Areas of Anarchist Common Agreement and the Basis of Movement-Building

By John Wilkes Czolgosz

It is necessary for anarchists to have a set of basic principles because they provide a foundation and guiding framework for their beliefs, actions, and organizing efforts. These principles serve several important purposes:

  1. Coherence and Consistency: Anarchism encompasses a broad range of perspectives and ideas. Having a set of basic principles helps anarchists establish a coherent and consistent ideology. It provides a shared understanding of core values and goals, enabling individuals and groups to work towards a common vision.
  2. Clarity of Purpose: Anarchist principles help clarify the purpose and direction of anarchist movements. They articulate the fundamental aims and aspirations of anarchists, such as promoting freedom, equality, autonomy, and social justice. These principles provide a clear focus for organizing efforts and inform the strategies and tactics employed by anarchists.
  3. Ethical Framework: Anarchist principles often encompass ethical considerations, guiding individuals in their interactions and decision-making processes. These principles help anarchists navigate complex moral issues and dilemmas, ensuring that their actions align with their values and ideals.
  4. Solidarity and Cohesion: Anarchist principles foster solidarity and cohesion among anarchists and anarchist-leaning individuals. By sharing a common set of principles, anarchists can connect, collaborate, and support each other in their collective struggles against hierarchy, oppression, and injustice. These principles create a sense of community and shared purpose.
  5. Communicating and Educating: Anarchist principles play a vital role in communicating anarchist ideas and educating others about the philosophy. By clearly articulating their principles, anarchists can engage in dialogue, debates, and discussions with individuals from different backgrounds, helping to dispel misconceptions and promote a better understanding of anarchism.
  6. Strategic Decision-Making: Anarchist principles inform strategic decision-making processes within anarchist movements. They provide a framework for evaluating potential courses of action, assessing their compatibility with anarchist values, and determining the most effective means of achieving desired outcomes.
  7. Movement Building: Having a set of basic principles facilitates movement building efforts within anarchist circles. It helps attract like-minded individuals who share similar values and visions, creating a sense of unity and purpose. These principles also provide a basis for developing strategies, campaigns, and collective actions that align with anarchist principles.

While anarchists value individual autonomy and diverse perspectives, having a shared set of basic principles helps to create a cohesive and effective movement. These principles provide a moral and strategic compass, fostering unity, coherence, and purpose in the pursuit of a more just, free, and equitable society.

Anarchism supports the following concepts:

  1. Autonomy: Anarchism emphasizes individual freedom and the right to self-determination. It supports the autonomy of individuals to make decisions about their own lives without interference or coercion from external authorities.
  2. Civil liberties: Anarchism promotes the protection of civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression. It opposes any restrictions or infringements on these fundamental rights.
  3. Classless society: Anarchism envisions a society without social classes, where all individuals have equal access to resources, opportunities, and decision-making power. It seeks to eliminate hierarchies and promote egalitarianism.
  4. Cooperation: Anarchism values cooperation and mutual aid as alternatives to competition and individualism. It encourages collective efforts and voluntary cooperation among individuals and communities to meet their needs and achieve common goals.
  5. Direct action: Anarchism advocates for direct action as a means of effecting social change, bypassing traditional hierarchical systems. It promotes grassroots organizing, protests, strikes, and other forms of direct action to challenge unjust structures and practices.
  6. Mutual aid: Anarchism emphasizes the importance of mutual aid, where individuals and communities voluntarily support and assist each other. It rejects the notion of relying on hierarchical institutions to provide welfare or assistance, instead encouraging people to collectively care for one another.
  7. Stateless society: Anarchism seeks to establish a society without a centralized state or government. It envisions a decentralized system where decision-making and governance are carried out through voluntary associations and local self-governance.
  8. Voluntary association: Anarchism supports voluntary associations based on free consent, where individuals can freely join or leave organizations, communities, or relationships based on their own preferences and interests.
  9. Workers’ self-management: Anarchism advocates for workers’ control and self-management of workplaces, where workers have the power to make decisions about their work conditions, production processes, and distribution of resources.

Anarchism rejects the following concepts:

  1. Authoritarianism: Anarchism opposes any form of authority that exercises power over individuals without their consent. It rejects hierarchical structures and the concentration of power in the hands of a few.
  2. Capitalism: Anarchism opposes capitalism, which is based on private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of labor. It critiques the inherent inequalities, hierarchies, and commodification of human relations within capitalist systems.
  3. Censorship: Anarchism opposes censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression. It values open dialogue, free exchange of ideas, and the ability to challenge and critique existing power structures.
  4. Centrally planned economy: Anarchism rejects centrally planned economies, where decision-making is concentrated in the hands of a few planners. It advocates for decentralized and participatory economic systems that prioritize local autonomy and cooperative production.
  5. Coercion: Anarchism opposes the use of coercion or force to control or dominate individuals or communities. It values voluntary interactions and rejects systems that rely on coercion to maintain social order.
  6. Discrimination: Anarchism opposes all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, gender, sexuality, or any other arbitrary characteristics. It promotes equality and inclusivity.
  7. Hierarchy: Anarchism rejects hierarchical power structures that concentrate authority and decision-making power in the hands of a few. It strives for horizontal relationships and egalitarian social structures.
  8. Imperialism: Anarchism opposes imperialism and colonialism, which involve the domination and exploitation of other nations or peoples. It supports self-determination and the dismantling of oppressive systems of control.
  9. Paternalism: Anarchism rejects paternalistic attitudes and practices that seek to control or govern individuals based on the assumption of superiority.
  10. State: Anarchism fundamentally rejects the existence of the state, which is seen as a coercive and hierarchical institution that exercises authority over individuals. Anarchists advocate for the abolition of the state and the establishment of non-hierarchical forms of governance.
  11. Totalitarianism: Anarchism opposes totalitarianism, which involves complete control and suppression of individual freedoms by a centralized authority. Anarchists emphasize the importance of individual autonomy and freedom from oppressive systems.

    Anarchism’s support for concepts such as autonomy, civil liberties, cooperation, and workers’ self-management aligns with its core principles of individual freedom, voluntary association, and the dismantling of oppressive hierarchies. On the other hand, anarchism’s rejection of authoritarianism, capitalism, censorship, and other concepts stems from its commitment to challenging and dismantling systems of power, control, and inequality. By advocating for decentralized decision-making, voluntary cooperation, and the elimination of coercive structures, anarchism aims to create a society based on freedom, equality, and mutual aid.

    Anarchists can build mass movements based on their principles through various strategies and approaches:

    1. Education and Outreach: Anarchists can engage in educational activities to raise awareness and promote understanding of anarchist principles and ideas. This can involve organizing workshops, study groups, public discussions, and distributing literature that explains anarchist philosophy and its relevance to contemporary issues.
    2. Grassroots Organizing: Anarchists can actively participate in grassroots organizing efforts focused on social, economic, and environmental justice. By joining or initiating community-based initiatives, campaigns, and movements, anarchists can work alongside others to address specific issues and build solidarity among diverse groups.
    3. Coalition Building: Anarchists can seek alliances and build coalitions with other social and political movements that share common goals and values. By finding areas of convergence and working together on specific campaigns or projects, anarchists can amplify their efforts and broaden their reach.
    4. Direct Action: Anarchists can engage in direct action as a means of challenging oppressive systems and bringing attention to injustices. This can include participating in protests, strikes, occupations, blockades, and other forms of nonviolent civil disobedience to disrupt the status quo and demand change.
    5. Creating Alternative Institutions: Anarchists can build and support alternative institutions and practices that embody anarchist principles. This can involve establishing worker cooperatives, community gardens, free schools, mutual aid networks, and other forms of self-organized initiatives that provide concrete examples of anarchist principles in action.
    6. Cultural and Artistic Expression: Anarchists can utilize cultural and artistic expressions, such as music, art, theater, and literature, to convey anarchist ideas and inspire collective action. This can help engage a wider audience and create spaces for critical dialogue and reflection.
    7. Prefigurative Politics: Anarchists can embody their principles within their own organizing and movements by practicing prefigurative politics. This means creating the structures and relationships they envision for a future anarchist society in the present, such as employing horizontal decision-making processes, consensus-based decision-making, and equitable power-sharing.
    8. Solidarity and Mutual Aid: Anarchists can actively engage in mutual aid practices, supporting and uplifting marginalized communities and individuals. By providing material support, organizing mutual aid networks, and engaging in acts of solidarity, anarchists can foster a sense of community and demonstrate the principles of mutual aid in action.
    9. Intersectionality and Anti-Oppression Work: Anarchists can prioritize intersectional analysis and anti-oppression work within their movements. By recognizing and challenging various forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and others, anarchists can build inclusive, diverse, and truly liberatory mass movements.
    10. Continuous Reflection and Adaptation: Anarchists should engage in continuous reflection, critique, and adaptation of their strategies and approaches. By learning from past experiences, evaluating successes and failures, and adapting to changing circumstances, anarchists can strengthen their movements and continually evolve their strategies for building mass movements.

    By employing these approaches, anarchists can effectively build mass movements that challenge hierarchical systems, promote autonomy, cooperation, and solidarity, and strive for a more just and egalitarian society.


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