What Is Anarchism?


At the beginning of each issue of The Transmetropolitan Review we provided a brief explanation of what anarchism is. Too long have our detractors, infiltrators, the media, the police, and rich kids have been the ones explaining what anarchism is to the public. In each issue, we have aimed to keep our definitions simple, to combine the words of anarchists throughout time and synthesize their thoughts into something short and easy to understand. This is an unending effort, and anarchist pedagogy is notoriously slow. But out goal remains to spread anarchism, and so we present you with the definitions of anarchism, originally released in the fall-winter of 2015-2016 in the Seattle region. Around 700 issues of each paper were printed, and each issue has received around 1000 views on the website. We encourage other anarchists to engage in similar projects in their respective regions. At this moment of electoral narcosis and confusion, we must remind people of the beautiful idea and what it can offer to this bruised and battered world.





We will tell it to you in plain words, through the voices of anarchists written or spoken throughout time. Anarchism is not a new idea. It is very old. By definition, an anarchist is a person who does not wish to be oppressed nor wish to be an oppress, a person who wishes the greatest well-being, freedom, and knowledge for all human beings.

A person who is satisfied to live among slaves and draw profit from the labor of slaves is not and cannot be an anarchist. To be an anarchist it is not enough to recognize that anarchism is a beautiful idea–in theory even capitalists and police might agree with it–but one must want to struggle to achieve anarchism, or at least to approximate it, by reducing the power of capitalism over our lives and the lives of all others. Until all are free, none are free.

The aspiration towards total freedom, if not tempered by a love for life and by the desire that all should enjoy equal freedom, may well create rebels who soon become exploiters and tyrants, but never anarchists. One can be a willing slave for a variety of reasons, just as one can be a tyrant if not met with adequate resistance.

Government is the negation of freedom and it is not possible to be free without being rid of it. The freedom to oppress, to tax, to exploit, to evict, and to kill is the denial of freedom and hence no freedom at all. The fact that our enemies make hypocritical use of the word freedom is not enough to make us deny the principle of freedom in our own lives.

The slave is always in a position of legitimate self defense. Their violence against the oppressor, the capitalist, or the tyrant is always justifiable. This conflict may be open or latent, but it always exists.

When the people meekly submit to the law, or their protests are feeble and confined to words, the government ignores the people. When the protests are lively, insistent, threatening, the government gives way or resorts to repression. But one always come back to insurrection. For if the government does not give way and resorts to repression, the people will rebel again and again. If the government does give way, then the people gain confidence in themselves and make greater and greater demands until the incompatibility between freedom and authority become clear. In either case, insurrection is the result. Whether we win or not depends on how great the desire for freedom is. If it shared by enough people, millions or billions, we can win.

But what does it mean to win? To create an anarchist world? We must say there can be no “anarchist world.” There can only be anarchy. It is the natural state of most humans and for all the natural world. Most humans tend to get along, share when able, and respect each others differences. Bu there is a minority of humans who have not only enslaved most other humans, they have destroyed massive amounts of life and are threatening to destroy the planet. To create anarchy is to destroy the power of this small minority and let tens of thousands of small words blossom in its place. We have suffered under one God, one King, and one Capitalism for far too long. It is time for the many to rule the world once again, as they should. And when that world arrives we will still be anarchists among the many, trying our best to live anarchism.

To destroy a persons ability to live off the land is to take nearly all of their freedom away. They can exercise their freedom to steal, and they will be justified in doing so, but without land the only other option is to submit to the reign of capitalism and exchange ones life for a dollar. They have poisoned the land, forced us to work for them, and deserve to be overthrown immediately. We must all live on this planet, this same earth we all were born on. To destroy another persons land is to destroy them. To destroy the planet is to destroy everything it has ever created. We must all organize to stop this destruction now.

We will have more plain words in the future. For now, just know that the stakes are life or death. Without victory, we face only extinction. History vindicates anarchism thrice over. The time of our revolution is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. LONG LIVE ANARCHY!



There are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable. New ideas germinate everywhere, seeking to force their way into the light, to find an application in life; everywhere they are opposed by the inertia of those whose interest it is to maintain the old order; they suffocate in the stifling atmosphere of prejudice and traditions. Political, economic, and social institutions are crumbling; the social structure, having become uninhabitable, is hindering, even preventing the development of the seeds which are being propagated within its damaged walls and being brought forth around them.

The need for a new life becomes apparent. The code of established morality, that which governs the greater number of people in their daily life, no longer seems sufficient. What formerly seemed just is now felt to be a crying injustice. The morality of yesterday is today recognized as revolting immorality. The conflict between new ideas and old traditions flames up in every class of society, in every possible environment, in the very bosom of the family.

Daily, the popular conscience rises up against the scandals which breed amidst the privileged and the leisured, against the crimes committed in the name of the law of the stronger, or in order to maintain these privileges. Those who long for the triumph of justice, those who would put new ideas into practice, are soon forced to recognize that the realization of their generous, humanitarian and regenerating ideas cannot take place in a society thus constituted; they perceive the necessity of a revolutionary whirlwind which will sweep away all this rottenness, revive sluggish hearts with its breath, and bring to humankind that spirit of devotion, self-denial, and heroism, without which society sinks through degradation and vileness into complete disintegration.

In periods of frenzied haste toward wealth, of feverish speculation and of crisis, of the sudden downfall of great industries and the ephemeral expansion of other branches of production, of scandalous fortunes amassed in a few years and dissipated as quickly, it becomes evident that the economic institutions which control production and exchange are far from giving to society the prosperity which they are supposed to guarantee; they produce precisely the opposite result. Instead of order they bring forth chaos; instead of prosperity, poverty and insecurity; instead of reconciled interests, war; a perpetual war of the exploiter against the worker, of exploiters and of workers among themselves.

Human society is seen to be splitting more and more into two hostile camps, and at the same time to be subdividing into thousands of small groups waging merciless war against each other. Weary of these wars, weary of the miseries which they cause, society rushes to seek a new organization; it clamors loudly for a complete remodeling of the system of property ownership, of production, of exchange and all economic relations which spring from it.

The machinery of government, entrusted with the maintenance of the existing order, continues to function, but at every turn of its deteriorated gears it slips and stops. Its working becomes more and more difficult, and the dissatisfaction caused by its defects grows continuously. Every day gives rise to a new demand. Attacked from all sides they defend themselves awkwardly, they evade, they commit blunder upon blunder, and they soon succeed in cutting the last rope of salvation; they drown the prestige of the government in ridicule, caused by their own incapacity. Such periods demand revolution. It becomes a social necessity; the situation itself is revolutionary.

We do not fight to put ourselves in the place of the exploiters and oppressors of today, and do not struggle for the triumph of an abstraction. We want good fortune for individuals, for everyone, without exception. We desire that each human being be able to develop themselves and live as happily as possible. Everything that seeks to destroy economic and political oppression, all that serves to raise the moral and intellectual level of human beings, all that provokes hatred against oppression and love between people, brings us closer to our aim and as a consequence is good. We desire the triumph of liberty and love. But do we renounce for that the use of violent means? Not in the least. Our means are those that circumstances allow us and impose on us. Certainly we don’t want to harm a hair on anyone’s head; we would like to dry all the tears and not to make any more be shed. But we must struggle in the world such as it is, or else remain sterile dreamers.

If you feel you are an anarchist, it is easy to join the struggle. Find your friends and firmly decide to leave this economy of debt and misery. Form an ANARCHIST FEDERATION. Collectively save your money and purchase land, housing, whatever can help you work less, toil less, and have more time to live freely and help others. If you want to forgo money entirely, simply occupy the land or the housing you want and refuse to leave. An anarchist federation shares with itself and grows member by member, eventually hooking up with the other federations until the capitalist economy is gone.

But if you have had enough, if you want to strike at capitalism and the state, form an ANARCHIST DIRECT ACTION GROUP. Find your most trusted friends, people who you know are not cops, people you have known since childhood. Pick a target to destroy or render inoperable, like a bank or corporate office, for example. Make your plans, carry out your action, and be sure not to harm anyone. With the anarchist federation and the anarchist direct action group,




(Reprinted from The Anarchist Library)


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