Further notes on the difference between anarchy and pseudo-anarchy.
In the beginning
In 1840 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in an imagined dialogue with a reader, after having denied of being a democrat, a monarchist, a constitutionalist, in favour of the aristocracy or of a mixed government, states that he is anarchist.
To the term anarchist he does not add any further qualificative. Anarchy means the refusal to dominate or be dominated by anyone. What ensues from that, i.e., how an individual wants to live his/her life, is a different personal matter, and the anarchist conception does not say anything about that.
With the passing of time, Proudhon’s message acquired sympathizers and supporters. It was then quite normal for each new advocate to add to the negative appeal (an-archy = against dominion) a positive one (individualism, mutualism, collectivism, communism, etc.) according to his/her desire and inclinations. But this was not an indispensable part of the original message. As a matter of fact, when somebody pushed things too far in the direction of one position supposedly valid for all, there were many classic figures of the anarchist movement (Tarrida del Marmól, Nettlau, Malatesta, Voltairine de Cleyre, Faure, Voline, and others) who reminded everybody that anarchy was not a monolithic conception or a one-way road.
In the end
Unfortunately, the arrival and acceptance into the movement of all sorts of individuals (enraged, violent, impulsive, or just provocateurs) led to the fact that the most arrogant and prepotent amongst them took over the movement and wanted to impose their view to everybody. For many decades during the 20th century anarcho-communism has been the favourite brand of many anarchists, up to the point that those who did not abide by that position (e.g., anarcho-individualists) were not admitted to anarchist assemblies and congresses.
The current scene
Sometimes during the 1940s Murray Rothbard invented the term anarcho-capitalism, in opposition to anarcho-communism and with the aim of recovering a position based on the primacy of the individuals as expressed by many American figures before him (Spooner, Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre).
In more recent times, within the French language somebody invented the term “libertarien” to characterize the anarcho-capitalists and kept the term “libertaire” for all the others (mainly anarcho-communists).
The result of all this is that the old sectarian diatribe that so much damage has done to the spreading of the anarchist conception and practice is resurfacing.
It is then time to stress, once again and more than ever, that both positions represent a betrayal of the anarchist conception and spirit insofar as they abolish variety and want to impose one single vision to everybody.
The overall assessment
In the presence of this situation, it is necessary, for a reprisal of the genuine spirit, essence, and practice of anarchy, to pinpoint the reasons why both anarcho-communism and anarcho-capitalism are outside the anarchist conception and practice.
These are the main reasons:
1. Anarchy is not an ideology
The addition of the terms communism and capitalism transform anarchy in an ideology. But anarchy is a methodology, not an ideology. By the way, even the use of the term anarchism to refer to the anarchist conception and practice should be avoided. The aim of the anarchists is to implement a method that allow everybody to practice his/her style of life without imposing or being imposed anything by anyone.
2. Anarchy has nothing to do with politics and political strife
The refusal to be an ideology also means the refusal to engage in politics, that is in parties struggles in view of imposing certain ideas presented as solutions valid for everybody. That is why to portray anarchy as a political ideology is a total misrepresentation of what anarchy is.
3. Anarchy is neither a leftist nor rightist conception/movement
Left and right are category of the political struggle, of parties vying for power in an electoral contest for sending most representatives to a Parliament that will take decisions, in the form of laws, affecting everybody. The anarchists have nothing to do with all of this is.
4. Anarchy is for variety of approaches and styles of life and not for a mono-solution
The advocates of communism or capitalism think that their solution is the best of all and will lead to the best of possible world. That is why they want their position to be accepted (read: imposed) to everybody. This clearly reveals that they are both authoritarians and so anti-anarchy (anti free choices). To be fully clear on this point, even the pretention that, for realizing anarchy, all must become anarchists is not at all an anarchist principle/attitude (aim: parallel voluntary societies).
Oscar Wilde, in one of his witty expressions, stated: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” (1891)
If anarchists are generous, tolerant, open-minded individuals, they should keep this in mind whenever they want to spread the anarchist conception. This is done by practical examples of generosity, tolerance, and open-mindedness and certainly not by repeating magic formulas that are totally unpalatable to critical minds and free spirits.