Anarchism Is Not Chaos

9개월 전

"But who will build the roads?" This is the type of question that comes up in many peoples minds when confronted with the idea of anarchism. Somehow our cultural evolution has brought us to a point where we can't imagine an orderly society without the coercive power structure, the government, we've built over time.


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source: Wikimedia Commons

My opinion on anarchism is ambiguous, not because I worry about who will build the roads (it'll be the same people who always done it; we the people), but more on grounds of evolutionary psychology and it's role in the evolution of our cultural societies. Centralization in itself is not good or evil, and there's nothing wrong with the mere existence of leaders and followers; I believe all social creatures naturally assign leadership, a hub of decision-making to speed up the process in times of need. It's when leaders become rulers that the problems start, and an aspect of anarchism I'm much attracted to is the notion that all forms of ruling stem from the ability to exercise force; one of the core elements of anarchism is it's anti-violence principle.

In my opinion direct democracy is the best organisational political model to make concrete the core ideas behind anarchism. Unfortunately most anarchists I meet are also strong believers in the free market and they believe that's the best organisational structure to guarantee individual freedom without the need of a centralized hub to decide who builds what roads where at what time. They believe we should let the markets govern us, instead of us governing ourselves through some form of collective, decentralized decision-making. Or they equate the free market economy with such decentralized collective decision-making, and that's just wrong; there is no invisible hand.

The simple truth is that capitalism sets us up against each other on the most fundamental level. It requires us to act as self interested agents who aim at maximizing our personal wealth and freedom, as one follows from the other. It's the illusion that acting in one's own self interest is the best thing to do for the good of the larger community; as a thought experiment, just shrink the size of your country's population to the size of a family, and see how that works... Mum doesn't share the thanksgiving turkey. Dad keeps all of his paycheck for himself as he yells at his four year old twins to make themselves useful if they want a bite of the cheeseburger he got himself, you know, with his wife hoarding the whole turkey for herself... No, we share and we discuss options in a joint effort to make life better for the whole family, and when we've heard each other's ideas, we vote.

Capitalism concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Even if you think this si just temporary, that wealth changes hands regularly, this still is not what anarchism entails as it strives toward a total lack of hierarchical power structures. And this can only be achieved by democracy, if it's in the family or in society at large doesn't matter. And as ownership is the same as power, it's ownership that needs to be democratized. And that's really all socialism is; making the workers also the owners of the means of production. Then it's not a board of directors, assigned by a board of shareholders who decide what to produce, how much to produce, where to produce and what to do with the wealth that production creates, but the workers who will democratically decide these things.

All I'm saying is that we may be able to someday live peacefully in a world without governments, but not if we just swap the coercive power of government for the coercive power of market forces; again, there is no invisible hand. There are many forms of anarchism, most of which denounce capitalism for the reasons I've so often written about. Please watch this video for a better explanation of the most common misconceptions about anarchism and anarchists; anarchism in itself isn't as far-fetched or scary as some of you may think it is.


Ten things everyone gets wrong about Anarchists!


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We are not against hierarchies in principle, only unjust hierarchies... just so happen most hierarchies are unjust or lead to injustice.

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Exactly! Thanks for responding @tychoxi :-)

i think that programming and fear of change run deep. no one wants to change their habits, especially if those habits allow them to be comfortable and on top. I agree with most of what you said here. I think history has taught us the power corrupts, and so any centralized power poses a potential risk. We are a nation founded on checks and balances, yet we are now to a point where corruption is so sever the checks and balances no longer work.

As for capitalism, I will continue to see it as an inherent evil unless "the market" correctly attributes value to finite resources, and addresses the issue of pollution which degrades renewable resources. It is not enough to say everyone is entitle to life, liberty, etc until the level of lifestyle and the cost are defined. I feel that everyone should be entitled to the same level of clean air and water, and that air and water should not be sold for a profit.

Companies did not create water, nor should they be allowed to exploit it for profit. Government does not own land that they should be entitled to rent it out for exploitation and reap the profits. That resource belongs to all people, present and future. Whomever caretakes the land should see that its resources are replenished. If the resource is finite, it should be valued as such, not merely assigned some arbitrary market value. The greed and self interest bred into capitalism has already shown its lack of scruples.

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The greed and self interest bred into capitalism has already shown its lack of scruples.

I couldn't agree more @torico! Thanks so much for this great response :-)

Anarchy is a product.

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And so is toothpaste ;-) Thanks for stopping by @godo :-)

How big a group are we talking about here? Are we continuing the idea of countries or can smaller democratic groups secede?

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For now we're talking countries, but that should just be a phase; how exactly we're going to organize eventually is unknown, but most likely it'll be smaller communities without any borders between them, and probably not confined to just one continuous geographic area... There's so much to be discovered yet regarding life without hierarchies... Thanks so much for responding @mattclarke :-)

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