Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Suppose anarchy succeeds. Is there any reason it will persist?

+3 votes
I'm new to these ideas, so forgive me if I word things improperly.

But let's just suppose that anarchy, in some shape or form, has succeeded and now represents the societies of the human species.

What's stopping a subsequent revolution that reverts to non-anarchy?
asked Apr 10, 2015 by phenos-unknown (160 points)

4 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer
nothing guarantees a future of any predominant way of humans relating, whether anarchy or hierarchy.

hierarchies try to sell us the myth of a guaranteed future, through concepts like insurance policies, places in heaven, or perfectly worded laws. but i want to live anarchically for the experience itself, not some vague assurance of a widespread outcome and its continuance. although i think i'd like the world more if i encountered a greater number of people desiring anarchy and living anarchically, my reasons for doing so mostly come from an internal drive.

even though i know i likely won't see anarchy as the primary way of relating in my lifetime, i still embrace living that way because....

i like to play. authority tells me to work, to conform, and then only to play within specified parameters, at certain hours on certain days.

it feels painful to me to take orders, to give orders, to regiment myself to a schedule, to stifle my desire to create each day as my own. i more often prefer the pain and discomfort that comes with attacking the power structures over the pain and resignation i feel by complying with them.

i see the pain in my friends and family trying to conform to jobs, the money system, and relating through social roles rather than as unique individuals, while suppressing their own desires.

i like heading into the unknown. authority tells me to fear it.

i feel  happier when i collaborate with people than when trying to fulfill a social role. I witness other people feeling the same way when laws and authority don't play a role in their relationships.

i like figuring out how to get food and shelter and warmth more than I like figuring out how to get money to get those things.

i felt like i lived more of a generic, monotonous existence when i worked at jobs, related as “boss” or “employee”, when everyone I met at work believed (or pretended to believe) these roles mattered more than our own desires.

i feel a deeper sense of connection to people, places, and things.

i like to live creatively, not according to programs prescribed by institutions.

i feel more honest.

i see the devastation of the land resulting from the institutions of government, economics, and the ideology of technological progress.

living with a tendency toward anarchy makes me feel freer, more in balance, and more true to the desires i felt as a young child and continue to feel today.

at the end of the day, i see it as a choice between perpetuating a way of relating, thinking, and acting that causes me (and others) unnecessary pain and suffering, versus ways that open up possibilities in each moment, as i encounter people, land, and other creatures in my life.

a quick story to illustrate....

recently, my wife and i spent a few days with our 8 year old niece while her father worked out of town. unfortunately for her (she has told me this), most of her life consists of following the rules and laws of school - getting ready for it at 6:30am, spending 6 plus hours in a box there all day with other people deciding for her what she will learn, how she will learn it, and exactly how much time she'll spend on each "subject", then home for at least another hour or two of homework, and then getting ready to do it all over again the next day - all of this cycle reinforced by authority: her father and mother, her grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles, even her older brother as he asks if she did all her homework before she starts playing around.

on the day leading up to our stay, she said to me "i want to see what i can turn myself into this week!". i witnessed her desire to live creatively, and i wanted to help her however i could, rather than act as an authority figure in her life.

so while we stayed with her, we didn't attempt to force her to go to school. we simply woke up whenever we wanted to and let our desires for the day take us where we wanted to go. ultimately, the three of us all knew we'd face the hierarchical thinking and power structures of relating when her parents and grandparents found out that we disregarded their rules (as well as the laws of the state), but we agreed to face it and take our chances, figuring out ways to deal with it that worked for all three of us.

the sense of freedom and creativity that we shared during those days felt worth the risk, despite knowing that people we care about would likely be pissed off at us, and that nothing would change in terms of the school system and probably not even our family members' belief in hierarchy and authority. as it turned out, we did face a few angry family members...but they also acknowledged the spark in this little girl's eyes and voice when they saw her that they didn't see before. a fleeting moment perhaps, a small dent in the ideology of authority, but a satisfying experience having lived and related that way.

i don't feel the same amount of tenacity and courage every day that i wake up. but the desire to relate to others as unique individuals, to create my life in my own way, to not sit around and wait for some future perfect society as imagined by people who don't give a shit about me, to not let authority figures control me, my thoughts, and actions...drives me to live and relate differently, anarchically.

edited: mostly grammar/typos, and a few things i didn't like.
answered Apr 15, 2015 by bornagainanarchist (8,490 points)
edited Apr 15, 2015 by bornagainanarchist
she does. i don't mean that we agree on everything, but we share the desire for living anarchically. i don't think either of us would want to continue living with the other if we didn't share that desire.
Amazing. I would have so liked to meet you and your wife.
thank you for saying that. i know a lot of people have reservations about meeting people via internet initiated conversations, but i feel willing to do it in certain situations. perhaps one day we will meet you. :)
ditto to af's comment! i dig your answer, ba@.
thank you, funky. i appreciate it.

i've read more thoughtful and provocative questions, essays, comments, and conversations on this site than i ever have on an internet forum. a lot of you have provided inspiration and challenges that have helped me to clarify my own thinking and made me want to experience more of the stuff i think about.  

it feels good to know i can contribute a little to the dialogue and that a few people actually understand me. :)
0 votes
nope. no reason. nothing (external) would stop a subsequent revolution.
answered Apr 11, 2015 by dot (52,130 points)
This answer honestly reads like some kneejerk thing a snobby kid would say to shock/disturb a parent.

I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but I've noticed that nihilist-anarchists (not sure if you're one of those) tend to act that way towards people who have optimism, and it's always kinda bothered me. Not that they are critical of optimism, but more in the way that it's gone about.
it doesn't read like that to me...primarily because the question doesn't sound optimistic...it seems somewhat pessimistic to me.
interesting, flip. to me it is just a statement of fact. there would be no bodies, no organizations, no police, no armed forces, nothing external to prevent another significant cultural/social shift.
i have no idea what is either nihilist or snobby about that.
(i don't actually think your answer says much different from what i said.)

but thanks for explaining the down vote; always nice to do.
I think it was just the curtness of the answer that made me think that. Most people new to anarchy would be confused as to why an anarchist would be so pessimistic, and the lack of explanation on your part seemed to me more as something meant to shock than anything else.

But it seems like I just misunderstood what your intentions were.
on topic:


science fiction has the answers to everything... lol...
I think I saw a review of that on The Anarcho. Any pop culture portrayal of anarchism usually frustrates me, which is silly because in truth if they got us right I'd assume we were doing something wrong. :-p
0 votes
This society has sculpted the physical world into being functional for its (or another society's) purposes. If total anarchist triumph emerges and leaves the husk of this world standing, then all those "apparatuses" could quickly be put back into use. :-(

On the other hand, if global anarchy triumphs I'm going to assume there was a massive intellectual shift where people became something better than the obedient subjects they are now. So those people (and this phenomenon would probably grow with each generation) would resent authority and control, and would fight/resist it. So that could be one way it persisted. :-)

I don't think anarchy will succeed in that way which you're thinking, but it would be nice if it did!
answered Apr 11, 2015 by flip (3,980 points)
edited Apr 11, 2015 by flip
+2 votes
I don't know. That's my answer.

I'm not venting my periodic hostility here, but personally, I do find thought-experiments such as this unhelpful and perhaps even insidious to some degree. Some of the comments drive to the point here. 'Pessimism' vs. 'optimism' for instance, and the reliance, as far as I can tell, upon some vague concepts of hope and future.

To me, this comes across as familiar, that is, when moralists ask what I might do if someone threw a brick at me. The conditions aren't present, even if I have some vague feeling now of what I'd like to do in response in that non-existent place and time. I'm still right here.

Your question seems to ask of others some degree of certainty, whereas it admits itself a great deal of uncertainty (ex: "in some shape or form") where it may count most; as new conditions for someone, somewhere. This is perhaps why I attempt to describe, by my use of the word 'anarchy,' a living, moving process and host of desires, rather than defining 'anarchy' as a noun-thing.

edit for additional thoughts and grammar.
answered Apr 11, 2015 by AmorFati (7,440 points)
edited Apr 11, 2015 by AmorFati
yes to this answer.
Thanks for answering.
Of course, it was not my intention to ask a loaded question. This thought experiment is important to me personally and I was sincerely interested in a response from people who have been immersed in these ideas for longer than two days (for such is true in my case).

My approach to this thought experiment was neither pessimistic nor optimistic; merely inquirious. If my language implied a demand for certainty, then I take responsibility for my inadequate use of language; as should you take responsibility for your interpretation. My uncertainty is the consequence of my lack of familiarity with anarchistic ideas.

At the end of the day, though, I was really just wondering if embracing anarchy (whether as an entity or as a living, moving process) is a worthwhile endeavor.

Edited typos.
p-u: "At the end of the day, though, I was really just wondering if embracing anarchy (whether as an entity or as a living, moving process) is a worthwhile endeavor."

it depends on what makes something worthwhile to you. i definitely view it as worthwhile for me.

do you mean to imply that the likelihood of anarchy persisting as the dominant social relationship largely impacts your perception of whether or not it would seem worthwhile to you to embrace it as a living process?
"At the end of the day, though, I was really just wondering if embracing anarchy (whether as an entity or as a living, moving process) is a worthwhile endeavor."

Well, we (that is to say, those that have preceded us) have been trying to destroy industrial capitalism for a couple centuries at least.  We have taken to the barricades, shot princes in the head, bombed cops and liars and snitches, fought back against assassinations and lynchings, even fought with marxists* and marched with leftists.*
(*  Those last two didn't end so well.)
But for all that, industrial capitalism is stronger than ever**;  and anyone halfway honest admits that we really don't know how to kill the fucker, (though that is no reason to stop trying.)  (** right up to the point that it fucking breaks...)

I don't know anyone who pursues anarchy for more than a few years, who expects to see broadscale anarchy in their lifetime.  They either burnout and pursue someother delusion; or they swallow their bile, and do as much harm as we can here and now.
But the beauty, and the curse, of anarchy is that once the blinders are lifted - once you accept the critical viewpoint of _everything_ in the world around you, then you can _never_ blind yourself to the self-serving bullshit delusions necessary to function in the modern world.  (sorry.)

To paraphrase Magrat Killjoy (since i can't find the original right now):  'Yes, you can live this way here and now.  And, Yes, it is better.'
BAA - Oh I'm not asking if it's worthwhile. I understand that such an evaluation is subjective. But yes that is what I mean to imply. If global anarchy fails to persist as the dominant social relationship, or if (to borrow the ideas of other answerers) the moving process and host of desires that is anarchy is forever doomed to incremental changes/improvements (or none at all), then what good reason is there for me to give up my delusions about how to live?

And, CB - I assure you that I am not trolling. I understand that a newbie playing devil's advocate on such a site might be annoying and presumptuous , but it is how I learn best. So: I have not yet come to the conclusion that industrial capitalism is a thing to be reviled, and that living otherwise truly is better. I am not asking you to convince me, only to acknowledge that I do not make such assumptions.

"At the end of the day, though, I was really just wondering if embracing anarchy (whether as an entity or as a living, moving process) is a worthwhile endeavor."

"BAA -Oh I'm not asking if it's worthwhile".

those two statements of yours contradict each other and leave me scratching my head a little...

but to answer your latest question... i can tell you the reasons i embrace anarchy as often as i can (if that interests you), but i can't tell you what reasons you might have or what you consider "good" reasons.

"I'm not *asking* if it is worthwhile". The sentence immediately following, for context: "I understand that such an evaluation is subjective".

Seems clear to me.

I would be very interested to hear your reasons and to better refine my understanding of anarchy.

(edit for communication clarity)
okay, got you - you'd like to hear my reasons for continuing to want to live anarchically despite the knowledge that i'll not likely see the majority of people relating that way in my lifetime, and that even if i do, nothing would guarantee it continuing.

does that sound pretty close to your question?


(providing the 12-character min.)
okay, i like the question, now that i understand it more clearly!

i'd like to think a little more about how to express it, and then i'll either write another comment here or as an answer to your original question. thanks for asking.