38 responses

  1. Josh
    May 25, 2010

    I disagree with this analysis. In tracing back the traditions of both anarchism and socialism one will find that they have much in common and are not diametrically opposed as you state. Traditionally, both anarchists and socialists oppose capitalism, wage labor, private property, etc. It seems that your analysis only takes into account very recent developments within each respective movement: state socialism (Leninism/Stalinism) and anarcho-capitalism (extreme right-wing American libertarianism). These are not the traditional positions of either of these schools of thought. Many of the socialist predecessors, such as Proudhon, were also anarchist. Today you will even find those who consider themselves “social anarchists,” such as Noam Chomsky.

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    • bb
      February 23, 2014

      A really, really bad article. I think the author has no idea about the subject. (If he didn’t intentionally distort the truth, of course.) Maybe the article should be replaced by another one written by someone who knows what he writes about.

      Reply

    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      Josh, you literally don’t understand the first thing about any of the concepts you’re trying to pass yourself off as an authority on. Not surprising, considering you cite that disenegenuous, revisionist hack Chomsky.

      Anarchism is the absence of government, Socialism/Communism is the establishment of a centralized, totalitarian government that holds a monopoly over the means of productions, as well as education, media, ETC. They couldn’t be any more diametrically opposed. Period.

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      • GroundHOG-2010
        July 23, 2015

        Depends what your looking at from an Anarchist’s perspective. An anarchist is a person who is opposed to governments, but that is where this article ends being credible. For instance, I personally am an anarcho-communist, and in this political ideology, the idea is not to allow individual rule and ownership but instead there is common ownership of production within the commune, which is essentually socialism except through common rule, not government rule.

        This article suffers from “All x thing is y type of thing”, in this case at least with anarchism it is “all anarchism is Anarcho-Capitalism”. As stated by Josh, Anarcho-Capitalism is a right wing variation of Anarchism, but not only is it a relatively new and small amount of the anarchist population, it is quite frequently ridiculed as not being anarchism by the socialist anarchists (for instance, An Anarchist FAQ was created because of this).

        I am not sure about the socialist side of things, but at least for anarchism, it hasn’t portrayed it as people should.

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      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        “For instance, I personally am an anarcho-communist”

        And that is where you cease to be credible.

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  2. Ferdia
    April 4, 2012

    I agree with the person above.

    ‘Anarchists, in contrast, can own everything they want without limits’ – This is not necessarily true, and different anarchist traditions have different philosophies of property. Many anarchists reject private property.

    Anarchism and socialism are, generally speaking, movements which bifurcated from a larger left movement. Both have largely the same goals and are not direct opposites. The opposite of anarchism and socialism is capitalism. The opposite of anarchism is also totalitarianism. Anarchism is only opposite to authoritarian socialism, but any socialist worth his/her salt is a democratic socialist, i.e. a real one.

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    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      Absolute bunk. You clearly don’t even understand what any of these concepts even mean.

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      • RanDomino
        January 31, 2016

        Anarchism is and always has been opposed to private property, meaning that, no, a person cannot own “everything they want without limits”. The limit is what you are personally involved in and/or personally use- things like your home, your vehicle(s), land and buildings and tools you use either alone or cooperatively with others, etc.

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      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        There is no aversion to private property in Anarchism. That’s absolute bunk. You need a central state and laws to forbid provate property, which goes against the meaning of Anarchism and it’s ACTUAL greek origins.

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  3. Rob
    June 12, 2012

    There’s literally no excuse for writing a “what is” article about anarchism with less accuracy and nuance than the first two paragraphs of its Wikipedia entry.

    Socialism and anarchism are often interchangeable terms – indeed many anarchists also refer to the ideology as libertarian socialism. The potential differences are in the arenas covered.

    1. Socialism is primarily an economic approach emphasising social equality, but incorporates a variety of political/philosophical ideologies within it from social democratic tendencies, through Leninism to anarchism.

    2. Anarchism is primarily a philosophical approach emphasising free will and the abolition of imposed hierarchy, but incorporates within it a variety of economic/political ideologies from individualism, through mutualism to communism* (which has historically been the dominant strain, stemming from the time of the First International).

    *Key to understanding anarchist-communism in comparison to say, Marxist-communism is that for anarchists, the idea of a “transition” period of state control between capitalism and communism is thought to lead to new forms of tyranny.

    Reply

    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      It’s funny. You dismiss him as having a poor undertsanding of these concepts and compare him to a Wikipedia article, and then proveed to prattle off a complete misunderstanding and deliberate revising of these definitions and concepts so complete seperate from reality you may as well have cut/copied them from Wikipedia.

      Anarchism: The absence of a government or centralized state.

      Capitalism: Free and open exchange of goods or services between two or more parties.

      Socialism/Communism: Monopoly of the means of production by a centralized state.

      C’mon, it’s not difficult.

      Reply

      • RanDomino
        January 31, 2016

        Anarchism is not just “no government” but also the cooperative and consensus-based system which would allow such a situation to be sustainable. I.e. not capitalism.

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      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        That is not true at all.

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  4. Harrison
    June 12, 2012

    This article is complete bullshit.

    Josh’s post is right.

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    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      Josh’s post is absolute garbage.

      Reply

  5. Dave Francis
    June 12, 2012

    I don’t know who made this but it smacks of desperation: most people nowadays are aware that anarchism is the predominant form of revolutionary working class socialism in the 21st Century. Marxism, Leninism and parliamentary representation have been a bit of an unnecessary detour for the working class but I think we’re back on track now.

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    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      If anything “smacks of desperation”, it’s your weak attempt to conflate a stateless society with the de facto totalitarianism of socialism.

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  6. Welsh Andy
    June 13, 2012

    Wow, that’s an extremely ignorant article. Ignorant of both socialism and anarchism. The abolition of private property was one of the main tenets of the thinking of Proudhon who was also the first person to call himself an anarchist. Ever heard the phrase “Property if theft”?

    The end goal of socialists, communists and anarchists is a stateless, classless society with the means of production ‘owned’ collectively. The differences between anarchists and others on the left is a matter of how we are to reach this goal.

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    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      You’re completely wrong, Welsh Andy, you clearly have no idea what any of these concepts even mean, For starters, Socialism/Communism are all about the establishment of a centralized totalitarian state which owns a monopoly over the means of production, nothing stateless/classless about either. Capitalism, on the other hand, is essential to Anarchism, being that it is the free and open exchange of goods and services between people. You cannot have Anarchism without Capitalism, because the only way to prevent Free Trade is through government force. You have to be a Useful Idiot to not see this.

      PS, Proudhon was a statist fool and his quote about property is amond the dumbest things ever uttered.

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      • RanDomino
        January 31, 2016

        Capitalism is antithetical to organization and cooperation among the working class, which is the essential idea of Anarchism and the fundamental idea of all flavors of socialism.

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      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        Absolute crap. Capitalism is not anti-ethical to such, and Anarchism is the exact opposite of the forced collectivization you demand here.

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      • Horseless
        December 31, 2016

        man this is a big claim, saying ‘You cannot have Anarchism without Capitalism’. Is capitalism only about free trade between people. If there is only free trade we call it only saying free trade. But if there are; explotation, surplus value or wealth gap between people then we call it capitalism.

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      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        And yet socialism creates far greater wealth gaps and inequality.

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    • McGee
      April 17, 2015

      Proudhon went on to say that, for the working class, property is freedom.

      Reply

  7. Desert Liz
    July 23, 2012

    This was helpful to me because if 1. socialism is about economics, and 2. anarchy is about government (or lack thereof) that is an important distinction, again to me, clearly made. With apologies- I did not read the entire article, nor all the responzez. Thanks.

    Reply

  8. unkown
    January 13, 2014

    I don’t believe this person knows what anarchism is and what socialism is

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    • unkown
      January 13, 2014

      *doesn’t know what socialism and anarchism is

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    • Marxist Hypocrisy 101
      July 17, 2014

      His definition of Socialism is wanting, but his summary of Anarchism is perfectly apt.

      It’s the comments from people like Josh, Rob, Welsh Andy ET AL that are completely off-base.

      Reply

  9. Cindy
    July 12, 2014

    Terrible article. If you don’t actually know about a subject, just make up whatever you imagine to be true. I guess this is the author’s philosophy. Really, do some research. You have the internet available.

    Reply

    • ThatSkepticGuy
      April 30, 2018

      Take your own advice, clueless.

      Reply

  10. Jesse Chenoweth
    September 7, 2015

    Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies often defined as self-governed voluntary institutions, but that several authors have defined as more specific institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful.

    vs

    Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership and/or social control of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

    If you want to simplify this

    Socialism: You have two cows, the “GOVERNMENT” takes one away from you and “GIVES” it to your neighbor.

    Anarchism: You have two cows, if you do not sell the milk at a fair price or give your neighbors all the milk they tell you to for free, they will kill you.

    …and just to throw this out there because someone will mention Russia

    Russian Communism: You have two cows, You take care of them, but the “government” “TAKES” “ALL” of the milk.

    Socialism is a way of governing the economy

    Anarchism is a pipe dream that believes that people can govern themselves without a government of any kind and nothing is against the law, because there are no laws to begin with. That everyone will just act good for goodness sake.

    The part that gives them some resemblance to each other is their aspect of community. They both think that the group should be taken care of the group instead of an outside governing body.
    however, their idea of the government itself and how they go about doing that is completely different.

    They are as different as night and day with only a few things in common. Just as night and day share Dawn and Dusk together.

    Reply

    • RanDomino
      January 31, 2016

      Anarchism assumes that there is not generalized famine, which is a fair assumption in a post-Industrial Revolution world (See: The Conquest of Bread). Therefore if you have two cows and your neighbors have none, they should be okay with that because cows are largely luxury goods anyway (their products are disproportionately land- and labor-intensive and not particularly necessary other than that they taste good) and the local and regional federations should be able to make sure that everyone has enough to be healthy.

      Reply

      • ThatSkepticGuy
        April 30, 2018

        “Anarchists should be happy with a totalitarian state confiscating their property, because it allows me to delude myself that I’m altruistic.”

        *eyeroll*

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    • Terry
      November 19, 2016

      Let’s step away from labels shall we and define what we personally feel is them most just system. None of the labels have ever nor will ever be perfectly implemented so, to me they are all flawed.

      True capitalism, as proposed, included many aspects of a social responsibility by the owner class. By today’s implementation the social “responsibility” is largely ignored. There is no moral or ethical standards attached to the accumulation of wealth, at least in American capitalism as practiced today. The emphasis is on the bottom line and little else. Greed and power win the day

      True communism, as proposed, called for the ownership and distribution of wealth are to be shared by all. It’s admirable ideals were neither practical nor realistic and proved in practice the opposite of its goals. Greed and power rule. Again!

      We can give examples of all of of the different “isms” until we are blue in the face and not move an inch (mm for most people) towards a better world.

      I will try to illustrate just how flawed our thinking can get with a true story that I personally witnessed.

      At a Thanksgiving dinner, hosted by a couple, one Canadian, one American. A parent of one of the couple is curious about the concept of a co-0p. A parent of the other person in the couple explains:

      During the Great Depression many people, especially farmers could not afford seed and other products needed to make a living. At the same time individual farmers could not get a good price for what they produced. To combat this reality, they formed co-operatives, or co-ops, to gain better buying power and selling power. This was common in both the U.S. and Canada. A simple economic principle says that the more one buys, the cheaper they can barter to purchase said product and the more product one has to sell the better one can barter for a better price. (In most cases, there are no absolutes)

      The co-op make a charter or set of rules the members agree too on how to buy and sell in the best interest of all. We might call this a “constitution”. The people in the co-op elect members of what we might call the “government”. The end result is the people have a greater chance to prosper than they might on an individual basis. For many groups this concept worked and in still do work.

      Some might see this as some type of socialism and accept or reject it only on that basis.

      Back to the story:

      The first parent presents a confused look and asks: “Yes, but who gets rich”!!?

      Some might call that capitalism and accept or reject that purely on that basis

      Before you judge, there were 8 people at the table, 4 Canadians, 3 Americans and 1 Brit! There were 4 entrepreneurs and 4 wage earners. Having been one of the 8, you would be wasting your time trying to guess the political, religious, racial, income tax brackets or “ism” of choice of the group. It was a mix of all of the above.

      My point? There was no consensus, neither is wrong or evil, we in most western countries live along the spectrum of social democracy or mixed economy. For me the question is not so much the “isms” of choice but the end result we wish to accomplish with the choices we make.

      Reply

  11. swegdiddy
    October 18, 2015

    reminder: all anarchists are socialists, but not a socialists are anarchists.

    Reply

    • ThatSkepticGuy
      April 30, 2018

      Remember: Anarchism (stateless society) is completely and inherently contradictory to socialism (forced collectivization under a totalitarian state).

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      • brett
        March 22, 2019

        ThatSkepticGuy, this article is awful. You’ve exposed yourself as a tool. Socialism and anarchism are not directly related and at the same time perfectly compatible theories. You’re probably an astro-turfing and you have no business criticizing anyone else’s opinions.

        You think you’re an anarchist but what you actually are is jobless FOX News parasite/slave of a centrally planned feudal economy. You’ve mistaken Soviet style corporate/oligarch control of the USA for freedom. But besides that you’re a f’ing genius.

        Anarchy is simply the LACK of hierARCHY, there is no such thing a stateless society. In fact the “state” is the only thing that makes society possible. Your own home is a form of state if it has more than one person living in it. The state is what WE make it. WE have failed. I’m sure YOU blame your politicians for lying to you through their media.

        Reply

      • Nope
        May 1, 2020

        Hear hear

        Reply

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