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Anarchism: Arguments For and Against Paperback – July 1, 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Anarchism is a definitive pocket primer on anarchism. From the historical background and justification of anarchism, to the class struggle, organization, and the role of an anarchist in an authoritarian society, this slim volume walks the reader through the salient points, theory and practice of a much misunderstood and maligned philosophy. From workers self-defence to the myth of taxation, Anarchism runs through the gamut of objections and queries. Anarchism is a highly recommended introductory text for an understanding of the principles and politics of anarchism which finds current expression in some factions of the contemporary American Libertarian political movement. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1873176570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873176573
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.2 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a good book that serves two purposes:
1. It introduces readers to anarchism in a way that disabuses them of the usual myths about anarchism and anticipates the common fears people have about anarchism.
2. It provides anarchists with quick answers to objections about anarchism (assuming, of course, that anarchists agree with Meltzer's formulations of the answers).
Meltzer deftly handles the kinds of criticisms of anarchism made by social democrats, liberal democrats, Marxists, fascists, trade unionists, feminists and capitalists. He also explores ways people could organize themselves in an anarchistic society. In my view, the book's sole weakness is its somewhat vague discussion about the transition to an anarchist society. It adequately addresses the core values of all anarchists.
The book exceptionally adresses the criticism that individuals would be imperiled in societies that operate without the coercive force of law. Meltzer rightly argues that individuals would in fact be safer in an anarchist society and that governments actually reduce personal safety by assigning that responsibility to a set of experts (e.g. the police): "Unfortunately, having a police force atrophies the ability of society to defend itself. People [lose] all sense of social organization and control" (p. 43).
The book contains a helpful, if somewhat limited, list of anarchist organizations at the end. It is worth reading.
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By A Customer on January 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
A very nice and thought-provoking guide to Anarchism. The book is thin, but thick in political theory and definition. I take away a star, as his text may fly over the heads of those who aren't very familiar with facism, marxism, socialism, syndicalism, et al. But it does a great job of showing the grace of anarchism, along with the fumbling groping that is most other systems. Slavery is slavery and property is theft. Give it a read.
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Format: Paperback
ANARCHISM: ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST is, overall, a pretty good exposition of the kind of "class struggle" anarchism that Albert Meltzer endorses. For anarchists with a basic grasp of the theory and history of their ideology, this will be a useful tool. However, it's not for everyone; this book requires at least a minimal knowledge of anarchist (and Marxist, as it's useful to actually know what words like "proletariat", "bourgeoisie", and "petite bourgeoisie" actually mean) terminology. If you have just heard the word "anarchism" for the first time in your life and would like to know more about it, this isn't the book for you.

On the positive side, this book is small, compact, and a concise reader to many of the basic properties of anarchism. It offers interesting arguments for libertarian socialism, as well as attempts to counter common arguments against anarchism (Chaos! Disorder! Et cetera!) Ultimately the counterarguments against the Marxist critique are the most convincing and accurate from my personal experience, as well as probably the most useful for the average fellow traveler of anarchism. When Mr. Meltzer refers to anarchism, rest assured that he is referring to a very specific type of anarchism; early on in the book he pretty much excommunicates famous anti authoritarians and libertarian socialists such as Tolstoy, Tucker, and Proudhon. Meltzer seems to embrace the Malatesta tradition of anarchism.

Ultimately, if you're someone who already knows a fair bit about anarchism and want to have an interesting primer to refer to once in awhile, you might want to pick this one up. However, if you're new to anarchism and want an overview of where the ideology has been and where it's going, look elsewhere.
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