Anarchists In History Essay Research Paper Greg

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Anarchists In History Essay, Research Paper Greg Thornton Nancy Allen, Howard Jones English II, World History February 19, 1998 Anarchists in History Anarchy is one of the most misdefined words in the English language. Many people believe it means total chaos. It is actually the idea that any form of government is unnecessary and undesirable. Although anarchism is often despised, anarchists have helped shape the lives and governments of today’s world. Anarchism has been around longer than most can recall. There is evidence of anarchists who lived as early as ancient Greeks. One such anarchist was Zeno. As father of the Stoic philosophy, Zeno of Cittium established the anarchist philosophy as we know it today (Harrison). “While the necessary instinct of self-preservation

leads man to egotism, nature has supplied a corrective to it by providing man with another instinct-that of sociability. When men are reasonable enough to return to their natural instincts, they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the cosmos. They will have no need of law courts or police, will have no temples and no public worship and use no money-free gifts taking place of the exchanges.” (Harrison) Greeks were not the only anarchists in history. The philosophy can be found in almost every country. Many prominent anarchists have come from France. One of the most famous French anarchists was Prouhdon. Born in Battant, Burgundy on January 15, 1809, Pierre- Joseph Prouhdon would become one of the best known anarchist thinkers in the world. Proudhon was actually the

first person to use the term “Anarchy” (Brogan 5). He wrote many books about anarchy and his ideal way of life. One of these books is titled Qu’est-ce que la propriete? or What is Property? This book described the normal way of life as opposed to the way of the anarchist. He became very popular as an anarchist philosopher and soon arose to be very well known throughout the world (Brogan). Another famous writer named Mary Shelley was related to an anarchist. William Godwin was her father. He was born on March 3, 1756 in Wisbech, England (Cox). Godwin grew up in a strong religious environment. He attended Hoxton Academy to train as a preacher himself. After realizing he did not like the system of government and the ways of the Christian religion, Godwin declared himself a

“complete unbeliever” and rejected his preaching (Cox). Like many anarchists, Godwin found he did not like being constantly bound by religion. He felt it was also very contradictory. He believed that if everyone were perfect Christians, nothing would ever get done (Cox). For example, if one always put others before himself, he would have to refuse if offered something. At the same time, the person who was offering something must demand that he take it, for he cannot have it for himself (Cox). Such thoughts were unheard of at the time and Godwin was often ridiculed for them. Henry David Thoreau was a prominent anarchist writer. He wrote one particular book on the subject titled Civil Disobedience. In this book he expressed his views on the government. “I heartily accept the

motto, ?That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe-’That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have.” (Thoreau 6) Thoreau also wrote that “the government is just a contest in which the most power goes to the one with the most money” (7). Thoreau also disliked the corrupt system of justice. He believed that “under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison” (Thoreau 24). Henry David Thoreau scorned democracy also. Thoreau’s philosophy was that “voting is only a guessing game to determine