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Anarchism: Arguments for and Against Paperback – 14 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press; New edition edition (14 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1873176570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873176573
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 0.5 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 766,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This work provides everything you wanted to know about anarchism but were afraid to ask. From the historical background, and justification of anarchism, to the class struggle, organization, and the role of the anarchist in an authoritarian society, the book discusses the salient points, theory and practice, of this philosophy. From workers self defence to the myth of taxation, the second half of the book runs through the gamut of objections and queries - from Marxist-Leninists, liberal-democrats, fascists and the average person. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By Stadtguerilla on 29 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by no means an essential read for those who have a more than basic understanding of anarchy. As it says on the title, it is an argument (for and against) for anarchism. It does not go into any great detail, but does provide a snapshot of anarchist principles. What goes in this books favour is Albert Meltzer, for me he is one of the more influential anarchist figures in UK history as he often contradicted the views of other anarchist thinkers and though that the only real anarchism was anarcho-communism. He was influential in the formation of the Anarchist Black Cross and his views are instrumental in the manifesto of the Anarchist Federation. This book is a handy guide for beginners so they can research further.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Good Book that Serves Two Purposes 30 Dec 2003
By Dana Garrett - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a good book that serves two purposes:
1. It introduces readers to anarchism in a way that disabuses them of the usual myths about anarchism and anticipates the common fears people have about anarchism.
2. It provides anarchists with quick answers to objections about anarchism (assuming, of course, that anarchists agree with Meltzer's formulations of the answers).
Meltzer deftly handles the kinds of criticisms of anarchism made by social democrats, liberal democrats, Marxists, fascists, trade unionists, feminists and capitalists. He also explores ways people could organize themselves in an anarchistic society. In my view, the book's sole weakness is its somewhat vague discussion about the transition to an anarchist society. It adequately addresses the core values of all anarchists.
The book exceptionally adresses the criticism that individuals would be imperiled in societies that operate without the coercive force of law. Meltzer rightly argues that individuals would in fact be safer in an anarchist society and that governments actually reduce personal safety by assigning that responsibility to a set of experts (e.g. the police): "Unfortunately, having a police force atrophies the ability of society to defend itself. People [lose] all sense of social organization and control" (p. 43).
The book contains a helpful, if somewhat limited, list of anarchist organizations at the end. It is worth reading.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Anarchism, this side and that. 4 Jan 2002
By "thenosferatu" - Published on
Format: Paperback
A very nice and thought-provoking guide to Anarchism. The book is thin, but thick in political theory and definition. I take away a star, as his text may fly over the heads of those who aren't very familiar with facism, marxism, socialism, syndicalism, et al. But it does a great job of showing the grace of anarchism, along with the fumbling groping that is most other systems. Slavery is slavery and property is theft. Give it a read.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Decent, but not for everyone. 16 Jun 2008
By G.E. - Published on
Format: Paperback
ANARCHISM: ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST is, overall, a pretty good exposition of the kind of "class struggle" anarchism that Albert Meltzer endorses. For anarchists with a basic grasp of the theory and history of their ideology, this will be a useful tool. However, it's not for everyone; this book requires at least a minimal knowledge of anarchist (and Marxist, as it's useful to actually know what words like "proletariat", "bourgeoisie", and "petite bourgeoisie" actually mean) terminology. If you have just heard the word "anarchism" for the first time in your life and would like to know more about it, this isn't the book for you.

On the positive side, this book is small, compact, and a concise reader to many of the basic properties of anarchism. It offers interesting arguments for libertarian socialism, as well as attempts to counter common arguments against anarchism (Chaos! Disorder! Et cetera!) Ultimately the counterarguments against the Marxist critique are the most convincing and accurate from my personal experience, as well as probably the most useful for the average fellow traveler of anarchism. When Mr. Meltzer refers to anarchism, rest assured that he is referring to a very specific type of anarchism; early on in the book he pretty much excommunicates famous anti authoritarians and libertarian socialists such as Tolstoy, Tucker, and Proudhon. Meltzer seems to embrace the Malatesta tradition of anarchism.

Ultimately, if you're someone who already knows a fair bit about anarchism and want to have an interesting primer to refer to once in awhile, you might want to pick this one up. However, if you're new to anarchism and want an overview of where the ideology has been and where it's going, look elsewhere.
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