William Godwin

William Godwin  (1756–1836) is regarded as the founder of modern anarchism though he himself never used that term. He didn’t have a beard either.

Godwin wrote An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice  (1793) and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794)

Godwin was married to the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792); their daughter Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley), wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) and the early apocalyptic sf novel The Last Man (1826)

It was Godwin, in his Enquiry concerning Political Justice (2 vols., 1793), who was the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his remarkable work. Laws, he wrote, are not a product of the wisdom of our ancestors: they are the product of their passions, their timidity, their jealousies and their ambition. The remedy they offer is worse than the evils they pretend to cure. If and only if all laws and courts were abolished, and the decisions in the arising contests were left to reasonable men chosen for that purpose, real justice would gradually be evolved. As to the state, Godwin frankly claimed its abolition. A society, he wrote, can perfectly well exist without any government: only the communities should be small and perfectly autonomous. Speaking of property, he stated that the rights of every one ‘to every substance capable of contributing to the benefit of a human being’ must be regulated by justice alone: the substance must go ‘to him who most wants it’. His conclusion was communism. Godwin, however, had not the courage to maintain his opinions. He entirely rewrote later on his chapter on property and mitigated his communist views in the second edition of Political Justice (8vo, 1796).

– Peter Kropotkin, ”Anarchism”Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s