Who Are The Anarchists? / The anarchist

Submitted by Reddebrek on June 18, 2016

Every class of society has furnished recruits to the anarchist cause.
Men of learning, peasants, labourers, journalists, architects, shop assistants,
clerks, working-men, men of letters, business men, professors, manufac-
turers, barristers, persons of means, artisans, engineers, and Government
employees of every discription, are to be found in the ranks of the party.

When men of the most divergent origin, born in different regions of
the globe, belonging to different classes of society, brought up in different
religions, and exercising different professions, unite in accepting the same
theories, it is to be expected that they will have many mental qualities in
common, the result of a similar brain formation; for it should be unneces-
sary to prove that the partisans of any particular doctrine offer kindred
psychological characteristics.

—A. HAMON: "The Psychology of the Anarchist", 1894.

Who are the anarchists ?

The first attempt to answer this question is an allegedly scientific
fashion was made by the founder of modern criminology Cesare
Lombroso who spent years looking for the common characteristics or
stigmata of the "criminal type". He was richly rewarded when he
examined 100 anarchists arrested in Turin on May Day, 1890, for he
found that "34 per cent possessed the criminal type of face, as compared
with 43 per cent among ordinary criminals of the prison at Turin."
From studying photographs of Chicago anarchists, he found 40 per
cent to be of the criminal type, "seventeen out of forty- three having
disagreeable peculiarities of the face". He published his findings in
his book Gli Anarchici, having discovered that "along with degenerate
peculiarities of physique the anarchist is still further accursed with
mental traits, characteristics common to criminals and to the insane,
and possessing these traits by heredity."

Lombroso's idea of the existence of a criminal type has long
since been abandoned by criminologists, though it still lives in folk-lore,
to bedevil all attempts to change society's attitude to its deviant
members. For all we know, perhaps his stereotype of the anarchist
is still current too. A few years after his enquiry a French sociological
writer, A. Hamon, who, though he had anarchist sympathies, claimed
to write "from a purely scientific standpoint, and without party bias",
sought in his study of The Psychology of the Anarchist to find "the
causes which predispose the individual to accept the anarchist doctrine.''

His method was to put to a number of anarchists the question "How
and why are you an anarchist?" and to sort out the answers, noting
the age, education and occupation of the respondents, according to the
"mental characteristics" they were alleged to reveal. He concluded

The typical anarchist may be described as a man imbued with the spirit
of revolt in one or several of its phases (the spirit of combativeness, of
inquiry, of criticism, of innovation), endowed with a deep love of liberty,
and with a strong leaning to individualism, and possessed of an insatiable
curiosity and a keen desire to acquire knowledge. These mental qualities
are accompanied by a warm affection for his fellow creatures, a highly
developed moral sensibility, a profound sense of justice, a sense of logic,
and strong combative tendencies.

This flattering testimonial is in sharp contrast with the next "scien-
tific" appraisal of the anarchists, that of Kolnoi, who, in Psychoanalysis
and Sociology made a highly speculative application of Freudian con-
cepts to anarchism, which he explained in terms of regression to infantile
emotional states. A more recent Freudian thinker, Alix Strachey, in
The Unconscious Motives of War, takes the view that it is other people's
regression which makes "the establishment of an anarchical society"
impossible, because each individual needs the regressive group mentality
which the State evokes in him, because it allays his "anxiety and sense
of guilt by giving him back an omnipotent, protesting father."

Yet another entertaining generalisation about the nature of anar-
chists comes from Sir Alexander Gray who declares that "Anarchists
are a race of highly intelligent and imaginative children, who neverthe-
less can scarcely be trusted to look after themselves outside the nursery

It is something of an anti-climax to turn from speculation dressed
up as science, to the two investigations reported in this issue of Anarchy.
The first is a study, using the methods of experimental psychology, of
the personality of anarchists. The second is a survey, by means of a
postal questionnaire, of the readership of an anarchist newspaper. The
limitations of both methods are described in the reports. Readers may
be disappointed that nothing more exciting was established, but they
can be assured that, within the limitations referred to (in particular the
fact that both sample populations are self-selected minorities), these two
investigations, unlike their precursors, provide facts.

What neither investigation tells us of course, is the answer to the
question "Who were the anarchists?" — we do not learn whether the
anarchists of the past had the same psychological or social characteristics
as those of today. Nor have we any grounds for drawing any conclu-
sions about the anarchists in other countries.

In a concluding article we return to frank speculation with some
opinions on the question "Who will be the anarchists?"

The anarchist


The following is an account of the present writer's attempt to con-
duct an investigation into the personality of anarchists. Some people,
including a number of anarchists, may question the value and the validity
of such an enterprise. Some will maintain that as anarchism is a system
of ideas, the particular personality characteristics of people holding
these ideas, are irrelevant. How one sees the matter depends upon
one's view of the nature of social and political bliefs. Many people
are conscious of the highly personal and emotional factors which
underlies the belief-systems of their political opponents, but assume that
their own political beliefs are entirely the result of rational thinking.
The more orthodox the belief, the greater is the temptation to be misled
by its veneer of rationality,

William James, in his shrewd lectures on Pragmatism, puts forward
the somewhat unpopular view that all philosophical standpoints are a
reflection of individual differences in temperament. He writes :

Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries, when
philosophizing, to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no
conventionally recognised reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for
his conclusions. Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than
any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him
one way or the other. (James 1907).

The fact that my choice of a population for study was an anarchist
one actually makes the project more generally acceptable, for the
fact that anarchism is generally regarded as a "crank" theory gives rise
to the idea that anarchists themselves must have a specially strange sort
of personality. Actually, what is important is not the rationality or
irrationality of anarchism, but the fact that anarchists are a very small
minority group, and therefore that there may be a distinctly recognisable
and definite anarchist type. In the same way it was possible to study
some of the personality characteristics of fascists and communists, as
has been described by Eysenck (1954). An attempt to study the per-
sonality characteristics of, say, conservatives which would be much
less practicable because of the enormous variance between individuals
who regard themselves as conservatives. This do not imply that
conservatism is any less the outcome of temperamental factors inter-
acting with the individual's life situation, than any other political and
social belief.

TONY GIBSON is a research psychologist who has been a contributor
to Freedom for many years.

The meaning of psychology

It is essential that lay people should have some concept of the
meaning of a psychological investigation before they can evaluate the
results of one. Psychology is a very young science, and may be com-
pared in its present state of development to that of physical medicine,
say, in the time of Hippocrates. Its systems of classification are pre-
liminary, its powers of prediction limited and its theoretical frameworks
are multifarious and contradictory. Unfortunately there is quite a lot
of money to be made out of some versions of psychology, particularly
in the advertising racket, and every sort of quackery exists for the sake
of short-term profit, alongside genuine research.

It should be remembered that psychology is the study of behaviour.
Behaviour is studied and categorized in order that workable theories
may be evolved. The essence of a good theory is its predictive power*
and in this particular psychology does not differ from any other scienti-
fic discipline. When descriptive labels are given to an individual,
he is being compared with a defined population: thus if I describe a
boy of ten years old as "having a high verbal intelligence", I am pre-
dicting that he will show a performance on verbally biassed tasks
superior to that of the majority of children of his age. The "defined
population" is that of children of his own age, for intellectual capacity
increases with age up to adulthood.

Such an elementary example as the above is necessary, for before
launching upon my description of the investigation and its results, I
am concerned to try to show what psychology is — and what it is not.
The honest psychologist does not make up a lot of curious -sounding
entities and then attach them to people; rather he seeks for the very
simplest way in which people can be described, consistent with predic-
tive efficiency. The fact that psychological techniques and descriptive
language sound discouragingly complex to the layman is simply due to
the fact that any specialism dealing with complex phenomena does
become heavy going for those unacquainted with the specialism. It is
intended that this write-up shall be entirely comprehensible to any
layman intelligent enough to read and appreciate Anarchy. Those who
are not satisfied with a mere 8,000 words of description of this investiga-
tion may like to know that most of it has been written up in very great
detail, along with other material, and is available to those who have
the patience, qualifications and inclination to read it.

How does one test personality?

There are hundreds of published personality tests, and thousands
of other tests in use in research centres, which are not in a publishable
form. If it is desired to investigate the personality of a group of
people one can of course give them a mixed bag of any tests that come
to hand, and then ponder over the results, but such a procedure is
scarcely scientific. By analogy, a chemist could set out in investigate
an unknown substance by treating it with whatever chemical reagents
stood on the nearest shelf. A better procedure is first to ask a number
of questions about the subject of investigation, and then to seek answers
to these specific questions.

One of the obvious questions to be asked about the anarchist group
was, "Do they hold such unusual opinions because they are rather
stupid people?" Such a question indicated the use of an intelligence
test. Another question presented itself: "Are anarchists extremely
neurotic, or are they mentally ill in other ways, as has been suggested
in some quarters?" This indicated the use of tests sensitive to neurotic-
ism and to mental illneste of more specific kinds. But this line of
approach, although superior to that of applying a rag-bag of tests,
would have the obvious disadvantage of elaborating too many questions.

No one can approach a research problem in vacuuo. The questions
which are to be asked must spring from some provisional theoretical
framework. Some work on political and social opinion in relation to
personality has already been done by Adorno and his co-workers in
California, and Eysenck and his associates in London. The work of
Eysenck et ah, as described in The Psychology of Politics may be familiar
to a number of the readers of Anarchy; if so they will no doubt have
come up against the problem of not being able to place anarchists as a
group on the graphs where conservatives, liberals, labourites, commun-
ists and fascists are clearly positionable. The explanation of this fact
will have occurred to many; that these plots are two-dimensional, being
based on a tough-tender-mindedness axis and the conservative-radical
axis, and to accommodate anarchists a third dimension of anti-authoritar-
ianism would have to be added. Anti-authoritarianism can be consider-
ed as a dimension at right-angles both to tendermindedness and to

To get an adequate theoretical framework upon which to start this
research, the present writer had to go back to the philosophical basis
of William James, to whom indeed Eysenck also was indebted for the
concept of tendermindedness. Long acquaintance with anarchists had
suggested to me that the essential characteristic of anarchists, in addition
to their anti-authoritarianism, was their toughmindedness. In fact I
would say that a truly toughminded person becomes anti-authoritarian
in present-day society. Toughminded communists, fascists or military
types nevertheless display a vein of purest sentimentality which makes
them suckers for brain-washing or self-immolation on the altar of
authority. William James suggested that toughminded people are those
who are moved by facts rather than by principles, who are sceptical
rather than dogmatic and who are content to see the universe in plural-
istic terms rather than insisting upon monism. When seeking to give
an example of the toughminded philosophy, James quotes at length
from an American anarchist, Morrison Swift. In his own attempt to
make sense out of both the toughminded and the tenderminded philo-
sophy through the mediation of pragmatism, James himself admits where
his personal sympathies lie : "Mr. Swift's anarchism goes a little farther
than mine does, but I confess that I sympathise a good deal, and some
of you I know will sympathise heartily with his dissatisfaction with the
idealistic optimisms now in vogue." (James, ibid).

Later in the same book James pointed out that the person who
could tolerate the truly pluralistic concept of the universe was typically
the anarchist.

Now it is a comparatively simple matter to find out what anarchists
believe; one simply has to ask them, or indeed, read their publications.
It is another matter to establish what anarchists are by nature. For
although James was indulging in more or less armchair theorizing about
people, he held very firmly to the idea that people's beliefs and general
theoretical orientation were a reflection of their basis personalities. This
is the point at the base of all his discussion about the different types
of universe we inhabit. For as the only universe which each and every
one of us ever experiences' is that which exists in our own individual
perception of it, so we all inhabit slightly different universes. The
hard-headed empiricist inhabits a universe in which effect follows cause;
the religious mystic inhabits a universe in which almost anything is
rather more than likely to happen as the result of prayer. The chronic-
ally suspicious person inhabits a universe in which all men are crooks
and twisters; the sunny optimist lives in a universe which is full of
promise. Whether any universe at all can be said to exist other than
the multifarious universes which we perceive, is a philosophical chestnut
which is not entirely pertinent here.

The personal universe which a man inhabits is not, of course,
completely stable. If he gets drunk his universe alters. Drugs like
mescaline and lysergic acid are even more powerful modifiers than
alcohol. Again, the influence of other people will modify his universe.
Spectacular and semi-permanent changes may be brought about by
"brain-washing", and spectacular temporary changes may be effected
by hypnosis. To a lesser degree, all our universes are being modified
the whole time by our interaction with other people. We are all sug-
gestible to some degree.

Here I must make the necessary distinction between "suggestibility"
and "gullibility", a distinction which is most important for the apprecia-
tion of this research. If an actor moves me by his portrayal of Hamlet,
he acts upon my suggestibility; I may emphasise strongly with the
emotions he appears to experience, and may react even to the point of
tears, as though I were an onlooker at the royal court of Denmark. Yet
I would not be gulled by him; 1 would know all the time that I was
not at the court of Denmark and that this man was not the tragic prince.
By contrast, if a salesman trades upon my ignorance of radios and sells
me a very bad bargain, he will have gained by my gullibility. Highly
suggestible people are not necessarily gullible, nor are very gullible
people necessarily very suggestible.

It follows from the Jamesian view of personality, that people of
the more empiricist temperament, the toughminded lovers of facts in
all their crude diversity, should have certain predictable characteristics
which will be manifest on certain psychological tests. A group of anar-
chists should differ from a comparable group of people (and compara-
bility will be defined) in being less suggestible with regard to tests
of so-called "waking suggestibility" and to hypnosis. They should also
be less credulous in a general way, more toughminded in attitude, and
more generally tolerant of ambiguity as befits the pluralist outlook.

It need hardly be said that the same problems and the same con-
cepts could be expressed very differently by different psychologists.
Some psychologists might refer to the anarchist type as having a "strong
ego", and might specify in what ways this might be tested. I have no
objection at all to alternative formulations of the problems being made
nor do I question the validity of many techniques entirely different
from those I have used, in testing the predictions which might be made
in terms of an alternative theoretical framework. But each research
worker naturally uses the theoretical framework and the techniques
in which he is most at home.

What was done

Letters were published in Freedom, the anarchist weekly, and later
in The University Libertarian asking for anarchists to volunteer for an
investigation of the anarchist personality. In all, 44 anarchists volun-
teered and completed the battery of tests. In addition, two people
volunteered and then withdrew, and another person took half the test
battery and then withdrew. Eight of the volunteers were women. The
age range of the group was 21 to 75 years, the model age being in the
early thirties.

When a fair section of this group had been tested (the project
extending over about 18 months) it became apparent that one of the
characteristics of the anarchist group was its high intelligence, as
measured on a standard non-verbal intelligence test. To get a com-
parable control group with which to compare it, a group of university
students was chosen. The snag here was that although the students
were of comparable intelligence, or higher, they were younger. The
factor of age had to be watched, and this could be done by seeing if
the performance of the younger anarchists was significantly different
from the older. There were 55 individuals in the student group; 19
of them were women.

It was originally planned to have a second control group of com-
parable size. The essential characteristic of this second control group
was that it was a "cranky" group, but eccentric in a way different from
the way in which anarchists are regarded as eccentric by the general
public. I chose spiritualists as being a small and easily identifiable
group. After I had tested 15 spiritualists I gave up because it was
just too much hard work in getting hold of them, and, in some cases,
getting rid of them once I had enlisted their aid. I may as well give
some details about this small group before I dismiss them and get on
to a discussion of the main part of the experiment.

The Spiritualists

The main characteristic of the spiritualists was their high mental
instability. Most of them were highly neurotic and two were probably
psychotic. Those of them who claimed to have mediumistic powers
or capacity as faith-healers, were highly susceptible to hypnosis, but
the others, against my prediction on theoretical grounds, were resistant
to hypnosis. However, is is becoming increasingly evident in experi-
mental work, high neuroticism is many personalities makes for resist-
ance to hypnosis. The spiritualist subjects were, on the whole, of above
average, or even superior intelligence, but this is partly an artifact of
the sampling procedure whereby subjects were recruited (a fact which
also applies to the anarchist group). They were highly superstitious
over a wide range of topics but not particularly credulous. They had
what may be described as a militantly anti-scientific attitude, and hence
in the psychological laboratory many of them were highly suspicious
and on their guard. Another particular which distinguished the spirit-
ualists from both the anarchist and the student groups, was the extra-
ordinarily high "lie scores" which they achieved in one of the question-
naires, which will be described later. This fact implies either a strong
reluctance to being frank with the experimenter or a marked lack of
insight into themselves.

The mediums and faith-healers in the spiritualist group, although
they were the more eccentric, seemed rather more interesting and
sympathetic characters than the others. The general impression the
spiritualists made was of rather bleak people, unhappy in their personal
lives and desperately seeking a more potent release from the sad realities
of life than an ordinary church creed can provide. The mediums
undoubtedly had special abnormalities, such as hysterical fugue states
which contributed to their belief in their special powers.

This digression on the subject of spiritualists has relevance to the
main research. It is widely believed that anarchists are in a very similar
case—that is that they are emotionally disturbed characters who have
elaborated a wild and impossible social philosophy as an excuse for
their own personal disorientation. One would certainly come to such
a conclusion by reading the pseudo-psychological study of Kolno which
deals in wide generalities about the supposed motivation of anarchists.

The Students and Anarchists

It must be understood that this research was concerned with far
more details than a comparison between the personalities of students
and anarchists. Mention has been made of the philosophical specula-
tions of William James, and a number of psychological hypotheses were
made from this and allied theories, which the present writer was con-
cerned in testing. However, only that part of the research which
concerns the investigation of the personality of anarchists will be con-
sidered in this account.


There were a number of paper and pencil tests. The first, a non-
verbal intelligence test, showed that 27 out of the 44 anarchists were
in the top 5% of the population (this represents an I.Q. of over 126
on the test in question). A non-verbal intelligence test was chosen
because the group had very varied educational backgrounds and occu-
pational experience. The remaining 17 anarchists all had scores above
the 50th percentile (that is above I.Q. 100). The students were not
given the intelligence test.

The remaining pencil and paper tests comprised inventories of
self-rating on a great variety of personal details, a questionnaire about
opinions and a questionnaire about beliefs. The layman may think that
such instruments are a somewhat naive way of gathering psychological
data about people. Can they not be easily faked? Yes, they can be
faked, but the way in which a person fakes a questionnaire may be
considerably self -revealing, particularly when other psychological tests
of a different nature are also being administered.

Extraversion, Neuroticism and Lying

One of the tests was a long inventory which gave scores on extra-
version, neuroticism and lying. It is found in practice that people who
get abnormally low scores on neuroticism also tend to get abnormally
high scores on lying. The implication of this is that, in an ordinary
experimental situation, some people do not like to admit even to a
normal degree of neuroticism and this results in both the neuroticism
score and the high lie score. But the results of such falsification are
apparent in these subjects' performance on other tests too, for instance
on the body sway test, which was also used in the present experiment.

The body sway test consists of the subject standing upright with
his feet together and his eyes blindfolded while he is attached to a
machine which records all his movements. After he has stood for a
period and settled into a relaxed and comfortable posture, a tape
recorded voice is played to him suggesting that he should imagine
himself falling forwards, and suggestions of falling forwards are con-
tinued for two and a half minutes. The natural response to the situa-
tion is for the subject to sway forward to a greater or lesser degree. The
more highly suggestible subjects sway so far forwards that eventually
they lose their balance and have to be caught by the experimenter.
Many subjects who are rather high on neuroticism show a good deal
of static ataxia, that is, in such a situation they cannot maintain their
balance if they sway forwards out of the vertical even a little, they
they therefore tend to fall forwards very soon. A small minority of
subjects will sway backwards on this test, thereby indicating that they
are not unaffected by the suggestions, but are struggling to overcome
the effects of the suggestions.

In the present experiment, out of the 99 subjects (anarchists and
students), nine subjects swayed backwards. Of these, seven were in
the "liar" category, having obtained lie scores above the critical point.
Of the five "liars" who actually fell on the test, all fell before the 45th
second, a fact which suggests that they were in reality high on neurotic-
ism despite their claims on the personality inventory. Those subjects
who obtained more than a critical score on the lie scale, and have been
called "liars", were not regarded as having valid scores on the neurotic-
ism scale.

The above example may serve to show that it is not so easy to
mislead by giving untruthful answers to a questionnaire.

The lie scores of the anarchist group were, as a whole, rather lower
than those of the student group. This does not necessarily show that
the anarchists were more truthful about themselves. It probably reflects
the fact they were more sophisticated than the students, for the device
of the lie scale may be partly apparent to more sophisticated subjects.
Or again, the anarchists having rather different social values, may have
been less concerned to lie about the same aspects of their personalities
as the students. Comparing the valid neuroticism scores of the two
groups, there was no statistically significant difference between them.
Both groups contained a number of individuals who were very high on
neuroticism, and this is by no means surprising. It is generally found
that in groups selected for high intelligence the neuroticism level is
higher than in the general population. But neuroticism must not be
taken to mean neurotic illness, for it is by no means the same thing.
Some psychologists have equated neuroticism with "drive", and it is
natural that among more intelligent, forceful and sensitive people, as
students tend to be, the level of neuroticism is higher.

The student grounp was higher on extraversion than the anarchist
group, but not very much so. Again this is in accordance with the
usual finding that students are more extraverted than the general popu-
lation. There is nothing remarkable about the average level of
neuroticism in the anarchist group.


One of the questionnaires was intended to measure the degree to
which individuals were credulous. Our common experience tells us
that some people are extraordinarily credulous, believing almost any
statement they encounter, whereas others are incredulous to a marked
degree, having a habitual reaction of mistrust towards most of what
they read or are told. A common stereotype of the anarchist is a person
who is pathologically mistrustful, carrying cynical disbelief to absurd
lengths. It was decided to attempt to test the credulity of the subjects
in the present experiment in the following manner.

A large number of statements were assembled, and subjects were
asked to indicate whether they considered them to be probably true
or probably false. These statements ranged from those of extreme
cynicism, e.g. "Psycho-analysis probably never benefitted anyone",
through more moderate statements, e.g. "There is some serious evidence
which implies the existence of telepathy", to statements which would be
endorsed only by the most credulous individuals, e.g. "The existence of
poltergeists is well established."

In designing a test of some supposed psychological trait like
credulity, the experimenter has to be guided by the experience of past
workers and by the "face validity" of the test. What the test does in
fact measure is not in fact apparent until after a large number of people
have done it and their results are available for analysis. In the present
instance it was hoped to measure "'credulity", but when the results
of the responses of the 99 subjects came to be analysed it was apparent
that the questionnaire contained statements dealing with two distinct
areas of belief. Items of type A concerned belief in palmistry, astrology,
life after death, witchcraft, spiritualism and other matters which are
usually referred to as superstition. Items of type B concerned belief
in matters which "scientific experts" allege to be true, e.g. the reality
of subliminal perception, cosmic rays, hypnotic anaesthesia, smoke-
induced lung cancer. A few items were not classifiable, as too many
or far too few subjects endorsed them, or stated that they had never
heard of the topics.

It is quite immaterial whether the statements as they were worded
were objectively true or false. It was apparent that two kinds of
credulity were being measured, and these will be called "Superstition"
and "Trust". The student group as a whole proved to be significantly
higher on Superstition than the anarchist group, and it is scarcely sur-
prising as the latter were more materialistic and sceptical. But what
was surprising was that the anarchists were significantly higher on the
measure of Trust. This was contrary to my expectation and also, as
will be discussed later, it was somewhat paradoxical in relation to certain
other measures of personality.

As the anarchist group has been tested for intelligence there were
differential intelligence quotients within this group even though most
of them were above the 95th percentile. There was a slight negative
relationship observable between intelligence and superstition, that is,
the anarchists with the lower LQ.s obtained higher scores on the Super-
stitution scale. No such relationship existed with regard to the Trust

Intolerance of Ambiguity

This is not a very satisfactory psychological concept, and there has
been a good deal of controversy over the validity of the term. It is
held to be a psychological trait which represents an enduring personality
tendency to react unfavourably to conditions of ambiguity, which results
in an automatic tendency to use one's own processes of distortion is
perception to structure events more definitely. James' version of the
tendency, expressed in terms of pluralism versus monism, has already
been quoted.

The test itself was in the nature of a simple personality inventory,
Care was taken when analysing the results to see if there was any sign
of deliberate distortion (as in the case of the neuroticism scale). There
was no such sign however; the scores of the "liars" were not specially
different from the scores of the other subjects.

It should be noted that in this experiment the "intolerance of
ambiguity" scale which was obtained was heavily loaded on items
which concerned intrapersonal relations. The student group as a whole
was significantly higher on this scale than the anarchists, a result which
is in accord with expectation. The anarchists appear to be considerably
better able to tolerate conditions of ambiguity in interpersonal relations.
Whether one considers this to be a virtue or a fault, depends upon one's
system of values.

The Tender — Tough Dimension

As discussed earlier, the present writer had followed James in
regarding anarchists as a specially tough-minded group. Eysenck and
his associates, in investigating political attitudes, had postulated a tender-
tough dimension orthogonal to the radical-conservative dimension. In
this scheme, while communists and fascists differed considerably on the
radical-conservative dimension, they were found to be alike in tough-
mindedness. Liberals were found to be intermediate between labourites
and conservatives on the radical-conservative dimension, but to be more
tender-minded than either of these two parties. If a typically anarchist
set of opinions is applied to one of the inventories which were used in
this series of studies, it may be seen that by virtue of their support foi
atheism, belief in free love, birth control and other aspects of scientific
rationalism, anarchists will score heavily at the tough end. But by
virtue of their rejection of war, capital punishment, racial discrimination,
etc., anarchists would also score heavily at the tender end. The point
is that such a scale based upon social opinions will give meaningful
information about a person's position on the tough-tender dimension
only if he accepts in large measure the usual assumptions about the
institutions of authority which obtain in the population upon which
the test was standardized.

In the present experiment I knew pretty accurately in advance what
the anarchists' opinions were on the various social matters dealt with
in existing tough-tender scales; I did not need to investigate the obvious.
What I was concerned with, however, was the relationship between this
dimension of personality and other personality variables in the "normal"
population, that is, the students. What I did was to modify an existing
tender-mindedness (T) scale to bring it up to date, and to re-standardize
it on a population of 250 people, spreading the selected groups of this
population sample as widely as possible. What did emerge from this
part of the study was that, among students, there was a positive associa-
tion between tender-mindedness and suspeptibility to hypnosis. This
finding fits in well with the Jamesian view of human personality.

The anarchists' response to the T scale showed a far greatei
unanimity of opinion than I had expected. It looked as though the
anarchists were toeing a "party line" very closely, and that the "party
line" on a range of social topics is that defined by Freedom. The whole
anarchist group had scores above the mean of the student group on the
T scale, that is, the anarchists were apparently more tender-minded !
This may seem an appalling paradox, as I have insisted, and will con-
tinue to insist, that the anarchists are particularly tough-minded. The
fact is that one may hold an opinion for more than one reason. One
may oppose military conscription either because the thought of violence
is utterly abhorrent, or because one is opposed to all manifestations of
state power. An examination of the completed records of the anarchists
showed that the items on which they reached almost unanimous agree-
ment were items in which authoritarian agencies are concerned. By
their rejection of the actions of authoritarian agencies they augmented a
tender-minded score. For those who do accept the authority of the
state, by and large, the response to such questions as those dealing with
bombing, war, penal treatment, capital punishment, etc., will be largely
determined by the degree of tender-mindedness. On a number of items
where there was no anti-authoritarian question at issue, the anarchists
gave abnormally tough-minded responses.

Was the T scale therefore worthless as far as the anarchist group
was concerned? As a measure of tender-mindedness, yes it was pretty
useless for the anarchists, but it was of some interest in demonstrating
the unanimity of the group on many social questions, and as a demon-
stration of the limitations of the method of exploring personality via
social opinions.

Tests of Suggestibility

,The difference between suggestibility and gullibility has already been
discussed and need not be laboured further. The tests used concerned
motor suggestibility, sensory suggestibility and hypnosis. One test of
motor suggestibility, the body sway test, has already been described and
discussed. The other motor tests are somewhat similar as they depend
upon the measurement of overt movements occasioned by the ideas
suggested by the experimenter. Such movements ar not consciously
initiated by the subject; he may even be greatly surprised by the extent
to which un-willed movements will take place as the result of what
the experimenter says to him. In the present experiment the anarchist
group proved to be less subject to this variety of suggestibility than the
student group.

Sensory suggestibility depends upon producing an illusion of sensation
by a suitably rigged experiment. In general, it may be produced by
repeatedly increasing the intensity of a sublimal stimulation until it is
just perceived liminally, and later producing a hallucination of sensation
by re-introducing all the accompanying paraphernalia but with no real
stimulus present. The degree to which such a hallucination may be
induced is a measure of suggestibility. In the present experiment, the
apparatus and technique used were not adequate to get good results.
Although the expected correlation between susceptibility to the illusion
and susceptibility to hypnosis was found, taking the experimental popu-
lation as a whole, this correlation was slight. It was apparent that
many subjects in both experimental groups were too intelligent and
sophisticated to accept the illusion-producing procedure naively. There
was no significant difference between the student and anarchist groups.

Hypnosis is a perfectly normal phenomenon and knowledge of the
psychological mechanisms involved has increased greatly in the past
thirty years due to the continuous research of experimental psychologists.
In the state of hypnosis the subject appears to go into a sort of "sleep",
although this condition is far more similar to sleepwalking than to true
sleep. Hypnosis is an interesting and subtle test of personality. If a
standard procedure of hypnotic induction is given individually to a popu-
lation of subjects, some will become easily and deeply hypnotized, a
larger percentage will become more lightly hypnotized, a similar per-
centage will become relaxed and perhaps temporarily drowsy but have
no obvious change in their state of consciousness, and a similar percent-
age will apparently be entirely unaffected. There are a number of
separate reasons for being insusceptible to hypnosis, viz :

1. The subject just does not want to be hypnotized, and although
he may conform outwardly with the experimenter's instructions regard-
ing lying on the couch, etc., he is determinedly unco-operative inwardly,
and so remains unaffected by the procedure.

2. The subject is perfectly co-operative and may even want to
experience hypnosis, but due to a form of neuroticism, he may not be
able to "let himself go". Such a reaction is typical of the extraverted
neurotic, the hysterical type whose main reaction is an embarrassed

3. The subject whose universe is so firmly structured that it
cannot be easily modified by the suggestions of the hypnotist, even
though he himself might like to take a trip, as it were, into the substitute
universe that the hypnotist tries to create. This is the personality type
which has been labelled "tough-minded", and which is characterized
by materialism, empiricism, pluralism and scepticism.

Susceptibility to hypnosis may be regarded as a characteristic which
is probably distributed in a roughly normal fashion, a small percentage
of people being very highly susceptible, and an equally small percentage
being utterly insusceptible, with most people being of indeterminate
degrees of insusceptibility. For test purposes, however, it is often
convenient to divide a population between the "susceptible" and the
"insusceptible", the distinction being made on the basis of whether or
not the suggestions produced closure of the eyes such that the subject
did not manage to open them again when told he could do so. This
is a convenient criterion, for if the condition of eyelid catalepsy is
reached, a number of other classic signs of hypnosis will also be manifest
upon testing. A number of subjects who are lightly hypnotized and
have a fairly complete memory for all that happened, afterwards report
that they could have opened their eyes if they had "really tried", even
thought they failed to do so. (This raises some interesting side-issues
as to the philosophic status of the will in hypnosis, but the experimenter
must be governed by the objective fact of whether or not the eyes did
open on challenge).

Of the 55 students, 28 proved susceptible to hypnosis, using the
minimum criterion given above. There was no difference between
the male and female students with regard to susceptibility. Of the 44
anarchists only 16 were susceptible to hypnosis; only one of the eight
anarchist women was suspectible. When reporting results it is usual to
state the level of probability at which such differences are observed
might have occurred by chance. This is done by applying a statistical
test of significance, and if the level of chance probability is greater
than, say, 5 in 100, so our confidence in the significance of the results
is reduced. The data given here may be presented in tabular form thus :

Students Anarchists

Susceptible to hypnosis ... 28 16

Resistant to hypnosis ... 27 28

In actual fact taking a 5 in 100 level of chance probability, the
difference in the above data does not quite reach the criterion, and
this fact must be borne in mind when considering the fact that the
anarchists, in numerical terms, were more resistant to hypnosis. As
to the relatively greater resistance of female anarchists the figures may
be expressed thus :

Woman students Woman anarchists
Susceptible to hypnosis ... 9 1

Resistant to hypnosis ... 10 7

Even though these numbers are small the probability of the differ-
ence is high, that is, that the female anarchists were significantly less
susceptible to hypnosis than the female students. This difference
cannot be attributable to neuroticism, for the anarchists were not more
neurotic than the students, but is almost certainly a reflection of the
particularly tough-minded personality of female anarchists.

The question of variance

When comparing the dispersion of a characteristic in different
populations, it is helpful to consider the relative variance of the char-
acteristic in the populations. For instance, there was quite a large
variance of the T scores in the student group, that is, students differed
quite widely from one another on the degree of tender-mindedness they
showed on the test. With the anarchist group, however, the variance
of T scores was very restricted indeed, that is, as has been mentioned
before, there was very little difference between the anarchists in the
opinions they expressed on the questionnaire.

As an example of variance in the other direction, we may consider
the question of age. In the student group the age variance was highly
constricted in contrast to the large age variance of the anarchist group.

Having demonstrated the meaning of variance by means of these
two examples, the significance of variance in personality traits for this
research may be discussed. One question which may be asked is, are
the anarchists in this study representative of a homogeneous personality
type or are they an agglomeration of a wide variety of personality types
calling themselves anarchists? For comparison there is the data on
the group of university students. It may be remarked, of course, that
students are not a representative sample of the population, as certain
personality characteristics are necessarily being selected in the complex
process by which students are selected. This is just one of the many
drawbacks of this study. Looking at the data available, it may be
seen that out of the seven personality measures considered the anarchists
have a larger variance on four. The difference in variance is not great;
in only one measure is the difference of variance between the two
groups of a large and significant size, that is the T score which has
already been discussed.

Expressing the matter in commonsense terms, it is probably correct
to conclude that anarchists differ from one another in personality to
about the same degree that university students differ from one another,
although there are certain well-marked and measurable differences in
personality whereby anarchists may be differentiated from students.


It is hardly necessary to point out that this research is with a
biassed sample of anarchists. We are only concerned with the kind
of anarchists who were prepared to give up their time to come for
a lengthy interview which afforded no particular advantage to them-
selves. The fact that psychological tests were known to be involved
may possibly have discouraged the less intelligent anarchists from
applying, hence the high average intelligence of the group which was
recruited. A similar sort of self-selection procedure may have operated
in favour of mental stability, and indeed I was thankful that none of
the weird and pathological creatures who haunt and disrupt public
meetings, presented themselves to me declaring that they were anarchists.
1 took all comers who alleged that they were anarchists, and I was
perfectly satisfied that they were all sincere.

Some people may be disappointed that I have conducted this
investigation the way that I did and used only the techniques that have
been described. Certainly, other techniques could have been used,
and other data gathered. To any such critics who have alternative
proposals I can only say — why do you not carry them out?

What I was concerned to do was to gather the maximum reliable
personality data from each individual in the minimum of time. I did
not attempt to take full personal histories, as the resultant data would
have formed an amorphous mass of information which would no doubt
be of interest, but which would be difficult to handle and sift in a
meaningful manner. Rather I was concerned with the individual as
he was at the time of testing, irrespective of what factors had contributed
to his development. 1 have been concerned to ascertain facts, and even
if others may not agree with the interpretations I have made, these
facts remain. In this highly condensed account of a very copious
research, I have not had the space to report more than a brief account
of some of the facts which were established. I have offered them in
the interpretive framework of Jamesian philosophy, agreeing with James
that the anarchist is an essentially tough-minded personality type. The
paradox of the highly tender- minded score obtained on the T scale by
the anarchists is valuable in that it calls attention to the peculiar
position of the anarchists on the Left. Their alignment with other
bodies on such issues as pacifism, abolition of hanging, anti-colonialism,
etc., is deceptive. Are the anarchists themselves at all deceived,
imagining themselves to be more tender-minded than they are? Cer-
tainly there is a natural tendency for anarchists to use tender-minded
arguments when it suits their case e.g. in advocating all the arguments
against hanging — while perhaps condoning individual assassination in
certain cases. Few anarchists had tender-minded regrets over the
murder of Mussolini or the attempted murder of Verwoerd. There are,
of course, sincere anarchists of a very tender-minded disposition, and
even a religious attitude to life. They may seek to develop principles of
anarchism which are permeated with a sort of holiness, and their
devotion to the cause takes on a sort of mysticism. Such an attitude
was rare among the sample of anarchists in this study.

I have not attempted to answer the question of "who are the
anarchists?"— I have limited myself to an exploration of some of the
personality characteristics of anarchists who would volunteer for testing,
and compared them with students who volunteered for testing. (I
should mention that the latter were paid a small fee for their attendance).
The big question which needs answering concerns the reason why out
of a population of so many million adults in this country only a few
hundreds identify themselves as anarchists. The investigation reported
here has contributed its mite; at least we know something which is based
upon controlled observation rather than armchair theorizing and indivi-
dual anecdote. The response of 44 anarchists who were prepared to
co-operate is encouraging. At least people are curious and seriously
concerned to establish facts. Maybe the curiosity of the modern era
is going to be fruitful.

References :

Adorno, T. W. et at, (1950) The Authoritarian Personality (New York- Harpers)

Eysenck, H. J. (1945) The Psychology of Politics (London: Routledge & Kegan

James, W. (1907) Pragmatism (London: Longmans, Green & Co.).
Kolnoi, A. (1921) Psychoanalysis and Sociology (London: Allen & Unwin).

Anarchism — a definition

ANARCHISM, from Greek anarchla (non-rule), a political
doctrine standing for the abolition of every organised authority
and State machinery, and the creation of a Stateless society instead.
The anarchists hold that every form of government, whether a
monarchy, a republic, or even a socialist republic, is equally evil
and tantamount to tyranny.They want to substitute for it a free
association of individuals and groups without any coercive organ-
isation, without armed forces, courts, prisons or written law,
merely based on voluntarily respected mutual treaties. Anarchism
covers a great variety of currents which may be divided into the
individualist and socialist schools as to their ends, and into the
peaceful and revolutionary schools as to their means. There is,
however, no anarchism advocating anarchy in the sense of
dissolution of every social order.

— The Penguin Political Dictionary