Aren’t anarchists terrorists?
Aren’t statists terrorists? Well, some of the them are; in fact, the overwhelming majority of non-governmental groups who murder and destroy property for political aims believe that government ought to exist (and that they ought to run it). And just as the existence of such statist terrorists is a poor argument for anarchism, the existence of anarchist terrorists is a poor argument against anarchism. For any idea whatever, there will always be those who advocate advancing it by violence.
It is however true that around the turn of the century, a certain segment of anarchists advocated what they called “propaganda by the deed.” Several heads of state were assassinated by anarchists, along with businessmen, industrialists, stock-brokers, and so on. One of the most famous instances was when the young Alexander Berkman tried to murder the steel industrialist Henry Frick. During this era, the left-anarchists were divided as to the permissibility of terrorism; but of course many strongly opposed it. And individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker almost always saw terrorist activities as both counter-productive and immoral when innocents were injured (as they often were).
The basic argument of the advocates of “propaganda by the deed” was that anarchist terrorism would provoke governments — even avowedly liberal and democratic governments — to resort to increasingly harsh measures to restore order. As governments’ ruthlessness increased, their “true colours” would appear for all to see, leading to more immediate results than mere education and theorising. As E.V. Zenker notes in his Anarchism: A Criticism and History of the Anarchist Theory, a number of Western governments were driven to adopt anti-terrorist laws as a result of anarchist terrorism. (Zenker goes on to note that Great Britain remained true to its liberal heritage by refusing to punish individuals merely for espousing anarchist ideas.) But as one might expect, contrary to the terrorists’ hopes, it was the reputation of anarchism — peaceful and violent alike — which suffered rather than the reputation of the state.
Female police officer murders male suspect with her baton, the man was already on the ground, subdued by another officer.
California police strike again