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...And without rules, how would you prevent chaos?


And by oppressing the rule of the majority, aren't you essentially creating a rule of the minority? In the instance where either the majority is pleased or the minority is, wouldn't you rather it be the majority?


I see force as the only means of preventing chaos, and whenever there is force there will be oppression. It's an inevitability.
I'd appreciate it if you'd stop deferring to me as "boring" and "repetitive", as I likely have been studying political philosophy for longer than you have been alive.
AD, i chose what i thought of as your most definitive stance - "democracy is...", and refuted that things "are" a certain way by saying that you gave your opinion (which i don't agree with).

either you choose to engage with me, or not. but i'd like to take that one "argument" of yours to task. i don't have the inclination to refute anything else you wrote at this point.

if you don't agree that the statement of yours amounts to your opinion,  as opposed to some sort of absolute truth, then i don't find any reason to start responding to the rest of your comments.
f@ is not "deferring," they're "referring" to you as boring and repetitive. and indeed you are.

as you would know yourself if you'd read ANY of the MYRIAD of other comments on this site about crime and punishment.

dot: lol!

democratic darwinist:

"I likely have been studying political philosophy for longer than you have been alive."

1. i couldn't care less how long you've been feeding your ideology.

2. if you have actually been "studying political philosophy" for over 55 years, and you still can't wrap your head around a truly anarchist perspective (or even think for a moment outside your ideological box), then you are even less interesting than i accused you of being. (and "Libertarians look to increase government" - where do you get your information? )

i would appreciate it if you would not be so boring and repetitive. i do not mean to be name-calling, i am simply describing what i have been observing.


sorry old chap, but i just don't have any interest in continuing this particular discussion with you. see ya.

GG. Look forward to shooting you for eating a pear I could have eaten: how dare you govern me?

1 Answer

0 votes

Has there ever been an anarchist society that worked?

Yes, many thousands of them. For their first million years or more, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers in small bands of equals, without hierarchy or authority. These are our ancestors. Anarchist societies must have been successful, otherwise none of us would be here. The state is only a few thousand years old, and it has taken that long for it to subdue the last anarchist societies, such as the San (Bushmen), the Pygmies and the Australian aborigines.

But we can’t go back to that way of life.

Nearly all anarchists would agree. But it’s still an eye-opener, even for anarchists, to study these societies, and perhaps to pick up some ideas on how a completely voluntary, highly individualistic, yet cooperative society might work. To take just one example, anarchist foragers and tribesmen often have highly effective methods of conflict resolution including mediation and nonbinding arbitration. Their methods work better than our legal system because family, friends and neighbors of the disputants encourage disputants to agree, helped by sympathetic and trustworthy go-betweens, to find some reasonable resolution of the problem. In the 1970s and 1980s, academic supposed experts tried to transplant some of these methods into the American legal system. Naturally the transplants withered and died, because they only live in a free society.

Anarchists are naïve: they think human nature is essentially good.

Not so. It’s true that anarchists reject ideas of innate depravity or Original Sin. Those are religious ideas which most people no longer believe in. But anarchists don’t usually believe that human nature is essentially good either. They take people as they are. Human beings aren’t “essentially” anything. We who live under capitalism and its ally, the state, are just people who have never had a chance to be everything we can be.

Although anarchists often make moral appeals to the best in people, just as often they appeal to enlightened self-interest. Anarchism is not a doctrine of self-sacrifice, although anarchists have fought and died for what they believe in. Anarchists believe that the carrying-out of their basic idea would mean a better life for almost everyone.

How can you trust people not to victimize each other without the state to control crime?

If you can’t trust ordinary people not to victimize each other, how can you trust the state not to victimize us all? Are the people who get into power so unselfish, so dedicated, so superior to the ones they rule? The more you distrust your fellows, the more reason there is for you to become an anarchist. Under anarchy, power is reduced and spread around. Everybody has some, but nobody has very much. Under the state, power is concentrated, and most people have none, really. Which kind of power would you like to go up against?

But — let’s get real — what would happen if there were no police?

As anarchist Allen Thornton observes, “Police aren’t in the protection business; they’re in the revenge business.” Forget about Batman driving around interrupting crimes in progress. Police patrol does not prevent crime or catch criminals. When police patrol was discontinued secretly and selectively in Kansas City neighborhoods, the crime rate stayed the same. Other research likewise finds that detective work, crime labs, etc. have no effect on the crime rate. But when neighbors get together to watch over each other and warn off would-be criminals, criminals try another neighborhood which is protected only by the police. The criminals know that they are in little danger there.

But the modern state is deeply involved in the regulation of everyday life. Almost every activity has some sort of state connection.

That’s true — but when you think about it, everyday life is almost entirely anarchist. Rarely does one encounter a policeman, unless he is writing you a traffic ticket for speeding. Voluntary arrangements and understandings prevail almost everywhere. As anarchist Rudolph Rocker wrote: “The fact is that even under the worst despotism most of man’s personal relations with his fellows are arranged by free agreement and solidaric cooperation, without which social life would not be possible at all.”

Family life, buying and selling, friendship, worship, sex, and leisure are anarchist. Even in the workplace, which many anarchists consider to be as coercive as the state, workers notoriously cooperate, independent of the boss, both to minimize work and to get it done. Some people say anarchy doesn’t work. But it’s almost the only thing that does! The state rests, uneasily, on a foundation of anarchy, and so does the economy.


this is excerpted from

a better text for you might be a book called Anarchy Works, but i don't think it's online.

ps: please tag your questions (for example, this question could be tagged with "chaos, democracy, minority-rule" or something.

by (53.1k points)

  The Peter Gelderloos "Anarchy Works" is online.

"Family life, buying and selling, friendship, worship, sex, and leisure are anarchist. "


That statement is a bit naive and does not take into account the pervasive effect of the state in day to day relationships. While I think it's true that we're al much more 'anarchist' than we think, I'd argue that family life, commercial transactions, making friends and relationships are affected by the state and by the capitalist system in which we life in and which is being constantly reassured by the state. Separating the 'public' from the 'private', or 'work' from 'not work' in such a strict way does not allow to reflect on the effects that capitalism and the state have in the private realms of life.


What do you think?

cyborg, i totally agree. but i gauged this answer (pending more information) on  where the questioner seems to be coming from. we'll see if they stick around to get more in-depth information/conversation.

 human, thanks. search function on T@L is odd to me. :)

"Anarchists are naïve: they think human nature is essentially good."

i've always found this assertion kinda ridiculous, although i understand from whence it springs. classical anarchists seem to me to posit this kind of thinking (at least what i've read of 'em), but i see this optimistic response as situated within a tradition where 'human nature' is considered to essentially bad. the proto-liberal and liberal tradition has carried this baggage along to a tee to this day. although (becoming?) globally dominant, it is really a minority view in terms of the range and numbers of cultures/peoples who tell a much different story.

"Family life, buying and selling, friendship, worship, sex, and leisure are anarchist. "

buying and selling are anarchist?  not in my world. and i usually agree with much of bob black's perspective.

yea, it's not consistent with bob's own writings/thinking in other places. i wonder what he was thinking? he's also as critical of leisure as he is of work, in many instances.
Again, i think of what a terrible burden it must be to publish your thoughts - for everyone (for the rest of your life and beyond your death) will judge your actions, and motivations by some passage scribbled with only a passing thought.  As if every published work springs forth whole, complete and perfect.  As if no author may every stand up and exclaim "That's not what I fucking meant!",  or even "What the hell was I thinking?  Even I don't understand what I was trying to say!"

(but then, all anarchist writers are perfect in everything they do and say, and so the above does not apply to them.   Right?)


Reification.  Can someone explain this to me (again)?  and how it applies to the dead (published) words of authors (be they living or dead)?
sure clodbuster, absolutely (and perhaps especially today, when blogging/extemporaneous writing is SO much more common) writers can be having an off day or whatever. but a) bob is generally pretty specific and picky (and from an earlier generation of writers who didn't expect to be able to go online later and clarify any misconceptions) and b) these topics (work and by extension leisure, specifically) are the things that he's known for being thoughtful about.

i think it's more likely that because it was an introductory text, he was not trying to overload the newcomer with too many new ideas. and it's meaningful to me to be thoughtful about what people write and where they're inconsistent, because interrogating ideas includes following trajectories of thinking.