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+2 votes
So this is how i've always understood anarchism. Imagine a plot of land. That is your said anarchist 'state'. Now imagine several tribes spread across this plot of land, each one unique. For example,  one is all blacksmiths, one is all farmers, etc. Now, a person joining the anarchist state has free choice to join any tribe he/she wants, and can change tribes freely. Finally, the tribes are joined by trade and a mutual defence pact. Is this what would be considered anarchism?
this is an unusually good question for a beginner anarchy site. people should stop downvoting newbie questions! jeez!

with a nod to af's distinction between anarchy and anarchism...

i would say that the freedom of the individual to choose who they associate with (which tribe to "join", with free movement between tribes as desired) is anarchic in principle. but the tribes being "joined by trade and a mutual defense pact" raises serious questions in my mind. 

given your hypothetical example, you might find the book "bolo'bolo" interesting.

being able to change our minds and move around is certainly one version (or part) of an anarchic scenario, but being defined by a job is no goal of mine. i can imagine people organizing themselves along these lines for a while, but it would be convenient for work, not for living.

1 Answer

+4 votes

I might consider this to have some anarchic qualities, that is, some degree of anarchy (particularly when compared to our actual presently lived circumstances), and perhaps even a form of anarchism, given it's a bit blue-printy, hypothetical, abstract. But a taste of the social life i'd like to live? Not really.

Why only degrees of 'anarchy?' From this anarchist's perspective anarchy may only be considered as movement, as process, as living. On one hand, anarchy may only lived and thought of as perennially incomplete. Every process, every life finds itself rubbing against the flesh-of-the-world, that which each of us cannot enter, have access to, much less 'be (the-same-as)'. There could be no process, no life, no perspective without that which bounds us, as fluid as those bounds may be.

On the other hand, my desire to reach, to run, to dance, even if only so slightly, just a bit further into the flesh-of-the-world, ever-deepening, challenges me to overcome my present bounds, my strength...even when waiting while gathering nourishment (which is a huge undertaking for us impatient ones) for that next expansive step. There's a combined sense of what may called 'the utopic' and 'the marvelous' here. Utopic because this place hasn't appeared in the world; marvelous because it calls with terror and wonder; terror in risk, wonder in the beauty of living in all its ephemerality.

But what of 'anarchism?' Here, again, we may discern two senses of the word. First, as I alluded to before, anarchism may be what has become 'anarchism' to most people: a blue-print for a future society, such as the one you (the OP) use. I can only see this as a dead-end for reasons I'll elucidate below.

There is, however, another sense 'anarchism' may be used, and this is as fleeting referent to one's perspective in a given moment. This is when I share my perspective to you, whether I'm delineating, logically, attempting to explain or offering you a more poetic description. This snap-shot, if you will, is my only can be now.

Given the above I can only say that your scenario cannot provide for the messiness living, or at least my living, entails. For one, I have no desire to live (even temporarily) identified solely as 'blacksmith,' or 'farmer,'  much less live surrounded by others doing the same damned activity. If I was 'farmer' in Tribe Farm, gardening would hold no luster and the conversations would be pretty tedious at best. As a 'blacksmith' in Tribe Vulcan, I'd never wish to play symbols or strike a gong, due to the constant clanging of metal tools. As to going among the other 'tribes' doing different but one activity which defines them, I'd probably find them pretty boring too. Monotonous work makes for monotonous people.

Trading with others is not synonymous, to me anyway, with communing with others. In a given place, groups would more than likely form through affinity with a variety projects, interests, and just sheer enjoyment. This may be likened more to whorls in a stream than patches on a quilt, since my interests usually overlap with others in varying directions...most definitely far beyond the scope of so-called occupation, trade/exchange of products.

Lastly, the notion of 'mutual defense' really conjures a state, no? I'm not just talking a political state, here, (although, that's definitely included) but a static notion of activity and relation among the folks within the arbitrary bounds of your hypothetical land. The land must be demarcated as 'ours' and not 'theirs,' but also in 'our land' we've already decided what it means, what is entailed, in being a participant in 'our land.'

Frankly, I find the situation would be much as it is now: I have little desire to maintain the present institutions, relations, worldview within which I'm enmeshed, yet I also have no desire to leave and even less to be forced away from a place I love in so many ways, without a fight...all of which go far beyond the concept 'our land' and its demarcation as property/state.

Edited to clean up a bit.

by (7.5k points)
edited by