Social Question

bob_'s avatar

How would anarchism work, in practice?

Asked by bob_ (19684points) July 14th, 2010

Anarchism “is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy.”

That sounds fine and dandy in theory, but how would that work in practice? Say we get rid of the government, so now there’s no police. What would stop me from going around stabbing people, stealing and whatnot? If there’s a small group of people in charge of that, wouldn’t they be some kind of de facto government?

What do y’all think?

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16 Answers

Ivan's avatar

It wouldn’t.

janbb's avatar

I think this one is yours @SmashtheState!

Berserker's avatar

Well that’s what I don’t quite get myself. In a state of chaos such as suggested by anarchy, there will, forcibly, be people who band together to resist what will issue from it. Humans always need some form of order, and in some shape or way it will resurface.

I’m also thinking that anarchy and the ideals behind it might suggest a better/alternate form of order than what we now know, or some Utopian view or another…I don’t think it’s just ’‘chaos’’...but then that’s just like everything else, ecxept that anarchy specifically targets and or blames the government and the current justice system.

I’m not entirely sure what anarchy is as I’ve mentioned, but I do think that from what I get of it, we wouldn’t be able to continuously live as it’s defined. (At least by its general definition.) Someone will get power somewhere, and inevitably someone will control someone else again.

I’m pretty sure anarchy is about a lot more than just fuck the cops, but I’ve never seen anything about it that demonstrated much beyond its flash value. I might be looking in the wrong places?

gailcalled's avatar

@bob_ : You’d have to make your own sandwiches, assuming that farrners were growing wheat and the little red hen was turning it into bread, never mind transportation and markets and milking the cow for butter, getting eggs for mayo…I have to go lie down.

bob_'s avatar

@gailcalled Hmm… good point…

@Symbeline Would you make my sandwiches in exchange for protection?

josie's avatar

First of all, there is no such thing as something good in theory but not in practice. If the theory is good, the practice will be good. That aside, history has a well documented lesson-Britain, when the Romans retreated from their Empire. Check out a brief history on Wikipedia or something similar. It is not pretty. Plus, humanity as a whole already went through a general anarchy stage. We now call it “hunter, gatherer”.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The person with the most power would take whatever was wanted or needed from anyone with less power.

Unless the person with less power could persuade others to help, in which case you no longer have true anarchy.

It would be a brutal world. Nothing would stop you from going around stabbing people, but the guy you are trying to kill, killing you first.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The ‘anarchists’ that protest at most of the summits are jokes. If they truely believed in anarchy, they would not accept any government services. They would accept no unemployment money. They would not use the state health care, or the streets, or electricity. They would not use cell phones or ipods, because they use government supplied/regulated electricity.

josie's avatar

@WestRiverrat I like it. Keep going.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The bullies win for a while until the quiet ones join together and kill them all in their sleep.
Anarchism does not work.

SmashTheState's avatar

I’d be interested to know how many of the people saying “anarchism doesn’t work” have actually read anything by Kropotkin, Bakunin, Malatesta, Berkman, Goldman, or any of the other hundreds of anarchist political theorists. Or how many of you are aware that early US communitys (particularly in the northeast) were anarchic, in which townspeople gathered in town hall meetings to vote on laws and rules by simple show of hands.

Anarchy comes from the Greek word “anarkos.” It means, literally, “without rulers.” It does not mean without rules, without laws, without order, or even without police. It means only that all relationships must occur by consent. All decision-making is made by those who are affected by the decision, and the amount of say a person gets is directly proportional to how much the person will be affected.

The symbol of anarchism, the A inside of the O, means: “Anarky ist Ordung”: Anarchy is True Order.

Berserker's avatar

I haven’t read any of the things you mentioned. But I never said it couldn’t work, I just said I wasn’t sure what it was. But I’m curious from your definition, could something like that really work? Could everyone respect one’s another’s choices without some form of supreme confirmation having to say something about it?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Somalia is an example of anarchy now…Piracy seems to be the best job on offer.
After the Russians left Afghanistan, they pretty much had anarchy until the Taliban took over.

bob_'s avatar

@SmashTheState Okay, so how does the show-of-hands system works in cities with millions of people?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@bob_ Who said living in a city with millions of people is a logical, desirable, or sane thing to do? Mass society is largely inimical to freedom and direct democracy; the two may be exclusive. What if each neighborhood held show-of-hands voting?

A big part of contemporary anarchism that I think is often overlooked in definitions is the rejection of other oppressive power structures besides the state (corporations, patriarchal religious institutions, etc.). In my view, the power wielded by massive corporations is one of the biggest threats to freedom, but of course in our setting understanding corporations separate from the state is a fairly hard thing, as the two groups tend to work as partners.

bob_'s avatar

@incendiary_dan Who said that, indeed? It is, however, the way things are.

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