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What Is Your Problem With Anarchy?

 
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:50 am
I am looking for answers to this question because I don't feel that there is an adequate understanding of anarchy on this forum.

I believe that all political discussion begins with the question "Is the state necessary and beneficial" and must be understood in terms of the costs of government. This is important because I feel that political discourse has begun to simply assume the state and ignore its costs.

To understand the costs of the state, however, one must understand the absence of the state. This is why I feel that, in order to make inferences about what the state should do, there must be a general awareness of what anarchy actually is, even if one isn't an anarchist.

So, the purpose of this thread is to determine the costs and benefits of anarchism, or alternately, to determine the costs and benefits of government. The method, however, is slightly different as I don't believe such a simple measurement is possible at this juncture.

The method I propose is thus:

I will begin by presenting a brief introduction to Anarchism. It is a broad field, and I will begin by trying to present its most basic qualities, those qualities that set it apart. The goal here is not to put forth an argument for anarchism (although, since I am sympathetic, it may seem so), rather to frame the discussion.

Then, if the interest allows it, I will entertain criticisms of anarchy and provide defenses to those criticisms. I do not pretend to be the sole defender of anarchism or an authority on it, so hopefully I will be joined in defending it. I also do not pretend to believe that I can put forth an argument that will sway everyone to the virtues of anarchism, as I have known individuals who were aware of arguments for anarchism but simply did not accept them in full. I expect the same here.

So on to the introduction:

Benjamin Tucker introduces anarchism as well as I have seen thus far:

"The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that 'the best government is that which governs least,' and that which governs least is no government at all."

I like this because it sums up two very important qualities of the anarchist. First, they accept the smaller the government, the better, and therefore no government is best. Secondly, this acceptance is justified in the terms of liberalism.

So basically, the anarchist holds to the ethical statement that all men are ends-in-themselves and should be treated as such. Therefore, the foremost quality of a just society must be liberty, in that liberty allows the individual to be self-actualized, can be his own end. The anarchist then moves on to state that any and all government intervention is a breach of this liberty and should be eliminated. So far this is not all that controversial.

What is controversial about the anarchist is, like I have stated, the belief that not only is government bad, but that it is unnecessary.

Now the anarchist doesn't preach of utopia, and the anarchist doesn't preach of chaos. These must be understood. The anarchist preaches virtue but understands that we are sinners. The anarchist states that no one should live their lives by another's rules, but recognizes that society needs rules.


At this point, instead of plunging into any more depth concerning the nature of anarchism and its proponents, I would like to entertain answers to the original question:

What is your problem with anarchy?
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:19 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
I would suggest that the definition of Anarchy, as I read the post, barely distinguishes the position from a mildly conservative, laissez-faire position that could be held by Barry Goldwater, Hayek, or many signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The strict definition, originating from historical phenomena, tells us that Anarchism is a position that advocates the complete abolition of all political control within a society, and the destruction of all state apparatus. Anarchy, in this sense, then is another word for Hobbes' "original state of nature" where life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short.

I think it important to clarify exactly what we are talking about here in this thread.
Icon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:46 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Prof: "I'm a rational anarchist. . . .A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undimayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."

Wyoh: "Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals--surely you would not want ... well, H-missiles for example--to be controlled by one irresponsible person?"

Prof: "My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist--and they do--some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.' Just me. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts."


This is an excerpt from Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. This is the best definition of Anarchy which I have seen in... well... ever. An Anarchist in the modern world needs to realize that the abolition of government and control is not going to happen and should not happen as a good majority of the population is not mentally prepared to handle the full consequences of their actions. However, it is not beyond the individual to live in a manner which coincides with their own views of morality and truth. Anarchy has evolved from the complete destruction of society to a more personal level. I am, myself, an anarchist. I am not violent or aggressive nor am I going to push my views on anyone else. It is simply my point to live my life as I will. As an Anarchist, I subscribe to social contract in which I will follow the rules of the place where I live until I stumble across a rule I do not like at which point, I will determine if this rule is worth leaving the place for. I take responsibility for all of my actions regardless of whether or not they follow the rules of a social contract but I follow social contract as a way to get along in the place that I choose to live.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:48 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
I would suggest that the definition of Anarchy, as I read the post, barely distinguishes the position from a mildly conservative, laissez-faire position that could be held by Barry Goldwater, Hayek, or many signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The strict definition, originating from historical phenomena, tells us that Anarchism is a position that advocates the complete abolition of all political control within a society, and the destruction of all state apparatus. Anarchy, in this sense, then is another word for Hobbes' "original state of nature" where life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short.

I think it important to clarify exactly what we are talking about here in this thread.



Quite often the various forms of statism are justified in much the same manner as anarchism. This is why I stated that the controversial point about anarchism is the position that government is an ultimately unnecessary evil, rather than a necessary one, as many statists might posit. Note that the quote classified anarchists as "unterrified Jeffersonian democrats". That is what I like about the quote, it notes the similarities between anarchists and some statists, but also calls out the most important difference.

Many of the statists you have mentioned, and it appears you are included in this group, acknowledge the tremendous downfalls of government, but are "terrified" (to use Tucker's language) of a society without the government, linking it to Hobbes's description.

The fact of the matter is that Hobbes's original State of Nature is pretty ludicrous. Not only is it an obviously simplistic and wrong view of the nature of humanity, but it presents a false dichotomy because of it. The archaelogical record and modern study of human behavior have nearly completely controverted what Hobbes' thought of people without a common force to keep them in line.

The truth of the matter is that Rousseau was correct: Hobbes examines people brought up in a cruel and unjust social order and then applied the behavior conditioned by this order to individuals who are outside of it. The archaeological record and modern study of human behavior has shown that people are naturally moral, naturally social, and existed in mutually beneficial social relations before the advent of any "common power".

All in all, every idea of a state of nature as opposed to a social order is just silly in view of our scientific understanding of our past and nature. We simply aren't born rational blank slates who join society out of their self-interest. We are born as social creatures who instinctively understand the mutual benefit of combined learning, production, and defense. We may have and employ reason in creating our social structures, but all of this reason is simply a matter of affirming and fulfilling social tendencies that are built into our nature.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:59 am
@Icon,
Icon wrote:
Prof: "I'm a rational anarchist. . . .A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undimayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."

Wyoh: "Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals--surely you would not want ... well, H-missiles for example--to be controlled by one irresponsible person?"

Prof: "My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist--and they do--some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.' Just me. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts."


This is an excerpt from Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. This is the best definition of Anarchy which I have seen in... well... ever. An Anarchist in the modern world needs to realize that the abolition of government and control is not going to happen and should not happen as a good majority of the population is not mentally prepared to handle the full consequences of their actions. However, it is not beyond the individual to live in a manner which coincides with their own views of morality and truth. Anarchy has evolved from the complete destruction of society to a more personal level. I am, myself, an anarchist. I am not violent or aggressive nor am I going to push my views on anyone else. It is simply my point to live my life as I will. As an Anarchist, I subscribe to social contract in which I will follow the rules of the place where I live until I stumble across a rule I do not like at which point, I will determine if this rule is worth leaving the place for. I take responsibility for all of my actions regardless of whether or not they follow the rules of a social contract but I follow social contract as a way to get along in the place that I choose to live.


The anarchist knows he cannot socialize blame and values and all those other metaphysical traits of the individual, but he does believe that the defense of these can be socialized as a matter of mutual respect and/or benefit and not fear of a state.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:02 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Ide like to ask is the conclusion utopia or criminal heaven?..Any government or no government performed by or lived in by reasonable collective humans can succeed but as perfection is not possible its all academic..
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:34 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
It was not my attention to express any sort of position about "anarchy" but to draw attention to the problems that arise by what I see is a very general use of the term to describe something that it does not strickly mean, and by doing so to further the discourse that will follow.
0 Replies
 
Icon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:38 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
The anarchist knows he cannot socialize blame and values and all those other metaphysical traits of the individual, but he does believe that the defense of these can be socialized as a matter of mutual respect and/or benefit and not fear of a state.

Precisely.

To answer xris: The final conclusion is actually that anarchy is not possible given the current state of the world. People need a control and need some form of ethical guidance as most people have been controlled for so long that they no longer have the tools necessary to govern their own ethical state. In other words, the restrictions of society have cleansed the mechanisms which would allow one to reason out their own ethics. Because of this, the only way to actually sustain a society of this nature would be to re-learn everything that society has un-learned without losing what society has taught us. An improbable task similar to Marxism or Barterism.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:55 am
@Icon,
With that in mind whats obviously wrong with democracy? is it actually better in the long run..
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:07 pm
@Icon,
Icon wrote:
Precisely.

To answer xris: The final conclusion is actually that anarchy is not possible given the current state of the world. People need a control and need some form of ethical guidance as most people have been controlled for so long that they no longer have the tools necessary to govern their own ethical state. In other words, the restrictions of society have cleansed the mechanisms which would allow one to reason out their own ethics. Because of this, the only way to actually sustain a society of this nature would be to re-learn everything that society has un-learned without losing what society has taught us. An improbable task similar to Marxism or Barterism.


Yes, anarchism is a process and not an end: Namely it is the process of disalienation, whereby all individuals reject all values and influences that are not a part of their nature as humans. Anarchy is dynamic and never static. Anarchy is always emerging and never established. Anarchy is never governing and always rebelling.
0 Replies
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:10 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
With that in mind whats obviously wrong with democracy? is it actually better in the long run..


There is nothing wrong with democracy, and it will likely play a vital role within anarchy. It is democracy that is not based in free association that is the wrong. Forcing someone to accept a collective decision is no more justified that forcing someone to accept another individual's decision.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:14 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
There is nothing wrong with democracy, and it will likely play a vital role within anarchy. It is democracy that is not based in free association that is the wrong. Forcing someone to accept a collective decision is no more justified that forcing someone to accept another individual's decision.
Well i dont think there is anything at the moment better than democracy but it aint perfect..it panders to the voters and ignores the important long term issues..
0 Replies
 
Icon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:14 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
With that in mind whats obviously wrong with democracy? is it actually better in the long run..

It's kind of hard to explain my stance on this.

Let's see if I can manage. Democracy is a wonderful method, in theory, of running a nation while keeping the people in charge. The problem with democracy and any other social system is that people are not the same. People vary in many ways and cannot be restricted to one set of rules. This is where anarchy comes in. In anarchy, the rules are based upon resources. There would still be groups of people and people would still ban together and form small social structures but these structures would be entirely independent and the "rules" as you might call them would be based on what was limited and what was common. Natural laws if you will.

In democracy and any other social structure, you form a dependence on the government to provide something for the people including rules, punishment, means of producing wealth and prosperity, services to keep everything neat and clean, health services to keep us all in good health. With this dependence, we are slowly but surely losing our ability to govern our selves and so the crime rate is increasing, the streets are getting filthy, people are homeless and hungry because they lost everything, all because we are depending too much on a government which is built to serve the few and not the many. Not to mention that the government was built to serve a small community with a common goal of freedom and propsperity. We have no common goals any longer and we cannot live by common rules. Government in general is breeding in ignorance and dependency to the point where most people these days are fairly useless. In ancient times, these people would be considered no better than children, weak and stupid. This is not to say that everyone is stupid, only that we are getting there through a series of controls.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 01:21 pm
@Icon,
To me the problem is that communities have become to large and unresponsive..territory is the important thing .countries form alliances to gain strength but they loose identity and the individuals voice is lost..The natural manageable tribe with reliance and respect for its neighbour for me is the only form humans are capable of and thrive in..
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 07:23 am
@xris,
I believe that Anarchy, like any other form of social order (or non-order, as they case may be) looks great on paper...

... as does Democracy, if everyone does what they "should" do. Monarchy is fantastic in theory, if the leaders are caring, benevolent and of sound judgment. Communism would be great, were there not the propensities of power-corruption with in the human psyche. Each form, including anarchy, has it's Achilles's Heel whereby its pure form is made unattainable.

My point is this: Anarchy, like any other form of social construct, would be fine if humans weren't "human". The key lies in acknowledging that no collection of humans will ever craft any form of "collecting" without the innate issues of human-nature tainting it. This being said, the question becomes which form of "organization" - if at all - best suits the needs of the human animal.

Thanks
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 07:34 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I believe that Anarchy, like any other form of social order (or non-order, as they case may be) looks great on paper...

... as does Democracy, if everyone does what they "should" do. Monarchy is fantastic in theory, if the leaders are caring, benevolent and of sound judgment. Communism would be great, were there not the propensities of power-corruption with in the human psyche. Each form, including anarchy, has it's Achilles's Heel whereby its pure form is made unattainable.

My point is this: Anarchy, like any other form of social construct, would be fine if humans weren't "human". The key lies in acknowledging that no collection of humans will ever craft any form of "collecting" without the innate issues of human-nature tainting it. This being said, the question becomes which form of "organization" - if at all - best suits the needs of the human animal.

Thanks

In general most people will mess up somehow. So with all systems that focus on the group you end up with a crap situatuation mitigated by the minority who still have sense. Whereas in a monarchy mayeb 90% of the leaders will suck and do so unmitigatedly, once in a while you get a situation where you have a nation ruled by someone possessed of some sense. It's a lottery but it beats rule by the mostly stupid.
0 Replies
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 08:22 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I believe that Anarchy, like any other form of social order (or non-order, as they case may be) looks great on paper...

... as does Democracy, if everyone does what they "should" do. Monarchy is fantastic in theory, if the leaders are caring, benevolent and of sound judgment. Communism would be great, were there not the propensities of power-corruption with in the human psyche. Each form, including anarchy, has it's Achilles's Heel whereby its pure form is made unattainable.

My point is this: Anarchy, like any other form of social construct, would be fine if humans weren't "human". The key lies in acknowledging that no collection of humans will ever craft any form of "collecting" without the innate issues of human-nature tainting it. This being said, the question becomes which form of "organization" - if at all - best suits the needs of the human animal.

Thanks


I would just like to point out that the human race was most attuned to its "nature" for the thousands of years that it existed prior to the advent of the state.

Say what you want for the feasibility of the setup, but I don't think you can deny that human nature tends towards the small stateless community.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 10:17 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Hey MFTP,

Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
I would just like to point out that the human race was most attuned to its "nature" for the thousands of years that it existed prior to the advent of the state.


I suppose so, in a way. And I think I can see where you're coming from. I do believe Anarchy, within the context you describe, does have an allure (and also much potential therein).

But yea... my response was simply to illustrate my own view. That almost any system - properly, responsibly and humanely administered - would be near heaven. Of course, this is the point up for debate and is my own view. This is not to refute any portion of what you said.

Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Say what you want for the feasibility of the setup, but I don't think you can deny that human nature tends towards the small stateless community.


Fair enough. But the second part of this quote - I must admit that I'm very curious: In what aspects would you say human nature tends towards the smaller communities. Practical (historical) experience on population patterns seems to suggest otherwise (at least to this amateur). Would you mind expounding?

Thanks in advance.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 12:17 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I suppose so, in a way. And I think I can see where you're coming from. I do believe Anarchy, within the context you describe, does have an allure (and also much potential therein).

But yea... my response was simply to illustrate my own view. That almost any system - properly, responsibly and humanely administered - would be near heaven. Of course, this is the point up for debate and is my own view. This is not to refute any portion of what you said.


Your point is true, but to counter with my own opinion, any system that is run "properly, responsibly, and humanely" would be indistinguishable from anarchy. As an anarchist, I don't really prescribe what social structures will emerge, I only prescribe how people should go about securing their liberty.

What people do with their freedom is their own business.

Quote:
Fair enough. But the second part of this quote - I must admit that I'm very curious: In what aspects would you say human nature tends towards the smaller communities. Practical (historical) experience on population patterns seems to suggest otherwise (at least to this amateur). Would you mind expounding?

Thanks in advance.


1. Our closest relatives, chimps and gorillas, naturally live in small family centered groups. This points to a similar nature in us.

2. Of the 200,000 year history of humanity, 190,000 years of it was spent in small nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers.

3. The growth of agricultural societies was usually not a matter of hunter-gatherers adopting sedentary lifestyles, but of the growth of the population and specialization of sedentary groups over-running hunter gatherer communities.
Icon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Nov, 2008 01:13 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:

1. Our closest relatives, chimps and gorillas, naturally live in small family centered groups. This points to a similar nature in us.

2. Of the 200,000 year history of humanity, 190,000 years of it was spent in small nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers.

3. The growth of agricultural societies was usually not a matter of hunter-gatherers adopting sedentary lifestyles, but of the growth of the population and specialization of sedentary groups over-running hunter gatherer communities.


I would like to add that the major cities and larger communities also have very small "sub-cultural" groups which act within the larger. Even more, these sub-cultures are broken up into smaller groups of cliques. Because of our need to be near water and a good food supply, have certain types of land for cultivating crops and enough rain fall to sustain a healthy, refreshed water supply, we have had to move into cities of larger population. This forced an evolution of sorts but still has not removed our small community habits as we still try to keep things small and close. I may know hundreds of people but I only spend my time, on average, with a small number of them.
 

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