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Anarchy Unbound
August 17, 2007 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Who Needs Government? Over at Cato Unbound, Peter Leeson gives a spirited defense of self-government, which is followed by a number of responses from scholars, including a rebuttal by Leeson. Check the sidebar on this issue's front page for more discussion.
posted by Falconetti (65 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm guessing none of these guys are from New Orleans.
posted by gum at 3:15 PM on August 17, 2007


gum, could you make your point less obtusely?
posted by oddman at 3:21 PM on August 17, 2007


I wouldn't use the government of New Orleans as a shining example of institutional government. The articles are far more nuanced than "Anarchy Awesome in Every Situation! Government Bad Always!" anyways.
posted by Falconetti at 3:24 PM on August 17, 2007


This is the type of crap that keeps me in the theocratic-conservative camp and away from the libertarian one. I'm not even going to say they are wrong, because the anarco-(insert -ism/-ists) always make good points, but there are far too many issues to wade through first. Anarchy isn't going to happen before a great economic collapse, far too many people, including myself, have to much invested in the government to just voluntary let it go.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 3:26 PM on August 17, 2007


Leeson is using Somolia as a model for self-governance? Lovely.
posted by octothorpe at 3:26 PM on August 17, 2007


Now here is a bright guy who has some bright ideas. How does he earn his living? who pays him"
here's who:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/1999/9911.callahan.think.html
posted by Postroad at 3:32 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's that you say? Somalia was better off without a "wealth-destroying, wildly corrupt, and highly predatory" dictatorship? Pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries didn't always kill each other (just the people they stole it from) over booty?

Well for crying out loud, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

*grabs a pitchfork and a torch and marches on city hall*
posted by Riki tiki at 3:37 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing none of these guys are from New Orleans.

Yeah! Were it not for the adroit, timely intervention of federal bureaucracy, New Orleans could have been devastated by that hurricane. And to think I'd had my doubts about Homeland Security.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:39 PM on August 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


Metafilter can't handle this topic. Admins, please delete.

Oh, I mean: DO. NOT. WANT.
posted by oncogenesis at 3:47 PM on August 17, 2007


Sadly, well-functioning, well-constrained governments like the ones we observe in the U.S...

Sadly, well-behaved, well-constrained animals like a lion humping your leg...
posted by kid ichorous at 3:51 PM on August 17, 2007


I think that Leeson's use of the term "government" is ignores Somalian realities. In the absence of central government, smaller governments have sprung up in Somalia, replacing the Somali state not with an anarcho-communal model, but a collection of smaller governments. Unless of course, you deliberately ignore Somaliland, Puntland, and the ICU to make a point.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:53 PM on August 17, 2007


*ignoring, even.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:54 PM on August 17, 2007


Wait, he's saying pirates were anarchists and they took care of government-like functions through "laws" and a "quartermaster"?
How is that anarchy? Is anarchy just defined as government-but-with-an-eyepatch"?
I'm sure I'm just confused...
posted by mrnutty at 3:59 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, a lot of the argument I'd have with Leeson is definitional— I tend to come from the school of thought that says that as soon as you have, say, articles of charter for your pirate ship and elections for officers, that's a government. That's democracy. It's not anarchy.

Leeson also ignores the huge roll that international organizations have had in minimizing things like the infant mortality rate in Somalia. Sure, Somalia has no real national government, but those aid clinics? They're provided by people who do have national governments.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on August 17, 2007


Of course, it does all set up the joke, "What kind of government did pirates have? AnAAAAARRRchy."
posted by klangklangston at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ilya Somin attempts to address the definitional problems in the first Update to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy.
posted by Falconetti at 5:04 PM on August 17, 2007


He does, but he's erring on the other side— First, by pretending that control of force is anethema to anarchists, and second by ignoring that far more democratic theorists (which, to be fair, may outnumber the amount of theorists who seriously discuss anarchy purely due to practical considerations) would include many of the instances would describe as democracy. Things like the pirate example, which ignore one of the central functions of government— how to best deal with those who reject the convention after agreeing to it. Having an elected quartermaster who, one would assume, would be backed by the monopoly of the crew's coercive force would make it a de facto democracy, even as it stayed only loosly confederated.

I agree that there are gradiations, but I think that the hand-waving appeal to authority from Volokh is misplaced, given what I remember about the edges of democracy from my theory classes.
posted by klangklangston at 5:30 PM on August 17, 2007


I have learned to find utopians along the anarchist-libertarian-autocrat axis tiresome. More interesting is coming to understand how governance evolves out of an aggregation of chaotic, apolitical systems, like a salt crystal precipitating out of a saturated solution.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:31 PM on August 17, 2007


More interesting is coming to understand how governance evolves out of an aggregation of chaotic, apolitical systems, like a salt crystal precipitating out of a saturated solution.

I agree, which is why Deadwood was such an utterly fascinating show.
posted by Falconetti at 5:33 PM on August 17, 2007


Somin's definition doesn't really help. Even the most anarchic of communal settings exercise force on some level: even libertarians can acknowledge the need for organizational structure "with teeth". More importantly, neither one of his examples is anarchic or libertarian: In Somalia for instance, there are preexisting clan structures that every libertarian discussion of the country I've read seems to ignore.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:14 PM on August 17, 2007


That's a good point, Viol. But I suppose Clanarchy just didn't have the same ring...
posted by klangklangston at 6:24 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Re: Anarchy, I quote the Amazing Ben:

Let me start by saying that Anarchy is the fucking stupidest form of government ever devised. It’s only perpetuated by a handful punk-ass kids pissed off about the high school caste system of jocks and losers and having their parents make them go to bed at ten o’clock, so they want Anarchy so they can not get arrested for throwing rocks through the windows of businesses and smoking copious amounts of gange. Guess what, retards? If for some ungodly reason an Anarchist revolution was successful it would last about fifteen seconds because the same fucking jackass jock that beat you up in high school would show up, kick your ass and then make you gather and cook food for him under threat of death. Oh look, there’s a new government! And this one really doesn’t give a shit about your first amendment rights!"

And, as far as I'm concerned, that pretty much says it all. In the modern world people over the age of 15 who seriously calls themselves anarchists, and most especially women or homosexuals who call themselves anarchists, are self evidently not not capiable of rational thought.
posted by sotonohito at 6:26 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is anarchy just defined as government-but-with-an-eyepatch?

There's the rub. As they say, any sufficiently well-organized community has something indistinguishable from government.

More interesting is coming to understand how governance evolves out of an aggregation of chaotic, apolitical systems, like a salt crystal precipitating out of a saturated solution.

I agree this is the really interesting bit. Some very plausible causes are ready for easy conjecture -- people eventually develop goals that go beyond what they're able to personally accomplish, and have to work out some means for cooperating.

But I'm not sure this is the whole story ... even leaving aside the less transparent question about the mechanics once the motivation arises. Sometimes I wonder if the first thing that happens is that people develop a shared social narrative, rather than some kind of practical need to cooperate. The model I'm thinking of might be something like a few high school friends who take backpacking trips into the mountains, and start talking about what would be cool to do after they graduate, and decide they like backpacking, and they take in stories they've heard from others they thought were interesting and that they could see themselves in and then decide that they're going to hike the appalachian trail/backpack europe/work on a train in Alaska. This doesn't really get near the government level, but there's something going on here where the thing they decide to do together comes from the stories about living life they've heard from others, and the ideas they have about the story of their own life they'd like to write, and at a larger level, I wonder if part of the cooperation that eventually gives rise is simply about a community of people who have developed a shared story about the community and how it works, much in the same way the hypothetical teens might decide what the story of their life is after high school.

This particular process seems much more mysterious to me than the practical one, but the longer I watch politics the more its seems apparent to me that its relevance is at least equal (and possibly greater than) the more pragmatic aspects driving cooperation.
posted by weston at 6:46 PM on August 17, 2007


seems to me some people missed gum's point: the people of new orelans needed government help and didn't get it on the scale or level of competence required, and that the only organisation that could have provided that help would have been a competent government. indeed, in any other developed nation, they would have gotten it.

the bullshit libertarian dream that everyone will pitch in when necessary happened on such a small scale as to be inconsequential. of course the irony of that dream is that most libertarians seem to be of the type who'd say "fuck you, i got mine. sink or swim."
posted by klanawa at 7:02 PM on August 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


any sufficiently well-organized community has something indistinguishable from government.

badda-bing. This left-libertarian wouldn't mind living in nice minarchy, provided there was something strongly resembling the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and an independent judiciary.

I don't insist on Uncle Sam here though, my particular pipe dream includes the wording "CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC" on my state's flag having a more . . . accurate . . . meaning.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:21 PM on August 17, 2007


two other things to throw out:

"government" and "cyber" share the same Greek root -- to steer/pilot.

Ideally, that which is governed by our politicians is the STATE, not the PEOPLE.

The differences between 'state', 'nation', 'country' are subtle but important.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:24 PM on August 17, 2007


the bullshit libertarian dream that everyone will pitch in when necessary happened on such a small scale as to be inconsequential. of course the irony of that dream is that most libertarians seem to be of the type who'd say "fuck you, i got mine. sink or swim."
+++
posted by Thorzdad at 7:46 PM on August 17, 2007


I know this is an oversimplification/generalization (and I don't really know a thing about Mr. Leeson's background) but I have a sneaking suspicion he's a product of public grammar schools, gets bitchy if his trash isn't picked up on time, calls the police when the neighborhood hooligans run through his backyard, etc etc.

Government does a lot of things, some well, some poorly, and there are certainly times I'd love to see a bit (or even a lot) less of it. But to picture someone fortunate enough to have received a decent education, to have the luxury of debating political theory from the bucolic campus of George Mason, is to see a figure perched at the top of giant pyramid of government-mandated or administered advantages, from immunization, to the purity of his food and water, to the relative safety of his flights from one academic conference to another, to the fact that he wasn't fired because he was a woman/Jewish/African-American/Catholic/fill in the blank etc. etc..

I genuinely wish him no ill will, but It'd be sad/funny if you could run some sort of magically accurate alternate-reality computer program and say "Sorry Pete, but according to this, when the "government" you champion is enacted, you die of cholera before your first birthday..."
posted by jalexei at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2007


Some fictional treatments of utopian anarchy. (First book on amazon link is the novel, second book is a fascinating collection of essays going into all the stuff we're talking about on this thread)

Huxley's book agrees that any societal organization constitutes government, more or less, and basically (spoiler) that any government will necessarily devolve into the strong exploiting/abusing the weak (forgive simplistic thumbnail. I last read it about 35 years ago). LeGuin gets rid of the need for government by inventing a society that eliminates personal property.
posted by nax at 8:17 PM on August 17, 2007


Anarchy si self-governmnetn.

Lies aboiut no government notwithstanding.s
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 PM on August 17, 2007


Metafilter: Anarchy si self-governmnetn
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:35 PM on August 17, 2007


Anarchy was the de facto way of life long before it was a political philosophy, and it managed to sustain the human race for thousands and thousands of years before government as we know it (i.e., statism) made the scene. Regardless of what you guys think, happiness and order existed even before police were called police. All the term really means is "without rulers". Democracy is a well-meaning offshoot of this idea, despite having been hijacked by rulers in public servant's clothing.

It's disappointing to see most of you bashing a poorly understood straw man. I would expect more from a site full of people who constantly complain about the Bush administration's excesses. Either research the concept that you're railing against or shut the hell up. Believe it or not, there is room in an anarchist society for people to disagree and even tell each other to shut the hell up without beating the crap out of one another. Especially disappointing is the quote from "Amazing Ben" who seems like a college freshman still pissed off about the high school caste system. RTFA and, god forbid, do some more research if you don't understand.

To anticipate some objections, I will readily admit that anarchy doesn't scale well to huge populations. The US Federal Government is statist. Your City Council is likely much closer to anarchist than you might like to accept.

Stop reacting against anarchism as the philosophy of "rules are stupid might makes right so do whatever you want." That's not what it means.
posted by pgautier at 10:15 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know the Spanish anarchists during the Civil War of 36-39, required people to requisition cars rather than simply taking them? OMG FASCISTS!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:22 PM on August 17, 2007


@StrikeTheViol: In Somalia for instance, there are preexisting clan structures that every libertarian discussion of the country I've read seems to ignore.

Clan structures and tribal structures can be and often are anarchic. It just depends on the checks and balances placed on the leaders. Leaders don't have to be "rulers" if they're kept in check. I know it seems like a semantic quibble, but it's true.

And I could never be accused of being a libertarian (as I understand the term), in the interest of framing and full disclosure.
posted by pgautier at 10:27 PM on August 17, 2007


I understand your indignation pgautier. Allow me to engage you on a more reasoned level. The examples in the article are flawed, but reality doesn't matter as they are thought experiments. The thought experiments are confused by definitional problems. That's the crux of it, pgautier...how does your belief system square with Hoppe, for instance? If not having rulers is your sole criterion, the ancient way of life you're talking about isn't anarchy at all, unless you artificially exclude tribal chiefs, patriarchs and matriarchs. Anarchy by your definition this is not.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:49 PM on August 17, 2007


it managed to sustain the human race for thousands and thousands of years before government as we know it

To paraphrase Phil Hartman, those people died at 35 and blamed it on witches.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:44 PM on August 17, 2007


Well, StrikeTheVoil, thank you for a refreshingly civil invitation to discussion on this particular topic. I suppose the "definitional problems" you've pointed out are similar to the "semantic quibbling" I mentioned. Considering how few examples of anarchistic society remain viable these days, I suppose the entire issue is a thought experiment. Had we a less impoverished and biased view of history, these discussions might be easier-- I'm a product of American public education but I'm trying to catch us as quickly as I can.

I wasn't familiar with Hoppe (and perhaps should have followed my own "shut the hell up" advice if he's required reading in the field), but here's my take on his thoughts:

I agree that a temporary power structure will mine a society for every advantage it can get. In that vein, a monarchal (or tribal, or patri/matr-archcal) structure would probably be a better caretaker of its domain than would a democratically elected structure.

The crux of the issue, though, is that a wise society will choose, by whatever means, a leader or group of leaders that will perpetuate the best interests of that society through time. It should, in fact, ensure that their interests are embedded in the core of their leader(s). This includes, importantly, the process by which unwise rulers are determined to be bad for the society and removed without disruptive turmoil (which is why the US process of impeachment is so brilliant in theory). Like I mentioned, checks and balances are key. You can't have a leader looking "seven generations" ahead in time without a society that puts a premium on forward thinking. We get the leaders we deserve, to be sure.

The article you pointed me to starts with the supposition that I should be interested in libertarian economic theory. And I'm just not. "Free entry" into a "market' that avoids "monopoly" is miles away from what I think is important here. The important thing is that a leader be fully invested in and, indeed, the embodiment of the best thinking of which a particular group is capable. Lacking that, a process for replacing them without opening up a power vacuum is paramount.

Consensus is hard, and becomes damn near impossible as you add citizens. Anarchy will never properly govern millions of people (as I admitted before-- it doesn't scale well). But to dismiss it as a failed or flawed philosophy does it a grave disservice. Any tribe or patriarchy or matriarchy who can boot their elder or patriarch or matriarch because they're full of shit and insane and dangerous has a huge leg up on my current cohort.

I know all of this sounds impractical. And, as I have admitted, it pretty much is considering the size of populations that the statist alternative has been able to sustain for better or worse. I'm certainly not a frothing black-masked "destroy the state" type. But I can't sit by and watch an otherwise well-meaning an informed group of people go all "your favorite governmental structure sucks" with so little thought and historical context.
posted by pgautier at 12:07 AM on August 18, 2007


@dirigibleman

We can all evolve and seek knowledge. That includes power structures. And you. Science and anarchism aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, it's quite the opposite (see: Galileo).
posted by pgautier at 12:20 AM on August 18, 2007


seems to me some people missed gum's point: the people of new orelans needed government help and didn't get it on the scale or level of competence required, and that the only organisation that could have provided that help would have been a competent government. indeed, in any other developed nation, they would have gotten it.

No, we got the point. But I'd argue that New Orleans could have been better served by a competent local government that didn't pass the buck to the federal color-coded circus act. A local government is more vested, more directly accountable, and better versed in the problems and needs of its constituents. Do you think the halls of power in DC resonated with the human tragedy of Katrina? Hell, when they finally took notice at all, they looked at it clinically, from a PR angle, just like they looked at 9-11. How can this affect our political capital? At the end of the day, it's largely politics to them, because they don't have to sleep in the mess they leave.

In this particular example, all levels of government dodged their jobs with Matrix-like contortions. But it's really much harder for local government get away with this - it's their back yards, after all. We have states for a reason, and it's not just for separation of powers - it's also because we're supposed to, and often best equipped to, care for our own communities and our own neighbors.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:53 AM on August 18, 2007


And, as far as I'm concerned, that pretty much says it all. In the modern world people over the age of 15 who seriously calls themselves anarchists, and most especially women or homosexuals who call themselves anarchists, are self evidently not not capiable of rational thought.

I find this hip cynicism and pretentious assumption that pragmatism should win out over freedom typical, unconscious-incompetent twentysomething prattle myself. People like Ben grow out of it if they're smart.

On the other hand, right-libertarian/"anarchist" thought is so self-evidently against the interests of ordinary people that it takes entire institutions of wealthy people with no driving interest in its ultimate aims to even support it. Rich white guys toss buckets of money into this crap so that middle class white guys will spout messages that suit the conservative interest, motivated by an ideology that is carefully screened from real power by people who actually pay for it.

The subtext behind "anarcho"-capitalism is the desire to use unlimited violence to defend privilege. Societies are inherently coercive instruments. Coercion cannot be removed (so calling for its removal is just a rhetorical bluff), but it can be regulated. In libertarian or para-libertarian systems, coercion can only be used to defend ownership. And of course, thanks to the rejection of any dominant social ethic, there is no good nonviolent way to do this because there are no customs where me telling you that something is wrong has any force. Thus, the only reliable way to coerce people in the system is with implicit or actual violence, whose wise use (according to these types) depends on individual sovereignty.

This is a fancy way of saying that this belief system is for people with a taste of privilege, but no real power within the politically effective upper class, who want to shoot poor people in the face but are in denial of it. Obviously, the only people who want this, besides the young business majors who eat this crap up, are very wealthy people who don't want you to have any of the good stuff (like decriminalized drugs or strong individual rights) but have an interest in the face-shooting agenda staying relevant in our inconveniently compassionate world.

In plain terms, some Cato Institute guy calls for rights and deregulation and creates a climate where conservatives will put in (some) deregulation, but will still try to keep the queers from marrying. And then of course, it ends with "anarcho-capitalists" and Randroids and other refuse voting for people who'll lower taxes and let people cut down more trees, but will also suspend habeas corpus, sponsor torture and send soldiers and priests to your schools, all because, bereft of any other coherent values, libertarians and their cousins rely on an ethos of pure venality. They are the ever willing whores of the right -- though I hesitate to say that, because I've met sex workers with principles.
posted by mobunited at 4:14 AM on August 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


I remain in the anarchist tradition largely because experience seems to me to show that human communities need governance not government, and that these two are distinct. The former I take to be mutual organisation to effect public goods, the latter a formalisation and institutionalisation of power relationships, frequently justified as providing good governance but in practice serving mainly minority or sectoral interests. Colin Ward also puts it well in Anarchy as a Theory of Organization:
You may think in describing anarchism as a theory of organisation I am propounding a deliberate paradox: "anarchy" you may consider to be, by definition, the opposite of organisation. In fact, however, "anarchy" means the absence of government, the absence of authority. Can there be social organisation without authority, without government? The anarchists claim that there can be, and they also claim that it is desirable that there should be. They claim that, at the basis of our social problems is the principle of government..."The State" said the German anarchist Gustav Landauer, "is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently."
It seems to me that advances in education and communications technology make the prospects for anarchy better, and on a wider scale than may hitherto have been practical.
posted by Abiezer at 4:18 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


mobunited wrote "I find this hip cynicism and pretentious assumption that pragmatism should win out over freedom [...]"

I think you have failed to recognize the basic point. Anarchy does not equal freedom. This is because anarchy cannot help but devolve into despotism, and despotism has no room for freedom at all. I argue that you can't have freedom without a strong state.

If the government magically dissapeared tomorrow, you might enjoy, oh gosh, maybe two or three days of absolute freedom before some biker gang / group of rednecks / whatever got together and made you a slave. And that's the problem with anarchy, like all utopian philosophies (ie: communism, free marketism, etc) it depends on idealized humans, and when it encounters real humans it fails completely and in a very ugly way.

That's why I casually and contemptuously, dismiss anarchists just as I casually and contemptuously dismiss Communists, Ryndites, etc. That's why I hold female anarchists or homosexual anarchists in greater contempt than I hold white hetrosexual male anarchists: they've failed to realize that in an anarchy their social status would revert back to where it was two or three hundred years ago, if not worse.

pgautier Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm going to guess that you have not made any study of tribal societies. I'm guessing this becuase you are a) describing such societies as anarchistic, and b) seem to have a generally idealized view of such societies rather than a more realistic view.

Tribal socities tend to be conservative in a manner that makes Rush Limbaugh look like a an extreme liberal. Most tribal societies had rather elaborate codes of conduct that covered every area of life, and a failure to adhere to those codes could result in anything from shunning, to physical assault, to expulsion from the tribe (a slow death) or execution. Far from being free, life in a tribe was constrained in every aspect.

Furthermore, while you are correct that the tribal organization worked for tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of yeas, it did so at a technology level in which infant mortality was around three in four, and the average lifespan was only a bit more than 30 years. Only after the state developed did we see any technological progress. This is also a direct result of tribal conservativism: innovation was actively discouraged.

It should also be mentioned that tribal life existed in a continual state of war in the low level "raid, rape, pillage" sense. This was typically a means of maintaining tribal territory, asserting tribal strength, etc rather than an attempt by one tribe to wipe out another. It wasn't war in the sense that we wage war today, but it wasn't fun at all.

It is true that tribal societies didn't have rulers in the sense that the Asian, European, South American, and African polities did. This doesn't mean they didn't have rulers, or that they were anarchies. It *did* mean that, for example, when Europeans arrived in the Americas they had a difficult time dealing with the tribes, they expected to find rulers like they were used to and when they didn't they assumed the tribes were anarchistic. The rulers of tribes tended not to be explicitly labeled as such, often worked behind the scenes, and there was a certain degree of pseudo-democracy involved in their selection [1]. But this is not anarchy. There were rulers, and a tribesman defied them at his peril.

My point is that I *do* know quite a bit about anarchy, the modern political theory, and more about tribal life, and I don't see much connection between the two at all. I dismiss anarchy not because I'm ignorant about it, but because I know about it and I know that its utopian wanking at an even lower level than the Ryndites or Communists indulge in. If people were the perfected, idealized, superpeople that anarchists populate their theories with it'd work just great, but people aren't. Hell, people aren't even the perfected, idealized, superpeople that economists so desperately try to believe in.

[1] The most common example is the hunt or war leader, a person became a hunt or war leader by being a good enough hunter or warrior that other hunters or warriors followed him, no elections (formal or informal) were involved, and if a hunter/warrior didn't do a good job as a leader of hunts or war parties people would stop following him and he'd lose his position.
posted by sotonohito at 7:03 AM on August 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


those people died at 35 and blamed it on witches

This is a common mis-apprehension, not borne out by the facts as we know them. These figures deal with more recent history, but could equally apply to previous millennia.
Average life expectancy at birth for English people in the late 16th/early 17th centuries was just under 40 –39.7 years. However, this low figure was mostly due to the high rate of infant and child mortality – over 12% of all children born would die within their first year. A man or woman who reached the age of 30 could expect to live to 59. Life expectancy in New England was much higher, where the average man died in his mid-sixties and women lived on average to 62. This is still very low compared to the modern U.S., where a male child has a life expectancy of 73 and a female child, 79.
Unusually high quality discussion on anarchy, people!
posted by asok at 7:37 AM on August 18, 2007


sotonohito, have you studied Australian aboriginal pre-invasion societies? I wonder if they adhere to your expectations.
posted by asok at 7:45 AM on August 18, 2007


sotonohito, why do you presume that a state-organised military is required to defend against tyranny? Why would people not choose to organise into militias, etc, in order to defend themselves?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2007


@sotonohito: it wouldn't be fair to say that I "have not made any study of tribal societies". I haven't studied tribal societies since college, and then it was an interest I pursued through electives and not my major course of study. So I will readily admit some measure of talking out of my ass. Nonetheless, one thing I do remember learning about was the incredible diversity of ways that pre-State societies organized themselves and distributed power throughout the society (inter- and intra-tribal councils, gender-based division of societal power, and lots of other variables playing out in lots of other ways). Your footnote about "hunt leaders" actually supports my point more than it disputes it. I don't think I was being lied to or that I am completely misremembering what I was taught, and I have the suspicion that you're really oversimplifying the concept of "tribal life". I wouldn't have thought, given the diversity of ways in which tribes live, that you could say "tribal life is like X" without ignoring a dozen tribes who prove the counterpoint.

For example, you write that, "Tribal socities tend to be conservative in a manner that makes Rush Limbaugh look like a an extreme liberal" and "...female anarchists or homosexual anarchists [have] failed to realize that in an anarchy their social status would revert back to where it was two or three hundred years ago." I guess that's true except for the part where it's bullshit. I do recall learning about tribal societies that were quite tolerant of homosexuality and other tribes whose women made all of the important political decisions.

Before you whip out your PhD in tribal expertise, though, I will admit that there is more than a little room for error in my understanding and presentation. I do appreciate you coming back to contribute some actual thought to the thread and not just the offensively poorly thought out, stereotype riddled, knee-jerk garbage from "Amazing Ben".
posted by pgautier at 9:20 AM on August 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


PG: A self-organized militia would be disqualified from anarchy as discussed thus far, with its formal structure, even if it had no ranks and made all decisions by consensus.

asok: Any characterization of Aboriginal society as anarchic does a great disservice to their complex skin group system.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2007


very wealthy people who don't want you to have any of the good stuff (like decriminalized drugs or strong individual rights) but have an interest in the face-shooting agenda [...] but will still try to keep the queers from marrying. [...] lower taxes and let people cut down more trees, but will also suspend habeas corpus, sponsor torture and send soldiers and priests to your schools, all because, bereft of any other coherent values, libertarians and their cousins rely on an ethos of pure venality.

What? Aside from lowering taxes, nothing you've said jibes with the libertarian/classically-liberal agenda at all. What you've presented here is a picture and type of the modern Republican party. Just because it's part of their rhetoric to fling around words like "freedom," "balanced," or "libertarian," these terminologies are no more applicable than a Fox-news blowhard styling himself a "centrist." Yeah, on what planet?

It's dishonest when you claim that libertarianism isn't for decriminalizing drugs, or strongly supporting the bill of rights and gay marriage, when all of these positions are clearly stated on the party's website (lp.org):

Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments defining marriage. Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships. [...]Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration. End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation. [...]

Repeal all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the use of drugs. Repeal laws that infringe upon individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property as protected by the Fourth Amendment.


If you'd at least criticized the platform for the stupid ideas they do have, like rolling back anti-trust laws (dumb!), your claims would not ring false. A much more valid criticism of libertarianism is its relative lack of concern for the behavior of private corporations. But you're not making substantive criticism of libertarianism by coloring it as neo-Conservatism with the volume turned up.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, pgautier, I'm not going to keep hitting you with the tribal stick, then. Since you're not libertarian, I offer my apologies to Falconetti and press on.

The important thing is that a leader be fully invested in and, indeed, the embodiment of the best thinking of which a particular group is capable. Lacking that, a process for replacing them without opening up a power vacuum is paramount.

An excellent point that has nothing to do with anarchy. You certainly don't have to be an anarchist to believe it, and anarchy would be counterproductive in maintaining it. Why? First let's assume we're not talking about anarchy as the absence of all political structure, like a bunch of strangers who can't speak each others languages stuck in an elevator.

Every political system has some degree of a "release valve" for the displeased or oppressed, whether peasant revolt, impeachment, or something else. The main anarchist contention I've come across is that, in effect, anarchy would provide a better valve than other, state-based systems, and hence a freer society. But anarchists, even minarchists have not considered that the release for anarchy is the imposition of greater order. The Old West, with its sheriffs and vigilante posses, Somalia with its clans, or the CGT an "anarchist" group as organized as any other union. Without complete unity of purpose, essentially impossible to achieve, any existing anarchy will move toward other more ordered political structures with time, a natural and inevitable function of simple human disagreement.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:59 AM on August 18, 2007


"Anarchy was the de facto way of life long before it was a political philosophy, and it managed to sustain the human race for thousands and thousands of years before government as we know it (i.e., statism) made the scene. Regardless of what you guys think, happiness and order existed even before police were called police. All the term really means is "without rulers". Democracy is a well-meaning offshoot of this idea, despite having been hijacked by rulers in public servant's clothing."

De facto nasty, brutish, short way of life for thousands of years.

"I agree that a temporary power structure will mine a society for every advantage it can get. In that vein, a monarchal (or tribal, or patri/matr-archcal) structure would probably be a better caretaker of its domain than would a democratically elected structure."

And Philosopher Kings are even better!

T"he crux of the issue, though, is that a wise society will choose, by whatever means, a leader or group of leaders that will perpetuate the best interests of that society through time."

Beg questions much? Wise society defined by what? Best interests defined by what? I mean, it's like we're seeing the worst of Plato and Rousseau in your argument here— why not just toss everything to a "general will"?

"But I can't sit by and watch an otherwise well-meaning an informed group of people go all "your favorite governmental structure sucks" with so little thought and historical context."

But it does suck, and it's with plenty of thought and historical context that I say so.

"The subtext behind "anarcho"-capitalism is the desire to use unlimited violence to defend privilege. Societies are inherently coercive instruments. Coercion cannot be removed (so calling for its removal is just a rhetorical bluff), but it can be regulated. In libertarian or para-libertarian systems, coercion can only be used to defend ownership. And of course, thanks to the rejection of any dominant social ethic, there is no good nonviolent way to do this because there are no customs where me telling you that something is wrong has any force. Thus, the only reliable way to coerce people in the system is with implicit or actual violence, whose wise use (according to these types) depends on individual sovereignty."

That's an fine point.

"Can there be social organisation without authority, without government?"

Where I would quibble with that is I think the question is more "can there be a durable social organization without authority, without government?" I think that there can be all sorts of mutual interest societies that are essentially anarchic, but without some level of authority, either contentiousness or apathy will eliminate them all. This isn't to say that they're bad, or that we should have fewer opportunities for them, or even that the opposite is good (that we should encourage more authority or more government), just that I am fundamentally skeptical of their ability to survive without direct resort to force. To echo kid ichorous earlier, needs are best served locally, and if some local groups organize themselves anarchically as a response to their situation, that's good, but not necessarily a model.

"For example, you write that, "Tribal socities tend to be conservative in a manner that makes Rush Limbaugh look like a an extreme liberal" and "...female anarchists or homosexual anarchists [have] failed to realize that in an anarchy their social status would revert back to where it was two or three hundred years ago." I guess that's true except for the part where it's bullshit. I do recall learning about tribal societies that were quite tolerant of homosexuality and other tribes whose women made all of the important political decisions."

You conflate his two points— first off, that tribal cultures tend to be extremely culturally conservative, in that they conserve their traditions and conduct codes. It was a descriptive, not normative, statement. Second, tribal societies have nothing to do with how women or homosexuals would be treated if our current society devolved into anarchy. Further, I'd be willing to wager that matriarchal societies and societies openly accepting of homosexuality were both minorities in the grand scheme— they're usually used as examples of diversity in anthro 101 classes. I'd also like to point out that even tribes that do accept homosexuality often do so in ways that we would find barbaric today, usually with a lot of child rape.
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 AM on August 18, 2007


PG: A self-organized militia would be disqualified from anarchy as discussed thus far, with its formal structure, even if it had no ranks and made all decisions by consensus.

Structure is not what anarchists are against. What we oppose is power, authority. That anarchy equals wild chaos and the war of all against all is a calumnious lie told to serve the interest of the statist; outside of a handful of lunatics (Nietzche springs to mind), no anarchist advocates for it. As Mikhail Bakunin famously said, "Anarchy is order."

(I'm more of a Peter Kropotkin fan, myself- his writings are generally regarded as the original anarchist communism.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"That anarchy equals wild chaos and the war of all against all is a calumnious lie told to serve the interest of the statist"

My eyes are rolling so hard right now. Do you have anything that doesn't sound mimeographed?
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2007


Christ, look it is plain and simple. The scale of complexity in modern culture disallows this form of self-governance, almost by definition. We would have to undergo a radical change in how we operate our societies before something like this is even remotely feasible. And given that we have fairly recently (in historic terms) moved into a global scaled culture which is backed up by five to six thousand years of inertia the idea of self-governance working on any level above roughly 500 people is simplistic and naive. Self governance works very well in small scaled cultures such as hunter gatherers, but such small scaled cultures also have other inherent problems that mitigate the utopia of self governance, not lease of which is being at constant risk for annihilation because of the size.
posted by edgeways at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2007


Anarchism is grounded in a rather definite proposition: that valuable behavior occurs only by the free and direct response of individuals or voluntary groups to the conditions presented by the historical environment. It claims that in most human affairs, whether political, economic, military, religious, moral, pedagogic, or cultural, more harm than good results from coercion, top-down direction, central authority, bureaucracy, jails, conscription, states, pre-ordained standardization, excessive planning, etc.

Anarchists want to increase intrinsic functioning and diminish extrinsic power. This is a social-psychological hypothesis with obvious political implications. Depending on varying historical conditions that present various threats to the anarchist principle, anarchists have laid their emphasis in varying places: sometimes agrarian, sometimes free city and guild-oriented; sometimes technological, sometimes anti technological; sometimes Communist, sometimes affirming property; sometimes individualist, sometimes collective; sometimes speaking of Liberty as almost an absolute good, sometimes relying on custom and nature.

Nevertheless, despite these differences, anarchists seldom fail to recognize one another, and they do not consider the differences to be incompatibilities. Consider a crucial modern problem, violence. Guerilla fighting has been a classical anarchist technique: yet where, especially in modern conditions, and violent means tends to reinforce centralism and authoritarianism, anarchists have tended to see the beauty of non-violence.

Now the anarchist principle is by and large true. And far from being "utopian" or a "glorious failure," it has proved itself and won out in many spectacular historical crises. In the period of mercantilism and patents royal, free enterprise by joint stock companies was anarchist. The Jeffersonian bill of rights and independent judiciary were anarchist. Congregational churches were anarchist. Progressive education was anarchist. The free cities and corporate law in the feudal system were anarchist. At present, the civil rights movement in the United States has been almost classically decentralist and anarchist. And so forth, down to details like free access in public libraries.

Of course, to later historians these things do not seem to be anarchist, but in their own time they were all regarded as such and often literally called such, with the usual dire threats of chaos. But this relativity of the anarchist principle to the actual situation is of the essence of anarchism.

There cannot be a history of anarchism in the sense of establishing a permanent state of things called "anarchist." It is always a continual coping with the next situation, and a vigilance to make sure that past freedoms are not lost and do not turn into the opposite, as free enterprise turned into wage-slavery and monopoly capitalism, or the independent judiciary turned into a monopoly of courts, cops, and lawyers, or free education turned into School Systems.

- Paul Goodman, "The Black Flag of Anarchism"
posted by nasreddin at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


asok My knowledge of native Austrilian societies is quite limited, so I have no idea if what I said specifically applies to them. So far as I know tribal socities in general tended to be quite conservative (in the "not changing things" sense, not the "like Republicans" sense), but I don't know if that generality applied to the native Australians.

pgautier, quite a bit of what I'm about to say was said by klangklangston, but I'll say it anyway.

I don't have a degree in tribal societies, my degree is in East Asian Studies, specifically Japanese history (and even more specifically the Meiji period). However, I have an interest in pre-Columbian American civilizations that has nothing to do with my degree and thus I have studied those cultures.

As klangklangston said, when I wrote "conservative" I meant in an anti-change sense, not in the sense of endorsing the current Republican Party platform, since I included Limbaugh in an attempt at humor I can see how you might have misunderstood what I meant.

It is true that some, though by no means all, tribal socities were inclusive of homosexuality. Many other tribes expelled or killed their homosexual members. Likewise the position of women in tribal societies varied greatly from tribe to tribe. The general pattern was one of separate responsibilities, and typically the responsibilities assigned to women were less appealing than those assigned to men (big surprise, huh?). I'll concede that it was probably much better to be a woman in the Iroquis Five Nations than it was to be a woman in, say, 1400's China (or even modern Saudi Arabia).

While it is certainly true that there was a great deal of diffence between tribes, its also true that its easily possible to overstate that diversity, general patterns exist and can be identified and discussed. Just as despite the fact that modern polities are diverse certain patterns exist and can be discussed.

you wrote: other tribes whose women made all of the important political decisions

So far as I am aware there is no evidence to indicate that truly matriarchal tribes ever existed. There was a theory, now discredited, that suggested that the various "Venus" figurines were evidence of a matriarchal prehistory, but from what I've read current anthropologists do not think that this theory is true. I do know with certanty that no American tribes existed in which women made all of the important political decisions. Some, though not all, tribes allowed women with living grandchildren to participate in tribal councils, and that's pretty much as far as women's participation in politics went in most American tribes.

My comment re: women, homosexuals, and anarchy, was based on the assumption that given current social patterns, the introduction of anarchy would result in very bad things for women and homosexuals. As klangklangston said, this is a separate issue from how women and homosexuals were treated by historic tribes. Again, confusion resulting from the fact that we have two separate discussions going, one on tribal society and whether it is accurate to describe such societies as anarchistic, the other on anarchy in the modern world.

As for tribes, I maintain that it is a serious mistake to describe them as anarchies. While they didn't have written laws, largely because they didn't have writing, tribal norms and customs had the force of law and were often much more restrictive than the laws found in the modern democracies [1]. Tribes were a useful social construct for a very long time, and they were not horrible or bad; however they had serious flaws and (IMO) are not campatible with a free, technological, society.

As for anarchy in the modern world, let me respond to something you wrote earlier "But I can't sit by and watch an otherwise well-meaning an informed group of people go all "your favorite governmental structure sucks" with so little thought and historical context."

I'm not saying that anarchy sucks with little thought or historical context, I'm saying it with quite a bit of thought and a lot of historical context. Anarchy does suck, mainly because it never exists for more time than it takes for a group of thugs to impose despotism. I won't argue that the Amazing Ben particularly had a great deal of thought or historical context, but he was dead right and I think his crude and dismissive way of phrasing things summed up my feelings (if not thoughts) on the subject quite well.

Anarchy is utopianism of the worst sort. It is based on idealized pseudo-humans who always act in accordance with the anarchist philosophy. It won't work with real (messy, irrational, annoying, imprefect) humans.

Pope Guilty wrote "why do you presume that a state-organised military is required to defend against tyranny? Why would people not choose to organise into militias, etc, in order to defend themselves?"

I presume that a state-organized military is required because that's what history shows is required. People have, very rarely, organized into militias, and usually those militias failed miserably. Look, for a modern example, of the utter failure of the people of Iraq to organize against Saddam Hussain, or the people of North Korea to organize against Kim Jong Il.

Despite the minuteman myth the American Revolution was won by a state-organized army, there were militias and very occasionally they managed to accomplish useful goals, but for every Swamp Fox there are dozens, if not hundreds, of militias that talked a good game but never did anything.

I'll argue that the current, successful, guerrilla was being waged against the US in Iraq is the result of a proto-state, much as the Viet Cong were the military arm of a proto-state. Its most certainly not just a group of independant minded anarchits united as a self organized militia.

[1] "democracies" as opposed to the various fascisms, despotisms, and olagarchies found in so much of the third world. I'm aware of the fact that there are no true democracies in the world, and I'll argue that even with modern computer communication true democracy is impractical for populations over 3000 or so.
posted by sotonohito at 1:43 PM on August 18, 2007


Interesting discussion and food for thought. A couple of my points were intellectually lazy and you guys were right to call me out on them. My main thrust was that power structures without rulers or States are not inherently impossible or undesirable in all times and places, and if your deepest thoughts about anarchy were generated by Sex Pistols lyrics you probably haven't done much research into the actual meaning of the term.

Basically, edgeways summed it up very well I think.

I appreciate the detailed critique, sotonohito. In our current context, anarchism is naive utopianism-- I completely agree. That doesn't mean that it is an utterly useless concept undeserving of discussion and study, which seemed to be the tenor of the comments at the top of the thread. I'm glad to see things improved as we went on.
posted by pgautier at 2:36 PM on August 18, 2007


This has been one the best reads here at MeFi in a long, long time.
Kudos and many thanks to all participants!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:19 PM on August 18, 2007


In the period of mercantilism and patents royal, free enterprise by joint stock companies was anarchist. The Jeffersonian bill of rights and independent judiciary were anarchist. Congregational churches were anarchist. Progressive education was anarchist. The free cities and corporate law in the feudal system were anarchist. At present, the civil rights movement in the United States has been almost classically decentralist and anarchist. And so forth, down to details like free access in public libraries.

Excepting of course that none of those examples would have been called anarchist by their proponents, most of whom would never associate with self-proclaimed anarchists for a variety of reasons. However, Goodman himself makes a good point: anarchy is not fundamentally a philosophy of government. Even allowing the broadness of definition, anarchy at best is a reactive philosophy, responding to whatever is seen as an abuse of state power, regardless of whether those responses contradict each other over time. At worst, it's a convenient rhetorical scaffold for the antisocial, as PG said before, although I don't think Nietzsche actually believed in anarchism, per se. (I'd debate the more serious theoretical implications, but I can wait for a Kropotkin thread.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:20 PM on August 18, 2007


pgautier I agree that a power structure without rulers is possible, and I'd argue that those of us in the USA are living in one. Despite the halucinations of GWB the President is not a ruler, nor is the president a leader, the president is merely the *executive* and while many people think executive means the same as ruler (due to the corporate executives I suspect), the word simply means one who executes, that is carries out, instructions of others.

Power structures without states, I think gets into some relatively meaningless semantic hair splitting, and don't misunderstand I enjoy meaningless semantic hair splitting. But really, if a power structure fulfills the role of the state, you might as well call it a state. I think a lot of anarchists have a weird use of the word "state" in which it essentially means "power structure I don't like".

I disagree, however, that either of the things above has diddily to do with anarchy.

You wrote "That doesn't mean that it is an utterly useless concept undeserving of discussion and study"

And there I must also disagree. As I said above, a discussion of alternate power strucutres, etc is useful, interesting and valuable. But that isn't anarchy, and really I don't see what anarchy adds to that discussion.

Worse, I think that some anarchists are engaging in parasitic argument, that is I think they're trying to attach the label anarchy to any number of things that aren't anarchy but are successful and/or popular. To argue, as the Goodman quote earlier did, that the careful Jeffersonian balance of power is anarchy is to make the word meaningless. Its simply someone trying to use "anarchy" to mean "any good and/or popular government", and "state" or "statist" to mean "any bad and/or unpopular government". That doesn't contribute to any discussion, but it does muddy the waters. No doubt many of the opponents of Jefferson used the word to describe his efforts, but they did so in an attempt to blacken his name, not to accurately describe what he was doing.
posted by sotonohito at 4:50 PM on August 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


But really, if a power structure fulfills the role of the state, you might as well call it a state.

I don't think that's really fair. Is family structure a state? A corporation a state? I think a better use of state as referred to anarchist (and I use the term loosely) is a power structure I can not get away from or otherwise independently negotiate with.

As I said above, a discussion of alternate power strucutres, etc is useful, interesting and valuable. But that isn't anarchy, and really I don't see what anarchy adds to that discussion.


Just as you can differing degrees and types of governments, I think the same can apply to non-government. The point being it doesn't have to be an absolute position, but closer to a continum of opposed tendecies. Just as me denying a government as a true because it does not have strict regulatory expression of how to pick your nose is reductio ad absurdum, denying any type of structure as not anarchism basically ignorant of several generations of anarchistic thought (and the extreme variations thereof). Even in the most regulated states, you are going to have pockets of anarchism just as much as you may have anachistic collectives where some aspects are heavily regulated (all property is theft camps as opposed to anarcho-capitalists).

With in that regards, the bit by Mr. Goodman is spot on, and it is hard not to view such a Jeffersonian limitation on the power of government (lets not forget why that balance of power exists) as anything but tending towards anarchy.

I forget the source of the quote but it is "the purpose of government is to become obsolete". It is a point of view of how government should be shaped (and to its purpose, or if it is even necessary at all) that anarchism lends to the discussion.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 7:23 PM on August 18, 2007


Since you're not libertarian, I offer my apologies to Falconetti and press on

I don't know if you meant to imply I am libertarian or not, but for the record, I'm not. At best, I would consider myself someone with libertarian sympathies, with a strong counterbalance of common sense and compassion.
posted by Falconetti at 7:33 PM on August 18, 2007


Good to know, Falconetti...I didn't mean to imply anything other than the thread veering from the article.

quintessencesluglord, I've never seen that definition before, and I'm not quite sure you meant to put it that strongly, as it would mean any state allowing free emigration to others would not be a state. But you bring up another point, which is that these "pockets of anarchy" you describe are the only effective means by which anarchy of any sort can sustain itself. Sheltered from external threats (whether favored or persecuted) these enclaves can exist only due to the state surrounding them. When the state is sufficiently weak, anarchists can certainly step in, but in doing so they become anarchists only in name. This also occurs any time an anarchist movement grows sufficiently large without splitting. Still, I think sotonohito's made the argument more concisely than I have.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:18 PM on August 18, 2007


StrikeTheViol

I am reading your comment as I am also reading about the Real ID act and I am amused.

The pertinent part is "any state allowing" which also means can forbid. Emigration is less of an issue per se than the power to make it conditional or deny it outright.

Inasmuch as I was describing a degree of lawlessness within state not signifying the state has been abolished (as the specter of law does not mean an anarchist collective has ventured into the territory of establishing a government/state), your other statement is more an expression that nearly every piece of land is under the control of some state than an inherent tendency of anarchism.

I'd point out that the largest threat to a collective is the state, so saying a collective can only exist with a state seems kind of absurd. I'm quite certain there are collectives doing their thing less because of the protections of the state than the state not knowing what is going on in their boarders, or the state simply not viewing them as a threat.

While a state can offer protections, it isn't inherent either, and their are far more examples of states brutalizing their constituents than there are of roaming bands wiping out anarchist collectives.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 9:43 PM on August 18, 2007


I'd point out that the largest threat to a collective is the state, so saying a collective can only exist with a state seems kind of absurd. I'm quite certain there are collectives doing their thing less because of the protections of the state than the state not knowing what is going on in their boarders, or the state simply not viewing them as a threat.

Certainly. Didn't make that as clear the first time around. There's no feasible way anarchist collectives can exist in competition with states, and by and large their continued existence is a function of states not knowing or caring. Not to belabor the point into infinity as the thread rides off into the sunset, but without a sufficiently oppressive state to set itself against, anarchy as political movement becomes irrelevant, the presence of political anarchy being a counterweight to oppressive government on a balance scale of sorts. In Spain, for instance, there was a comparatively massive anarchist movement fighting the Fascists. Nowadays they are in practice radical socialists whose name begins with A. See too the countless histories of communities collapsing in on themselves out of their principled refusal to avoid schism and provide a mechanism for group authority, whether direct democracy, council of elders, or something else. (I must admit, this thread's been fun.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:25 PM on August 18, 2007


"I don't think that's really fair. Is family structure a state?"

You're obviously not a Hegelian. (He says yes, and that the state should continue the relationships of the family if it is to be just).
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2007


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