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+3 votes
I think this is an important question and I all I have really seen about it is some evidence 'that the first RECORDED anarchists were against ALL hierarchy.

I personally do not know how to come to the correct meanings or words or if words should be able to change meaning somewhat in modern times but something doesn't sit right with that for me. For example, not all hierarchy is bad. My relationship with my parents is a voluntary hierarchy that I find beneficial and also my relationship with the CEO of the charity I work for also works. I respect his experience and maturity. Plus he wouldn't need to sack me, he could just ask me to leave. But if he did I am sure I would of deserved it.

Maybe there are 'better alternatives' to hierarchy but is it not for the individual to decide mostly, in relation to the specific circumstance?
by (160 points)

"...How about responding to the original argument, i.e. "Without their reproductive organs (and the ways they were used in) the children wouldn't even exist. They expand the child's options from [A. not existing] to [A. Not existing + B. Existing on said conditions].""

the reverse perspective is more true than this: parents have responsibility towards the children since they brought them in the world to begin with, whereas BA and dot point out, the child didn't have anything to do with their parents reproductive organs.

To me, the argument that AD is making isn't really a "humanist" argument, but an argument for some debt that doesn't actually exist, like owing God your love, owing respect to soldiers...the list goes on.

they're not mutually exclusive rs666, but i think you're right: that is probably more the point of AD's insistence.
gary cook, i'd like to hear your definition of "hierarchy", in particular what you mean by a "voluntary hierarchy with your parents". in what ways does your relationship with them function hierarchically?

it would help me to understand your question better. thanks.
I have recently begun using the phrase birth debt and womb capital for these ideas.
i missed this comment by strawdog - birth debt and womb capital are horrifyingly excellent terms/concepts... or excellently horrifying. EW

2 Answers

+2 votes

I'm not sure that there is a simple A, B, or C answer to this. Although if forced, I would say C: Both.

I think part of the problem is what we mean by hierarchy when we say that. If you are talking about parents (or, in societies without nuclear families, adults- parents, aunties, grandparents, etc) in relation to children, some hierarchies will likely always exist, although it is important to note that in many societies where the power of adult influence is more diffused, there is less rigidly hierarchical relations between generations. Words like hierarchy, power, and authority get thrown around in a pretty reckless way in anarchist circles (I am certainly guilty of this), and that tends to leave all of them meaning maybe the same thing? But certainly nothing concrete.

In regards to the relationship of an employee to a boss, that is a clearly hierarchical relationship in a concrete way. Your boss maybe wouldn't sack you, but as your boss, he could sack you, which cuts you off from your means of survival in a relationship that is purely about capitalism (even if it is a charity - I work for a not-for-profit myself, but we are still complicit in and help maintain the larger system of capitalist relations).

Unless your parents are wielding your financial dependence on them over you in a similar way, this is different (and the way you refer to them in your question, I am assuming your relationship with them is mostly okay, so if not, my answer might change).

(Aside: There is a dumb old Bakunin quote about boots or shoes or something that you can look up if you really want, but I never particularly liked it.)

Regarding individual choice: sure, it is up to the individual, but I would be careful about this argument - it is really easy to fall into anarcho-capitalist terrain if you uncritically use arguments like this. As an example: I have a friend who is a pro-dom. People pay this friend to dominate them, but they are choosing to do so. Entirely voluntary relationship. That is different than me going to work and having to do what my boss tells me because I need to or I don't get paid anymore and then I can't pay rent and am homeless. 

This gets back to capitalism, but I think there are other forms of capital that need to be considered, such as our social capital. It might not be a monetary relationship, but there can still be hierarchies that are undesirable or constraining.

I'd try to write more about that, but I am tired and need to sleep now...

by (22.1k points)
edited by
In context, the dumb old Bakunin quote only makes sense if he "bows" to his own inability to do everything and know everything. And it's hard to imagine Bakunin, who hates, he says, even the word "authority," being very happy bowing to anyone or anything.
+3 votes

to speak directly to the primary question:

literally - at least etymologically - anarchy is about no rulers. which means government immediately falls by the wayside. hierarchy is somewhat more vague, depending on how one defines it and in what context. i would say any institutional hierarchy gets tossed. in direct relations between individuals, there may be some situations where what some might call "hierarchy" are necessary. 

i guess this brings up a question for me: what is the relationship between hierarchy and authority?

by (13.4k points)
Anarchy is a social system without rulers, but not necessarily without rules. Whoever says "make no rules, obey no rules," is proposing a general rule he or she thinks it is be "good" to obey. An ethical notion of what one should do or how one should live. Contradictory at first glance, since it appears to suggest some sort of authority, but the key to anarchy is this: no being has any right to force another being to do anything. Freely given respect (to your CEO) and education (to one's children) seems fine to me. It even seems obvious that the parent has a responsibility to help the child become a free-living thing, as has been said above. Some might call it a duty. same thing. It's all in the attitude, which is absolutely critical to the dignity of the other. It is of utmost importance that all parties to any interaction remain free to associate, or not, in any way they feel is right. If any party changes the dynamic of the relationship into one of coercion-submission, that party is a bad-guy in the eyes of the anarchist. I think.
your inclusion of CEO in this is glaring to me.

i take it as fairly fundamental that relevantly respectful relationships are not possible between boss and employee. people can treat each other nicely, but the structure is inherently disrespectful (ie, it has nothing to do with the individuals involved, it is structural). to use your terms, i guess, i question the freedom of the employee, for sure, but to some extent the freedom of the boss as well.


'Anarchy is a social system without rulers',

i would probably say that anarchism(s) may be a social system, but not necessarily anarchy. as such some proposed social systems, like so-called anarcho-capitalism, might equate the notion of freely given respect to a CEO to an anarchic act. but as dot pointed out, the context isn't a bit anarchic, even if there's politeness by the bucketful.

What I mean when I say anarchy is also drawn from the etymological beginning of "without rulers," but I don't draw a distinction between "big rulers" and "little rulers." That is to say, I take it in the most severe sense as meaning "no authority over me." CEO, that is Chief Executive Officer, has three different words in it that are foundationally contra-anarchism.

As to family, iirc Marx traces the origin of the nuclear family in Capital Vol 1 and finds it to originate with, and be a direct mirror of, capitalist modes of production. This is to say that in so far as Anarchism is understandable as anti-capitalist it must also be understood as automatically contrary to the social form known as the nuclear family.

"Anarchy is a social system without rulers, but not necessarily without rules. "

i second af that anarchy is not at all (necessarily) a "social system". it is true that some anarchisms may have a social system as their goal; that is why i don't tend to use the word "anarchism" to describe my affinities. indeed, my own anarchy could never be characterized as such.

i also second dot's comments about ceo(s). you are talking about the institution of work - part of the economically derived and driven system(s), which you seem to wholeheartedly support. it is an institutional hierarchy, and it cannot in any way be reconciled with my desired anarchy. the relationship of boss/employee is absolutely and inherently hierarchical and authoritarian, regardless of what "respect" one affords the other in any given interaction. likewise, a cop that is "respectful" in some given situation is still a cop; part of a undeniably hierarchical, authoritarian institution, endowed by that institution with the power to dictate your behavior (or imprison you).

i have never been convinced that there can be rules without rulers. it obviously depends on how one defines "rule"; but if a rule is something that can be enforced (which is largely how i define it), then there are rulers to enforce it (even if the actual enforcement is carried out by the rulers' henchmen). and if something cannot be enforced, then it is not a rule, in my mind.

i admit, the question of rules is an interesting and nuanced one. i have had several recent (face-to-face) discussions around this topic (inspired by some recent events in my area), and it is not so cut and dried. there can be confusion (maybe even overlap) between a rule, a warning, a request, a threat, an expression of desire, etc. it might warrant a separate question/discussion.

having "respectful" (a hugely subjective term that can only be defined in a given context) relations with those one chooses to relate with as such is great, and does not conflict at all with my concept of anarchy. but when you start talking about "rights" and "duties", you've lost my interest; because that circles back to the current dominant paradigm of accepting external authorities telling one how to live. simply doesn't work for me.

free association and disassociation are concepts i have very strong affinity with.

Aaah, if any anarchists on this website EVER fully agree with me -- especially dot, funkyanarchy and StrawDog -- I will be very disappointed. Just now looking for ammunition in Proudhon's Philosophy of Misery (very spiritual work by the way) I stumbled on a line something like "I honor your idea by refuting it."

Variety the spice of life.

To the original question: anarchy is clearly about both: no government and no hierarchy (assuming the meaning of hierarchy suggests government of one by another). Beyond that we all have unique perspectives that are relatively close or distant. I admit I think the egoists' and anarcho-communists' ideas are evil; they would say the same about mine; but I can't say they aren't anarchists. Just misguided anarchists.
[completely off topic]

syrphant, where have you been? you are one of the folks i tend to disagree with and yet usually enjoy interacting with.
Took a break from meaningful human interaction for a while, funkyanarchy. Twirled in the walz; stared at the walls. Nice of you to check in on me. Now that you mention it, I was indeed tarting to feel a little craving for intelligent conversation...
@syrphant My tendencies have been called stupid before, but 'evil' is a new one.  Not unexpected, however.  What do you mean when you say 'evil'?
@shinminmetroskyline: In the big sense, I mean evil as in reducing the already ridiculously small chance that Life will persist forever.  In the little sense, more relevant to our experience, I mean both the schools I referred to alienate and demean the individual. Why pit the part against the whole or the whole against the part when you can have both?
evil in the sense of reducing the already small chance that 'Life' -your capitalization- will persist forever.  to this i respond with my favourite philosophical come back; so what?  why do you care whether 'Life' persists 'forever'?  and if you don't, then that doesn't really clear up why you use 'evil' for this notion.  more importantly though, what do you mean by 'Life', and what do you mean by 'forever'?

evil as in alienating and demeaning the individual; i guess i just dont see how egoism alienates or demeans the individual.  as someone with egoist tendencies, i would avoid reducing my experience to existing as a part -individual- in a whole -society-.  society has no physical form; i cannot be pitted against society, only those who hold society in their minds.  but even if 'pitting the part against the whole' was an accurate description, 'having both' is not something i want, as an anarchist.  'having both' is what happens now, the concept of society reigns supreme, and the individual still exists; i dont think now is all that great, however.
Cool, I've never gotten to talk with an egoist-anarchist before. Let me preface this comment by saying I only expect from our conversation a better understanding of your perspective and some tough challenges to my own. While I hope egoist-anarchists never get their way, showing you the light is beyond my power; I'm just curious about how others think and I'll have to provoke you a little to make this interesting.

I'm a plant breeder by trade and passion. I reject any big ideas about the human condition I can't find evidence for in the vegetable, insect or microbial condition. I don't project human characteristics on plants, but I also don't consider humans and plants as fundamentally different. The differences are just the results of speciation; which I see as driven by competition-avoidance adaptation, risk-management diversification, and interdependent specialization. Yes, an economic lens. So my anarchist thinking has grown out of that. There's no goddamn government in their part of the ecosystem, so why do we think it is necessary or desireable in ours? Top-down farming tends to mess things up in their part, so it probably does in ours.

Now, my experiments with plants in labs, out of the ecological context, have been frustrating. Interesting, but no so useful as I expected for making predictive models. I have learned to appreciate the compexity of part-whole interactions. The individual can only really be understood by its occupation and interactions: the role it plays in a larger system. I see no organism living for itself; I also don't see any altruism. I only see individual organisms defined by how they fit into a community.  You got no society, you got no role, you got no identity, you got no purpose, and life is, quite simply, movement with purpose.

Yes, Virginia, there is a living organism called society. However, we humans can no more communicate with it than we can communicate with our gut bacteria. So to anyone claiming to understand the wants and needs of "society" I call bullshit. We influence each other - same thing with our gut bacteria - and we just accept the fact that our relevant scales of time and space are worlds apart. On whatever level, the organism, smaller or greater, just has to find its place in its relevant world and hold onto it.

Egoist-anarchism is alienating and demeaning because it rejects the idea of a meaningful role for the individual in the bigger picture. If there were no reasons for living outside the self the self would not even be, you know what I'm trying to say? Someone once asked me, "If you had the possibility of going to Heaven for one week then coming right back to this moment, and you couldn't take any pictures or memories back with you, and you would not feel any different afterwards as you do right now, would you go?"

Well, no. What's the point? But it's heaven, it's wonderful. Right, but I wouldn't bother going.  What would you do one minute before you die? Seems to me it would have to have a reason beyond the self or else you might as well just go on and die. So what about one minute before that? What about one minute before that?

I am an individual. My life has meaning. My life matters. If it was just about me and only mattered to me I wouldn't bother and I don't think anything would.

syrphant: you seem to subscribe to the common false dichotomy of individual "vs" group. and i'm sure this has been articulated far better elsewhere on this site.

i am not an egoist, but i do lean strongly towards an individualist perspective. not at the exclusion of relations with other individuals -  those i choose to relate with. you know, that whole "voluntary association" thing. making myself the primal being in my world does not mean i care nothing for others, or do nothing for others, etc. what i reject is the idea that i have some inherent responsibility to some abstract mass of other individuals (society, community, whatever). i relate to individuals, not to masses. 

also, your human-plant analogy can be useful in some ways, but you take it a bit further than i would.

Funky, that's why we'll always be able to butt heads: I believe all living organisms have some inherent responsibility to contribute to an abstract collective struggle. I don't believe this on "faith," I believe it because I see it revealed in heritable, innate behavior. If I'm right, a lot of things make sense that otherwise wouldn't.  If I'm right, there are absolute (not simply relative) ethics: actions and intentions can contribute to or undermine the collective struggle. Authority undermines it because it limits the potential for individuals to adapt, diversify, innovate...

@syrphant  no.  just no.
how is it you are getting from 'many organisms are inclined to form groups'  to 'all organisms /ought/ to devote themselves to some abstract [your word] collective struggle'?  imma level a charge of a good ol' non sequitur at you -latin for does not follow-.

also how are you defining organism; the problem is see with the collectivist mindset you espouse is; 

a) *gets solipsist tools from cupboard* how do you go about discerning the boundaries between individual and 'abstract collective'.  from the outside you cannot draw a line between an an individual and the collective it is part of.  from the point of view of an individual in the collective, the inside perspective, anything 

b) how is an individual is even supposed to gain objective knowledge of this supposedly existent collective?  even if you take this abstract thing to literally exist in some sort of corporeal way,  which you dont -even though that concession seems to undermine what you are trying to express-, that doesnt in itself help the individual know the collective in an objective sense.  if the individual cannot know the collective objectively, only perspectively, then to my mind that is as good as it not existing to the individual. unless you can establish some way for an individual to connect directly with the objective realm that you seem to claim exists, you are still in -at best- a position of functionally 'relative ethics'.

Shiminmetroskyline, imma level an accusation of good ole sraw-man on you. I don't think the statement 'many organisms form groups' is relevant to my current way of thinking. That doesn't matter. I need universals, like ALL organisms are defined by the systems in which they exist.

I don't recognize my own ideas in point (a) either. The greater organism, community or collective is not abstract, the collective struggle is abstract. I mean the reason we are fighting or what we are fighting  is abstract. I'm not sure it is knowable, but I also don't feel any need to know. So I think you are arguing with an imperfect interpretation of my thoughts.

As for point (b) why would anything need direct knowledge about this collective thing of which we are part? My gut bacteria don't need to know anything about my digestive system.

So you've gone off in a direction I can't really follow. Now, let's talk about you. How do you see the world and how does it lead you to anarchist tendencies?

please observe my new and updated argument, and illustrate the method you use to travel from one statement to the other;

'ALL organisms are defined by the systems in which they exist' ---> 'all organisms /ought/ to devote themselves to some abstract [your word] collective struggle'?

it might help if you elaborated on what you mean by 'ought' and 'responsibility'

edited: heavy deletions for the sake of clarity

syrphant: " I believe all living organisms have some inherent responsibility to contribute to an abstract collective struggle. I don't believe this on "faith," I believe it because I see it revealed in heritable, innate behavior.  "

i assume you are talking about what you see in your experiences with non-human life (as you have said before). which means that you are interpreting what you see in non-human others to mean they have some inherent responsibility to contribute to something abstract that you call a "collective struggle".  maybe not "faith" per se, but that's a pretty big leap of some sort, in my mind.

edit:  just to be very clear: i myself relate with non-human beings all the time, far more often than i relate with humans. so i'm not trying to say what other living beings are or are not capable of. i have no idea what they may or may not be capable of, ultimately. 

well, except that one redwood in a forest grove in northern humboldt, that i just know loves me!

Shinminmetroskyline: maybe I do, as you suggest, just desperately want them. I desperately want absolute universal ethics that apply to all living things. Otherwise I'm afraid I might not get out of bed tomorrow morning. I see an important difference between a system where individuals try to live ethically and and a system where some individuals force others to follow rules. Rulebook, yes, as long as it is not written by humans for humans only. Umpires enforcing the rules? No, enforcement of rules is against the rules. That sounds contradictory I know - I'm not good at explaining it - but contradictions are everywhere, we have to live with them.

As for your modified argument, I admit one statement does not follow from the other. These are just 2 separate statements.

I think the first statement needs no elaboration. The second is bold and calls for back-up. I'll have to get back to you on that later. I do appreciate the challenge!

@funky: you nailed it.

@Shinminmetroskyline: I've got about half an hour; I'll do my best:

It is inductive reasoning.

"Should" is relative to an objective: If you want this, you should do this and should not do that. Same goes for good/bad: good if it helps attain a goal, bad if it leads away from the goal. So that's ethics. At first glance relative, but universal for all living things if all living things share one big goal.

Motives can be inferred from actions (at least to the extent a behavior is predictable in specific situations). This morning my daughter got out of the car particularly fast when I dropped her off at school. Why? Ah, I see one of her friends going into the building... I can be pretty confident my daughter wanted to catch up with her friend.

Before I became a plant breeder I was an economist. Ricardo gave us the very clever idea of comparative advantage. It is normally used to justify free-trade from the consumer perspective, but it demonstrates that as long as individuals have different aptitudes or access to resources, each individual should specialize in what it can do least badly - if the objective is to maximize the overall productivity (of the system their interaction creates). 

Meanwhile, other clever thinkers have demonstrated that, in the face of uncertainty, diversification is good if you want minimize the risk of an undesireable outcome: you should hedge your bets; you should put your eggs in uncorrelated baskets. Unless you don't care. (But I can tell whether or not you care, really, by observing your actions in various situations).

At the individual level, these two strategies are contradictory: specialization is, like, the opposite of diversification. What we see at the individual level is specialization; we see communities of diversity.  This strongly suggests the individual is less motivated by selfish goals than by an optimization problem at the community level: maximizing overall productivity in the face of uncertainty. 

But wait, there's more: with limited resources (at rock bottom - time) productivity faces a quantity-quality trade-off.  A lot of shitty stuff or a few chefs d'oevre. In the face of uncertainty, the shot-gun approach is best: you hope at least something will pay off, even if most don't. In life, we observe an overwhelming preference for the "quantity" strategy. We can infer an overriding goal of limiting the risk of total failure to persist. Again, not at the individual level - the individual's behavior does not reveal a desire to persist, at least, not beyond the achievement of some specific goal -- but rather, the individual desires the persistance of the community. And not even in its current form ! The persistance of the community in a changing environment requires it change, too, and we do indeed see a lot of effort by individuals to introduce novelty to their communities. So it isn't the survival of the community as we know it - just the survival of Life itself.

At that point it becomes abstract. It would seem we struggle for the sake of struggling. We fight for the ability to continue to fight.

To the point: the should is relative where living things have different objectives. We do indeed, at the small scale. But we also appear to have a shared objective of a higher priority. That makes the should absolute. That gives our lives - and the lives of non-humans - meaning beyond the self.

a highly specialized individual, leaving aside the rather large problem of alienation, is made dependent on society -what you call 'community'-.  but is community really a helpful term to describe the state of affairs we are in with all of this modern, industrialised specialization?  to me community invokes some sort of tight-knit familiarity and cooperation; something almost totally absent from the majority of modernity.  friend groups might form something of a 'community', but the material interdependence you associate with 'diversity' is not a common feature of friend groups.  instead this interdependence is blown up to the scale of a the nation, or global market.  this individual vulnerability is what makes mass coercion possible.  because specialised individuals have limited access to food outside of the context of their society, they can be bent and controlled the by forces exerted by that society; hierarchy, coercion, etc.

'At the individual level, these two strategies are contradictory: specialization is, like, the opposite of diversification. What we see at the individual level is specialization; we see communities of diversity.  This strongly suggests the individual is less motivated by selfish goals than by an optimization problem at the community level: maximizing overall productivity in the face of uncertainty' - it suggests no such thing.  people do not really choose to be specialized, being specialised is the norm in the context they are born to, and as such that is the path of least resistance.
im going to quote large passages of bob black's 'smokestack lightning' here; steele is the particular person bob black is responding to, but much of this is applicable to this topic, and far better written than anything i could produce

'Steele’s pseudo-factual contention assumes... that what everybody everywhere wants is higher productivity. ... it is Steele who sounds like the collectivist, reifying “humankind” as some kind of organism which “at some stage” chose to go for the gold, to take up the hoe. Just when and where was this referendum held? Supposing that agricultural societies are more productive (of what?) per capita, who says the surplus goes to the producers? Steele may no longer agree with what Engels said in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State but he surely remembers the issues raised there and cynically suppresses what he knows but his intellectually impoverished libertarian readership doesn’t. Peasants produced more, working a lot harder to do it, but consumed less. The wealth they produced could be stored, sold and stolen, taxed and taken away by kings, nobles and priests. Since it could be, in time it was — “at some stage” what was possible became actual, the state and agriculture, the parasite and its host. The rest is, literally, history.

If agriculture and the industrial society which emerged from it mark stages in the progress of liberty we should expect that the oldest agricultural societies (now busily industrializing) are in the vanguard of freedom. One stretch of country enjoyed the blessings of civilization twice as long as the next contender. I speak of course of Sumer, more recently known as Iraq. Almost as libertarian is the next civilization, still civilized: Egypt. Next, China. Need I say more?

And once one or more of these agricultural slave societies got going it expanded at the expense of its stateless workless neighbors whose small face-to-face societies, though psychologically gratifying and economically abundant, couldn’t defeat the huge slave armies without turning into what they fought. Thus they lost if they won, like the nomadic armies of the Akkadians or Mongols or Turks, and they also lost, of course, if they lost. It had nothing to do with shopping around for the best deal.'

emphasis on the last paragraph 

@Shinminmetroskyline: I've seen this general story and attitude before. I'm fine with the story - the whole quote beginning with "Peasants produced more..." but the first part, the attitude, is confused and confusing. He just doesn't get concepts like "productivity" and "organism." Knee-jerk mental shut-down triggered by certain words he's probably heard too often used by egotistical oppressors.

To the first part of your comment (I like the way you write better than the way the person you quoted writes, by the way): The interdependence arising from and allowing individual specialization isn't alienating ! Being a faceless number among many undifferentiated, redundant things is alienating, and being alone is alienating. I just cannot see how you could possibly say that. Except, maybe, you associate specialization so strongly with globalization (which I also hate) and the Ford's factory system (which I also hate) you strain to see that specialisation/interdependence are useful concepts even when talking about a spontaneous system with only 2 individuals. In little groups of human friends someone will fill the role of comedian, someone will play the brainy one, someone will be the strong one... the same person is likely to have different roles in different groups. This specialization is not the result of any man-made norms or coercion, it just happens. Must be instinct.

As for your dismissal of my "strongly suggests": Here's an analogy: You stumble upon a pick-up soccer match. You are unfamiliar with the sport, but after watching for a while you can figure out the "rules" and the objectives. The way everyone acts "strongly suggests" that the players have divided themselves into teams; the objective is to get the ball into the far goal and keep it out of the home goal. Why? You don't know, but you don't really need to know in order to join the game. You see there are no referees, yet the players clearly follow rules. You see the players have specialized: defenders, attackers, left, right, etc. and are spread out, each filling a space.

You also notice you are bigger than any of the players, and you are an egoist-anarchist. So you join the game, you pick up the ball and throw it into the goal. You say, "there are no rules! It's all about me!" Now, the others are pissed; they object. You are bigger, so you punch one in the face to set an example and say, "I make my own rules, and you will do as I say, quietly, or get punched in the face."

So that's the current state of affairs. You've shared the quote, "The wealth they produced could be stored, sold and stolen, taxed and taken away by kings, nobles and priests. Since it could be, in time it was"  Hmmm, those kings, nobles and priests were egoist-anarchists. They reject all ethical rules just because there is nobody to enforce them and they are, well, egoists.

They think they are winning the soccer game but in fact they've ended it. They just understood that the objective is to score. They didn't see that the objective is really to play.

It's also why I'm disgusted by Libertarianism. I really, really like the book Philosophy of Misery by Prudhon. Competition leads to monopoly when someone wins. Monopoly is wrong - according to my understanding of the rules of soccer - because it stifles the innovation necessary for adaptation in a changing environment.

Total freedom of individuals to differentiate, explore, adapt and colonize new frontiers of existence. And if any individuals start getting too powerful - to the point of limiting the freedom of others -- it is right to stop them. Ocasional big revolutions are hurtful, too. I much prefer continuous small uprisings. When things have already gotten too big -like Amazon and Google and the USA - the opportunity for small but effective uprisings might've already been missed.

perhaps we are talking about different 'specializations'.  i wouldnt consider the differences in peoples interests, mannerisms, and personality 'specialization'. it seems a bit like saying a small rock is 'specialized' at being small... or like saying that i specialize in having brown hair, or having an interest in philosophy, or in playing pokemon.  its not a wildly incomprehensible use of language, but -to me at least- it doesnt seem quite right; its not necessarily the most intuitive use of the words.  i would describe specialization as deliberate practice and learning of a given behaviour for some sort of material or economic benefit.  this broad use would of course include the development of direct skills for ones own survival and pleasure, like running, navigation, hunting, trapping, socializing etc.  however, that broad use isnt really how i was meaning either.  when i have used it in this conversation i was picturing specialization more along the lines of smithian 'economic' division of labour.

people in social situations dont 'play' roles, at least not the sort of people i would like to spend time with.  i prefer genuine people, as opposed to those addicted-to/stuck-in societal norms, social roles, and acting a character  -acting being of course euphemism for lying-. some people might be funny, some people might be 'brainy', whatever, but i tend to try not to think of people as an instanciation of a general type.  people are people, they cant be reduced like that without you cutting something away from them.  i like to think of everything and everyone as unique; identical only to themselves, and understandable only through direct experience.

the egoist anarchist you describe participating in that hypothetical soccer match kinda sounds like a wanker, i doubt many people want to be around him, or play games with him.  i wouldnt.  its certainly odd behaviour.  most people i know /like/ being around other people, and most people enjoy playing games.  if i where in the position of that person, i might think it was in my best interest to try and participate in a friendly manner, so as to not rule out the possibility of meeting new people to relate and connect to, and to give myself the opportunity to play new games and have fun.  now the egoist anarchist /might/ deliberately fuck up the game and start a fight -thought not many people are big enough to take on two football teams worth of people in a fight, even if they are playing five a side-, then throw the ball in, shout there are no rules, laugh to himself about how clever he is, then get weird side eyes from a bunch of people for a long time.  not sure why he would want to though.  must be a very unusual fella
the point i am trying to make is you dont have to use 'objective morals', some sort of transcendental totalitarian rule book, to go 'this guy is a fucking loser, lets not hang around with him' or 'this guy is obviously a physical threat, lets a) run away b) fight back'.
same goes for kings and queens and nobles.  for me, morality just doesnt come into it; i dont understand moral reasoning, no matter how many times people try to explain it to me.  these people /might/ be acting from their own desires and engaging with the world as they find it as both as critically and playfully as they can.  seems unlikely to me though; these sorts of 'powerful' people tend to reify notions such as power, glory, honour, wealth etc like they are actual existing objects they can physically have.  they seem to go to much length, and put themselves at great risk and under immense stress and strain, just to get these things. what actual benefit does a king starting a risky war with a neighbouring kingdom?  he risks losing what he has if the war takes a turn, and if he wins?  they can draw new maps?  woohoo?  your example of a game is a good one.  the rules of soccer are made up, arbitrary, but people choose to use them to have fun.  society, civilization  -whatever you want to call it- is exactly the same; its just a game.  except, with this game, people have taken it way too far, forgotten its a game, got super serious, and actually made the whole thing kinda scary.  like dungeons and dragons, or magic the gathering. or pokemon.

as an egoist looking at these 'powerful people', they seem less like free individuals acting from their desires and engaging playfully with their world, and more like people /possessed/ by some notion they are powerless to criticise or question.  to give a biological example, as you seem to prefer, it seems kind of like those insects whose behaviour is altered by a fungus, and so use the last of their energy to climb up a leaf so that when they die the spores of the fungus will travel further.  except, in the case of the rich and powerful, the fungus exists only as ideas, as an arrangement of neurons perhaps, all in the mind.  this is my interpretation of max stirner's -saint max's- idea of the 'spook', and my response to your general attitude towards economical society in, and specifically you understandable if mistaken notion of egoist anarchism as 'fuck the world ahaha there are no repercussions for my actions'.  egoist anarchists, at least those i think are worthy of the name, do not think that there are no consequences, just that there is no universal rulebook.  i like friends just as much as the next guy.
anyway,  thanks for keeping the discussion so civil and interesting!  its like im not even on the internet anymore; this forum actually has the best atmosphere

edit: removed a dumb emphasis and 'fixed' some spelling

i'm loving this back and forth skyline and syrphant, and it's icing on the cake that that skyline manages to fit pokemon into everything!

and syrphant, skyline's right, you take us right out of being online, it's remarkable.

@dot: one neat thing about this forum is that casual passers-by can quickly see the anarchist dream attracts people with different philosophical views about life, self, morality, history -- actually, we can argue with each other about pretty much anything. Sometimes when you can't trust your own eyes you ask others what they see. When you get lots of people reporting the same thing, even though they are looking at it from different angles (especially if they are clearly happy to disagree whenever possible) you can assume your eyes are working properly.

I don't think any individual who seriously and carefully contemplates the existential mysteries of life can arrive at any social ideal other than anarchy.
@shinminmetroskyline: I'll go fight with you on another question. I see there's some action over at the one about money !  I'll see you there.

As for not feeling like we're on the internet, I disagree. It feels like I'm on the internet.  But it feels like this forum has recreated, thanks to the internet, the Parisian salon of yore (at least the way I imagine them). We're all wearing our powdered wigs, each jumps up on the table in turn to deliver an eloquent monologue - inaudible, of course, to the others who boo and laugh and applaud over their mojitos.  Wait, how did mojitos get here?