The Theory of Anarchism

Gerhard Richter (1932—)

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In order for me to go on and examine the importance of anarchy in Gerhard Richter’s work, ‘Anarchism’ as a concept needs to be explained. Anarchy is often misunderstood, due to bad press, as being a state of chaos. This is far from the truth. Indeed, there are rigid theories put down by philosophers of Anarchism, validating it as a logical and ordered theory.

Among others, I will be referring to four main philosophers of ‘Anarchism’: Bakunin, Proudhon, Godwin and Kropotkin. Although these four differ in their attitudes, taken as a whole they provide the most comprehensive guide to Anarchistic thinking.

There are four basic criteria for a minimum definition of Anarchism. According to J P Clark,

“A View of the ideal society as being non-coercive, non-dominating and non-exploitative.”

“Anarchism has a criticism of existing institutions, based on this view of the ideal, present institutions are criticized as being oppressive, and destructive of freedom, individuality and autonomy.”

“Anarchists have a view of human nature which gives hope for a significant movement in the direction of the ideal, they believe that people have a great potential for autonomous creative action, which can be realised if the requisite social conditions are created.”

“Finally, Anarchists have a distinctive set of practical proposals for immediate change in the direction of the idea. They believe that voluntaristic, decentralist, liberatory alternatives can now be established to begin the development of a free human society.” (1)

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