Anarchist Individualism as a Life and Activity

live freely

French anarchist Emile Armand published this in 1907. It is a manifesto for a way of life that is ever so gradually disappearing in the face of relentless online living. The following are lengthy excerpts from that paper:

Persecutions, difficulties and conflicts of all kinds, demand that whoever professes anarchism should be possessed of a mentality which is out of the ordinary, which is reflective, and which is in a state of continual reaction against a society composed of people who, on the contrary, are not reflective and are
inclined to accept ready-made doctrines which make no demands on their intelligence.

As the word “anarchy” etymologically signifies the negation of governmental authority, the absence of government, it follows that one indissoluble bond unites the anarchists. This is antagonism to all situations regulated by imposition, constraint, violence, governmental oppression, whether these are a product of all, a group, or of one person. In short, whoever denies that the intervention of government is for human relationships is an anarchist. But this definition would have only a negative value did it not possess as a practical complement, a conscious attempt to live outside this domination and servility which are incompatible with the anarchist conception.

An anarchist, therefore, is an individual who, whether he has been brought to it by a process of reasoning or by sentiment, lives to the greatest possible extent in a state of legitimate defense against authoritarian encroachments. From this it that anarchist individualism – the tendency which we believe contains the most
profound realization of the anarchist idea — is not merely a philosophical doctrine — it is an attitude, an individual way of life.


The anarchist individualist is not simply converted intellectually to ideas which will be realized one day some centuries hence. He tries now – for the present is the only time which matters for him — to practice his conceptions in everyday life, in his relations with his comrades, and in his contact with those others who do not
share his convictions. The anarchist individualist tends to reproduce himself, to perpetuate his spirit in other individuals who will share his views and who will make it possible for a state of affairs to be established from which authoritarianism has been banished. It is this desire, this will, not only to live, but also to reproduce oneself, which we shall call “activity”.


Tending to live his own individual life at the risk of clashing intellectually, morally, and economically, with his environment, the anarchist individualist at the same time tries to like himself, are free from the prejudices and superstitions of authority, in order that the greatest possible number of men may actually live their own lives, uniting through personal affinities to practice their conceptions as far as is possible.

His relationships with his comrades are based on reciprocity, on mutualism, on comradeship, and take numerous forms, all voluntary: free agreements of every type and in all spheres; respect for the pledged word and the carrying out of promises and engagements freely consented to. It is in this fashion that the individualist of our kind practices mutual aid in his species.


A conscious individual – seeking to create and select others – from being determined by his environment, he tends to become self-determining, to live his own life fully, to be active in the normal sense of the word. One cannot conceive the anarchist individual in any other way.

Anarchists no more want to be masters than they want to be servants – they no more want to exercise violence than to submit to it. They expose, they propose, but they do not impose. They are pioneers attached to no party, nonconformists, standing outside herd morality and conventional “good” and “evil” “a-social”. a “species” apart, one might say. They go forward, stumbling, sometimes falling, sometimes triumphant, sometimes vanquished. But they do go forward, and by living for themselves, these “egoists”, they dig the furrow, they open the broach through which will pass those who deny anarchism, the unique ones who will succeed them.

Published by Kim Broadie

Since I published the Janus article, I had almost given up thinking that we can change the direction of our country, as the Supreme Court decided that collective bargaining infringes on Mark Janus’ right to babble. Still, I am fascinated by how the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War have transformed the United States in ways unimaginable at the beginning of the 20th Century. Now, as the 21st century unfolds we are living with these transformations. We are now the children of Alan Turing, living in the Amazon model of a world economy: the global shopping mall. The quest for reality has dissolved in the astral netherworld of cyberspace. Philosophy, weak as it is, may yet show us the way back. Questions that go won’t away. Questions that will plague our dreams. Yes, Master Po, what is the Way?

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