Support C4SS with Gary Chartier’s “The Conscience of an Anarchist”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Gary Chartier’s “The Conscience of an Anarchist” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Gary Chartier’s “The Conscience of an Anarchist”.

$12.00 for the first copy. $9.00 for every additional copy.

Anarchy happens when people organize their lives peacefully and voluntarily — without the aggressive violence of the state. This simple but powerful book explains why the state is illegitimate, unnecessary, and dangerous, and what we can do to begin achieving real freedom.

As an idea, anarchism is the conviction that people can and should cooperate peacefully and voluntarily. As a political program, it’s the project of doing without the state. Because governments are rooted in the use of force, anarchists maintain that no actual government is legitimate and that, in any case, we would be better off without the state. Anarchists reject any kind of authority acquired or maintained through aggressive violence or fraud. More broadly, many anarchists — including me — maintain that the same ideals that motivate their opposition to aggressive violence prompt them to challenge social institutions and cultural patterns that subordinate, exclude, or impoverish people, stultify their lives, or force them into soul-numbing conformity. People can and should organize their interactions on their own terms. We can defend ourselves against aggression; we don’t need the state to force us not to kill each other. And we don’t need the state’s help to coordinate our interactions. Working together, we can craft meaningful lives and livable communities. [. . .]

In this book, I want to help loosen the hold the state still has on people’s imaginations. I want to point out that, as in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale, the emperor really has nothing on at all. I want to encourage you to shift your point of view–to come to see the state as a group of people no different from your neighbors, with no more inherent authority, no greater right to tell you what to do. [. . .] I want to undermine the myth that the state represents us in any meaningful sense, that when politicians and generals act, they’re acting on our behalf. [. . .]

This isn’t a primer, a narrowly academic work in philosophy or economics or political science or history, though it’s informed by the results of inquiry in all those disciplines. It’s a manifesto, a call to action: not to more violence that’s just the mirror image of the state’s own destructiveness, but to the creative work of envisioning a new kind of society and beginning to construct it here and now, right under the noses of the people in power.

Gary Chartier is Associate Dean of the School of Business and Associate Professor of Law and Business Ethics at La Sierra University. He is the author of Economic Justice and Natural Law and The Analogy of Love. His byline has appeared in journals including Legal Theory, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, and the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Open Your Mind to Anarchy
  • 1. The Dissent of the Governed
  • 2. Fish, Bicycles, and the State
  • 3. The State, Big Business, and Economic Privilege
  • 4. The State, War, and Empire
  • 5. The State and Personal Freedom
  • 6. Where Do We Go From Here?
  • Resources: Stuff to Check Out on the Way to the Future
Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory