How do libertarians deal with cruelty to animals

Libertarian criticism of parliamentarism

Book review

Gerhard Senft (ed.): Essence of Anarchy. The parliamentary criticism of libertarian socialism, Promedia, Vienna 2006, 173 pages, ISBN 3-853712533, 12.90 euros

The many black, five-pointed stars on a glowing red background make the cover of "Essence of Anarchy" an eye-catcher. And if you read the editor's foreword, after just a few lines you will be hungry for more.
The Viennese economics professor Gerhard Senft tells the story of a curious case of animal cruelty:
"In the Burgenland community of Andau, a pigeon fancier had turned the neck of some specimens of his pigeon cattle, which he had apparently grown tired of, put them in a sack and disposed of in a container. Around half of the animals survived the ordeal and could be saved. An animal lover took care of the birds and released them after appropriate care - whereupon the pigeons promptly flew back to their original owner.
A comparable phenomenon can be observed again and again in the established democracies during election times. A not inconsiderable number of voters, who were irritated by the activities of their preferred parties in the previous legislative periods, nevertheless tend to stick to their original preference. "(P. 6)
A fabulous start!
It is to be criticized, however, that Gerhard Senft in his foreword Max Stirner, the philosophical preacher of egoism, to the "thought leader of anarchism" (p. 13) and the republican writer William Godwin as "the first theoretician of anarchism" (p. 17) ennobles.
Of course, many anarchists have adopted fragments of theory from these two philosophers, and there are also libertarian tendencies in the writings of Godwin and Stirner. But neither Godwin (1) nor Stirner ever described themselves as anarchists. On the contrary, they strictly rejected this self-designation. So what is the purpose of this incorporation of people who can no longer defend themselves against it, which is common in "individual anarchist" circles?
The editor's central thesis, "The different directions within anarchism know a common point of attack: parliamentarism", is questionable.
Anarchists reject all forms of rule, not just parliamentary rule. They neither want to govern nor to be governed, not even by majorities, but rather make their own decisions with others. Your goal is a free society. Parliamentarism is criticized by libertarians not because there is too much in it, but because too little is freely discussed in this system. This was examined in detail in the Grassroots Revolution special issue on the critique of parliamentary democracy, which was first published in 1994.
The "main enemy" of anarchism was and is not parliamentarism, but fascism.
In Spain in 1936 it became clear that anarchists can very well distinguish between parliamentary democracy and fascist dictatorship. And that in times of a fascist coup attempt they defend a republic against a dictatorship.
Gerhard Senft has compiled nine articles from the multifaceted history of anarchism, all of which were written before 1946. The selection ranges from relatively well-known texts by Louise Michel, Pjotr ​​Kropotkin, Erich Mühsam, Pierre Ramus and Rudolf Rocker to contributions by Elisée Reclus, Robert Bodansky, Raphael Friedberg and Helmut Rüdiger, which have long been hidden in dusty archives. Each article is introduced by short biographies of the respective authors, so that the readers can classify the texts historically and at the same time are encouraged to read further books on the subject.
The quality of the articles is as varied as the authors.
Parliamentarism, among other things, is consistently analyzed and criticized from a libertarian perspective.
An uncomfortably obtrusive, antiquated popular term, including the transfiguration of "Germanness", can be found in the rather snore "Parliamentarism and General Strike" text by Raphael Friedeberg, written in 1904: "... the German people has long been one of the civilized peoples, the German people had revolutionary consciousness centuries ago ... "(p. 85)
Yuck, what a rubbish!
The texts by Rocker, Mühsam, Ramus and Rüdiger are enriched with wisdom that is still current today. The agitation writings by the Paris Communards Elisée Reclus and Louise Michel from the 1880s are rousing and pleasantly pathetic.
Reclus: "Some will claim that there are socialists and socialists. Apparently there are also different kinds of them, but that is really just a delusion. In truth there are only two opposing principles: that of government and that of anarchy, that of authority and that of freedom. " (P. 71)
Michel: "I saw our comrades at work, and gradually I came to believe that even the most honest, if they could exercise power, would resemble the villains they once fought. I saw the impossibility of freedom with a whatever kind of power can be reconciled (...) Just as power makes hard, selfish and cruel, so slavery degrades, and only anarchy can bring man to live freely and happily. " (P. 55)
All of the articles in this anthology are worth reading, and overall it is an important addition to the still current Grassroots Revolution special issue on the Critique of Parliamentary Democracy (2).

Bernd Presses

1 See: Thomas Wagner: The radical republican as an anarchist classic. A tribute to the writer William Godwin on the occasion of his 250th birthday, in: GWR 306, February 2006, p. 14 f.
2 Special issue on the criticism of parliamentary democracy "Those who vote have already cast their own vote!", GWR 146/47/48, Verlag Graswurzelrevolution, Heidelberg, June 1994

Article from: Graswurzelrevolution No. 312, monthly newspaper for a non-violent, domineering society, 35th year, October 2006,