Anarchists unite

I’ve tried “libertarian socialist” but that has a way of making people’s heads spin, instead.


Reading through the thread here, I feel obligated to address some woeful misconceptions about capital-A Anarchism. First of all, let’s be very clear about one thing, this argument is bad and you should feel bad:

The reality is that Anarchism and its various strains are defined by the actual people who identify themselves to you as anarchists, but perhaps the most accessible evidence that anarchism does not mean “no rules” is this (sometimes better known as a red scratchier punk version):


This symbol stands for the phrase “Anarchy is Order.” The appeal is not to a lack of any kind of administration, but rather an appeal to administrations without hierarchies.

Whether or not you agree with this, the fact is that no Anarchist above the age of 16 or so will tell you that “Anarchism just means no rules, man.” Presenting it that way in the face of Anarchists telling you otherwise is disingenuous at worst or just plain obstinate at best.
If you want to make the argument that anarchism leads to the kinds of things you’re describing, I’d disagree, but at least you’re not telling me that literally most Anarchists are wrong in their description of basic ideas of Anarchism, which even Wikipedia gets broadly correct.

Meanwhile, if the first image that comes to your mind when you think Anarchist is a teenager with deep purple hair, wearing combat boots who won’t stop talking about how their punk band is going to take off when they finally get out of their parents’ house, I’d say that you need to broaden your horizons here. Punk is a thing that’s connected to Anarchism, but the reality is that tons of anarchists are people like me: Boring cis-het people with natural hair colors who have “real jobs” (a categorization I take issue with) and shop at Wal-Mart, and who have smashed zero windows in their life, and have somehow been asymptotally approaching middle-age since they were twenty. Our shibboleths are words like “bread” and black cat symbols, which we don’t necessarily wear on our sleeves. And some of us do and some of us are punk rock types and there isn’t anything wrong with that.

What I’m saying is that Anarchism is not a lifestyle choice or an aesthetic, it’s a political philosophy. A lot of Anarchists compensate for the common misconception that Anarchism is about rebellion for rebellion’s sake by throwing obscure and sometimes incredibly boring books at you. But I find that absurdly counter-productive because the last time I promised to read something as homework for someone on the Internet… I didn’t. Just skim the Wiki article with the grain of salt all wiki articles are due.

Burning Man, LLC is not an Anarchist institution. It is an institution which selectively draws on anarchist principles in limited ways.


For example:


Or David Graeber or Asa’ad Abu Khalil, or my philosophy professor, or my Mediterranean history professor, and the boringest of the boring Noam Chomsky*… lots of academics, for some reason. (Which, I’ve argued has contributed to the over-academicization** of Anarchism, but it’s not like they’re not welcome within it.) Then you have people like Ursula Le Guin. And just tons and tons of people who are y’know… workers who don’t have Wikipedia pages written about them.

*His writing is fine, but I’ve heard he’s really not much fun in person.
**It’s a word now, goddamnit.


Thinking about this, it’s this principle in particular

It’s not one I am particularly interested in, and Hakim Bey’s support of NAMBLA makes me want to keep my distance from the concept because of my concerns of what he would want to do in a TAZ.


Right? There are any number of books talking about specifics of what an anarchic community would look like… And as you point out, there are also attempts to build that society (DFNS, not to mention the Paris Communes). It’s always so disingenuous when people say anarchists haven’t written about what they plan to do or what their ideal society would look like, because they have.


Anarchy \An"arch*y, n. [Gr. ?: cf. F. anarchie. See {Anarch}.]
1. Absence of government; the state of society where there is
no law or supreme power; a state of lawlessness; political


… Which still conflates two distinct ideas (viz.: “… Absence of government” and “…state of lawlessness”) because the Euro-centric culture that coined the word literally could not envision a circumstance of one without the other. As has been repeatedly demonstrated, smaller-scale social arrangements can and do arise in which no one person is “in charge” of the entire group. Social order gets established and maintained by consensus. Likewise, a “state of lawlessness” can and often does arise within totalitarian governments; often as a direct result of that type of government.


We very much agree here, friend. I think much hay can be made by folks interested in social anarchist projects by making semantic distinctions from anarchy as “utter lawlessness,” (whence my refugee sexual violence comment), and anarchism as a set of non-statist (or communitarian statist) ideas about social order. I also understand that picking semantic nits is not everyone’s jam.


If you’re going to insist on dictionary definitions, I would point you to definition 3 in your own link. More significantly ignoring a century + of political theory by pointing to a dictionary definition is an incredibly weak argument.


In this ruler-free utopia you propose, who is in control of the military? What checks and balances do we have on the power of the people making decisions? Are these people voted into positions of authority, or are they simply appointed, and for how long are they in office?

I’m always amused by the proponents of anarchy and anarchist societies. The idealist utopias they envision and promise sound wonderful, but in reality contain structural problems with poorly-considered, untenable solutions and ultimately boil down to laws decided by a majority vote, a.k.a. democracy. Like libertarians and communists, their ideas suffer from the difference between theory and practice.

(Just a little light-hearted gif…)


Obviously from etymology an-archy means no rulers rather than no law, just like mon-archy means one ruler rather than one law (I’m sure we can find some monarchies with more than one law).

But etymology is only very loosely connected with meaning, if it’s connected at all. I think it’s fair to say that colloquially the word “anarchy” refers to chaos or a lawless society.

But it’s also fair to say that arguing the definition of a word that someone is using when they have already told you what they mean is an irritating and dismissive thing to do. The reason “anarchy” is a pejorative term colloquially is because our culture is shaped by people who are against anarchy.


I don’t propose any such system because I’m not an anarchist, just someone with closely related politics who believes that you shouldn’t pretend that an entire school of political thought doesn;t exist. As for the military we have a few examples. One of the better documented was the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine. The soldiers directly elected officers and they were subject to recall. The rules governing soldier behavior were also subject to direct democracy. It is harder to answer questions like how long they are in office because it makes as little sense as it would when asking how long are lieutenants in office in a Republic. The answer will vary from place to place and based on conditions.




And once you have rules, by definition, you don’t have anarchy.

The goal, IMHO, for humanity is what I call Positive Anarchy. It requires personal responsibility for one’s choices. This is as opposed to Negative Anarchy where no one takes responsibility for anything and therefore damage everyone and everything around them.

In our current age, this is the state of what is now parasitic ‘capitalism’ whereby the corporatocracy wants no regulation. The parasites failingly describe ‘capitalism’ as exploitation. The opposite in these case is what I call Quality Capitalism whereby no one, from company to employee to supplier to customer, etc. is exploited. IMHO the Society of Friends (aka ‘Quakers’) got this right.

Because we humans remain primitive to the extent that we demand quick and easy reward as well as dire simplicity within our thought and action systems, we are not at this time capable of Positive Anarchy or Quality Capitalism without regulation. I easily compare how a parent must treat a child in order to keep it from hurting itself and others, steering it on the trail to its best self as opposed to self-destruction. Corporatocracy comes down to foolish, spoiled children who protest mommy and daddy applying wise and responsible restrictions upon their behavior. Another term for the process is shepherding. If the shepherd falls asleep, gets lazy or distracted, the wolves within the overall system will eat the sheep, or sheeple in this case.

IOW: There is no positive system of human behavior that does not require regulation for the benefit of the system as a whole. The ignorant an immature protest beneficial regulation. Apply this concept to politics and critical insights will result.

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And we have gone full circle.