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+2 votes
It is sort of a silly question but my friend brought it up while I was discussing anarchy to him one day.  He told me that people would just take everyone else's belongings since there would not be any law "protecting" personal property from being taken.  Would this even be a problem in the first place and, if so, how would it be dealt with?
by (220 points)

1 Answer

–1 vote
This is often an idea which people struggle with, because many of us just see people existing in a realm of the "survival of the fittest". Many anarchists would like to create a society which sees human beings primarily as cooperative animals since they are social beings instead of competitive, in which theft wouldn't even be possible since everything is shared. Also, in a tight knit community, wouldn't it be too easy to notice?!

Let me just point out one example: When christopher comlumbus arrived in the carribeans, the natives gave him extensive material gifts. This was nothing to them, but with his western imperial mindset, christopher columbus saw this as "stupid", since his percieved goal in life was to compete with other human beings for tremendous material wealth.

I hope this was clear enough...
edited by anonymous
I think that part of the problem many non-anarchists have with what a lot of anarchists talk about is that they would "like to create a society which sees human beings primarily as cooperative." Liking something to be does not make it so. I down voted this because I think this talks about what we want, as opposed to how we would have it. Using the Columbus narrative doesn't really do much to address how an anarchic society deals with someone like Columbus.

I know what you are getting at Ricksantorum666, but I think it is addressed better in some of the answers linked to in dot's comment.
k i didnt feel i wrote it very well anyway
also, take that as a challenge: tell us more about what you meant. a down vote shouldn't be a shutting down of your line of thinking (except when it very clearly is...) it should be a provocation. Contribute. Challenge me and challenge my assumptions about anarchy.
Well, I don't really understand the wisdom of having a downvote instead of just creating arguements like in a normal forum. Perhaps you could explain that to me.

The very question about belongings being stolen is central to the type of culture we live in. As a capitalist society, we have very individualized lives where we go to work seperately and are very detached from the very acts of subsistence, which not only encourages theft but makes it easier. Also, with any hierarchical culture, we tend to make the assumption that we all need to be out for ourselves and competing with other people. While this doesn't address the very real risk of the threat of theft in peoples lives, this lays out a groundwork for understanding what to do about it. If I were to address the issue itself, I could talk about the concept of "restorative justice", but anyone else could too.

While I consider myself an anarchist, the main problem I have with anarchism as an ideology is it's mostly reactionary. People who live in an egalitarian manner don't even need to refer to ideological terms, they just live their lives in a way that makes sense to them. I agree entirely with the problem of wanting to lay out a blue-print for living society of organizing it, but it seems impossible to avoid this kind of talk when we talk about ideology.
I think the up & down votes work best on the questions with multiple answers, like on some other (non-@) Q&A sites I've seen online.