Anarchism and religion

Anarchists have traditionally been skeptical of or vehemently opposed to organized religion.[1] Nevertheless, some anarchists have provided religious interpretations and approaches to anarchism, including the idea that glorification of the state is a form of sinful idolatry.[2][3]

Anarchist clashes with religion

Facciamo breccia 2008 by Stefano Bolognini18
Members of the Italian Anarchist Federation marching in an anticlerical demonstration as the banner reads "Free from dogmas, always heretics"

Anarchists "are generally non-religious and are frequently anti-religious, and the standard anarchist slogan is the phrase coined by a non-anarchist, the socialist Auguste Blanqui in 1880: ‘Ni Dieu ni maître!’ (Neither God nor master!)...The argument for a negative connection is that religion supports politics, the Church supports the State, opponents of political authority also oppose religious authority".[1]

William Godwin, "the author of the Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), the first systematic text of libertarian politics, was a Calvinist minister who began by rejecting Christianity, and passed through deism to atheism and then what was later called agnosticism."[1] The pioneering German individualist anarchist Max Stirner, "began as a left-Hegelian, post-Feuerbachian atheist, rejecting the ‘spooks’ of religion as well as of politics including the spook of ‘humanity’".[1] Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, "the first person to call himself an anarchist, who was well known for saying, ‘Property is theft’, also said, ‘God is evil’ and ‘God is the eternal X’".[1]

Published posthumously in French in 1882, Mikhail Bakunin's God and the State[4] was one of the first anarchist treatises on religion. Bakunin expounds his philosophy of religion's place in history and its relationship to the modern political state. It was later published in English by Mother Earth Publications in 1916. Anarcho-communism's main theorist Peter Kropotkin, "was a child of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, and assumed that religion would be replaced by science and that the Church as well as the State would be abolished; he was particularly concerned with the development of a secular system of ethics which replaced supernatural theology with natural biology".[1]

Errico Malatesta and Carlo Cafiero, "the main founders of the Italian anarchist movement, both came from freethinking families (and Cafiero was involved with the National Secular Society when he visited London during the 1870s)".[1] In the French anarchist movement Eliseé Reclus was a son of a Calvinist minister, and began by rejecting religion before moving on to anarchism.[1] Sebastien Faure, "the most active speaker and writer in the French movement for half a century"[1] wrote an essay titled Twelve Proofs of God's Inexistence.[5] German insurrectionary anarchist Johann Most wrote an article called "The God Pestilence".[6]

In the United States, "freethought was a basically anti-christian, anti-clerical movement, whose purpose was to make the individual politically and spiritually free to decide for himself on religious matters. A number of contributors to Liberty were prominent figures in both freethought and anarchism. The individualist anarchist George MacDonald was a co-editor of Freethought and, for a time, The Truth Seeker. E.C. Walker was co-editor of the excellent free-thought / free love journal Lucifer, the Light-Bearer".[7] "Many of the anarchists were ardent freethinkers; reprints from freethought papers such as Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, Freethought and The Truth Seeker appeared in Liberty...The church was viewed as a common ally of the state and as a repressive force in and of itself".[7] Late 19th century/early 20th Century anarchists such as Voltairine de Cleyre were often associated with the freethinkers movement, advocating atheism.[8]

In Europe, a similar development occurred in French and Spanish individualist anarchist circles. "Anticlericalism, just as in the rest of the libertarian movement, in another of the frequent elements which will gain relevance related to the measure in which the (French) Republic begins to have conflicts with the church...Anti-clerical discourse, frequently called for by the french individualist André Lorulot, will have its impacts in Estudios (a Spanish individualist anarchist publication). There will be an attack on institutionalized religion for the responsibility that it had in the past on negative developments, for its irrationality which makes it a counterpoint of philosophical and scientific progress. There will be a criticism of proselitism and ideological manipulation which happens on both believers and agnostics.".[9] This tendencies will continue in French individualist anarchism in the work and activism of Charles-Auguste Bontemps and others. In the Spanish individualist anarchist magazine Ética and Iniciales "there is a strong interest in publishing scientific news, usually linked to a certain atheist and anti-theist obsession, philosophy which will also work for pointing out the incompatibility between science and religion, faith and reason. In this way there will be a lot of talk on Darwin´s theories or on the negation of the existence of the soul.".[10] Spanish anarchists in the early 20th century were responsible for burning several churches, though many of the church burnings were actually carried out by members of the Radical Party while anarchists were blamed. The implicit and/or explicit support by church leaders for the National Faction during the Spanish Civil War greatly contributed to anti-religious sentiment.

In Anarchism: What It Really Stands For, Emma Goldman wrote:

Anarchism has declared war on the pernicious influences which have so far prevented the harmonious blending of individual and social instincts, the individual and society. Religion, the dominion of the human mind; Property, the dominion of human needs; and Government, the dominion of human conduct, represent the stronghold of man's enslavement and all the horrors it entails.[11]

Chinese anarchists led the opposition to Christianity in the early 20th century, but the most prominent of them, Li Shizeng, made it clear that he opposed not only Christianity but all religion as such. When he became president of the Anti-Christian Movement of 1922 he told the Beijing Atheists' League: "Religion is intrinsically old and corrupt: history has passed it by" and asked "Why are we of the twentieth century... even debating this nonsense from primitive ages?"[12]

Religious anarchism and anarchist themes in religions

Religious anarchists view organised religion mostly as authoritarian and hierarchical that has strayed from its humble origins as Peter Marshall explains:

The original message of the great religious teachers to live a simple life, to share the wealth of the earth, to treat each other with love and respect, to tolerate others and to live in peace invariably gets lost as worldly institutions take over. Religious leaders, like their political counterparts, accrue power to themselves, draw up dogmas, and wage war on dissenters in their own ranks and the followers of other religions. They seek protection from temporal rulers, bestowing on them in return a supernatural legitimacy and magical aura. They weave webs of mystery and mystification around naked power; they join the sword with the cross and the crescent. As a result, in nearly all cases organised religions have lost the peaceful and tolerant message of their founding fathers, whether it be Buddha, Jesus or Mohammed.[13]


Many Westerners who call themselves Buddhists regard the Buddhist tradition, in contrast to most other world faiths, as nontheistic, humanistic and experientially-based. Most Buddhist schools, they point out, see the Buddha as the embodied proof that transcendence and ultimate happiness is possible for all, without exception. They note that Buddhist scriptures such as the Kalama Sutta have an inherently libertarian emphasis, placing a priority on the questioning of all authority and dogma, with properly informed personal choice as final arbiter.

The Indian revolutionary and self-declared atheist Har Dayal, much influenced by Marx and Bakunin, who sought to expel British rule from the subcontinent, was a striking instance of someone who in the early 20th century tried to synthesize anarchist and Buddhist ideas. Having moved to the United States, in 1912 he went so far as to establish in Oakland the Bakunin Institute of California, which he described as "the first monastery of anarchism".[14][15]


Jesus wanted poster
The Masses, 1917 political cartoon by socialist cartoonist Art Young

According to some, Christianity began primarily as a pacifist and anarchist movement. Jesus is said, in this view, to have come to empower individuals and free people from an oppressive religious standard in the Mosaic law; he taught that the only rightful authority was God, not Man, evolving the law into the Golden Rule (see also liberal Christianity).

According to Christian anarchists, there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus. Christian anarchists believe that freedom from government or Church is justified spiritually and will only be guided by the grace of God if Man shows compassion to others and turns the other cheek when confronted with violence.

As per Christian communism, anarchism is not necessarily opposed by the Catholic Church. Indeed, Distributism in Catholic social teaching such as Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum and Pope Pius XI's Quadragesimo anno [16] resembles a Mutualist society based on Cooperatives, while Pope John Paul II's Catechism of the Catholic Church states "She (the Church) has...refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice". Notable Catholic anarchists include Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.

The Quaker church, or the Religious Society of Friends, is organized along anarchist lines. All decisions are made locally in a community of equals where every members voice has equal weight. While there are no formal linkages between Quakerism and anarchism and Quakers as a whole hold a wide variety of political opinions, the long tradition of Quaker involvement in social-justice work and similar outlooks on how power should be structured and decisions should be reached has led to significant crossover in membership and influence between Christian anarchists and Quakers. The Quaker influence was particularly pronounced in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s and in the North American anti-globalization movement, both of which included many thousands of anarchists and self-consciously adopted secular, consensus-based aspects of Quaker decision making.


One religion known as Dysnomianism seeks to fuse anarchism with religion and occult practices as its primary text The Chronicles of Anarchy (released on The Pirate Bay) presents a broad overview of the connections between anarchism and various traditional spiritual philosophies from around the world, especially those with a magickal and occult leaning. This book attempts to blend all the most anarchist aspects of world spirituality into one coherent practical anarchist spirituality which sees Dysnomia, the Greek goddess of lawlessness as its central deity. Often utilizing psychedelic drugs and anarchist tactics of direct action, those who follow this path are known as Dysnomians and utilizing the principles of neuroplasticity they seek to free their brains/minds of all hierarchical and legalistic conditioning to arrive at a state known as anarkhos.


The discovery of the ancient Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi coupled with the writings of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, especially with regard to his concept of the Black Iron Prison, has led to the development of Anarcho-Gnosticism.[17]

Some ancient forms of Gnosticism had many things in common with modern ideas of anarchism: their members lived on communes with little to no private property and they practiced ceremonies led by people chosen each time by lots rather than hierarchical authority. Some Gnostic groups also practiced equality among the sexes and people of various sexual orientation; some were vegetarians. Central to all Gnostic philosophy was an individual attainment of spiritual understanding and experience rather than one based on dogma. They often had decentralized church structure and, given that Gnostics believed we are all divine and one within the "fullness," they placed a strong emphasis on equality. Gnostics saw themselves in opposition to spiritual entities called "archons," a word which means "ruler"; the word "anarchy" comes from, "anarkhos," meaning, "without rulers," and so in many ways the goal of Gnosticism is literally anarchy.


There have been anti-authoritarian traits throughout the history of Islam, often related to Sufism. The end of the 20th century brought the syncretism of Islam and anarchism into a non-violent, anti-authoritarian philosophy espoused by people like Hakim Bey and Islam Hadari.


While many Jewish anarchists were irreligious or sometimes vehemently anti-religious, there were also a few religious anarchists and pro-anarchist thinkers, who combined contemporary radical ideas with traditional Judaism. Some secular anarchists, such as Abba Gordin and Erich Fromm, also noticed remarkable similarity between anarchism and many Kabbalistic ideas, especially in their Hasidic interpretation. Some Jewish mystical groups were based on anti-authoritarian principles, somewhat similar to the Christian Quakers and Dukhobors. Martin Buber, a deeply religious philosopher, had frequently referred to the Hasidic tradition.

The Orthodox Kabbalist rabbi Yehuda Ashlag believed in a religious version of libertarian communism, based on principles of Kabbalah, which he called altruist communism. Ashlag supported the Kibbutz movement and preached to establish a network of self-ruled internationalist communes, who would eventually annul the brute-force regime completely, for "every man did that which was right in his own eyes.", because there is nothing more humiliating and degrading for a person than being under the brute-force government.[18]

A British Orthodox rabbi, Yankev-Meyer Zalkind, was an anarcho-communist and very active anti-militarist. Rabbi Zalkind was a close friend of Rudolf Rocker, a prolific Yiddish writer and a prominent Torah scholar. He argued, that the ethics of the Talmud, if properly understood, is closely related to anarchism.

One contemporary movement in Judaism with anarchist tendencies is Jewish Renewal. The movement is trans-denominational, including Orthodox, non-Orthodox, Judeo-Buddhists and Judeo-Pagans, and focusing on feminism, environmentalism and pacifism.


Anarcho Black Sun
Black Sun with inscribed anarchy symbol

Neopaganism, with its focus on the sanctity of nature and equality, along with its often decentralized nature, has led to a number of Neopagan inspired anarchists. One of the most prominent is Starhawk, who writes extensively about both Neopaganism and activism.


Many early Taoists such as the influential Laozi and Zhuangzi were critical of authority and advised rulers that the less controlling they were, the more stable and effective their rule would be. There is debate among contemporary anarchists about whether or not this counts as an anarchist view.[19] It is known, however, that some less influential Taoists such as Pao Ching-yen explicitly advocated anarchy.[20] 20th and 21st century anarchists such as Liu Shifu and Ursula K. le Guin have also identified as Taoists.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nicolas Walter. "Anarchism and Religion"
  2. ^ Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre (March 2010). "A Christian Anarchist Critique of Violence: From Turning the Other Cheek to a Rejection of the State". Political Studies Association.
  3. ^ Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre (2010). Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel. Exeter: Imprint Academic. p. 254. "The state as idolatry"
  4. ^ Michael Bakunin (1916). "God and the State". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  5. ^ Sebastien Faure. Twelve Proofs of God's Inexistence.
  6. ^ Johann Most. "The God Pestilence"
  7. ^ a b Wendy McElroy. "The culture of individualist anarchist in Late-nineteenth century America"
  8. ^ Sharon Presley. "Exquisite Rebel: Voltairine de Cleyre". Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  9. ^ Xavier Diez. El anarquismo individualista en España (1923-1939) Virus Editorial. 2007. pg. 143
  10. ^ Xavier Diez. El anarquismo individualista en España (1923-1939) Virus Editorial. 2007. pg. 152
  11. ^ "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For" entry at the Anarchy Archives
  12. ^ Zarrow (1990), p. 156-157.
  13. ^ Peter Marshall (2011). Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, ed. Religious Anarchism: New Perspectives. p. xx. Introduction
  14. ^ Anarchist Portraits by Paul Avrich, Princeton University Press, 1988, p30
  15. ^ Ghadar Movement: Ideology, Organisation and Strategy by Karish K. Puri, Guru Nanak Dev University Press, 1983
  16. ^ Allitt, Patrick (2000). Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome. Cornell University Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-8014-8663-0
  17. ^ The Radical Tradition: Philosophy, Metapolitics & the Conservative Revolution, edited by Troy Southgate, Primordial Traditions, 2011, pages 123-125
  18. ^ Baal HaSulam. "Building the Future Society". World Wide Kabbalah Academy. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  19. ^ Josh. "Anarchism and Taoism". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  20. ^ Graham, Robert (2005). Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy To Anarchism (300CE-1939). Black Rose Books. ISBN 1551642514.

References and further reading

  • Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre J. M. E., ed. (2011), Religious Anarchism: New Perspectives (Paperback) (1st ed.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN 1-4438-3189-1
  • Helms, Robert P. (2007). "Anarchism and Unbelief". In Richard Dawkins. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books. pp. 53–56. ISBN 978-1-61592-280-2.
  • Zarrow, Peter Gue (1990). Anarchism and Chinese Political Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231071388..

See also

External links

Anarchism and Islam

Islamic anarchism is based on an interpretation of Islam as "submission to God" which either prohibits or is highly critical of the role of human authority.

Anarchism and Orthodox Judaism

This article describes some views of notable Orthodox Jewish figures who supported anarchism, as well as various themes within the scope of the Orthodox Jewish tradition or among the practicing Orthodox Jews that are generally considered important from the anarchist worldview. As is often the case with pro-anarchist movements and personal anarchist opinions in spiritual traditions, authoritative organized Orthodox Jewish bodies may view some of the views described here as marginal. Anarchism found a number of notable supporters among Orthodox Jews in the first half of the 20th century; on the other hand, a number of notable secular Jewish anti-authoritarians noticed some anarchic tendencies in traditional Judaism.

One post-denominational movement in Judaism, where the views described in this article are common, is Jewish Renewal or Neo-Hasidism.

While there is no organized Orthodox Jewish anarchist movement similar to Christian anarchist movements, a number of pro-anarchistic ideas are found in the works of some Kabbalists and Hasidic teachers, as well as in the Jewish folk religion. A few Jewish mystical groups in Antiquity were based on anti-authoritarian or radically communal principles, somewhat similar to the Christian Quakers, Dukhobors and other similar movements. Some secular Jewish anarchists, such as Abba Gordin and Walter Benjamin, were interested in the connections between anarchism and biblical and Talmudic themes, as well as Jewish mysticism. Aharon David Gordon and Martin Buber, both of whose ideas were close to anarchism, were former Orthodox Jews and greatly influenced by the Hasidic tradition.

Some Jewish anarchists of the 20th century explicitly combined contemporary radical thought with traditional Judaism, insisting that, in their view, Judaism calls for abolition of the state, private property and class society. These Orthodox Jewish anarchists personally observed the Halacha, but supported the social system of communist anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism.

Anarchist schools of thought

Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds ruling classes and the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. However, anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have often been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered a radical left-wing ideology and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism or participatory economics. At some point "the collectivist, communist, and liberal and individualist strands of thought from which anarchists drew their inspiration began to assume an increasingly distinctive quality, supporting the rise of a number of anarchist schools". Anthropologist David Graeber has noted that while the major schools of Marxism always have founders (e.g. Leninism, Trotskyism and Maoism), schools of anarchism "almost invariably emerge from some kind of organizational principle or form of practice", citing anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchism and platformism as examples.


Anarcho-punk (or anarchist punk) is punk rock that promotes anarchism. The term "anarcho-punk" is sometimes applied exclusively to bands that were part of the original anarcho-punk movement in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some use the term more broadly to refer to any punk music with anarchist lyrical content, which may figure in crust punk, hardcore punk, folk punk, and other styles.

Christian anarchism

Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that claims anarchism is inherent in Christianity and the Gospels. It is grounded in the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable—the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus. It therefore rejects the idea that human governments have ultimate authority over human societies. Christian anarchists denounce the state, believing it is violent, deceitful and, when glorified, idolatrous. Christian anarchists hold that the "Reign of God" is the proper expression of the relationship between God and humanity. Under the "Reign of God", human relationships would be characterized by divided authority, servant leadership, and universal compassion—not by the hierarchical, authoritarian structures that are normally attributed to religious social order. Most Christian anarchists are pacifists—they reject war and the use of violence.More than any other Bible source, the Sermon on the Mount is used as the basis for Christian anarchism. Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You is often regarded as a key text for modern Christian anarchism.

Christian punk

Christian punk is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of punk rock with some degree of Christian lyrical content. Much disagreement persists about the boundaries of the subgenre, and the extent that their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies among bands. For example, The Crucified explicitly rejected the classification of "Christian punk" while staying within the Christian music industry.Given the nature of punk and some of its subgenres, such as hardcore punk, many bands have been rejected by the Christian and CCM music industry. Christian punk has been deemed novel in that it "seeks authenticity in two differently organized and orientated cultures: secular punk on the one hand and Evangelical youth culture and CCM on the other".

Some bands generally avoid specific mention of God or Jesus; likewise some bands may specifically reject the CCM label or express disdain for that niche of the music industry. For example, Ninety Pound Wuss vocalist Jeff Suffering said about the breakup of the band in 2000, "...[N]obody wanted to continue playing in [the] "Christian" music industry."It has been noted that, "measured purely by record sales, Christian punk dwarfs all other religious contributions to the genre", with certain individual Christian punk bands outselling the entire market for the next largest religious punk genre, Krishnacore.


The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals in England, sometimes seen as forerunners of modern anarchism, and also associated with agrarian socialism and Georgism. Gerrard Winstanley's followers were known as True Levellers in 1649 and later became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land.

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon a specific passage in the Acts of the Apostles. The Diggers tried (by "leveling" land) to reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small, egalitarian rural communities. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

Fraye Arbeter Shtime

Fraye Arbeter Shtime was a Yiddish-language anarchist newspaper published from New York City's Lower East Side between 1890 and 1977. It was the world's oldest Yiddish newspaper, among the world's longest running anarchist journals, and the primary organ of the Jewish anarchist movement in the United States. Historian of anarchism Paul Avrich described the paper as playing a vital role in Jewish–American labor history and upholding a high literary standard, having published the most lauded writers and poets in Yiddish radicalism. The paper's editors were major figures in the Jewish–American anarchist movement: David Edelstadt, Saul Yanovsky, Joseph Cohen, Hillel Solotaroff, Roman Lewis, and Moshe Katz.

Riding the perceived injustices of the Haymarket trial, Jewish anarchists in New York formed the Pioneers of Liberty to support the defendants. From this effort, area anarchist groups resolved to publish Fraye Arbeter Shtime, which would become an amalgam of labor paper, literary magazine, and journal of radical opinion. The group held an annual December conference with anarchists and socialists, as well as events like the Yom Kippur ball. Interest in the paper mirrored Jewish–American interest in anarchism, surging in the 1880s/90s, experiencing its heyday in the 1910s/20s, and declining between and afterwards through its demise in the 1970s. The paper struggled financially in its early years and went dormant in the late 1890s. The paper thrived under Yanovsky in the 20th century's first two decades, with a high literary standard and circulation of 20,000 before the Great War. It retained its quality through the 20s under Cohen, but by the 30s, the Jewish anarchist movement grew more conciliatory, less revolutionary. The paper slowed its cadence from weekly to fortnightly to monthly before winking out of existence with the rest of the movement in the mid-1970s.

God and the State

God and the State (called by its author The Historical Sophisms of the Doctrinaire School of Communism) is an unfinished manuscript by the Russian anarchist philosopher Mikhail Bakunin, published posthumously in 1882. The work criticises Christianity and the then-burgeoning technocracy movement from a materialist, anarchist and individualist perspective. Early editions contained rewrites by Carlo Cafiero and Élisée Reclus in order to make the work more poetic in the translated French and due to misreadings, but later translations have attempted to remain more faithful to the original text. It has gone on to become Bakunin's most widely read and praised work.

Jewish anarchism

Jewish anarchism encompasses various expressions of anarchism within the Jewish community.

Jim Forest

Jim Forest (born 2 November 1941 in Salt Lake City, Utah) is an American writer, Orthodox Christian lay theologian, educator, and peace activist.

As a young man, Jim served in the US Navy, working with a meteorology unit at the US Weather Bureau headquarters near Washington, DC. It was during this period that he became a Catholic. His military service ended with an early discharge on grounds of conscientious objection.After leaving the navy, Jim joined the staff of the Catholic Worker community in Manhattan, working close with the founder, Dorothy Day, and for a time serving as managing editor of the journal she edited, The Catholic Worker.

In 1964, while working as a journalist for the Staten Island Advance, in his spare time he co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship, working closely with Tom Cornell. This became a full-time job for both of them in 1965, a time that coincided with deepening US military engagement in Vietnam. The main focus of their work was counseling conscientious objectors.In 1968, while Jim working as Vietnam Program Coordinator of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jim and thirteen others, mainly Catholic clergy, broke into nine Milwaukee draft boards, removing and burning some of the files in a nearby park while holding a prayer service. Most members of the "Milwaukee Fourteen" served thirteen months in prison for their action.In the late sixties and mid-seventies, Jim also worked with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, first as Vietnam Program coordinator and later as editor of Fellowship magazine. From 1977 through 1988, he was Secretary General of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, work which brought him to the Netherlands. He received the Peacemaker Award from Notre Dame University's Institute for International Peace Studies and the St. Marcellus Award from the Catholic Peace Fellowship.

In 1988, Forest was received into the Orthodox Church. Since 1989, he has been international secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship as well as associate editor of its quarterly journal, In Communion. In 2017, he was ordained as Reader.

Jim had a long-term friendship with Thomas Merton, who dedicated a book to him, Faith and Violence. Jim also accompanied the famed Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.A journalist and writer, his books include Praying with Icons, Ladder of the Beatitudes, The Road to Emmaus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life, Loving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment, biographies of Thomas Merton (Living With Wisdom), Dorothy Day (All Is Grace) and Daniel Berrigan (At Play in the Lions' Den, and several children's books, including Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins, Saint George and the Dragon and Silent as a Stone: Mother Maria of Paris and the Trash Can Rescue.

He and his wife Nancy, a translator and writer, live in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

Leo Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (; Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой, tr. Lev Nikoláyevich Tolstóy; [lʲef nʲɪkɐˈlaɪvʲɪtɕ tɐlˈstoj] (listen); 9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 – 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time.Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he is best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. He first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. Tolstoy's fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), and Hadji Murad (1912). He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.

In the 1870s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894), were to have a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Tolstoy also became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly Resurrection (1899).

Libertarian socialism

Libertarian socialism (or socialist libertarianism) is a group of anti-authoritarian political philosophies inside the socialist movement that rejects the conception of socialism as centralized state ownership and control of the economy.Libertarian socialism is close to and overlaps with left-libertarianism, and criticizes wage labour relationships within the workplace, instead emphasizing workers' self-management of the workplace and decentralized structures of political organization.It often rejects the state itself, and asserts that a society based on freedom and justice can be achieved through abolishing authoritarian institutions that control certain means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite. Libertarian socialists advocate for decentralized structures based on direct democracy and federal or confederal associations such as libertarian municipalism, citizens' assemblies, trade unions, and workers' councils.All of this is generally done within a general call for libertarian and voluntary human relationships through the identification, criticism, and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of human life. As such, libertarian socialism seeks to distinguish itself from both Leninism/Bolshevism and social democracy.Past and present political philosophies and movements commonly described as libertarian socialist include anarchism as well as autonomism, Communalism, participism, guild socialism, revolutionary syndicalism, and libertarian Marxist philosophies such as council communism as well as some versions of utopian socialism and individualist anarchism.


Libertarianism (from Latin: libertas, meaning "freedom") is a collection of political philosophies and movements that claim to uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions.Traditionally, "libertarianism" was a term for a form of left-wing politics. Such left-libertarian ideologies seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production, or else to restrict their purview or effects, in favor of common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty. Classical libertarian ideologies include—but are not limited to—anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, mutualism and egoism, alongside many other anti-paternalist, New Left schools of thought centered around economic egalitarianism. In the United States, modern right-libertarian ideologies, such as minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, co-opted the term in the mid-20th century to instead advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights such as in land, infrastructure and natural resources.

Marxism and religion

19th century German philosopher Karl Marx, the founder and primary theorist of Marxism, had an antithetical and complex attitude to religion, viewing it primarily as "the soul of soulless conditions", the "opium of the people" that had been useful to the ruling classes since it gave the working classes false hope for millennia. At the same time, Marx saw religion as a form of protest by the working classes against their poor economic conditions and their alienation. In the Marxist–Leninist interpretation of Marxist theory, primarily developed by Georgian revolutionary and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, religion is seen as hindering human development. Due to this, a number of Marxist–Leninist governments in the 20th century, such as the Soviet Union after Vladimir Lenin and the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong, implemented rules introducing state atheism.

No gods, no masters

No gods, no masters is an anarchist and labour slogan. It has been in common use by anarchists in England since the late 19th century. The journal Commonweal, for instance, includes an article by John Creaghe from Sheffield in which he records that the Sheffield Telegraph newspaper 'was furious when it found we were Anarchists with "Neither God nor Master" for our motto' (11 July 1891, p. 76). An early 20th century usage is evident in a pamphlet handed out by the Industrial Workers of the World during the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike. The phrase is derived from the French slogan "Ni dieu ni maître!" (literally 'Neither God nor master') coined by the socialist Louis Auguste Blanqui in 1880, when he published a journal by that name. In Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent, first published in 1907, the anarchist character The Professor says: "My device is: No God! No master."

Paradise Lost in popular culture

Paradise Lost has had a profound impact on writers, artists and illustrators, and, in the twentieth century, filmmakers.

Paul Pojman

Paul Theodore Pojman (October 11, 1966 – September 20, 2012) was a philosopher, activist, and gardener whose interdisciplinary work involved fields such as religion, economics, and ecology. He was a professor of philosophy at Towson University in Maryland from 2002 until his death; he lived in Baltimore city at the Baltimore Free Farm in Hampden.

Pojman was known for his community activism as well as his scholarship. He was involved in the Baltimore Green Currency Association, the Baltimore Free School, and the Baltimore Free Farm, and worked with Occupy Baltimore after it began in October 2011.Paul Pojman is the son of Louis Pojman, also a philosopher. Paul edited the fifth and sixth editions of his father's popular anthology textbook, Environmental Ethics.

Religious communism

Religious communism is a form of communism that incorporates religious principles. Scholars have used the term to describe a variety of social or religious movements throughout history that have favored the communal ownership of property.

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