Democratic Theory and Technological Society

By Richard B. Day; Ronald Beiner et al. | Go to book overview

ANARCHISM AND TECHNOLOGY

Frank Harrison

Whenever we discuss anarchism we must first remind ourselves that we are not considering a finished system of social and political thought. Within the spectrum of writers who are properly called anarchists there are various approaches. Consequently, if we are to discuss anarchist views on any particular issue, such as technology, it will be helpful if we have a sense of what they hold in common. What ties together the various thinkers to whom I shall refer in this essay, linking them in a single school of thought?

We can begin by recognizing that anarchists, when they are not thought of as bomb-throwing nihilists in black cloaks, are most often viewed as having one thing in common: an uncompromising opposition to the political state in any and every form, which is combined with the proposal of alternate structures of social organization. This is a correct perception. It has been the anarchists' consistent rejection of the state, not only as an end but also as a means of achieving their goals, which has ever been the wedge between them and the Marxists. It was Bakunin's rejection of the state, even the transitional state of a dictatorship of the proletariat, that was the principal ground of his conflict with Marx. The state in whatever form was presented by Bakunin as an independent source of hierarchy and repression, not simply the executive committee of the owners of the means of production.1 However, the archons that are attacked by the an-archists have never been understood as solely political in form. What characterizes the anarchist has been a sensitivity to all forms of domination, and an opposition to all sources of control (power) over individuals in society. Be the anarchist a Proudhonian "mutualist," a Bakuninist "federalist," an "anarchist communist" like Kropotkin, or an "anarcho-syndicalist" like Pelloutier, they have all sought to identify and replace the multiplicity of causes preventing the development of autonomous individuals who control their own social lives. Alexander Berkman showed this breadth of concern when he stated:

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