The True Nature and Goals of Anarchism

Chaos and Disorder?

It's one of the most prevalent and enduring myths regarding Anarchism. It's reinforced daily with news reports of countries that have "descended into anarchy" or political pundits railing against things that we can't do because it would (gasp!) lead to anarchy. The idea that Anarchy and chaos are synonymous has been firmly entrenched within the lexicon of modern imagery.

Yet, it couldn't be much further from the true nature of Anarchism. Anarchists don't oppose society, order, or laws in general. What they do oppose is the idea that one segment of any society should arbitrarily be elevated above and given the power to lord over the rest of that society, not the existence of society itself.

In order to understand the distinction it is essential to avoid confusing governance with the Government. The Government, as an institution, is a segment of the population which is set apart from and above the population in general. They are imbued with unwarranted privileges and vested with the authority to dictate to the rest of that population, usually against the will of the vast majority of that populace, generally by force, and often without having to observe those same rules themselves.

On the other hand, governance is simply the rules by which a group structures the society in which they live. Anarchists believe that it is not only possible, but actually beneficial that members of any society be free and willing participants of the governance of that society.

Such self-governance ensures that the members of that society have a vested interest in it's welfare and success. In contrast, a multi-tiered system of society creates a situation in which an individual or group of individuals is elevated above the rest of society. At best, this creates opportunities for corruption and abuses of authority. At worst, this leads to outright slavery of those at the bottom rungs of that ladder.

Furthermore, most Anarchists are opposed to unnecessary violence and destruction and many even are pacifists. The Government, however, has always, without exception, resorted to force of one type or another to impose their will upon their subjects. In fact, the very nature of hierarchical rule creates an "us against them" type of relationship that encourages conflict between those making the rules and those being ruled.

Many simply accept the idea that, because some level of governance is necessary within a society, then we must bow down to and be abused by people who take advantage of that need to justify and legitimize their crimes and extort special privileges from the rest of society. Anarchists recognize that there is a better, less violent, way.

The Nature of Anarchy

What do you believe Anarchy is?

  • Lawlessness and/or chaos and disorder
  • Voluntary coexistence/ self governance
See results without voting

Is Self-governance Possible?

Can a society exist without a government?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 72 comments

Ann R. Keye 7 years ago

Spot on!


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thnx


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

Would you mind to elaborate on "socialist" anarchism vs "capitalist" anarchism?


Beast of Burden 7 years ago

There is no such thing as capitalist anarchy!


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

Ignorance is a bliss :D


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Sure:

Social Anarchism is actually an umbrella term for a broad category of Anarchist theory including (but not limited to) Anarcho-collectivism, Anarcho-communism, and Anarcho-syndicalism. Each subgroup espouses different approaches to achieving their goals of creating an Anarchist society, but the common factor is their emphasis on the community based and cooperative aspects of anarchist theory and practice. They generally emphasize social equality and mutual aid within a community.

The other major subset within Anarchism is Individualist Anarchy, of which Capitalist Anarchy (Anarcho-capitalism) is a member. The main belief of Individualists is that an individual person's freedoms and self-interest should not be constrained by any collective body or public authority. They generally emphasize individual freedoms and autonomy.

While both groups are similar in their desire to eliminate statism, there are some major differences. The main difference between Socialist Anarchy theory and Individualist theory is their attitude toward property rights and economics. Collectivists believe that there should be no private ownership and property should be owned collectively by the community or the workers within an industry. In addition, while there are different approaches to the process, for the most part collectivists advocate the elimination of the wage system, which they consider hierarchical in nature. On the other hand, individualists believe in private ownership of property and also favor a free market economy without government intrusion.

Anarcho-capitalism is a rather new school of thought that takes Individualist theory to an extreme, by proposing essentially that government be privatised. The police and military would be replaced by private security forces employed either by the individuals or businesses that they protect. Also, contracts between willing parties would replace laws. The central belief is that the expense of conducting war and the bad reputation caused by unscrupulous business practices would be so damaging to profits that it would discourage such actions. This is a pretty controversial branch of Anarchism and many Anarchists (as you can see by the earlier post) don't accept this as a genuine form of Anarchism. The obvious criticism, being that eventually corporations, equipped with their own private armies, would eventually become governments in everything except name. Another criticism being that capitalism is inherrently heirarchical and therefore at odds with basic Anarchist beliefs of equality.

One thing that should be understood is that, while there are many different schools of Anarchist theory and most people who identify as Anarchists might agree more with one or the other, by and large, the most don't subscribe to one rigidly. Rather, they take bits and parts that they agree with from many sources. Personally, I would consider myself a Syndicalist, which is socialist in nature, although I do feel that free markets are possible, provided that a strong, aggressive union (such as the IWW) is used as a counterbalance to protect the intrests of labor.


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

Thanks Eye, it's an interesting reading. I did discover recently that my views are very close to anarchism, so that topic sorta interest me. I can't really couple anarchism with communism or socialism, due to my experience with USSR. So I am closer to anarcho-capitalists in your classification :)


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

You're very welcome,

There is quite a lot of history between the communists and Anarchists, mostly bad. Anarchists share many of their opinions and goals regarding capitalism and class divisions. However, they disagreed with Marx's statist approach to those goals. In fact, Mikhail Bakunin, a 19th century Anarchist, predicted quite accurately that a Marxist government would become worse than the tsars within a year.  


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

Yes indeed! Anarchy as a political philosophy is much misunderstood and underrated. The old stereotype of an anarchist with a bomb has led to many problems of understanding.

I personally am of what you characterise as social anarchy, and also am a pacifist, which adds to the problem!

Love and peace

Tony


Libertarian Freedom Fighter 7 years ago

We do need to limit government, but just goes too far. We need a minimal libertarian government.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks Tony!


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

As far as Libertarianism goes, the biggest problem I have with them (as well as Minarchism, which overlaps a lot) is that their idea of a limited government is one in which you eliminate everything that has any sort of positive potential that the government does and you retain the most destructive and corrupt aspects of it.

I'm against government services, such as welfare, because of the fact I don't think the government should exist at all and I think there are much better methods of providing for those needs. However, if you believe we should have a government, then why shouldn't they provide us with something beneficial?

Of course, the answer you would get from a Libertarian is that they don't want to pay taxes for those services. But, if you look at the actual budget of the government, significantly more taxes are used for the military and police, which they want to maintain, than for any social services.

Just doesn't add up for me.


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 7 years ago

Excellent hub. I am shocked to discover that I too am an anarchist. I guess once you have been through a few years of political bullshit and discovered that your government is not even slightly interested in you or your opinions, this is the logical choice.

Now where did I put that bomb?........

 


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

LOL Mark, this should have really hooked you - I don't remember you commenting on anybody's hub but your own :P


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks Mark!

Usually in the propaganda cartoons the bombs are in a black bag like the doctors carry. Easy access is essential.


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 7 years ago

LOL

Misha - I comment on them occasionaly. But only when they really attract my attention. Of course, usually that results in a deleted comment, but not this time.

E - OK, black bag it is :)


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I don't believe in censorship.


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

You did open a totally different perspective for me. I do agree with your contention of self governance but at the same time I would never encourage taking law into our own hands. It is a very delicate balance to tread. Thumbs up for a great thought provoking hub.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks a lot for the compliment.

It's not so much a matter of taking the law into your own hands as much as it is a cooperative, non-coersive manner of creating laws within a voluntary society.


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

I know Mahatma Gandhi's non cooperation or civil disobedience movement is a classic example but most of the times the crowd goes out of control and start damaging public property in anger. Anarchy if pursued in the lines of Gandhi is certainly a welcome alternate voice of the people against the "government".


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Anarchists are involved in demonstrations and civil disobedience, but by and large, we mainly work through what is known as community building. This consists of organizing local groups and demonstrating that services provided by governments can be provided in a better and more efficient way by members of a community, independent of any government interference. If they would simply leave us alone, there would be no need for demonstrations or protests.

Truth is that the government perpetuates and, in fact couldn't exist without, violence. Even in cases where there is violence during a protest, it's almost without exception, a result of somebody responding to government actions or policies.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Great Hub.

I was watching the BBC today, and they were reporting upon a riot in Athens, a response to a Bulgarian trade unionist having acid thrown in her face.

In true style, the BBC kept blaming 'anarchists' for the trouble, even though it was, quite plainly, left-wing Trade Unionists. At best, this is lazy reporting, at worst a case of oversimplifying the complex issues. Much easier to blame anarchists than actually do some research.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

With the state of the media, especially in America, I certainly wouldn't discount laziness in such cases. More often than not though the government has those reporters in their back pocket, if not actually on the payroll. It wasn't too long ago that the Bush administration was feeding Judith Miller stories and then citing her NYT articles as proof of their claims about the need to invade Iraq.

Another factor with the media is sensationalism, like in this story: http://cbs5.com/local/inside.oakland.riot.2.903374... ; where a bunch of peaceful protesters, who were just following along in a confused daze, were incited to violence by a group of instigators , who "appeared to be Anarchists," yelling for them to come back. Innocent people caught up in the mob mentality of a few anti-government agitators, who are just looking for any excuse to attack the police, makes for a good story.

The fact that the protests resulted from the illegal and unnecessary murder of an unarmed, completely defenseless person and only turned violent once the police decided to forcibly break up the legal and peaceful protests doesn't quite have the same zing.


bgamall profile image

bgamall 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

The government was privatized by the oil companies who got Bush to do everything they wanted, from stealing Iraq oil to fighting Afghanistan in order to get the pipeline that the taliban rejected when they went to Texas in 1997!

Philosophical anarchy must have some similarities to populism. Si, No?


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

You're right bgamall, but the government was bought and payed for long before Bush was ever a part of it.

In terms of ideology, Anarchist theory does overlap a lot with populism in that they both deal with class warfare and elitism. However, the methods of achieving their goals are very different. Unlike Anarchists, populists generally believe in government intervention and regulation to "protect" people in the lower classes. That is why most populist uprisings have been associated with state socialism and have usually resulted in a dictatorship eventually.

Thanks for the comment!


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Just a quick note on some updates:

I added a links section with some related hubs and a couple polls people can vote on (vote early, vote often). And some news feeds down below the comments


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Well, sure, I get that anarchists aren't all a bunch of dreadlocked, bandana wearing people who like to throw chairs through the windows of Starbucks and set mattresses on fire, I think the philosphy is great for a small scale sort of culture. The US is just too darn big.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I'm fine with a small scale sort of culture.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

I want to live in a small scale culture.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

We should all be so lucky.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

I am trying to round up some old friends (and I do mean old) to all pitch in and buy an old fresh air camp or something and establish a sort of communal thing. Actually some young folks would work out as well. The geezers could cook, babysit, garden, clean, and be wise. The younger ones could make money. :)


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

That sounds like a great plan Dolores. I'd tell the youngsters to go easy on the counterfeiting idea, though. That's a real good way to attract the wrong kinda attention.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hahaha, eye, I meant the young ones could go out and get actual jobs. Not me, of course.

The labelling of protesters as anarchists is to demonize them so that people think all protesters are just a bunch of nuts. Back in 1983, 50 companies controlled the media. Now it's down to 6 or so. So they can spin the news any way they want. One should always stand against power.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I think you're right, but it's more of  two-fold objective. First, you associate anyone trying to protest with the Anarchist label to scare people into thinking they are dangerous and shouldn't be supported. Secondly, you try to associate Anarchists with any protest that takes place to make them seem like a bunch of cynical, violent, nuts, who aren't worth listening to. It's much easier to just marginalize and discredit someone (especially when you control the media) than it is to provide an honest answer to their questions.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I don't advocate any illegal activities. Unless it results in free candy.

Where are you finding a vending machine with $.50 candy bars?


lxxy profile image

lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

"..what they do oppose is the idea that one segment of any society should arbitrarily be elevated above and given the power to lord over the rest of that society.." wow, you just made the ruling class cringe!

It saddens me that party after party, cause after cause, your species divides it's self asking for a monolithic machine for answers and help.

Community, lack of fearing your neighbor, and having no qualms about those who are different from you are often hard lessons to take to heart.

In ignorance and complacency breeds the Idiotocracy.

Justice is not "just us."


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I consider one of my main duties in life to be making the ruling class cringe.

Ignorance certainly is one of their favorite tools to maintain control. Evidence of that goes all the way back to the middle ages, when they actively tried to prevent the commoners from learning to read because they didn't want them to read the bible and figure out that most of what they were being told wasn't even in there. With the advent of the public school system it has shifted a bit to selective education over forced illiteracy, but ignorance and complacency are still the goals.

Non government-sanctioned community is another big threat to the elite power structure. That's why you see things like riot police raiding Food Not Bombs chapters and arresting members who are simply trying to feed hungry people. If people ever figured out that they could provide for themselves and live peacefully without the Government, it would be all downhill from there for the ruling class.


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

Anarchy = order without authority


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Personally, I think without coercion or coercive authority would be a little more accurate, but you are absolutely right nextstopjupiter.


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

This is EXTREMELY interesting. It's not very often that someone teaches me something worth any value these days but I actually learned something from this Hub. Thanks for sharing. :)


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

You're very welcome. That's what I'm here for; to share and learn. This s like a little internet-based cooperative.


shareitt profile image

shareitt 6 years ago

very interesting hub...so where do you see America's political agenda taking us? Thanks for the info. :)


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

The same place that every political agenda is, and always has been, designed to take the people it is imposed upon. As much as people would like to believe otherwise, there isn't some new strategy that has just recently been enacted.

Governments have always been, and always will be, designed to enable the elite classes to take advantage of the other members of society with as little effort as possible and to keep resistance to a minimum by disguising it as a positive or at least necessary relationship.


lxxy profile image

lxxy 6 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

Just stopping by to add some "beautiful" "awesome" etc.

Loved this man, linked to one of my newer works. =) Excellent.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks Ixxy, it is very much appreciated.


Daniel J. Neumann profile image

Daniel J. Neumann 6 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

EYEAM4ANARCHY,

I really enjoyed this hub.

I was wondering what you think of my hub... which I consider to be at least partly anarchist (or libertarian):

http://hubpages.com/politics/Libracracy

Thanks,

Dan


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it Daniel.

I don't have time to respond properly at the moment (I will comment in the near future), but I do see some points I would disagree with just off a quick read. That would include your interpretation of Anarchism. I also think it is a rather authoritarian vision of society and not very libertarian at all.


Daniel J. Neumann profile image

Daniel J. Neumann 6 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

EYE AM 4 ANARCHY,

I knew you wouldn't like that bit about "pure lawlessness," but please give my essay a chance.

What I meant to say is classical anarchy is chaos. The democratic, capitalist system you propose is like a structured anarchy without a hierarchy.

As for authoritarian, I guess Libracracy could be considered that (in a vague sense of the word). But keep in mind every individual is a state in a decentralized confederacy. I look forward to your analysis.

Thanks,

Dan


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Well I disagree that what I discuss in this hub is anything less than what anarchism simply is, "classical" or otherwise.

Anarchism is nothing more or less than a voluntary system of society in which people are free to interact with one another without coercion and as equals. That doesn't mean that people are necessarily going to be more violent to one another, nor does it constitute chaos and disorder. The people who benefit from a hierarchical structure within society are the ones who would have you believe that social order is impossible without social control, because that's how they maintain those type of unequal relationships.

In terms of your hub, I would highly suggest either editing it down to a manageable size or splitting it into several parts within separate hubs. It's just way too long. That's not a criticism of its content (I'll do that as a comment), just a suggestion so people will actually read it.


Susie Writes profile image

Susie Writes 5 years ago from Northern California

So glad to fall upon this hub. Great explanation. I am so sick of government and all its abuses and feel we "common folk" can do much better on our own without them. I think it a shame that the clan and tribal systems which, for the most part, seemed to work just fine for millennia have been wiped out and replaced with the garbage we have now for government.

I didn't realize my views were similar to anarchists but then, I didn't really fully understand the label. I just want to be left alone to live my life without the intrusion of government telling me what I can and cannot do and what my morals are to be all the while they themselves do not have to abide by the same standards they set for the rest of us. Thanks for an enlightening read. Bookmarked and now following.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Thanks Susie. Unfortunately, a lot of people have misconceptions about Anarchism and the perceived necessity of government. Of course, much of that is by design, because those governments don't want you to know that there are alternatives.

It's rather obvious that many, many people are sick of government waste and abuses. The problem is though that most of those people just want to replace that group of people (i.e. the current government) with another group of people (i.e. a different political party or ruler), instead of just controlling their own life.


Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago

A lot of people will agree with your views simply because everyone likes to be his own boss. But realistically describe to me a situation where everyone would be everyone's boss. Who will make the laws and who will follow them? Who will be responsible for the roads and security? How will the weak be protected from the strong. How will the historical inequalities be settled? Or shall we be served by the garden of eden?


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I don't need to describe some imaginary scenario where all that happens, because there already are plenty of historical examples of societies existing, prospering, and enjoying great levels of security and equality without established governments. A great example of that is outlined right here: http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

The members of that society would make the laws and, unlike a heirachical society, everyone would be expected to follow them.

I'm not even sure what "a situation where everyone would be everyone's boss" even means, but nothing about Anarchism precludes two people from forming a business relationship, so long as it is a voluntary agreement.

As far as roads, the only thing the government does is employ private businesses to build them with our money. So nothing would prevent us from doing that ourselves and probably in a much more efficient and cheaper manner. In fact, private roads were extremely common throughout America prior to the mid-20th century and many parts of the country almost exclusively relied on privately built roads well into the 1950's.


Rajab Nsubuga profile image

Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

I understand that you wouldn't want to make some imaginary scenario about an "anarchical society" but I would also not want to imagine that there exists an Island somewhere on this planet where there is no form of state. In what you intend to describe at best is called "decentralization" the devolution of powers to local coucils or comittees or people and that is not anarchism!


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Anarchism is a society in which people are free to voluntarily associate with each other in a non-coercive and equal manner. The nature and structure of those interactions can represent many different forms, dependent on the desires and needs of the people within a given society.

That doesn't change the basic concept of Anarchism and that's exactly what I've described in this hub and elsewhere. What exactly is your idea of Anarchism, if it isn't what I've described?

Incidentally, I didn't say I didn't want to make an imaginary scenario of an Anarchist society. I said it was unnecessary to do so, because there are plenty of real historical examples to use. But in fact, we don't need to go back into history or to some remote island to find examples of people existing without a statist structure. Currently in Chiapas, Mexico, there exist 32 autonomous municipalities, protected by the Zapatistas and governed, via self organization, by the indigenous residents of the area.


Rajab Nsubuga profile image

Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates for the rejection of any form of governance. One can not talk of anarchism and governance in the same sentence. You give the example of Chiapas in Mixico. Chiapas is one of the 32 states that make up Mexico. Maybe we have to describe what a state is.

Anarchism is utopian. A state without laws and devoid of any system of governance.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Not one statement you made there is at all true. Anarchists don't oppose rules, organization, or laws and there is nothing utopian about it. They reject the coercive nature in which laws are dictated and enforced in a heirarchical society and advocate for voluntary interactions within a society.

Those are some fairly common misconceptions about Anarchism and one of the main reasons I wrote this hub, which you obviously didn't even bother to read, since they are discussed within the first several paragraphs (including the distinction between "governance" and a government).

I gave an example of self-governed regions within the area of Chiapas, Mexico. We would be much better served discussing what autonomy means in relation to that reference, since the Chiapas state government has no control within any of those regions. The Zapatistas are and have been completely independent of the Mexican government (on any level) since 1994.

If you would like to discuss what Anarchism actually means, I can point you to plenty of resources online.


Rajab Nsubuga profile image

Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

I am not oblivious of what you have stated. Particulary when you state that anarchism opposes a certain segment of society to arbitrarily exercise power. In any society there three main ways of attaining power. That is, through usurpation, representation or elective and absolutism or monarchism.

In a representative society people have the right to elect their governments and that to me does not translent into anarchism. In anarchism people are in total rejection of any form of rule call it leadership.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

You're right that Anarchists reject rulers. That's the entomology of the word Anarchism, which comes from the Greeks words for no rulers. What you are very much wrong about is that there can be no leadership without ruling over others. People can hold positions of leadership without the threat of force against others, should they choose not to accept their decisions.

As I said there are numerous forms of Anarchist societies and many of them involve elected representatives. The one inflexible distinction that makes it an Anarchist society is the voluntary nature of that representation. Members of that society have the ability to recall and replace those representatives immediately, disregard any personal edicts those representatives might issue, and ultimately remove themselves from that societal group without suffering negative repercussions as a result of that decision.

We can argue about whether living under Anarchist principles is possible or if coercive force is necessary within a society. But we aren't going to change what Anarchism means in order to do that, even if a lot of people are confused about what that meaning is.


Rajab Nsubuga profile image

Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

I hope you are talking of confusion in light of the variant interpretations and perceptions. We can also agree that when we talk about leadership, we are not obstructed that it happens in a vacuum. There are key ingredients under leadership; that there exists a sphere of influence, people or subordinates and that there are guiding rules or principles as terms of reference.

You will agree that in no imaginary society can all people be in agreement in all matters of concern. This kind of situation calls for "an agreeable position" against which, restrictions are put in place. What an "anarchist" may term as 'coercion' in the actual sense is 'orderliness.' Let us imagine a society where a parent was voluntarily to take the child to school but under unforeseen circumstances the parent refuses. What justice would be left to the child? Wait for a Good samaritan to come by? For whatever answers you might come up with, I can only guess that they will point at the utopian nature of anarchism.

In your submission you talk of a voluntary nature of leadership, the ability of the people to hire and fire their leadership. That ability is being exercised under many "democratic", "socialist" and "capitalist" societies. That ability is not exclusive to and does not translate into Anarchism. You gave an example of Chiapas, unless we are talking of two different places. But there exists a "Government" of Chiapas somewhere in Mexico. Maybe we shall find it easier to discuss what Anarchism is not than what it is.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Compulsory schooling is an entirely different subject and we could easily discuss the reasons that parents have been forced to send their children to government run schools. It has nothing to do with Good Samaritanship and very little to do with that child attaining a practical education.

In regards to the actual issue being addressed, there are many ways in which order can be maintained within an Anarchist society. Many of them were already discussed in the link I provided earlier and they are no more Utopian than the notion that we can allow one segment of society a monopoly on the use of force and also authority over others and not expect them to abuse it.

In terms of leadership, there are plenty of ways that people can and do assume leadership roles without having to force their authority upon others. This link contains numerous examples of spontaneous organization that is consistent with Anarchist principles: http://www.panarchy.org/ward/organization.1966.htm... --- The idea that there can't be social order without social control is incredibly false and there are tons of examples in everyday life that expose that falsehood.

The fact that some forms of government also allow for limited levels of self rule and voluntary association doesn't change the fact that Anarchism requires it. Because I can vote for a different master within a certain term of years, doesn't make me free, nor does it hold those masters accountable during the years in between. Whether that leadership has the right to initiate force in order to force compliance is what determines whether that association is voluntary or coercive.

In regards to the Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities within the Chiapas region in Mexico, as I've already stated several times, the Mexican government has no authority over them on any level including the government of the state of Chiapas. The Chiapas state government (as well as the Mexican federal government) doesn't exist in those 32 municipalities and hasn't since 1994.

It's obvious that you are having a hard time getting over the fact that the Mexican state of Chiapas is named for the Chiapas region that it is located in. In spite of that, the Chiapas region itself derives its name from the Chiapaneca tribe of Native Americans who lived there as early as 1400 BC, which was about 2800 years before the Spanish ever stepped foot in Mexico (which derives its name from an Aztec word)and from whom many of the Zapatistas are directly descended.


Rajab Nsubuga profile image

Rajab Nsubuga 5 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

So your argument is that we can have a society where people agree all the time? Sorry that couldn't respond to all that you have raised for fear of repeating myself.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

I've never said anything close to that or remotely implied that such a society is necessary. In fact, I've pointed you to several references that discuss non-governmental dispute resolution options.

That false assumption(s) is probably why you have continually repeated yourself, in spite of being completely wrong every time that you have rephrased the same misconception of what Anarchism is.


TruthAwake profile image

TruthAwake 5 years ago from The Dirty South

Ha ha. Wow. I have read down through this entire thread(and it's a long a$$ thread).

I can't help but completely agree to everything you have stated. It makes sense in its simplicity. Maybe it's me, but people by nature love to complicate matters. Perhaps the opposition to the reality of this system lies in that somehow? Must be jaw-dropping to many that a functioning society without government can be just that...a functioning society, as we've all been shackled by our preconceived political notions for so long(or lacking in education on the subject matter). Quite educational material you've got here, it makes me want to research further. Very good read. Thank you.


EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago

Thanks TruthAwake,

It is kinda amazing, and at times frustrating, that people are so wedded to the idea that people can't coexist within a society unless somebody is holding a gun to one of them's head.


TruthAwake profile image

TruthAwake 5 years ago from The Dirty South

I'd say that people by nature are generally lazy. That gun to their heads serves as the motivation that gets them out of bed each day. In a lot of cases, the idea of leading oneself and taking full responsibility for their actions seems intimidating and tedious. In a society that demands instant gratification for everything(America specifically), is it any wonder?

Most would rather sacrifice liberty for convenience...at least until they wake up to the fact that they're really indentured servants (at least one could hope). What to do about THAT. Sigh...


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV. Author

Yeah, there are several factors involved, not the least of which is laziness and a desire to avoid personal responsibility.

The biggest factor though is fear. The governments of the world ensure their continued existence by convincing the vast majority of people that everyone would be running around killing and robbing each other, if not for their presence.


blackconception profile image

blackconception 5 years ago from Florida, US

excellent hub! Especially with the classic Against Me! I am an anarcho syndicalist myself. If you haven't, you should check out submedia.tv . They post a lot of great free commentaries/documentaries for the cause. Fear is a great weapon that the governments of the world use against us anarchists. Just like the red scare, we are labeled as "radical terrorists"; when in reality, they are the terrorists. If you don't pay your taxes; tell me, are you AFRAID of something bad happening to you? That is the definition of terrorism.


TruthAwake profile image

TruthAwake 5 years ago from The Dirty South

@ Blackconception:

Thanks for passing the site along to us, will check it out! Documentaries are awesome. And taxes are definitely fear mongering. It's all about control (of course).

@ Eyeam4anarchy:

A huge example of playing on fears for control, which has been used since the beginning of time- religion. It is also a great divide/conquer method, because it segregates the people. Don't know how you feel about that, but I firmly believe it's one of the best and trickiest methods implemented. Church and state were unified for the longest time, for a reason.


EYEAM4ANARCHY 5 years ago

Yeah bc, taxes essentially amount to the old protection racket that the Mob (basically what the government amounts to) is so fond of. Paying taxes is "voluntary" but they'd hate to see all your nice stuff get seized and/or you end up in prison. So you should make sure you pay them.

TA, I agree that religion has often been used as yet another tool to control the masses. However, I have known people who are genuine in their beliefs, including some Christian Anarchists. They are in the minority, but as long as they are consistent in their beliefs, I'm fine with them. Catholic Worker is a great example.


youngAnarchist420 profile image

youngAnarchist420 5 years ago from morganton, north carolina

i have a friend that has been telling me about anarchism, and its been making me feel real comfortable to beleive in what hes talking about and im very interested in knowing a lot more. so when i read this thread i learned what i needed to. i honestly hate the government and its ways to try and help society when half the people that get welfare or stupid shit like that dont even deserve it. i have so many family members and kno so many people with food stamps and stuff that do not even deserve it but the government is wayyy to stupid to realize what they are giving away all the time. people should be raised to be with the people they want to be with and to be respectful. we are always criticized just for smoking pot or fighting or even wearing crazy clothes or having mo-hawks. its fucking ridiculous that the people in the world that need to be heard and understood do not have a chance because of there drug addict familys. people need to become one, help eachother out, give eachother a ride if its raining, not ignore the person thats having a bad day. the smallest things like giving someone a bud of weed can go so far in this world. and a big reason of that is the fucking religious point of views that miollions of peopole are brainwashed into. only the strong and intelligent can realize this. anarchism is all about people doing what they need to, in order to live a good life.

i dont really kno if this is correct but thats the way i feel this world should be like.


sparrish 4 years ago

Ok I am likely way too late to this conversation but hopefully I'll get a response from the author. First of all good article. I enjoyed it. The definitions you give for anarchism are essentially accurate based on my own understandings of other anarchists writers. I think most people would find it hard to argue against the idea that a society should be based on the right of non-coercive associations and equal application of the law, or rules, agreements, etc. I think the reason for the approval here is that what you describe is not far removed from the idealized principles (if not practiced) underlying the United States Constitution. Yet their seems to be an implied assumption that community law is not legitimate unless universally accepted. Is this realistic, even in extremely small societies? When factions develop over particular issues, and it is naïve to think they never will, is the solution just for the minority to pack up and move on? Sometimes this is not an option and a community has to develop authoritative channels - whether ritual or institutional - for dealing with the reality of social conflict without violence. Sure limits can be placed on these authorities, but there is little structural assurance that their decisions will be accepted by all, leading to splintering, migration, or violence.

It is often an oversimplification to believe that authoritative these channels arise historically simply as a result of central planning and foresight. In late medieval and early modern Europe royal judicial institutions were often demanded by local communities against the desires of rulers simply because the cost was too high to offer the service. The establishment of public services in the 20th century moreover remains an object of attack by corporate elites. These process were not simply conspiracies hatched in little rooms, but complex historical developments that largely came about because local communities tend to develop provincial elites and a class of mediators with other locales. Local communities have also demanded these intrusions to play off of local elites or factions. In other words the forces generating modernity and the state have been the result of local dynamics and conflict as much as imposed "plans" conceived by supposedly far seeing central powers. The reality is most central powers are incredibly short sited and disinterested in providing social justice and services, it is the pressures from the margins that often demand they be otherwise. Now I suppose we could ensure that no local elites ever arise, but you might as well ask a community to always find consensus and remain extraordinarily isolated from other communities in terms of materials and information. Even in these conditions, particularly among the disappearing Amazon tribes, ethnographers have shown that conflict and group separation is a structurally ingrained part of their existence.

Thirdly, the idea that local communities can supply all their own needs would make sense if everyone born in a community never left, died there, and their children followed suit. But this is not what actually happens. Human populations have always been on the move, crossing cultural boundaries, making better lives for themselves, following opportunities, forming translocal networks. Capitalism did not invent this activity, it was as much a part of the ancient and early modern world as it is today. Another way of viewing the local therefore, is as an expression of these complex process of mobility. You point to Wild West communities as examples of successful anarchist communities, but they were no more "outside" the capitalist system of the eastern U.S. than New York or Boston. They were simply the temporary vanguard of this system because their existence depended on markets elsewhere.

Essentially what I see in anarchist thought is a rejection of mass society. The solutions I always hear are always about pairing off into local self-sustaining communities, usually with like minded people. It sounds neat and clean, but the lack of discussion about local conflict dynamics, human mobilities, (and don't forget contingencies like disease which were actually the primary motivation for the first public institutions in Europe) makes it seem pretty one dimensional.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working