|Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.
- thomas paine
- (Common Sense, Philadelphia, 1776)
We should not forget that government is an evil, an usurpation upon the private judgement and individual conscience of mankind; and that, however we may be obliged to admit it as a necessary evil for the present, it behoves us, as the friends of reason and the human species, to admit as little of it as possible, and carefully to observe whether, in consequence of the gradual illumination of the human mind, that little may not hereafter be diminished.
- william godwin
- (An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, London, 1793)
“You are republican.”—“A republican, yes, but the word specifies nothing. Res publica is the public thing. Now whoever, is interested in public affairs (under whatever form of government) can call himself a republican. Even kings are republicans.”—“Well, you are a democrat.”—“No.”—“A constitutionalist.”—“God forbid!”—“Then you are an aristocrat?”—“Not at all.”—“You want a mixed government?”—“Even less.”—“What are you then?”—“I am an anarchist.”—“Oh, I understand; you are talking satirically. This is an attack on the government.”—“Not at all. I have just given you my serious and deliberate profession of faith. Although I am a firm friend of order, I am in the full sense of the word an anarchist.”
- pierre-joseph proudhon
- (What is Property? Paris, 1840)
I am not a communist, because communism concentrates and swallows up in itself for the benefit of the state all the forces of society, because it inevitably leads to the concentration of property in the hands of the state; whereas I want the abolition of the state, the final eradication of the principle of authority and patronage belonging to the state, which under the pretext of making man moral and civilised has so far only enslaved, persecuted, exploited and corrupted them. I want to see society and collective or social property organised from below upwards, through free association, not from above downwards, through any kind of authority.
- michael bakunin
- (Speech to the League of Peace and Freedom, Berne, September, 1868)
The factory belongs to us all: every brick in its wall is cemented with our blood; every cog in its machines is oiled with our sweat. That’ll be the day, when we take back our property, and carry out the great expropriation!
- emile pouget
- (In Le Père Peinard, October, 1894)
Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synonymous. The former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the established condition or status, the state or society, and is accordingly a political or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable consequence a transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it but from men’s discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, but a rising of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring from it. The revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on institutions. It is not a fight against the established, since if it prospers the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established.
- max stirner
- (The Ego and His Own.
- Translated by Steven T. Byington, Boston, 1907)
One may prefer communism or individualism or any other system, and work by example and propaganda for the achievement of one’s personal preferences: but one must beware, at the risk of certain disaster, of supposing that one’s own system is the only and infallible one, good for all men everywhere and at all times, and that its success must be ensured at all costs by means other than those which depend on persuasion, which spring from the evidence of facts. What is important and indispensable, the point of departure, is to ensure for everybody the means to be free.
- errico malatesta
- (In Il Risveglio, November, 1929)