Police spray pepper gas on strikers in Decatur, Illinois (June 1994)
Equality of political rights, or a democratic State, constitute in themselves the most glaring contradiction in terms. The State, or political right, denotes force, authority, predominance; it presupposes inequality in fact. Where all rule, there are no more ruled, and there is no State.
Mikhail Bakunin, World Revolutionary Alliance of Social Democracy
... if it [the law] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law.
Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"
There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: "for reasons of state."
Mikhail Bakunin, Federalism, Socialism, and Anti-Theologism
In a word, we reject all legislation, all authority, and all privileged, licensed, official, and legal influence, even though arising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subjection to them.
Mikhail Bakunin, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution
Our political culture has a conception of democracy that differs from that of the Brazilian bishops. For them, democracy means that citizens should have the opportunity to inform themselves, to take part in inquiry and discussion and policy formation, and to advance their programs through political action. For us, democracy is more narrowly conceived: the citizen is a consumer, an observer but not a participant. The public has the right to ratify policies that originate elsewhere, but if these limits are exceeded, we have not democracy, but a "crisis of democracy," which must somehow be resolved.
Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, ch. 1
Candidates say "vote for me, and I will do so-and-so for you." Few believe them, but more important, a different process is unthinkable: that in their unions, political clubs, and other popular organizations people should formulate their own plans and projects and put forth candidates to represent them. Even more unthinkable is that the general public should have a voice in decisions about investment, production, the character of work, and other basic aspects of life. The minimal conditions for functioning democracy have been removed far beyond thought, a remarkable victory of the doctrinal system.
Noam Chomsky, Year 501, ch. 11
The political parties, or more accurately, the inner clique that controls them, select the candidates for whom the people vote. The candidates express the will of the party and not that of the people. The platforms of the contending parties are adjusted to trick the voters into balloting for their candidates. Then the immense machinery of mass hypnotism goes into high gear. The press, the radio, television and the pulpit brainwash the public. The stupefied voter casts his ballot for candidates that he never nominated and never knew, whose names he forgets, and whose platforms he has perhaps never read. The electoral swindle is over. The voters go back to work (or to look for work) and the politicians are free to decide the destiny of the millions as they see fit.
Sam Dolgoff, "The Labor Party Illusion"
All the methods employed -- divine consecration, selection, succession, voting and elections, assemblies, parliaments and senates -- have proved and still prove ineffective. Everybody knows that not one of these methods has succeeded either in preventing the misuse of power or in entrusting it only to immaculate men. Everybody knows on the contrary that men possessed of power -- be they emperors, ministers, chiefs of police, or policemen -- are for that very reason more apt to become demoralized (that is, to subordinate the public interest to their own) than men who do not possess power, nor can it be otherwise.
Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.
In the larger life of society, the people are made to submit to the orders of those who were originally meant to serve them -- the government and its agents. Once you do that, the power you have delegated will be used against you and your interests every time. And then you complain that your leaders "misuse their power." No, my friend, they don't misuse it; they only use it, for it is the use of power which is itself the worst misuse.
Alexander Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism?
Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are rather forced upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security.... Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace.
Rudolph Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, ch. 5
The ever growing power of a soulless political bureaucracy which supervises and safeguards the life of man from the cradle to the grave is putting ever greater obstacles in the way of the solidaric co-operation of human beings and crushing out every possibility of new development.
Rudolph Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, ch. 1
Traditionally the state's initial claim to necessity was that it prevented warfare by erecting firm barriers of defense. As we have seen, this is tommyrot: the Law of Government Size shows that the duration and severity of war has always increased with an increase in state power. Larger states, far from providing peace, merely provide larger wars, having more human and material resources to pour into them.
Kirkpatrick Sale, "The 'Necessity' of the State," in Howard J. Ehrlich (ed.), Reinventing Anarchy, Again
The basic problem is quite simple. An elected representative is not tied in any substantial way to particular policies, whatever the preferences of the electorate. Influence on the politician is greatest at the time of election. Once elected, the representative is released from popular control but continues to be exposed to powerful pressure groups, especially corporations, state bureaucracies and political party power brokers.
Brian Martin, "Democracy without Elections" in Howard J. Ehrlich (ed.), Reinventing Anarchy, Again
The essential difference between a monarchy and a democratic republic is reduced to the following: In a monarchy, the bureaucratic world oppresses and plunders the people for the greater benefit of the privileged propertied classes as well as for its own benefit, and all that is done in the name of the monarch; in a republic, the same bureaucracy does exactly the same thing, but in the name of the will of the people.
Mikhail Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy
When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick."
Mikhail Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy
Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today -- economic, political, social, and moral -- conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime. What does society, as it exists today, know of the process of despair, the poverty, the horrors, the fearful struggle the human soul must pass on its way to crime and degradation?
Emma Goldman, "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For"
To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century
The absorption of all social functions by the State necessarily favoured the development of an unbridled, narrow-minded individualism. In proportion as the obligations towards the State grew in numbers, the citizens were evidently relieved from their obligations towards each other. In the guild -- and in medieval times every man belonged to some guild or fraternity -- two "brothers" were bound to watch in turns a brother who had fallen ill; it would be sufficient now to give one's neighbour the address of the next paupers' hospital. In barbarian society, to assist at a fight between two men, arisen from a quarrel, and not to prevent it from taking a fatal issue, meant to be oneself treated as a murderer; but under the theory of the all-protecting State the bystander need not intrude: it is the policeman's business to interfere, or not. And while in a savage land, among the Hottentots, it would be scandalous to eat without having loudly called out thrice whether there is not somebody wanting to share the food, all that a respectable citizen has to do now is to pay the poor tax and to let the starving starve. The result is, that the theory which maintains that men can, and must, seek their own happiness in a disregard of other people's wants is now triumphant all round in law, in science, in religion. It is the religion of the day, and to doubt of its efficacy is to be a dangerous Utopian.
Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, ch. 7