A lot of people take the view that anarchism is primarily a destructive force that rebelliously calls out for unrestrained freedom out of some teenage hormonal imbalance; not understanding the necessity of authority in an ordered, efficient life. Of all the enlightenment philosophies and ideologies - like liberalism and socialism - anarchism is probably the most overlooked and subsequently misunderstood theory.
This short description by the late Nicolas Walter, editor of New Humanist for ten years, is possibly one of the most comprehensive and understandable introductions to what a more modern version of anarchism actually is, written in a most warm, mature and honest style. It's incredibly easy to read, with as little or as much prior political knowledge needed to begin with. Along with the introduction by Natasha Walter, Nicolas' daughter, this little book can be read in a single evening, and as it proved for me, can change your view of the world for the rest of your life.
Topics discussed (in bite sized chapters):
What anarchists believe:
Theories of human nature, comparisons to liberalism and socialism, state and class, organisation, property, religion, war, the individual, the collective. "Anarchists have always opposed every form of national, social, racial or sexual oppression, and have always supported every movement for national, social, racial or sexual emancipation. But they tend to differ from their allies in the movement by seeing all forms of oppression as being political by nature, and in seeing all victims of oppression as individual human beings rather than as members of a nationality, class, race or sex."
How anarchists divide themselves:
In theory there are many different types of anarchists, but Nicolas refreshingly finds a method to unite them all.