Anarchists marching with the 'No Gods, No Masters' slogan on a banner
Anarchists marching with the 'No Gods, No Masters' slogan on a banner

No gods, no masters is an anarchist and labour slogan. It has been in common use by anarchists and socialists in Europe 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 as a labour slogan is evident in a pamphlet handed out by the Industrial Workers of the World during the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike.[1] 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.[2][unreliable source] 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."[3]


Margaret Sanger's feminist pamphlet used the slogan as a subtitle in 1914.
Margaret Sanger's feminist pamphlet used the slogan as a subtitle in 1914.

Its first use can be traced back to the French journal Ni Dieu ni Maître [fr], published in 1880 by Auguste Blanqui.[citation needed] The French phrase appears twice in Friedrich Nietzsche's 1886 work Beyond Good and Evil. It appears first in Section 22, in a critique of the notion that nature dictates a morality of equality before the law. It appears again in section 202 where he identifies it with the anarchists and as indicative of their "herd" mentality, which he is criticizing.[4] It is also the inspiration behind English poet A.E. Housman's "The laws of God, the laws of man", which was published in 1922 in his final collection, Last Poems. The poem effectively dramatises the psychological urge behind the saying, but also ends with a reflection on the impracticality criticism often levelled at anarchist philosophy.[5]

Feminist usage

In 1914, Margaret Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newsletter which promoted contraception using the slogan "No Gods, No Masters". Sanger insisted that every woman was the mistress of her own body.[6]

Women without superstition: No gods – No Masters! by Annie Laurie Gaylor is a collection of writings by women freethinkers during the 19th and 20th century.[7]

Contemporary usage

"No gods no masters" in anarchist neighborhood
"No gods no masters" in anarchist neighborhood

Today the slogan continues to find use in anarchist politics. An anthology of anarchist writing was collected under the title No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism.[8]

The slogan has also found use in musical cultures, largely associated with the punk movement. But it was first used in the French chanson field, by the anarchist poet and singer-songwriter Léo Ferré who released the song "Ni Dieu ni maître" on an EP in 1965.[9] This song, metaphorically depicting the French death penalty procedure, ends with these verses: "This slogan that breaks all the rules / Made for the benefit of fools / Rejecting all authority / Unless respecting liberty / This principle of human rights / I recommend it for your fights / We shall proclaim it to the last / No God no master!".

The slogan was also chosen as a song title by the English crust punk/heavy metal band Amebix on their EP Who's the Enemy,[10] Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy on their album Khaos Legions,[11][12] Luxembourgish neofolk/martial band Rome on their album Confessions d'Un Voleur d'Âmes[13], and Chicago-based hardcore band Harm's Way, who released an EP entitled No Gods, No Masters in 2010.[14] The slogan is used as the main chorus in the song "Religious Cancer" by Nailbomb on their album Point Blank.[15]

Canadian female punk band Pantychrist released their song "No Gods No Masters"[16] in 2014 with lyrics espousing the pro-feminist usage of the phrase that was used as the byline of the 1914 Margaret Sanger newsletter The Woman Rebel.

The slogan was rephrased as No Gods, No Managers, as an album title by American crack rock steady band Choking Victim.[17]

The phrase was used directly as the name of the band Garbage’s seventh album, No Gods No Masters (2021).

The phrase has also been modified by religious anarchists, who combine neopagan religiosity and anarchist ideas, to be "Many Gods, No masters".

See also


  1. ^ "mshist". 5 January 1916. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Question: origin of the slogan "ni dieu ni maître" | Radical Reference". Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  3. ^ (Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent, Pan Classics, 1975 edition, p. 228)
  4. ^ "Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil". February 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  5. ^ "The laws of god, the laws of man". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  6. ^ ""No Gods, No Masters": Margaret Sanger on Birth Control". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  7. ^ "The Michigan Daily – Google News Archive". Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  8. ^ Guérin, Daniel (2005). No Gods, No Masters – Daniel Guérin – Google Books. ISBN 9781904859253. Retrieved 11 June 2012 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "Léo Ferré – Ni Dieu Ni Maître". Discogs.
  10. ^ "AMEBIX- Who's the Enemy 7"EP (Spiderleg Records, UK, 1982)". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Arch Enemy official site". Arch Enemy. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Khaos Legions review". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Rome (4) – Confessions D'Un Voleur D'Ames". Discogs. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Closed Casket Activities " Harm's Way – No Gods No Masters". Archived from the original on 21 May 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Religious Cancer Lyrics at Google Play Music".
  16. ^ "Pantychrist Bandcamp". Pantychrist. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  17. ^ "No Gods/No Managers: Choking Victim: Music". Retrieved 11 June 2012.