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Symbol of the Iron Front, nowadays used by anarchists and anti-authoritarians

Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority",[1] "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom"[2] and to authoritarian government.[3] Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.[4][5][6][7]

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  • "The Anti-Authoritarian Movement to Rehumanize Mental Health" by Bruce Levine
  • Re: Announcement: Anti-authoritarian radio show


Views and practice

Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas.[8][9][10] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking" and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers".[8][11]

Argument from authority (Latin: argumentum ab auctoritate) is a common form of argument which leads to a logical fallacy when misused. In informal reasoning, the appeal to authority is a form of argument attempting to establish a statistical syllogism.[12] The appeal to authority relies on an argument of the form:

A is an authority on a particular topic
A makes a statement about that topic
A is therefore correct

Fallacious examples of using the appeal include any appeal to authority used in the context of logical reasoning and appealing to the position of an authority or authorities to dismiss evidence as while authorities can be correct in judgments related to their area of expertise more often than laypersons, they can still come to the wrong judgments through error, bias, dishonesty, or falling prey to groupthink. Thus, the appeal to authority is not a generally reliable argument for establishing facts. Influential anarchist Mikhail Bakunin thought the following: "Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person".[13] He saw that "there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination. This same reason forbids me, then, to recognise a fixed, constant and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in all that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life".[13]

After World War II, there was a strong sense of anti-authoritarianism based on anti-fascism in Europe. This was attributed to the active resistance from occupation and to fears arising from the development of superpowers.[14] Anti-authoritarianism has also been associated with countercultural and bohemian movements. In the 1950s, the Beat Generation were politically radical and to some degree their anti-authoritarian attitudes were taken up by activists in the 1960s.[15] The hippie and larger counterculture movements of the 1960s carried out a way of life and activism which was ideally carried through anti-authoritarian and non-violent means. It was observed as such: "The way of the hippie is antithetical to all repressive hierarchical power structures since they are adverse to the hippie goals of peace, love and freedom... Hippies don't impose their beliefs on others. Instead, hippies seek to change the world through reason and by living what they believe."[16] In the 1970s, anti-authoritarianism became associated with the punk subculture.[17]

In 1989, most of the countries from Eastern Europe, and some parts of Asia and Latin America, within the members of the Warsaw Pact, rose up from the communist government controlled by the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Poznań protests, the Hungarian Revolution, the Invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact, and the construction of the Berlin Wall, dividing the city of Berlin. One of the examples is either a peaceful demonstration like The fall of the Berlin Wall and Baltic Way, others were elections like 1988 Chilean national plebiscite and 1989 Polish legislative election, and others are coups and revolutions like the Velvet Revolution and Romanian Revolution.

See also


  1. ^ Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus (1995). "authoritarianism". Houghton Mifflin Company. Archived from the original on 24 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  2. ^ "Definition of authoritarian |".
  3. ^ "antiauthoritarian" – via The Free Dictionary.
  4. ^ "IAF principles". International of Anarchist Federations. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. The IAF – IFA fights for : the abolition of all forms of authority whether economical, political, social, religious, cultural or sexual.
  5. ^ "Authority is defined in terms of the right to exercise social control (as explored in the "sociology of power") and the correlative duty to obey (as explored in the "philosophy of practical reason"). Anarchism is distinguished, philosophically, by its scepticism towards such moral relations – by its questioning of the claims made for such normative power – and, practically, by its challenge to those "authoritative" powers which cannot justify their claims and which are therefore deemed illegitimate or without moral foundation."Anarchism and Authority: A Philosophical Introduction to Classical Anarchism by Paul McLaughlin. AshGate. 2007. p. 1
  6. ^ "Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations." Emma Goldman. "What it Really Stands for Anarchy" in Anarchism and Other Essays.
  7. ^ Brown, L. Susan (2002). "Anarchism as a Political Philosophy of Existential Individualism: Implications for Feminism". The Politics of Individualism: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism and Anarchism. Black Rose Books Ltd. Publishing. p. 106.
  8. ^ a b "Freethinker – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  9. ^ "Free thought | Define Free thought at". Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  10. ^ "Glossary: freethought". International Humanist and Ethical Union. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013.
  11. ^ "Nontracts – FFRF Publications". Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  12. ^ Salmon, M. H. (2006). Introduction to Critical Reasoning. Mason, OH: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 118–119.[ISBN missing]
  13. ^ a b Bakunin, Mikhail (1871). "What is Authority?" – via
  14. ^ Cox, David (2005). Sign Wars: The Culture Jammers Strike Back!. LedaTape Organisation. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-9807701-5-5. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  15. ^ Matterson, Stephen. "Mid-1950s-1960s Beat Generation". The American Novel. PBS. Archived from the original on 7 July 2007.
  16. ^ Stone, Skip (1999). "The Way of the Hippy". Hippies from A to Z.
  17. ^ McLaughlin, Paul (2007). Anarchism and Authority. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7546-6196-2.
This page was last edited on 10 July 2024, at 10:29
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