Are You An Anarchist? by Robert LeFevre

Are You An Anarchist? by Robert LeFevre

I recall distinctly the occasion on which I was first accused of being an anarchist. My publisher was entertaining in his home, and among the guests was a college professor who had read some of my essays and editorials on the subject of human liberty. (¶ 1)

The position I had taken in those writings was original to me. Without a doubt, what I had written had been said before in other ways. Certainly, my reading had contributed to the formation of a point of view in which I rejected the idea that any man had a right to impose upon me by force. But although I must have been influenced toward them, I had not at that time read anything that provided me with my conclusions.

I had stated, and in my exchange with the professor I repeated, my antipathy to the state as an agency of force. I declared for economic freedom; the fundamental idea that each man ought to be free to produce and enjoy the product of his labor. I believed this freedom should not be impaired, even fractionally, by other men acting within a formalized agency of force.

To my amazement, the professor said: Why, you’re an anarchist.

The word had an unpleasant sound. I denied the classification automatically.

But you are, he insisted. You may not know it, but you are an anarchist.

Weren’t anarchists people who went around inflicting terror and imposing force on others? Weren’t they the ones who believed in throwing bombs and shooting people? I was repulsed by the thought that anyone could confuse my insistence on non-force with people who apparently advocated a use of force. But I had not at that time read the writings of the anarchists, and I confessed this shortcoming to the professor.

You should find out, he advised kindly. You are just an anarchist who doesn’t know it yet.

That evening I went to the Britannica as the most readily available source of information and found a summation of the subject. As I read the first few paragraphs, my heart leaped. The professor had been right. Here, in far more concise terms than I had ever found, was apparently what I believed.

ANARCHISM, the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government … harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed along these lines, the voluntary associations which begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions.
The next few paragraphs were of similar import. Then came the subhead, Anarchists and the State, and within a few sentences I was…. READ MORE

Are You An Anarchist?