Beyond Voting

Essays Against the Ballot, Democracy, and Politics


Alliance of the Libertarian Left

Alston, Wilton D.

Akai, Laure

Anarchist Federation


Ballou, Adin

Bandow, Doug

Boudreaux, Donald J.

Bowman, Joel

Brennan, Jason

Broze, Derrick

Caplan, Bryan

Carson, Kevin

Castro, Frank

Chartier, Gary

Chisari, Michael

Chodorov, Frank

Conger, Wally


Cunningham, Ray

Davidson, Jared

De Cleyre, Voltairine

Diedrich, Joseph S.

Donnelly, George

Doyle, Kevin

Flood, Andrew

Gillis, William

Goldman, Emma

Gordon, Uri

Gornoski, David

Guerrero, Alexnder

Hammer, Richard O.

Hasnas, John

Howe, Jared

Johnson, Charles W.

Keating, Kevin

Keen, Mothuzad

Klassen, Robert

Knight III, Alex R.

Koman, Victor

Konkin III, Samuel Edward

Koontz, Alan P.

Lefevre, Robert

Mangu-Ward, Katherine

McArdle, Megan

McCarron, Des

McCarthy, Colman

McElroy, Wendy

McGath, Gary (2002)

Munger, Michael

Nock, Albert Jay


Peacott, Joe

Price, Wayne

Progressive Labor Party

Powell, Aaron Ross

Pugsley, John

Reclus, Elisée

Richman, Sheldon

Rozeff, Michael S.

Ryan, Alex

Sabate Anarchist Collective

Sherrer, Hans

Singh, Jaggi

Smith, George H.

Sobran, Joe

Somin, Ilya

Spencer, Herbert

Spooner, Lysander

Studebaker, Benjamin

Tandy, Francis

Thomson, David Ker

Tippens, Will

Tremblay, François

Tucker, Benjamin R.

Tucker, Jeffrey

Vee, Kelly

Vasquez, Christian

The Voluntaryist

Ward, Colin Ward

Watner, Carl

Zin, Howard

Ziyad, Hari

A Universalistic Vision of Anarchism


The following is an excerpt from Voltairine de Cleyre’s essay “Anarchism”, originally published October 13, 1901 in Free Society. It represents the latter half of her political development and her eventual acceptance of anarchism without adjectives.

I have now presented the rough skeleton of four different economic schemes entertained by Anarchists [socialism, communism, individualism, and mutualism]. Remember that the point of agreement in all is: no compulsion. Those who favor one method have no intention of forcing it upon those who favor another, so long as equal tolerance is exercised toward themselves.

Remember, also, that none of these schemes is proposed for its own sake, but because through it, its projectors believe, liberty may be best secured. Every Anarchist, as an Anarchist, would be perfectly willing to surrender his own scheme directly, if he saw that another worked better.

For myself, I believe that all these and many more could be advantageously tried in different localities; I would see the instincts and habits of the people express themselves in a free choice in every community; and I am sure that distinct environments would call out distinct adaptations.

Personally, while I recognize that liberty would be greatly extended under any of these economies, I frankly confess that none of them satisfies me.

Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notions of freedom.

My ideal would be a condition in which all natural resources would be forever free to all, and the worker individually able to produce for himself sufficient for all his vital needs, if he so chose, so that he need not govern his working or not working by the times and seasons of his fellows. I think that time may come; but it will only be through the development of the modes of production and the taste of the people. Meanwhile we all cry with one voice for the freedom to try.

What does this mean for us in the 21st century? Does it mean that we should endorse every ideology claiming to be “against authority”? Of course not. Does it mean that we should be open to a wider array of allies in the fight against oppression? Maybe. Does it mean that we should be a little more respectful and a lot more loving with one another despite sincere disagreements? I think definitely.

I think that de Cleyre’s vision of a more universalistic anarchism is a reminder to be humble, tolerant, and optimistic. Humble enough to admit that our knowledge of the optimal post-state system is limited, and being willing to change our minds if necessary. Tolerant of the diverse needs and preferences that will appear in the absence of illegitimate hierarchies, and the various social and economic arrangements that will also emerge. And optimistic that people cooperating together peacefully will be able to solve the many challenges we face, and will work to create a brighter future that will meet the dreams and desires of a vast array of individuals and communities.

I’ll end with de Cleyer’s inspiring words:

And then, to turn cloudward, starward, skyward, and let the dreams rush over one…painting endless pictures, creating unheard symphonies that sing dream sounds to you alone, extending sympathies to the dumb brutes as equal brothers, kissing the flowers as one did when a child, letting oneself go free, go free beyond the bounds of what fear and custom call the “possible,” – this too Anarchism may mean to you, if you dare to apply it so.