Monday 28 April 2008

Anarchism and Christianity

When arguing with my wife about politics, I’m usually embarrassed to admit that I’m an anarchist at heart. But these guys don’t seem embarrassed at all. As well as their annual conference, they’ve got an online library with some great essays (Cavanaugh, Ellul, Hauerwas, Milbank, Yoder, et al.).


Anonymous said...

I'll proudly admit that many of my views flirt with anarcho-capitalism. Glad to know I'm not the only Christian out there that has anarchist views!

Ben Myers said...

Hi George — nice to hear from you. In contrast to anarcho-capitalism, this group is advocating some kind of socialist anarchism. Personally, the thought of anarcho-capitalism sends a cold chill down my spine — but that's just me...

Anonymous said...

Arguing with your wife about politics? Big mistake. Unless you like sleeping on the couch.

Anonymous said...

Arguing in general with the wife is more dangerous than living politics, much less writing about it. ;)

Ben Myers said...

Yeah, the only thing worse is arguing about "the economy" when your wife has a degree in economics. Trust me folks, it ain't a pretty sight.

Anonymous said...

The attitude expressed by these adolescent "radicals" is just an extension of the adolescent mind that "informs" USA "culture" altogether.

The forever "independent" individual resisting any and every demand to transcend himself in the face of the demand for consciously lived relationship inherent in the born Human condition.

There is no such thing as true religion without community. The sacred community is the necessary theatre wherin true religious responsibilities and activities can take place. Where there is the constant demand for conscious functioning and responsibility---response-a-bility.

Dosent our common history tell us that it was only the monastic communities that preserved the cultural possibility of true civilization during the "dark" ages.

Such is the case now---even more so.

Anonymous said...


The anarchy you speak of is the mainstream notion that it's individualism in its extreme. This is explicitly not what anarchists advocate. What they desire is to reorder society based not on the principal of coercion and force (government) but of mutuality of understand and cooperation (true community).

The way I look at anarcho-capitalism (and libertarianism for that matter) is God using the sinfulness of the world to create good and order.

Anonymous said...


If you want to be condescending, get your facts straight first.

If you read the anarchists -- Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Chomsky, etc. -- and the Christian voices in this discussion -- Maurin, Day, Ellul, etc. -- you'll discover forms of anarchism that look shockingly like the monastic communities that you appear to admire so much (alas, it seems as though you are letting those like Stirner, or even Thoreau, limit your understanding of anarchism... which is sort of like letting the Inquisition limit your understanding of Christianity!). After all, Maurin and Day, after being heavily influenced by anarchism, went on to found the Catholic Workers' Movement -- perhaps you've heard of it?

Oh, and George, a good many anarchists don't even consider 'anarcho-capitalism' -- a la Rothbard? -- to be an appropriate form of anarchism.

JR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JR said...

Ben, thanks for that link. I love Kropotkin. I love his idea about mutual aid. I wonder if anyone has tied Reformed stuff about “common grace” to Kropotkin’s ideas about “mutual aid"? -- or if that can be done without destroying the concept of mutual aid as fallen and depraved (since mutual aid for Kropotkin is biological)? - but, what a great riff to consider the possibility of mutual aid as one form of common grace, and, both as a potential anarchy against instances in history of Reformed over-reaching (say in government)? -- a sort of common grace/mutual aid alliance as an always lurking potential anarchist-Babel against uptight in-control-theology-builders (not saying all Reformed are: just pick your favorite instances of excess in history) - if you want to add a little more anarchy to your home life, tell your wife you can’t talk to her right now because you’re reading an economist’s version of economic anarchy that's here to stay, Nassim’s, “ Black Swan.” Then again, only you know what your local environment can bear!



Anonymous said...

Thoreau:Anarchism as Inquisition:Christianity??? Egads, that's a bit much!

In fact, the stereotype of Thoreau as a misanthropic American individualist is just as inaccurate as the one Anonymous is attacking, as most responsible secondary scholarship on Thoreau will show.

Anonymous said...


Yeah, I added Thoreau as an afterthought, as it seems as though many take him in this way. However, Stirner:Anarchism as Inquisition:Christianity is, IMO, pretty bang-on.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben, I was wondering if you had done any reviews of Cavanaugh's writing, like for example, his recent publication 'Being Consumed'. Given your wife's expertise, perhaps a joint review would be cool if you don't mind risking a night on the couch.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Bruce: no, I've never reviewed any of Cavanaugh's books, but I'm a great admirer of his work. I hope to read his latest book soon, so I might try to post something on it. Thanks for the suggestion!

Andy said...

What dan said.

Kropotkin's argument was not that 'mutual aid' within human societies was biological as such; rather that, contra Darwin, co-operative relationships within and between species was a major factor in natural evolution. By extension, the doctrine of Social Darwinism, and the attempted naturalisation of capitalist social relations on this basis, was fundamentally mistaken.

The Catholic Worker Movement has a community in Brizvegas. They also gotta shop, Justice Products, in West End. Within anarchist thought and practice, capitalism has always been understood as deeply antithetical to the anarchist project. In the context of anarchism and theology, the work of Gustav Landauer (1870--1919) and Martin Buber (1878--1965) may also be of interest.

On Buber:

On Landauer:

Ciaron O'Reilly, a member of the Catholic Workers in Brizvegas, was interviewed by Denton for 'Enough Rope' in June 2006:

Also of possible interest, Orthodox Anarchist:


Gary Snyder on 'Buddhist Anarchism':



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