for making prisoners and hostages of people who have less political clout than you do.
Cat Farmer

Anarchism is my statement of intention to mind my own business, and not to interest myself in yours beyond what is welcome, mannerly, and appropriate to our relationship, because I expect the same courtesy from you. We will only care about each other when our relationship is peaceful, and it is not a peaceful act to care to the extent of violating another person's boundaries. Cat Farmer

If you honestly value diversity, yet believe that it must be administered or doled out by a central authority, you anticipate that the one thing that is most capable of killing diversity, and also has the best incentive to destroy it, will magically act to preserve it. Cat Farmer

Giving diversity a limited range of acceptable ways in which it can manifest doesn't honor it any more than protest zones honor the right to free speech; that's just another way to quarantine the healthy elements of society against infecting the diseased ones. Cat Farmer

Anarchism is grounded in a rather definite social-psychological hypothesis: that forceful, graceful and intelligent behaviour occurs only when there is an uncoerced and direct response to the physical and social environment; that in most human affairs, more harm than good results from compulsion, top-down direction, bureaucratic planning, pre-ordained curricula, jails, conscription, states. Paul Goodman, Like A Conquered Province, 1965, Chapter 6: "Is American democracy viable?"

When we vote in an election, we are declaring, by our actions, our support for the process of some people ruling others by coercive means. Butler Shaffer

Show me the government that does not infringe upon anyone's rights, and I will no longer call myself an anarchist. Jacob Halbrooks

When you advocate any government action, you must first believe that violence is the best answer to the question at hand. Allen Thornton, Laws of the Jungle

Will you and your government teach eagles to fly and tigers to hunt? Of course not. No one is so arrogant with nature. But you and your government want to tell me what to buy and how to live, and I am more complex than any eagle or tiger. Give me only the same respect you pay the badger and the blue jay, and leave me alone. After all, anarchy means nothing more than human ecology. Allen Thornton, Laws of the Jungle

I believe that although there are certain important tasks which for special reasons are difficujlt to do under institutions of total private property, these difficulties are in principle, and may be in practice, soluble. I hold that there are no proper functions of government. In that sense I am an anarchist.
David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom

That forcible government is a moral wrong in itself is enough reason to abolish it, even if market solutions were not an improvement. Brad Edmonds

To be an anarchist only means that you believe that aggression is not justified, and that states necessarily employ aggression. And, therefore, that states, and the aggression they necessarily employ, are unjustified. It's quite simple, really. It's an ethical view, so no surprise it confuses utilitarians. N. Stephan Kinsella

I do not think we will see a stateless society in my lifetime. But I am sure we will not see a state that conforms to the minarchists' ideals. The closer we get, the better, but I see no reason not to aspire for the best government as Thoreau imagined it: none at all. It's certainly more consistently idealistic than what the minarchists imagine, and yet it's at least possible, whereas the existence of a lasting, minimal state is a hopeless fantasy. Anthony Gregory, The Minarchist's Dilemma