(Sample Material) UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit "Socio Political Philosophy (Anarchy)"

Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit

Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Anarchy)

No law, order to society although used in derogatory meaning today’s time its an ideology in which they believe basic good nature of human itself place or creates order (social system) but it criticize ago or against authority, state highest manifestation of authority, hence opposed, similarly religion also rejected by some of anarchist.

- Literally, anarchism means absence of rule

  • An + Arabia
  • Absence Rule

- Today, the word anarchy is used in negative sense. It means lawlessness which manes disappearance of order in society.

Anarchism believes in lawlessness but it also believes that in absence of law order is possible.

- The central belief of anarchism is all forms of authority is bad. State represents the highest form of authority therefore they support state-less society.

Anarchism believes that human nature is basically good therefore in the absence of authority also they can live in harmony.

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Tenets of Anarchy

1) Rejection of Authority: Anarchism rejects all forms of authority particularly the political authority.

  • Anarchism rejects the liberal notion that political authority arises from voluntary agreement. Instead of this they maintain individuals become subject to authority by virtue of birth or through conquest.
  • State is institutionalization of power. It punishes individual if individual exercises its autonomy.
  • State makes the individual dependent on it. State deprives individual of their liberty and ultimately may take away life of individual through capital punishment.
  • State is exploitative because it robs individual’s property through a system of taxation.
  • Robert Paul Wolf has pointed out the contradiction between authority of state and autonomy of individual.

According to him, authority means right to command and right to be obeyed’. On the other hand, autonomy means a moral freedom or the freedom to act according to one’s own conscious. Moral freedom includes in it right no to obey others therefore it rejects the notion of right to ‘command’ and right to ‘be obeyed’.

When state imposes order in the society then social cooperation is discouraged because state uses force to establishes order.

On the basis of these arguments anarchism rejects authority of state. They consider state as an unnecessary evil i.e. state is neither necessary nor good.

b) Most of anarchist criticized organized religion. Their criticism of religion is a part of their broader criticism of authority, religion also represents authority.

  • Traditionally religion has been a source of authority. The idea of god represents the notion of supreme being who commands unlimited and unquestionable authority.
  • Religion and political authority usually work together. Religion is one of the pillars of state. It propagates ideology of obedience and submission.
  • Religion imposes a set of moral principles upon the individual. The idea of good and evil are defined by religious persons, scriptures or texts.

Therefore, individual looses autonomy to make moral judgement. Hence, Anarchist like Proudtion and Bakurin are the vehement critics of religion.

  • But, some anarchist like Gandhi and Tolstoy believe in religion as set of universal values.

c) Anarchism believes in the goodness of Human being.

Human beings by nature are cooperative


There are 2 broader types

a) Individualistic Egoism Anarcho-capitalism
b) Collectivistic Mutalism Anarcho Communalism Syndicalism

a) Gives more importance to individual it believes in notion of sovereign individual.

a-1) According to egoism of Max Stirner – Individual self is at centre of moral universe.

Individual should act according to his own choice without any consideration for laws social convention & religious or moral principles.

Henery D. Thoreau also supported this view on the basis of notion of civil disobedience.

Thjoreau believed that individual should be faithful to his conscious only and he should do what he believe to be right, regardless of demands of society or laws of state.

a-2 Anarcho Capitalism

Benjamin Tucker – It believes that autonomous individuals could work together without any conflict or disorder but it supports extreme individualism to be achieved through a system of market exchange.

Anarcho capitalism goes beyond capitalism they believe all human needs can be satisfied by market therefore state is not needed at all.


b) Collectivistic Anarcho communalism Syndicalism

b)1 Mutualism: Mutualism, instead of individual puts the society at the centre. It believe that society can live in mutual harmony.

Peter Kropotkin is its main supporter. He justified it on the basis of biological argument. He rejected Darwin’s theory of struggle for existence. Accordingly, biology did not favour competition and struggle. Successful species were those which utilized energy in collectively & possess the quality of mutual aid and co-operation.

b-2) Anarcho communalism: Bakunin, Malatesta, Kropotkin were the supporters. They rejected notion of private property. Property should be own in common by the community. Private property encourages selfishness and promotes conflict in society therefore they supported abolition of private property as well as state also. Instead of that they supported self governing community.

(They do not believe in bloody revolution abolition of marriage system and family to which Marx believed hence different than communalism).

b-3) Syndicalism: George Soral – Main Supporter – Syndicalism also supports statelessness and it wants to give the powers of state syndicates (like modern trade union).

Besides, these 2 broader typology there are some other versions of anarchism also.

1) Christian Anarchism: Leo Tolstoy explains the principle of anarchism in the light of Christianity. According to Tolstoy, state is based on violence and it uses force to implement its will. Such a state violates Christ’s command not to resist evil by (evil) force. It also supports a life based on teachings of Christ therefore it believes in goodness of human.

Christian anarchism rejects life of luxary and extra goods, it is against the accumulation of property.

It supports honest and simple living.

2) Philosophical Anarchism: Gandhi’s philosophical anarchism also criticizes the state, because-

i) State curtails freedom
ii) State represents violence
iii) State makes individual dependent
iv) State can not help us in attaining ‘Swarajya’. Swarajya will be attained by individuals own effort.

Swarajya means domination of one’s material self by his moral self. Swarajya is the highest goal.

Swarajya means to act as moral being.

Dayanand Saraswati

Swarajya is better than Surajya-Political independence (freedom)

Tilak- Swarajya is my birth right

Individual- Higher self or moral self – community and others.

Lower self or material self – own concern duty – to work for others.

Liberalism – live and let live

Gandhi – Live for others – Highest goal of life

State arise to solve conflict. No conflict where everyone attains swarajya and take care of each others right Aparagraha – Buddhism – favoured life of sacrifice.

Therefore, in a ideal society i.e. Ramrajya Gandhi believes that there will be enlightened anarchy because every individual will attained Swarajya.

Means of Anarchism

There is no unanimity among the anarchist on the means to establish anarchy. It varies from persuasion to violence.

According to Tolstoy and Gandhi, State can be abolished through peaceful means. Tolstoy believes that teaching of Christ do not allow use of violence against anybody. Therefore through non violent means heart of every individual is to be purified which will ultimately make the existence of state meaningless.

Similar views are expressed by Gandhi, Gandhi exphasized on the attainment of Swarajya. If every member attains Swarajya there will be no need of state.

In practice also, Gandhi supported non violent means to oppose the authority he believed in satyagraha which is based on changing the heart of enemy.

According to syndicalism – believes in direct action, it supports general strike, rampage in industry.

According to some anarchist, supports extreme violent method to destroy all that which is commonly known as public order i.e. established by state.

Bakunin and RaoPotkin are the main supporters of this view, their logic behind this that anarchist violence reflects everyday violence of state and directs it towards them (state) who are guilty for it. Violence is form of revolutionary justice.


1) Anarchism does not constitute a single and coherent set of political ideas.
2) Anarchist goal to overthrow / abolish state and all forms of political authority is utopian and unrealistic.
3) Anarchist equate law with command therefore they oppose law and supports lawlessness but it is their mistake law is different from command. Command is the order from superior to subordinate. These orders are applicable to subordinates only. The person who issues command is not subject to it but laws are applicable to all even to law maker (Technical different terms)
4) There description of human nature is partial and one sided they neglect the evil side of human nature. On the other hand, Hobbs and Machiavelli believe that ‘Human beings by nature are bad’.


1) Anarchism highlighted coercive nature of authority.
2) Under the influence of anarchism, other ideologies also suggested some form of restraints on authority.
3) Anarchism is true to that extent to which it shows the pressures of organized life. Any sensitive person maybe an artist. Philosopher or poet may feel the burden of organized life.

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