Anarchist FAQ/What is Anarchism?/2.4

Anarchist FAQ/What is Anarchism?
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A.2.4 Are anarchists in favour of "absolute" liberty?Edit

No. Anarchists do not believe that everyone should be able to "do whatever they like," because some actions invariably involve the denial of the liberty of others.

For example, anarchists do not support the "freedom" to rape, to exploit, or to coerce others. Neither do we tolerate authority. On the contrary, since authority is a threat to liberty, equality, and solidarity (not to mention human dignity), anarchists recognise the need to resist and overthrow it.

The exercise of authority is not freedom. No one has a "right" to rule others. As Malatesta points out, anarchism supports "freedom for everybody . . . with the only limit of the equal freedom for others; which does not mean . . . that we recognise, and wish to respect, the 'freedom' to exploit, to oppress, to command, which is oppression and certainly not freedom." [1]

In a capitalist society, resistance to all forms of hierarchical authority is the mark of a free person—be it private (the boss) or public (the state). As Henry David Thoreau pointed out in his essay on "Civil Disobedience" (1847)

"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."


  1. Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, p. 53