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Anarchy: An Introduction

Updated on December 15, 2016

Anarchy still has a ways to go before it can be considered a viable solution to the world’s ills. Though it is ancient as humankind, when people think of anarchy today, they either think of two things:

  • This anarchist is a violent, murderous fanatic, or;
  • This “anarchist” is a spiky-haired, leather-vest-wearing punk who thinks Green Day is edgy.

What is anarchy?

It’s disturbing the percentage of modern, progressive society that still believes anarchy equates to total chaos, but that’s not necessarily true. In fact, it doesn’t have to be true at all, but the intrinsic nature of the majority of humankind suggests there would most certainly be a temporary period of chaos as a society acclimated to governance lost that system too quickly at a time.

In reality, anarchy does not mean to be without rules. It means to be without rulers. Neither of these things need be synonymous with the other.

Anarchists don’t even necessarily need to despise the government they’re seeking to depose — they need only to believe that individuals are capable of governing themselves.

Does anarchy work in practice?

There are no entirely anarchist countries (unless you count Somalia, but we’ll venture there later), but there are countries with independent anarchist communities. A prime example of one is the town of Christiana in Denmark [x]. Originally a plot of land some 700+ squatters took control of in 1969, it is now its own independent province within Denmark, with its own flag and currency. It is self-governed, though everyone must follow a few simple rules, referred to as Christiana Common Law — no fighting, no hard drugs, no weapons and no stolen goods.

Decisions in Christiana are made via consensus, meaning every resident must agree upon a plan of action before it can be performed. Citizens meet often to discuss issues and concerns. Private property is also nonexistent, so the entire community’s efforts reap the entire community’s rewards.

Other anarchist communities that operate similarly to Christiana are Acorn in Louisa County, Virginia; Trumbullplex in Detroit, Michigan; and Stapleton Colony in Stapleton, North Yorkshire.

Somalia has been without an organized government since 1991, and the Somalis still refuse to be governed. Though the country is far from stable, it would seem that at least they are doing better under anarchy than they did under corrupt government. Peter Leeson, economics professor and BB&T professor for the study of capitalism, says the reason is due to “renewed vibrancy in
critical sectors of Somalia’s economy and public goods in the absence of a predatory state.” Data also shows that of the 18 development indicators, Somalia has made improvements in 14 of them under anarchy:

  • life expectancy is higher;
  • “infant mortality has improved 24 percent;
  • maternal mortality has fallen
    over 30 percent;
  • infants with low birth weight has fallen more than 15 percentage points;
  • access to health facilities has increased more than 25 percentage points;
  • access to sanitation has
    risen eight percentage points;
  • extreme poverty has plummeted nearly 20 percentage points;
  • one-year-olds fully immunized for TB has grown nearly 20 percentage points, and for measles has in-
    creased ten;
  • fatalities due to measles have dropped 30 percent;
  • and the prevalence of TVs, radios,
    and telephones has jumped between 3 and 25 times.”

These improvements came after a bloody transitioning period, during which 300,000 Somalis were killed in the civil war that followed the collapse of the State. So, as was previously stated, no transition into anarchy is fluid and we would be fools to genuinely expect otherwise.

Anarchy comes in many forms

Probably too many forms to discuss here, though I may focus on them in future posts. The only one, however, that, in my personal opinion, makes the most sense is individualist anarchism, which doesn’t adhere to one train of thought but many, even if one or more of them conflict with each other. Besides semantics, the theory of anarchy shouldn’t be confused with hyphenated words and too much philosophy. In its essence, anarchy seeks to free individuals from anything they have not formally consented to, especially organized government. Rights and freedoms that individuals may or may not be entitled to would certainly earn their day in the sun, but for this moment in time, it is prudent, first and foremost, to establish a stateless society in which individuals can make their own rules to live by, so long as they do not harm and/or interfere with another’s.

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