What is Property?Once we know what a state is, and what legitimacy and authority mean, we can define anarchism precisely. It is taken to mean a political philosophy which satisfies three conditions: it denies the state's authority, asserts the state to be undesirable, and demands the state's immediate abolishment. These are the features of all anarchist schools of thought. But these assertions are purely negative in nature - they do not provide a vision of a free society, a goal society without a state. This positive model or prediction of how it might work varies greatly among the different anarchist writers and schools of thought.
Some of the earliest proto-anarchisms, and even proper anarchisms, have been religious-oriented. Various groups of Quakers and Mennonites have declared civil law to be illegitimate - that only God's law written on their hearts is valid. These groups tended to be anti-parliamentarian, meaning that participation in state such as voting or running for office was considered wrong. Besides boycotting electoral activity, "non-resistants" would passively resist the draft, and for some, taxation.
Other categories of anarchism focus on size or technology. Leopold Kohr argued that "small is beautiful," and that when an organization is sick or malevolent, it is almost always because it is too big. Decentralization is a theme in all forms of anarchism, but here it takes the central role rather than merely strategic tool for reducing statist authority. Technology-oriented anarchisms range from Luddite anarcho-primitivism, hoping to roll back the industrial revolution and return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, to crypto-anarchism, which sees computers, the internet, and strong cryptography as the key to vanquishing the state. Other anarchisms are basically anarchist oriented special issue or identity groups. Green and eco-anarchism and anarcha-feminism fall into these categories.
The most salient forms of anarchism, the most prolific in theoretical writings and popular movements, have been the economic-oriented anarchisms. What one sees as justice in wealth and property, and the process of production and satisfaction of human material needs and desires, takes central stage. This is not to say that the other categories of anarchism based on religion, size, technology, and special issues don't have an economic component. But in the following economic schools economic theory drives and colors the political theory, and often the strategy and tactics pursued.
So, it behooves us to ask: What is property?
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