April Carter, The Political Theory of Anarchism, 1971.

2 Anarchism and the State

State and Government

Opposition to the State is central to anarchism. But what is meant by the State in political theorizing is frequently ambiguous, partly because there are substantive theoretical issues at stake. Some attempt at definition must, however, be made, and there are two distinctions which have considerable importance. These are the distinction between State and Government -- though many anarchists have used the words interchangeably; and the distinction between State and Society -- which is now commonly reflected in our thought and language.

The State is usually associated with its main organs -- the administrative bureaucracy, the police and the army; from an anarchist viewpoint the judiciary and the Church may also be seen as adjuncts of State power. The main anarchist analysis of the State was formulated in the nineteenth century. Nicolas Walter recently commented in the journal Anarchy :

The anarchist literature of the past weighs heavily on the present, and makes it hard for us to produce a new literature for the future. And yet, though the works of our predecessors are numerous, most of them are out of print, and the rest are mostly out of date (No. 100, June 1969,161).

Contemporary anarchist writing does not deal in detail with the nature of political power or the modern State; and where it does discuss these questions the emphasis is primarily psychological. In his anthology on anarchism, Irving Louis Horowitz, after locating bureaucracy as an issue central to anarchism, has to fall back on a non-anarchist sociologist for a contemporary examination of this phenomenon. But recent political trends are important to an understanding of a renewed interest in anarchism, and in assessing the current validity of anarchist principles: so some attempt is made in this chapter to relate anarchist ideas to modern realities.

In its critique of the State anarchism has parallels with the tradition of liberal constitutionalism, which is associated in the eighteenth century with Whig theory in England and with Montesquieu in France, and evolved into one strand of nineteenth-century liberalism. [29] Constitutionalism also shares with anarchism a deep distrust of democratic government and democratic ideology when conjoined to State power; this link is very clear in the work of the contemporary French theorist Bertrand De Jouvenel, who draws on the writings of Proudhon One of the greatest writers in the constitutionalist tradition, De Tocqueville, tried to adapt its leading ideas to conform with the new democratic spirit, and his resultant emphasis on the value of decentralism and voluntary association brings him at some levels close to Kropotkin.

A useful starting point for discussion of the State is Kropotkin's attempt to dispel confusion about terminology. Kropotkin remarks in his pamphlet on The State that:

State and government represent two ideas of a different kind. The State not only includes the existence of a power placed above society, but also a territorial concentration and a concentration of many or even all functions of the life of society in the hands of a few (10).
Kropotkin argues that to understand the State one must understand its historical origins and development; this historical analysis also reveals how the State differs from Society. 'Men have lived in societies for thousands of years before having known the State.' For European nations the State 'hardly dates from the sixteenth century'. Kropotkin suggests that the Roman Empire had all the characteristics of a State, and that the images of law and sovereignty derived from Rome, which influenced the bureaucratic and legal evolution of the new European States, have dominated the attitudes of lawyers and theorists ever since. What makes the State is 'the Triple Alliance, constituted at last, of the military chief, the Roman judge, and the priest, forming a mutual insurance for domination' (25). In the modern State these roles are extended, but for anarchists its salient characteristics remain an organized use of force to compel obedience, a system of penal laws and administrative codes operated by experts, and a set of beliefs and ceremonies which enshrine the State power m the hearts of its subjects. Kropotkin's analysis is close to that of the sociologist Max Weber, who defined the modern State in terms °t jurisdiction over a specific territorial area, a bureaucratic administration, and a monopoly of legitimate force within its borders.

In an early work on Anarchism the German jurist, Paul Eltzbacher, defined the State as 'a legal relation by virtue of which a supreme authority exists in a certain territory' (18). The fact that it is egal relationship excludes for Eltzbacher purely arbitrary domination through conquest (a conquered country is perhaps a colony, but not a State) and also an anarchist Utopia governed only by moral [30]

laws. The role of territorial boundaries means that neither a Church, whose membership is denned by faith, nor a nomadic tribe, in which membership is defined by kinship, are States, though both may have forms of government. Eltzbacher assumes in his juristic definition what Kropotkin emphasizes in a sociological and historical approach -- that a State implies a territory of a certain size and a concentration of power. Hence the ancient cities of Greece, or medieval city republics, were not States in Kropotkin's sense. The historical phenomenon we now identify as the State is primarily represented in the European tradition by the national kingdoms which emerged out of the plurality of the Middle Ages.

The Evolution of the State

In the Middle Ages some monarchies did indeed have their national territories and made claims to sovereign power within them. But these monarchies were part of European Christendom, their subjects members of the Catholic Church; and the monarchs themselves were bound by religious allegiance to respect edicts from Rome, and politically restricted by the countervailing claims of the Pope to establish the rule of a Universal Church. Moreover, the Church claimed independent jurisdiction over its own affairs within the territorial realm of the King. As Ernest Barker stresses in a lecture on the State, the clergy were only one of the three medieval Estates limiting the King's powers. The second comprised the feudal nobles, 'who individually acted as sovereigns, so far as they could, in their local fiefs, and collectively formed a baronage ready to dispute authority at the centre as a body of rival kings' (Principles of Social and Political Theory, 13). Thirdly there were the 'commons', who 'locally sought autonomy for their municipal governments and their various merchant and craft gilds, and centrally, if they were joined together in an assembly of "the Commons" might join the baronage in challenging the king'. Barker concludes that 'there was little of a national State -- indeed there was little of any sort of State -- in the territorial rcgnum of the Middle Ages. It was a paradise of Estates rather than the pattern of a State' (12). Bertrand De Jouvenel in his book on Power, which he identifies with State power, attacks the misconception that monarchy could claim a divine absolutism in the Middle Ages. We should remember that:

Power in medieval times was shared . . . limited (by other authorities which were, in their own sphere, autonomous), and that, above all, it was not sovereign (35).

Far from being sovereign in the sense of being absolute and above the law, Power was 'tied down, not only in theory but in practice, bv the Lex Terrae (the customs of the country), which was thought 0f as a thing immutable' (35).

The gradual emergence of a territorial state in which the government could claim sovereign power within its borders is closely related to the development of a standing army. The existence of a permanent army simultaneously increased the demands made by governments on their subjects, especially in the realm of taxation, and their power to quell rebellion against these demands. External wars might also be used by monarchs to keep their subjects quiet at home. Hobbes comments that:

kings and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealousies, and in the state and posture of gladiators; having ... their forts, garrisons and guns on the frontiers of their kingdoms;... But because they uphold thereby, the industry of their subjects; there does not follow from it, that misery, which accompanies the liberty of particular men (Leviathan, 83).

Hobbes's Leviathan can indeed be seen as one of the clearest statements of the new Absolutism, in which the sovereign power is not hindered by any rival bodies in the State, the sovereign's will is above the law (which it creates) and the sovereign rules within his territory through his command of organized force. Hobbes explains that the only way the participants in the social contract can erect a common power to defend them is:

to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will... (112).

In this way Hobbes sees the multitude being united in one 'person', who combines the power of all individuals under the direction of a unifying will to create 'that great leviathan, or rather to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God our peace and defence'.

Hobbes would very much prefer that the 'sovereign' who 'represents the State both at home as author of all government acts, and abroad as head of State, should be a monarch, upon whom all the attributes of sovereignty coalesce. This conception was summed up by the Roi Soleil when he said 'L'etat, cest moi'. But Hobbes insisted that logically his theory applied equally to a governing assembly, who could claim to represent and so embody the wills of the people. This point is important, as De Jouvenel brings out. Other theorists [32] more or less contemporary with Hobbes were claiming that the King's right to rule derived from divine authority. But Hobbes made the real source of authority the people. The sovereign monarch is at the same time the representative of the people; his will represents their wills, and the absoluteness of his power stems from this delegation of authority. When, as in the French Revolution, the 'people' or the 'nation' claim their sovereignty and overthrow the tyranny of princes, then they elect a popular assembly to represent their will -- the concepts of the Revolutionaries derived in part from Hobbes via Rousseau. But a government ruling through the 'will of the people', and so bound neither by belief in the eternal laws of God, nor by the previous customary laws of the country, may become the most arbitrary despotism, against which there is no appeal. And the people may discover that they are no better off than before, indeed they may be worse off. De Jouvenel comments:

How very strange! When their masters were kings, the peoples never stopped complaining at having to pay war taxes. Then, when they have overthrown these masters and taken to taxing themselves, the currency in which they pay is not merely a part of their incomes but their very lives ! (Power, 20).

If the despotism inherent in the unitary and secular State can sometimes be seen even more clearly in an era of 'democracy' than kingship, so also can the outlines of State power. It is probably only in a period of democratic aspiration and overthrow of governments that the idea of a 'state machinery' separate from government could take shape. Whilst earlier kings, as Kropotkin stresses, had their own growing bureaucracies, and their armies and personal spies, the focal position of the monarch as the centre of allegiance, and living symbol of the State, influenced language and imagery about the nature of government. But when in a period of years successive ministries of differing political hues might be in office, or even more radical changes in government -- from constitutional monarchy, for example, to parliamentary republic to dictatorship -- could occur without greatly altering day to day administration and policies, then people began to notice the specific organs of the State. These features have been particularly visible in France, and were noted by three nineteenth-century thinkers of markedly different political tendencies: De Tocqueville, Marx and Kropotkin.

De Tocqueville comments at the end of his book on The Old Regime and the French Revolution that, after the first period of revolutionary enthusiasm and the spirit of freedom it generated, Napoleon's capture of power led to the salvaging of the institutions of the old regime and their integration into the new. [33]

Centralization was built up anew, and in the process all that had once kept it within bounds was carefully eliminated ... Napoleon fell but the more solid parts of his achievement lasted on; his government died, but his administration survived, and every time that an attempt is made to do away with absolutism the most that could be done has been to graft the head of Liberty onto a servile body (The Old Regime, 209).

Karl Marx writing on The Eighteenth Brumaire of Napoleon Bonaparte reached very similar conclusions:

This executive power, with its enormous bureaucratic and military organisation... which enmeshes the body of French society like a net and chokes all its pores, sprang up in the days of the absolute monarchy, with the decay of the feudal system, which it helped to hasten ... Napoleon perfected this state machinery.., All revolutions perfected this machine instead of smashing it (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, 170-1).

While Kropotkin illustrates his thesis on the State by reference to the Third French Republic, which 'in spite of its republican form of government, has remained monarchical in its essence'. How has this come about? Kropotkin answers:

It comes from France having remained as much a State as it was thirty years ago. The holders of power have changed their name; but all the immense scaffolding of centralised organisation, the imitation of the Rome of the Caesars which has been elaborated in France, has remained (The State, 42).


France has proved a useful model for generalizations about the modern State, and it also provides illustrations for a specific critique of bureaucracy. In their analysis of French bureaucracy De Tocque-ville and Kropotkin converge. De Tocqueville draws on his knowledge of the ancien regime to develop his case -- the damaging effects of the administration on the French economy, its inherent cumber-someness and rigidity, its disregard of individual rights and of the law, and its enervating influence on social attitudes. In eighteenth-century France Government inspectors made peasants tear up vines not planted in soil specified by official regulations; the Controller General in Paris had to decide the site of a workhouse hundreds of mues away, or regulate a village fete; a passion for building highways in perfectly straight lines led to the tearing down of houses [34] in the way and confiscation of land without just compensation; and the Administration frequently overstepped its statutory powers; worst of all local councillors became abjectly servile before central authority, and every Frenchman became accustomed to the idea that the only way to get things done was to petition Paris.

Looking at France at the turn of the century Kropotkin comments that when a tree blows down on the National highway about fifty documents have to be exchanged between the Home Office and the Treasury before the tree can be sold. 'This is under the Third Republic, for I do not speak of the barbarous methods of the ancien regime that limited itself to five or six documents.' But Kropotkin's concern, like De Tocqueville's, goes much deeper:

If it were only this, it would be but twenty thousand functionaries too many, and a thousand million francs more added to the budget... But there is worse beneath all this, for the principle kills everything. The peasants of a village have a thousand interests in common ... But the State cannot allow them to unite! It gives them school and priest, police and judge; these must suffice, and should other interests arise, they must apply in the regular way to Church and State (The State, 36).

Kropotkin adds that until 1883 villagers were forbidden by law to unite even to irrigate their fields.

The notable increase in the size of central administration in all 'advanced' countries in this century has strengthened Kropotkin's general case. Indeed some of the more obvious problems of bureaucracy have been acknowledged in both liberal and socialist democracies. Italy's overweighted civil service, for example, has long been an incubus on the body politic, but since 1945 successive governments have failed to achieve any civil service reforms. 'Nearly every Government had appointed a special Minister whose job was "reform of the Civil Service"; they had investigated and reported with more or less diligence but with little effect. Every so often a scandal would blow up to spur them on' (Muriel Grindrod, Italy, 155). Italy's civil service is in part a product of inertia and corruption, and reflects wider social and political problems. As Herbert Read once remarked: 'every country has the bureaucracy it deserves.' Max Weber, with the example of Prussia before him, saw in the rationalization and division of functions a method capable of managing large scale economic and governmental enterprises with considerable effectiveness.

But the potential efficiency of bureaucracy is undermined both by a general tendency towards excess of red tape, and by the specific problems of centralized economic planning. Modern industrial [35] development appears both to require State intervention and to multiply the difficulties of central control -- a fact which has led to the French attempt at regionalism in economic planning. In the Soviet Union 'the planners' task has become about one thousand times niore complex than it was when the first Five Year Plan was launched in 1928. Indeed, one Soviet expert has estimated that if the planning system were allowed to continue unchecked along its present lines, by 1980 it would occupy every adult member of the population' (Erik De Mauny, Russian Prospect, 96). This trend has promoted the limited measures of decentralization to regions and factories in the mid-1950s, and the Liberman reforms introducing the profit incentive in the 1960s. 'The Liberman reform has at least slowed down the paper flood. Under the old system, forty to fifty of a factory's "indicators" (directives on prices, delivery dates, production schedules and so on) were handed down from above. Now, only five or six are handed down' . . . (ibid.). Whether strictly controlled decentralization and use of market mechanisms can do more than mitigate bureaucratic chaos is still to be proven. But from an anarchist standpoint both approaches are totally unsatisfactory in principle, and fail to tap resources of initiative and responsibility which stem from free co-operation and participation in decisionmaking.

The criteria for measuring a concept like 'efficiency' in relation to bureaucratic and economic organization are far from unambiguous -- and in Kropotkin's approach they overlap with an assessment of the total quality of social, cultural and personal life. It may be relevant that where a serious movement away from bureaucratic centralism has occurred in socialist countries, as in Yugoslavia, and briefly in Czechoslovakia in 1968, narrowly defined questions of economic efficiency have been closely related to issues of political and industrial democracy, local autonomy and cultural freedom. The anarchists' main concern is certainly with the wider social implications of bureaucracy. Herbert Read noted in 1938 in relation to the Soviet Union that: 'since the revolution of 1917 the State machine has year by year grown in size and importance ... in the very process of developing the power of the State new classes are born which usurp this power and use it to oppress the people at large' (Anarchy and Order, 94).

Alex Comfort remarks that centralized administration means a proliferation of new laws and regulations, thus increasing the quantity of State defined 'crimes' in society. A sufficiently cumbersome bureaucracy may not only impose rules people will want to break, °ut rules which they are actually forced to break. This is the situation in Italy. In 1964, for example, a former director of the Superior [36] Institute of Health was charged with irregularities in his administration. His arrest promoted widespread protests among scientists, who alleged that 'the antiquated condition of Italian administrative regulations makes scientific research impossible without some form of evasion of the law', for example in procedures for ordering equipment (The Times, 1 May 1964, 11). Soviet planning regulations have similarly forced managers to improvise and co-operate in defiance of the rules in order to fulfil their required quotas. The authorities have turned a blind eye, but punished severely those who have taken private enterprise too far. Erik De Mauny notes in relation to the 1963-4 Shakerman case that, after reading the trial records of the complex transactions involved in building up an illegal commercial empire, a Russian acquaintance commented: 'I wouldn't have put him on trial -- I'd have made him Minister of Finance!' (Russian Prospect, 90).

Comfort is less concerned than Read about the power of a bureaucratic class, but is afraid that the effect of centralization of functions and power is to provide opportunities for psychopathic leadership. 'The greater the degree of power, and the wider the gap between governors and governed, the stronger the appeal of office to those who are likely to abuse it, and the less the response which can be expected from the individual' (Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, 75). In this connexion it is relevant to note that the new German State created in the 1860s could boast an efficient civil service, an efficient army and a booming economy: what it lacked was a tradition of political responsibility and civil liberty -- a lack which manifested itself in the signal failure of the numerically strong Social Democratic Party to challenge either State repression or German militarism. Max Weber saw in Bismark's Germany a type of bureaucratic absolutism, in which the top officials tended to maintain a high degree of secrecy, and so become a power-seeking clique who were a law unto themselves.

Weber emphasized that the effects of bureaucracy in general on the majority of its lesser officials was to encourage timidity, longing for order, and narrowness of vision. When considering the implications of the trend to growing bureaucracy in all spheres of life he is appalled:

It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger ones ... It is as if in politics ... we were deliberately to become men who need 'order', and nothing but order... and the great question is ... what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this [37] parcelling-out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life (quoted in Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber, 464).

Weber, deeply committed to a code of aristocratic values (in which concepts of freedom and citizenship had a conservative and patriotic cast, but were linked to the constitutional tradition) was repelled partly by the pettiness of this mode of life, as De Tocqueville was repelled by the picture of 'democratic' uniformity in a centralized State.

The erosion of a sense of 'citizenship' among bureaucratic officials may have more directly sinister implications if conjoined to division of functions and the parcelling out of responsibility, since bureaucratic anonymity may allow men to commit atrocities they would never condone as individuals. Comfort comments that: 'The Policymaker's assessment of the orders which he gives is blunted by the fact that he is separated from their physical execution -- that of the executive by the fact that it is not responsible for them' (Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, 61). Camus notes: 'One of the Dachau executioners weeps in prison and says, "I only obeyed orders. The Fuhrer and Reichsfuhrer, alone, planned all this . . . Gluecks received orders from Kaltenbrunner and, finally, I received orders ..."' (The Rebel, 151-2).

The worst perversions of bureaucracy occur however in conjunction with two other organs of State power deplored by anarchists: the military establishment and the police. In the economic and social spheres of government it is necessary to distinguish between anarchist criticisms and common liberal-conservative complaints about bureaucracy. The anarchist objection to 'welfare services' administered by civil servants, for example, is not that community welfare saps individual initiative and responsibility but that officially administered welfare is liable to be given inflexibly, officiously and heartlessly -- objections envisaged by Kropotkin. Nor would anarchists subscribe to critiques of bureaucracy based primarily on judicial fears for the 'rule of law' or parliamentary fears about the lack of parliamentary control, though they might well agree that absence of adequate judicial and parliamentary checks increased the dangers of irresponsible use of power.

The spirit of De Tocqueville's attack on bureaucratic centralism is, however, closer to anarchist concerns, though his answer marks him sharply off from anarchism. De Tocqueville discovered in America and England a political alternative to State centralization, which led nun to formulate a theoretical distinction between the spheres of government' and of 'administration'. There are, he suggests, certain [38] interests common to a whole country, like passing general laws and securing defence: these interests may usefully be centralized. There are also local interests; to centralize these is to create a rigid and unwieldy centralized administration. Instead local affairs should be conducted through the political initiative of local citizens through municipal government and voluntary associations. Whether De Tocqueville's distinction between local and central interests, and between the role of voluntary associations and bureaucratic organizations, is still valid, and whether it can be maintained in practice, is best answered in relation to other features of State power, and in the light of historical developments since he wrote.


A second feature of the State machinery of great importance for anarchists is a police force. While De Tocqueville is committed to the need for a government to maintain order, his comments on the role of mounted police under the ancicn regime in France are pertinent:

To the mind of the great majority of people only the government was capable of maintaining order in the land ... The mounted policeman was, in fact, the embodiment of law and order, not merely its chief defender ... No one seemed to have had the faintest inkling that the protector might one day become the master (The Old Regime, 69).

De Tocqueville then quotes the remarks of an uncomprehending French emigre in England on the absence of a military police: 'It is the literal truth that the average Englishman consoles himself for having been robbed with the reflection that his country has no mounted police!' It had obviously never occurred to him, comments De Tocqueville drily, that 'these "eccentricities" were bound up with the whole British concept of freedom'. But now an anarchist arguing against the existence of a police force is likely to be regarded with the same incredulity and condescension as the emigre then regarded the English.

It was in France under Napoleon that the organizational model of a modern political police was first created. Under Fouche, former Revolutionary Minister of Police, the Ministry of Police was reorganized in 1804 and provided an efficient instrument of surveillance and repression to maintain Napoleon in power. Fouche's department declined in influence after the fall of Napoleon, but many of its methods were retained by succeeding regimes, and the political [39] police was strengthened again by Louis Napoleon to maintain his own dictatorship after 1851. After his fall the police under the Third Republic changed its leading personnel, but 'its functions altered little' (see E. K. Bramstedt, Dictatorship and Political Police, 48). Government ministers were reputed to live in fear of the dossiers of the police. In the early years of the Fourth Republic a public scandal revealed the bizarre workings of the rival secret services attached to the Ministry of the Interior and the Prime Minister's Office. Whilst the former was hushing up a scandal about the Socialist Party, the second in command of the latter was allegedly trying to frame two Socialist Ministers whom he wanted to have shot (see Philip Williams, Politics in Post-War Prance, 387). Nor is a secret police excluded by a tradition of liberalism. In 1965 an Observer article estimated there were police dossiers on two million political suspects in Britain.

Hannah Arendt comments that 'the secret services have rightly been called a state within the state, and this not only in despotisms but also under constitutional or semiconstitutional governments' (The Origins of Totalitarianism, 425). The dangers inherent in a specifically political police may also be seen as inherent in a normal police force. Ortega y Gasset urged in 1930 in The Revolt of the Masses that a concrete example of the dangers of the modern State crushing individual freedom was 'the enormous increase in the police force of all countries'. He goes on to predict that the police will not be content to maintain 'law and order' on the terms people want, but 'will end by themselves defining and deciding on the order they are going to impose' (94). It is a minor illustration of the link between aristocratic liberalism and anarchism that Anarchy uses a quote from this passage, together with Seymour Lipset's example of how police in the United States are publicly threatening to disobey orders which require police leniency towards black or student demonstrators (see Seymour Lipset, 'The Politics of the Police', New Society, 6 March 1969, and Anarchy No. 98, April 1969). De Jouvenel also comments with concern that: 'The growth of the police, in numbers, importance and dignity, is a universal phenomenon of the present time' (Power, 302).

The police role in maintaining public order necessarily tends to have political overtones. But suppression of 'crime' can in itself be seen as a form of political repression directed against the poor -- especially when the highest crime rates occur in the poorest areas. It has been estimated, for example, that in communities in Western Sicily eight out of ten men have spent over a year in jail, and a further four per cent are outlaws (Gavin Maxwell, The Ten Pains of Death, 8). Slum dwellers or coloured minorities often feel that they are objects of automatic suspicion and fair game for any policeman. [40] Doubts about the category of crime are reinforced by the fact that both the investigations of the police, and the researches of social scientists, are usually directed -- as a recent issue of Anarchy on criminology remarked -- to 'lower working-class criminals' rather than to 'gangs' in the business and financial world (Anarchy No. 98).

Police are also placed in a position of unique opportunity and temptation to commit crimes themselves. One of the most frequent charges made against police is that of violent assault -- widely publicized in certain cases of police violence against demonstrations, for example in Paris in May 1968 and in Chicago in August 1968 at the Democratic Party Convention. In recent years there has also been publicity in the United States about indiscriminate police shooting causing many deaths during 'riots' in black ghettos -- which can be seen as a form of semi-political demonstration. But the most serious cases of police violence may be hidden from the public. Alex Comfort quotes from H. von Hentig, The Criminal and His Victim: 'The police force and the ranks of prison officers . . . afford legal channels for pain-inflicting, power-wielding behaviour, and . . . confer upon their holders a large degree of immunity' (Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, 38). A particularly extreme example is that of the police death squad in Brazil: in December 1969 a Rio de Janeiro district police chief said he had evidence that members of the police were responsible for torturing and murdering 120 petty criminals in the previous two years (The Times, 10 December 1969, 7). Third degree methods are standard practice in many police forces -- in France for example special expressions have been coined for the initial police interrogation. Britain has a better reputation. But the detective inspector who looked on while four men were beaten with a truncheon and rhino whip by two constables in Sheffield in March 1963 told an Inquiry 'these things go on fairly frequently, don't they', and apparently thought the victims were unlikely to complain, or to be believed if they did (Ben Whitaker, The Police, 148).

Where the level of violent crimes is exceptionally high, or gangsterism particularly well entrenched, the anarchist case for abolishing the police may be most persuasive. In the United States, for example, an official Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence has stressed that poverty is the main cause of the crime rate, and urged the need to completely rebuild American cities. Nor does the existence of a police force sufficiently reassure the large number of householders who fear to walk outdoors at night, or have invested in their own guns -- a truly Hobbesian picture. Whilst in western Sicily ruled by 'the Church, the State, and the Mafia' for decades, the most serious challenge to the Mafia has come from men working for radical social change. The Mafia shot forty-three trade [41] unionists; and 'day labourers claiming the land, peasants taking part in Communist gatherings were met by rifle fire' (The Times, 26 February 1970, 11). But the direct action movement initiated by Danilo Dolci has survived intimidation and helped to uncover Mafia influence.

But in Sicily the Mafia is so closely linked to the powers-that-be that political resistance is appropriate; and poverty in the American ghettos is so closely linked to discrimination that social and economic measures are relevant. Where the social and political overtones of crime are less obvious, immediate political and social action becomes less plausible as an adequate response to the problem. Anarchists also confront the difficulty that, although a large proportion of crimes are committed by individuals or small groups, there are also highly organized and sometimes international crime syndicates. Crime, like big business, has tended to increase its organizational scale, and it poses, for anarchists trusting in social change and community care of individuals, a problem similar to that created in the economic sphere by trusts, cartels and monopolies. There may be no alternatives to Government regulation, as Benjamin Tucker reluctantly came to acknowledge in relation to his policy of free competition (see the Postscript to sixth edition of State Socialism and Anarchism).

Whilst police forces are seen primarily as organs of the State, many aspects of police behaviour stem from the values of existing society. In Britain, for instance, Anarchy has pointed out that police now hunt down drug addicts with exceptional zeal. The difficulty of disentangling the operations of the State from the influence of the surrounding society is apparent in many anarchist writings. Their awareness of this relationship between the State and present society, and in particular the influence of a hierarchical class structure, leads anarchists to stress the need for fundamental social as well as political change. The importance of the social and economic context is particularly evident in discussions of the role of law and the operation of the legal system.

The Law

The anarchist view of law has been stated with great clarity and simplicity by Tolstoy. In his essay 'The Slavery of Our Times' he argues that the one characteristic common to all law is:

that if any man does not fulfil them, those who have made these laws will send armed men, and the armed men will beat, deprive of freedom, or even kill, the man who does not obey the law -- (Essays from Tula, 110).
[42] Apart from being based on violence the law has two other characteristics which Tolstoy especially deplores -- it is made in the interests of the ruling class; and it involves mystification. In the course of centuries millions of books have been written to explain what legislation is. According to this science of jurisprudence 'legislation is the expression of the will of the whole people' (109). But 'everyone knows that not in despotic countries only, but also in the countries nominally most free -- England, America, France, and others -- the laws are made not by the will of all, but by the will of those who have power, and therefore always and everywhere are such as are profitable to those who have power'. Tolstoy also detests the rituals and procedures of courts. His hatred of the violence involved in law enforcement and his contempt for the ritualism surrounding it fuse in his passionate denunciation of capital punishment -- for example in his essay 'I Cannot Be Silent', which he wrote after reading in the paper about the hanging of twelve men.

Several peasants similar to those about to be hanged, but armed, dressed in clean soldiers' uniforms, with good boots on their feet, and with guns in their hands, accompany the condemned men. Beside them walks a long-haired man, wearing a stole and vestments of gold or silver cloth, and bearing a cross. The procession stops. The manager of the whole business says something; the secretary reads a paper; and when the paper has been read, the long-haired man, addressing those whom other people are about to strangle with cords, says something about God and Christ (Essays from Tula, 174).

Tolstoy then comes to the fourth element in his attack on law enforcement -- the way in which direct responsibility is evaded by subdividing the stages of passing the sentence and executing the verdict, so that 'each may think and say it is not he who is responsible for them' (175).

Tolstoy's picture is a caricature, but like most caricatures it serves to bring into prominence features often not noticed. There is a frightening gap between the principles of legal theory and the actual experience of the machinery of justice. This is true not only of the Kafkaesque nature of a judicial organization, like that in Italy, which may keep a man in jail for two years without trial; but of English law, where the maxim that a person is to be held innocent until proved guilty fits oddly with a system in which, if police refuse bail, the accused may spend months in strict confinement, before a court has convicted him.

James Baldwin has described in his essay 'Equal in Paris' his farcical but terrifying experience of being arrested by mistake in [43] Paris for the theft of a hotel sheet (see Notes of a Native Son). The legal machinery in which he was caught up involved the initial interrogation 'quite chillingly clipped and efficient (so that there was shortly no doubt in one's own mind that one should be treated as a criminal)', being fingerprinted and photographed, moved from a cell to a communal shed in the Prefecture, and then driven in a police wagon to a prison outside Paris, where he was locked in, 'divested of shoelaces, belt, watch, money, papers, nailfile, in a freezing cell in which both the window and toilet were broken, with six other adventurers'. Here he waited like the rest for the unknown day of his trial, was told stories by his cell mates of men taken to be tried being sent to the guillotine by mistake -- 'though I knew they were teasing me it was simply not possible for me to totally disbelieve them' -- and after several days taken to court, where the lack of an interpreter meant his case had to be postponed. Baldwin comments on the proceedings:

It seemed to me that all the sentences meted out that day were excessive; though, again, it seemed that all the people who were being sentenced that day had made, or clearly were going to make, crime their career. This seemed to be the opinion of the judge, who scarcely looked at the prisoners or listened to them; it seemed to be the opinion of the prisoners, who scarcely bothered to speak in their own behalf; it seemed to be the opinion of the lawyers, state lawyers for the most part, who were defending them. The great impulse of the courtroom seemed to be to put these people where they could not be seen ... (131).

Baldwin's account is not written in the directly polemical spirit of Tolstoy's attacks on courts and jails, though it has in this passage Tolstoyan overtones, which are even clearer in a later paragraph where he describes how he went to Mass one Christmas day locked in a cold cubicle and peering through an eye hole at 'an old Frenchman, hatted, overcoated, muffled and gloved, preaching in this language which I did not understand, to this row of wooden boxes, the story of Jesus Christ's love for men'. But it is an unusually vivid account of what happens daily to many less articulate men caught up in due process of law. Some of Baldwin's helplessness arose from his imperfect understanding of the language and ignorance of French law. The average prisoner, however, confronted with legal jargon and the complexities of legal and court procedures, is probably in much the same position. Godwin commented bitterly on English law:

Law was originally devised, that ordinary men might know what they had to expect; and there is not, at this day, a lawyer existing [44] in Great Britain, vain-glorious enough to pretend that he has mastered the code ... It is a labyrinth without end; it is a mass of contradictions that cannot be disentangled (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. II, 402).

Tolstoy underlines in his novel Resurrection, written after his conversion to anarchism, how following the letter of the law and the formalities of procedure may prevent genuine justice being done, and the arbitrary element in judgments and in sentencing policy. But the heart of his case is a conviction that the way the 'law' treats people is humanly intolerable. James Baldwin recounts at the end of his story of his prison experiences in Paris that when he finally came before the court, having made contact with an attorney friend via an ex-cell mate and been sent a lawyer, 'the story of the drap de lit, finally told, caused great merriment in the courtroom'. He adds, 'I was chilled by their merriment. It could only remind me of the laughter I had often heard at home . . . This laughter is the laughter of those who consider themselves to be at a safe remove from all the wretched, for whom the pain of living is not real.' Durkheim's aphorism about socialism -- that it 'is not a science, a sociology in miniature -- it is a cry of grief, sometimes of anger . . .' (Socialism, 41), is perhaps more directly relevant to anarchism. But Durkheim's concept of science leads him to overlook the fact that juxtaposing experienced reality with theoretical abstractions and 'objective' facts like legal codes is crucial to a serious sociology or theory of politics. The anarchist is, in attacking the presuppositions of law, speaking for large numbers of people, in particular the poor and inarticulate, who, as Baldwin comments, have for the most part never trusted legality.

There is an almost inescapable sense in which accepted theories of politics and law act as ideological justifications for the existing social hierarchy. They are largely accepted by those at the top who make and administer the laws, and provide them with the principles they need in the process; and these theories are often mutely or openly rejected by those at the bottom, who see the 'law' from the perspective of the police cell and the jail -- to what extent those at the bottom constitute a majority, and whether they comprise the working class, does, however, vary considerably. The analysis of jurisprudence as an ideology of the ruling class, put forward in simple and popular terms by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, is embraced by Tolstoy on the basis of his own observation. But this view cannot be accepted as it stands for a number of reasons, one of which was given by Engels in a letter written in 1890 trying to explain the Marxist position on ideology (Marx and Engels, Selected [45] Correspondence, 504-5). Engels argues that in the modern State law cannot simply be a reflection of economic relationships, or too blatantly an instrument of the ruling class, because as a legal system is elaborated it develops a life and logic of its own, and is constrained by the demands of internal consistency. A legal system has, therefore, an internal dynamic towards the realization of principles of equity and justice embodied within a legal code.

If we pursue the implications of Engels's qualifications about law as pure ideology we begin to arrive at a very strong case for seeking to maintain the role of law in society, at both a theoretical and immediately practical level. The existence of an elaborate set of procedures may be an important means of seeking redress for those abuses anarchists attack. Procedural rules help constrain all those involved in administering the law, and maintaining the rules may become a matter of professional pride. In addition, because any particular judicial system embodies general principles like protecting individual rights, it generates principles to which reformers can appeal in seeking to increase individual rights or to repeal unjust laws. The judiciary may also provide a certain bulwark of resistance against a government which seeks to exercise arbitrary and dictatorial powers. In South Africa for a long period the impartiality of judges in administering the law helped to mitigate the Government's drive against opponents of its apartheid policy. In Greece the extent of judicial resistance was indicated when the regime decided in May 1968 to depose twenty-one judges, a move Greece's Supreme Administrative Court declared illegal when the judges appealed.

As both South Africa and Greece show, strict application of the law can help maintain despotic laws and cruel penalties if the regime makes repressive laws, and can bypass safeguards in the existing law by allowing detention of prisoners for long periods without trial, or by setting up separate tribunals to try political prisoners. But the training and professional status of lawyers, magistrates and judges makes them less amenable to serving a dictatorship than either the administrative bureaucracy or police, and to regard the judiciary in all circumstances simply as an organ of the State is a rather dangerous simplification. Members of the judiciary also inherit a set of values on which to base a wider political resistance. The professor of Penal Law at Athens University, dismissed in a political purge in 1969 and later arrested, said in a farewell lecture on the spirit and essence of law:

The fundamental value towards which it is oriented is freedom ... If the lawyer forgets this, he becomes a mere technician, an instrument of oppression in the hands of the strong... My [46] separation from you now is the price I must pay for adhering to the values I have venerated all my life (The Guardian, 24 February 1969, 3).

That the model of legality and justice enshrined in laws and courts has genuine meaning is demonstrated by our ability to recognize 'mockeries of justice', which flout not only the principles but the procedures of fair trial. Herbert Read comments that Justice, in her ancient personification, is blind and holding a pair of scales. Though the idea of retribution, represented by the sword of Justice, has come to dominate, the original conception is retained in 'the very precious independence of the judiciary. That independence may by now be more in name than in substance, but at any rate it is a recognition of distinct values' (Anarchy and Order, 188). Read then reverts to a more familiar anarchist position, noting that the independence of the judiciary is symbolized by its wigs and gowns and rituals which create 'a shell of custom and formality', which excludes all direct human response and human values.

Anarchists can quite consistently recognize the possible value of judicial independence within existing States, but maintain that in a new and better society the defensive role of the judiciary against the State would be unnecessary. In the revolutionary tradition stemming from the French Revolution abolition of the old courts is usually seen as a necessary stage in achieving a new society. But denial of judicial independence has proved to have its dangers in practice. De Jouvenel quotes Faguet, Le Liberalisme:

'The subordination of the magistracy to the government is one of the triumphs of the Revolution. At the moment of proclaiming the rights of man, it destroyed their castle and paralysed their defenders.' (Power, 197).

More recent experience in socialist countries has shown that once application of the law is 'legitimately' subject to political direction, it is also directly vulnerable to the pressures which arise in the political process itself. From an anarchist standpoint, however, the history of the countries where Communist Parties have come to power reinforces their belief in the necessity of abolishing the State and avoiding the creation of a new government authority.

Authority and Government

The anarchist attitude to law is very closely related to the wider question of the role of government in society, and the meaning of legitimate authority. It is on these issues that anarchists tend to part [47] company altogether with the constitutional theorists. Law combines authority -- embodied in certain persons, denoted by rituals, and often hallowed by age -- with a strictly defined use of force designed to protect society. Legitimate governments likewise derive the authority vested in them from adherence to certain procedures in obtaining power, and from using their power only in modes defined by custom or the constitution. As in the case of law courts, the authority of governments is usually enhanced by ritual ceremonies and insignia of office -- this was especially true of monarchs who came to the throne through the pageantry of a coronation and spent their lives amid the etiquette of courts. In Europe kings were crowned by bishops, and the ritual of their office was often interwoven with church rituals. It is partly because the spiritual authority of the Church has so often reinforced the temporal authority of the ruler that anarchists tend to be so antagonistic to the Church as the handmaid of earthly powers.

But opposition to religion is closely related to a general opposition to regalia, symbols, ceremonies and beliefs which encourage people to venerate government. Tolstoy, for instance, is always anxious to strip the Emperor of his clothes and reveal the naked violence underneath. He seizes on an article written for a Budapest paper, Ohne Staat, which led to the prosecution of its author, Eugen Schmitt, for saying that 'Governments, justifying their existence on the ground that they ensure a certain kind of safety to their subjects, are like the Calabrian robber-chief who collected a regular tax from all who wished to travel in safety along the highways' (Essays from Tula, 124-5). This is perfectly true, Tolstoy comments, except that the robber-chief is morally superior to governments who plunder not the rich but the poor, who, unlike the brigand, never take personal risks, and who do not rely on voluntary recruits to their band, but often enrol their soldiers by force.

Tolstoy's objections to symbols and ceremonies in both government and the Church is also a rationalist objection to the paraphernalia and superstitions cluttering up men's minds, and obscuring the clear and simple solutions of reason and common sense. Godwin attacks the mystique of office for similar reasons. But Godwin himself partly suggests in Political Justice the potential value of such symbols of authority:

In the riots in the year 1780, the mace of the house of lords was proposed to be sent into the passages, by the terror of its appearance to quiet the confusion; but it was observed that, if the mace should be rudely detained by the rioters, the whole would be thrown into anarchy (Vol. II, 54-5).

This passage is reminiscent of Madame De Stael's comments on the Constituent Assembly, which believed 'there was some magic in its decrees'.

But its pronouncements can be compared to the ribbon which had been drawn through the garden of the Tuileries to keep the people at some distance from the palace ... (quoted in Bertrand de Jouvenel, The Pure Theory of Politics, 36).

When people ceased to respect this barrier it became meaningless. When Napoleon broke up the Assembly with soldiers and publicly humiliated its members, he exposed the fragility of conventions protecting parliamentary immunity. De Jouvenel comments wryly, 'Indeed the law is a mere ribbon' (37).

Symbols and ceremonials have always surrounded government, as De Jouvenel stresses, not only in nation States but in tribal communities, ancient city republics and feudal kingdoms. They impress upon those holding power the gravity and responsibilities of their office; they encourage people to respect authority; and they discourage usurpers from seeking to seize power. The existence of respected procedures for the transfer of power is exceptionally hard to achieve. Under kings the problem was at last partially resolved by making the throne hereditary. Electoral and parliamentary rituals now fulfil the role in liberal democracies of denoting the legitimacy of government, and ensuring a peaceful transition of power. Where no such procedures exist, or are not generally respected, power becomes the prize of the most ruthless conspirator, the man controlling the army or police or party apparatus, or whoever is prepared to foment civil war.

Proudhon in an interesting passage in The Federative Principle recognizes the general value of oaths and ceremonies performed in public in binding individuals to perform the duties of the role, or office, they are about to undertake. Proudhon, unlike most anarchists, sees a positive value in a marriage ceremony. He supports for the same reasons the taking of oaths by witnesses and arbitrators, and, by extension of his reasoning, public oaths by public officials. Proudhon makes, however, a sharp distinction between a contract among individuals, or an undertaking to society as a whole, and an oath of fealty or submission to higher authority. Whilst anarchists might admit the value of custom and ritual to promote a sense of responsibility, they naturally reject the value of ceremony designed to promote respect and obedience to government. Alex Comfort comments in Authority and Delinquency in the Modem State that 'Obedience in modern societies is more often a hideous vice than a Christian virtue' (83); elsewhere he states that 'Every atrocity of the war was [49] the direct consequence of somebody obeying when he should have thought' (Art and Social Responsibility, 83). Ceremonials of legitimacy may also blind people to quite illegitimate usurpations or abuses of power, as Proudhon continuously tried to show in his critique of universal suffrage. The anarchist suspicion of the mystique surrounding power is reinforced by the sense that it may be a secularized outlet for religious emotion. Herbert Read drew attention to the fact that after twenty years of socialism in Russia, 'the deification of Lenin (sacred tomb, effigies, creation of a legend -- all the elements are there) is a deliberate attempt to create an outlet for religious emotions' (Anarchy and Order, 45). Stalin, whilst he was alive, had statues of himself erected throughout his domain in a manner reminiscent of the Roman Emperors -- a feature of what has been aptly termed the personality cult.

Revolutionaries have always felt the need of their own symbolism. In 1956 in Hungary the giant-sized statue of Stalin was smashed from its pedestal. In 1871 the Paris Commune to 'mark the new era of history it was conscious of initiating ... pulled down that colossal symbol of martial glory, the Vendome column' (Marx, The Civil War in France, Selected Works, 297). Anarchists themselves often symbolize their allegiance by black and red flags. Symbolism, ceremonial and imagery appear to be intrinsic to political activity, though they may not always be flamboyant. In the republican and constitutionalist strand of European thought there have always been two dominating and contrasting images: on the one hand an 'oriental' despotism, in which a man claiming godlike powers towers over his abject subjects and rules according to personal caprice through arbitrary violence; on the other a polity of equals, in which free citizens fear no one but respect the laws, and share with their peers the risks, responsibilities and privileges of governing. These images are both captured in a speech Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Cassius at a time when republicanism is crumbling before Caesarism. Cassius is urging Brutus to resist Caesar's ambitions:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves ...
When could they say, till now, that talk'd of Rome
That her wide walls encompas'd but one man?

(Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II.)

This image of republican liberty has both its aristocratic and democratic interpretations. De Jouvenel, who stresses the former, comments that 'Brutus' dagger, so dear to the Jacobin heart, was [50] wielded by an aristocratic hand' (Power, 277). The constitutionalist thinkers have tended to superimpose the aristocratic version of repub-licanism upon feudal Europe, in which freedom was guaranteed by customary laws, independent local communes and guilds, and a proud aristocracy of peers prepared to fight for their privileges, or liberties, against the incursions of royal power. Theorists who accept this picture tend to stress the significance of rule of law, balance of powers and of federalism as means of curbing despotic government, De Tocqueville inherits this constitutionalism, but has both the sensitivity to democratic values and the social realism to seek to transform these models into a picture compatible with modern society. In America he finds a possible answer -- a federal constitution, further decentralized by the existence of vigorous local governments able to administer their own affairs, and rooted in the custom of the town meeting; a general habit of creating voluntary associations for social purposes; a free and localized press; and a widespread respect for the laws and the constitution.

In the picture of a liberal society espoused by De Tocqueville and later constitutional theorists parliamentary institutions have a role quite distinct from that of democratic representation. In its historical evolution in England, parliament acted as a check on arbitrary power, and a public forum for grievances, while extending to its members a privilege and immunity which enabled them to attack the administration. The change from government by the king to government by the leaders of the major party has not substantially altered the role of parliament as a whole, though the fact that voters may throw out the ruling party can, with qualifications, be seen as an additional check on misuse of power. In America the constitution enshrined this function of the legislature as a check on the elected president through division of powers. In a society equipped with the traditions and institutional safeguards of personal liberty, a representative assembly may be seen as an added bulwark of liberty against the State.

If democratic concepts are grafted onto a parliamentary institution one theory of representation which emerges is that of the representation of interests -- the prevailing notion in eighteenth-century England. Representation of individual or group interests by a parliamentary advocate prepared to plead a case is quite compatible with the constitutional nature of parliament in principle (though in practice powerful pressure groups may harness government power to their own ends). This concept of representation is not necessarily 'democratic' and is quite distinct from the idea that an elected assembly represents the 'will of the people', which, whether this 'will' is viewed individually or collectively, is impossible -- except in [51] Hobbes's purely formal sense. It is this myth-making conception of representation, and the related idea of sovereignty, that Proudhon attacked, arguing that government by the grace of the people was replacing government by the grace of God, and the idol of the people being enthroned in place of the idol of the king. Moreover, said Proudhon, the supposed delegate of the sovereign people will always become the master. Whether parliamentary assemblies usurp, through the ritual of elections, the interpretation of the general will, or a dictator usurps it from parliament through the magic of a plebiscite, the concept of 'sovereign will' provides a justification for centralized power and for sweeping aside all barriers to the exercise of this power. So 'democracy' may threaten liberty. It was an alternative to the French theory of democratic sovereignty that De Toc-queville sought, and believed he had found, in America. Proudhon likewise bitterly compared the French people, hemmed in like a prisoner in a cell, with the Americans who 'have no police, no centralisation, no army; who have not any government in the sense attached to this term in antiquity' (La Revolution Sociah, 24). De Tocqueville would not, however, have entirely accepted this picture. In the context of federalism, decentralism and constitutional liberty he admires a strong government, which he believed the Americans possessed.

As all persons must have recourse to certain grammatical forms which are the foundations of human language, in order to express their thoughts; so all communities are obliged to secure their existence by submitting to a certain amount of authority, without which they fall into anarchy (Democracy in America, Vol. 1, 70).

Elsewhere De Tocqueville underlines that power in itself is not necessarily harmful: 'Men are not corrupted by the exercise of power, or debased by the habit of obedience; but by the exercise of a power which they believe to be illegitimate, and by obedience to a rule which they consider to be usurped and oppressive' (Vol. I, 9).

It is interesting to contrast Kropotkin on the society envisaged by anarchism: 'It seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects ... A society to which pre-established forms, crystallized by law, are repugnant.' Later in the same pamphlet, Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal, he comments:

Far from living in a world of visions and imagining men better than they are, we see them as they are; and that is why we affirm that the best of men is made essentially bad by the exercise of authority and that the theory of the 'balancing of powers' and [52] 'control of authorities' is a hypocritical formula, invented by those who have seized power, to make the 'sovereign people', whom they despise, believe that the people themselves are governing (7-8).

In this passage Kropotkin attacks both the constitutionalist and democratic theories of government, which have tended to merge in practice; his rejection of the approach to government espoused by De Tocqueville is complete.

Both De Tocqueville and Kropotkin developed their political ideas out of historical scholarship (which united them in admiration for the medieval cities) and an awareness of social diversity. The most appropriate way to assess their respective positions is to consider historical developments since they wrote. Twentieth-century experience to date suggests that while Kropotkin's optimism for the evolution of anarchist society was unfounded, De Tocqueville's hope for limited government in a free and constitutional society has not been fulfilled either, least of all in America. His distinctions between voluntary association and bureaucratic control, and between local and central administration, have become blurred due to institutional, economic, technological and political developments.

Modern Society

Bureaucratic modes of organization are, as Weber predicted, affecting many non-governmental spheres -- industry, universities, scientific research, and communications media. Horowitz includes in his collection of writings The Anarchists, an essay by Robert Presthus on the deadening effect of giant organizations on research and creativity, and the ironing out of individuality in favour of an organization man. 'Bureaucratization plays its part relentlessly as the trend towards spending one's work life in a single organization . . . In sum, big organizations typically seek control, discipline, and standardization' (555). Presthus however is so far from being an anarchist that he is mainly concerned the United States may be falling behind the Soviet Union in the arms race. In a more radical analysis John McDermott argued in The Nation (14 April, 1969) that rapid technical progress has meant the development of giant institutions applying this knowledge. This development has been pioneered in the sphere of defence, but applies to all aspects of American life: economic corporations, universities and foundations as well as government agencies. The result, McDermott suggests, has been to render almost meaningless the old distinctions between public and private, industrial and educational, military and civilian. He gives as examples : [53]

A company like RCA manages missile tracking systems, does research in linear algebra, edits and markets new novels, plans new educational systems, and experiments with electronic music. The University of Michigan, another growing corporate, teaches students at Ann Arbor, advises welfare mothers in Detroit, and pacifies peasants in Thailand ... America believes in progress. Hence it gives free rein to those very large organizations which have mastered technology, calling this pluralism (458-9).

There has also been a major expansion of centralized administration for largely economic reasons: the depression of the inter-war years, the subsequent influence of Keynesian economic theory, and the scale of modern technology have promoted State intervention in the economy even by governments ideologically averse to 'planning'. Development of welfare programmes has also tended to strengthen central administration, even if detailed application has been delegated to local agencies. Government involvement is linked to a centralizing tendency within the business world itself. Paul Goodman comments, in People or Fersonnel on the situation in the United States:

The warring trusts have settled into a system of semi-monopolies, with fixed prices, for mutual security. The free market has turned into a synthetic creature of advertising. Government has entered into colossal alliances: in real estate, with municipalities and promoters; in agriculture, with giant croppers and grocery chains; in science and education, with the universities and high-technology corporations; in highways, with automobile manufacturers and oil men (45).

Automation and cybernetics suggest that in the future there will be even greater pressures towards central planning in order to avoid mass unemployment. This possibility of State planning for mass welfare and leisure in a society dominated by technology threatens both individual freedom and models of social action at a level so far mostly explored in the realms of science fiction rather than political theory. The somewhat incoherent concept of 'mass society' attempts to chart the early stages of this process, for example in relation to the mass media.

Fourthly, there is widespread concern that representative assemblies are unable to exert any real check on the actions of government or the organs of the State, and that the electorate is apathetic about elections and parliamentary politics. One school of thought associated with Schumpeter has reinterpreted democratic theory to square with present reality, in effect accepting Proudhon's view that 'democracy' [54] only means choosing every few years between sets of rulers. This concept of democracy based on competing elites encourages the theory -- advanced, for example, by Lazarsfeld and his colleagues on the basis of their voting studies in the United States -- that apathy is a sign of political well-being, since it denotes satisfaction and promotes stability.

But in the republican tradition of political thought political activity has always been associated with freedom, and inactivity with despotism -- albeit perhaps a mild and even enlightened despotism. De Tocqueville suggests in relation to the cities of the ancien regime, that sham rituals were rejected when their reality had been lost:

Not so easily hoodwinked as many have imagined, the 'common people' ceased to take any active part in local government... In towns where a semblance of free elections had been retained [the ordinary citizen] was pressed to the voting urns, but he usually preferred to stay at home. Every student of history knows that this phenomenon is a common one; rulers who destroy men's freedom commonly begin by trying to retain its forms ... (The Old Regime, 45).

Herbert Read comments on the apathy of voters in parliamentary democracies that it is due to 'this very process of centralization and collectivization which is taking place independently' (Anarchy and Order, 104).

War and the State

The tendencies towards giant-sized organization, State co-ordination with big business, dominance of technology and the erosion of traditional political safeguards are epitomized and promoted by a fifth factor -- war and national defence. The two World Wars have had a lasting impact on the State. Even more significant is the entrenchment of major military establishments in a time of nominal peace -- a development particularly noticeable in the United States, remarkably free from military pressures prior to the First World War and even the Second. De Tocqueville himself noted that America was in the nineteenth century favoured by being secure from military attack, and so free from military burdens and the threat of military ambitions. He also saw the importance of war in hastening centralization:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country ... War does not always give over countries to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably [55] increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration (Democracy in America, Vol. II, 268-9).

Randolph Bourne, best known among anarchists for his unfinished essay on the State, coined the phrase 'war is the health of the State'.

The nation in war-time attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war (quoted in H. W. Morton, 'Randolph Bourne vs. the State', Anarchy, No. 31, September 1963, 265).

If the effects of cold war are less startling, they are also more prolonged. Massive investment in armaments, a major bureaucracy administering the instruments of destruction and the extensive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, which takes in 'business firms and institutions seemingly private' and 'many domestic activities, from broadcasting stations and a steamship company to the university campus' (David Wise and Thomas B. Ross The Invisible. Government, 4-5), have dominated American politics for twenty years and show no sign of diminishing. The role of law as a check on State power or safeguard of individual freedom and constitutional liberties is also least effective in relation to military policies which demand the predominance of 'security'. In Britain campaigners for nuclear disarmament and in the United States protesters against the Vietnam War have tried unsuccessfully to challenge in the courts the assumption that government policy promotes necessarily the interest and security of the State. Moreover, military requirements may promote legislation with very illiberal implications, like the Emergency Laws recently passed in West Germany. Allen Dulles commented that the American 1947 National Security Act had 'given Intelligence a more influential position in our government than Intelligence enjoys in any other government of the world' (The Invisible Government, 4).

The war-making powers of the State have always greatly preoccupied anarchists. Godwin observed that war has 'been found the inseparable ally of political institutions'. But in this century war has become a dominant theme in anarchist writing. Read comments:

War increases in intensity and effect as society develops its central organization ... this problem of war and peace ... has been an obsession with my generation. There is no problem which leads so inevitably to anarchism (Anarchy and Order, 120-1).

Geoffrey Ostergaard writing in Anarchy claims that 'the omnipresent threat of nuclear annihilation now clearly vindicates the anti-statism of the anarchists and the syndicalists. For war is a function of the state and the state system into which mankind is politically divided' (No. 28, June 1963, 184).

De Jouvenel too relates State centralization to modern war. Writing Power under the impression of the horrors of the Second World War he quotes Montesquieu's warning on the danger of large armies: 'And soon having soldiers will result in having nothing but soldiers, and we shall become like the Tartars' (18). He goes on to document the development of total war from the time of the French Revolution, which ushered in conscription to the total mobilization of whole populations in the Second World War. Alex Comfort, also writing immediately after the last War, comments in Art and Social Responsibility that 'barbarian society is rooted today in obedience, conformity, conscription ...' (83).

Constitutionalist Theory and Anarchism

The link between constitutionalist theory and anarchist theory exists not only at an analytical level but in their common adherence to certain values: the value of local community realized through a wide range of independent associations; the value of individual freedom usually seen in terms of social activity and as inseparable from a sense of responsibility to society; and, sometimes, a sense of belonging to a minority, or 'aristocracy', and a related sense of pessimism about achieving more than integrity in action. Paul Goodman notes the anarchist elements in the thought of Madison, writing on the experimental values of decentralism; and quotes Jefferson: 'A little rebellion now and then is a good thing . . . This truth should render republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them' (People or Personnel, 33). Goodman also suggests that after the American Revolution society remained organized in fairly autonomous communities and associations which, in relation to State or Federal Government 'existed in a virtual community-anarchy' (32). They were not, however, non-political; the independent elite especially 'regarded themselves as a band of citizen-friends born to make institutions, constitutions or whatever' (33). It is this image of pluralism, reproduced with qualifications by De Tocqueville in 1830 in Democracy in America, which has continuing appeal for many in the anarchist tradition. Colin Ward quoting G. D. H. Cole expresses sympathy with pluralistic ideas and suggests their relevance to modern Western Society (Anarchy, No. 14, April 1962). [57] The connexion between this conception of pluralism and the 'pluralism' of big corporations and pressure group politics, often endorsed in American political science, is purely rhetorical.

Richard Drinnon in his biography of Emma Goldman, in the course of which he notes the switch in America from 'vigilante authoritarianism', hostile to all radical agitation, to 'bureaucratic authoritarianism', demonstrated by the growing power of the Bureau of Investigation after the First World War, stresses the anarchist emphasis on individual freedom. Drinnon comments:

From the standpoint of the general Western liberal tradition, the anarchism for which Emma stood is perhaps superior ethically to any other political theory. No other theory makes so primary an appeal to the individual responsibility and intelligent self-expression of man ... Emma Goldman had the early and relatively rare insight that responsible individual freedom is the touchstone of supreme importance in the modern world (Rebel in Paradise, 111).

The primacy of the value of 'freedom' is also suggested by George Molnar in a review of Woodcock's survey of anarchism. Molnar concludes :

Anarchism has certain features in common with socialism, populism, etc. It is distinguished from them by being the only radical movement whose principal avowed concern was with freedom ... Freedom is not something to which the world can be converted; it is of its nature a minority interest (Anarchy, No. 28, June 1963, 169).

The crucial distinction between all forms of liberalism and all forms of anarchism is reflected in the phrase 'radical movement'. Liberals who feel attached to the constitutionabst tradition tend in practice to support existing parliamentary and party politics, partly on the grounds that the likely alternatives are very much worse. They rely on the 'rule of law' as one of the main bulwarks of freedom, and so deplore all forms of unconstitutional and illegal action. Their adherence to pluralism leads them to oppose State intervention in the economic sphere designed to re-place or closely control existing business corporations, so the opposition to socialism entailed in De Tocqueville's views is now even more pronounced. And a distrust of proposals for sweeping social change or of 'fanatical' utopianism leads many modern constitutionalists to adopt in relation to modern society an inherently conservative stance. Some of the values and ideas held by anarchists may link up with 'conservative' ideology -- Goodman comments that the 'gentlemen of the Right, [58] who invented the protective tariff and the trusts, now complain in Populist terms that liberty is encroached on' (People or Personnel, 48). But the interpretation is totally different.

Anarchists who may accept some of De Tocqueville's key values reinterpret them in a radical style of politics. Local community is seen not simply as a desirable intermediary between the individual and the State, but as the basis for a society totally free of any State organization. The local community is also seen as a base for direct action for social change -- housing the homeless, experimenting in workers' control, creating local associations to build a better environment. Anarchist freedom is linked to a concept of citizenship which demands direct resistance to the State, and civil disobedience as the fulfilment of responsible citizenship. And anarchists, despite their disillusionment with the State socialism inaugurated by Marxist parties in power, usually ally themselves with the ideals and goals of the socialist movement.

In view of the trends which have in this century tended to destroy genuine social pluralism based on local independence and voluntary initiative, to reduce the role of law in protecting individual freedom, and to extend the power of the police and military organs of the State, De Tocqueville's ideal of liberty and community does appear to demand in Western society resistance to the war-making powers of the State in particular, and a restructuring of the institutions of modern society. The case for a 'radical' reinterpretation of constitutionalist values appears particularly strong in the country De Tocqueville hoped would escape the ills of centralization -- the United States. Though if we are looking at America in concrete terms, and not simply treating it as a model of the trends in Western society, it is important to recognize the degree to which the Senate or the Supreme Court may still act to oppose the administration, and the significant areas of liberty which exist (for example freedom for political propaganda in the armed forces) alongside striking illiberahsm. Secondly, the sheer size and great power status of the United States are clearly relevant. An extreme anarchist case for 'revolution' is less persuasive in smaller countries like the Scandinavian liberal democracies; though the greater degree of democracy, liberty and equality their citizens enjoy constitute a strong argument in favour of the general anarchist plea for decentralism.

The nation State is now apparently undergoing further transformation, especially in Western Europe where it has existed longest. Economic and technical factors are breaking down national frontiers in favour of larger economic units, and technical developments in warfare have greatly reduced the military significance of national boundaries. These considerations do not, however, invalidate the [59] anarchist critique of the State; on the contrary they suggest that both anarchist proposals for confederation based on the power of local communities, and the anarchist scepticism about the merits or inevitability of industrial and technical 'progress', have great contemporary relevance. If it can be argued persuasively that the anarchist critique of the State and modern society is becoming more, rather than less, relevant, it remains to consider the nature of the alternative anarchist society.