Anarchy Rules

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Naturally the transplants withered and died, because they only live in a free society. Not so.

Lawmaking in anarchy

Those are religious ideas which most people no longer believe in. They take people as they are. We who live under capitalism and its ally, the state, are just people who have never had a chance to be everything we can be. Although anarchists often make moral appeals to the best in people, just as often they appeal to enlightened self-interest.

Anarchism is not a doctrine of self-sacrifice, although anarchists have fought and died for what they believe in. Anarchists believe that the carrying-out of their basic idea would mean a better life for almost everyone.


How can you trust people not to victimize each other without the state to control crime? Are the people who get into power so unselfish, so dedicated, so superior to the ones they rule? The more you distrust your fellows, the more reason there is for you to become an anarchist. Under anarchy, power is reduced and spread around. Everybody has some, but nobody has very much. Under the state, power is concentrated, and most people have none, really.

Which kind of power would you like to go up against? Police patrol does not prevent crime or catch criminals. When police patrol was discontinued secretly and selectively in Kansas City neighborhoods, the crime rate stayed the same. Other research likewise finds that detective work, crime labs, etc. But when neighbors get together to watch over each other and warn off would-be criminals, criminals try another neighborhood which is protected only by the police.

The criminals know that they are in little danger there. But the modern state is deeply involved in the regulation of everyday life. Almost every activity has some sort of state connection. Rarely does one encounter a policeman, unless he is writing you a traffic ticket for speeding. Voluntary arrangements and understandings prevail almost everywhere. Family life, buying and selling, friendship, worship, sex, and leisure are anarchist.

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Even in the workplace, which many anarchists consider to be as coercive as the state, workers notoriously cooperate, independent of the boss, both to minimize work and to get it done. The state rests, uneasily, on a foundation of anarchy, and so does the economy. Anarchism has always attracted generous and creative spirits who have enriched our culture.

Anarchist scholars include the linguist Noam Chomsky, the historian Howard Zinn, and the anthropologists A. Radcliffe-Brown and Pierre Clastres.

Anarchists have always thought about this question. They have no single, simple answer.

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In Spain, where there were one million anarchists in when the military attempted a coup, they fought the Fascists at the front at the same time that they supported workers in taking over the factories, and the peasants in forming collectives on the land. Anarchists did the same thing in the Ukraine in —, where they had to fight both the Czarists and the Communists. Consider the revolutions that overthrew Communism in Eastern Europe.

There was some violence and death involved, more in some countries than in others. But what brought down the politicians, bureaucrats and generals — the same enemy we face — was most of the population just refusing to work or do anything else to keep a rotten system going. What were the commissars in Moscow or Warsaw to do, drop nuclear weapons on themselves?

Exterminate the workers that they were living off? Most anarchists have long believed that what they call a general strike could play a large part in crumbling the state. That is, a collective refusal to work. In real life, a part of the people in America, almost always a minority of the people elect a handful of politicians who control our lives by passing laws and using unelected bureaucrats and police to enforce them whether the majority want it or not.

As the French philosopher Rousseau not an anarchist once wrote, in a democracy, people are only free at the moment they vote, the rest of the time they are government slaves. The politicians in office and the bureaucrats are usually under the powerful influence of big business and often other special interest groups. Everyone knows this. But some people keep silent because they are getting benefits from the powerholders. Some democracy!

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Anarchists have many ideas about how decisions would be made in a truly voluntary and cooperative society. Most anarchists believe that such a society must be based on local communities small enough for people know each other, or people at least would share ties of family, friendship, opinions or interests with almost everybody else. And because this is a local community, people also share common knowledge of their community and its environment. They know that they will have to live with the consequences of their decisions.

Unlike politicians or bureaucrats, who decide for other people. Anarchists believe that decisions should always be made at the smallest possible level. Every decision made in small groups such as the family, religious congregations, co-workers, etc. Decisions with significant wider impact, if anyone is concerned about them, would go to an occasional face-to-face community assembly. The community assembly, however, is not a legislature.

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No one is elected. Anyone may attend. People speak for themselves. They value fellowship with their neighbors. They try, first, to reduce misunderstanding and clarify the issue. Very often they accomplish it. If people still have irreconcilable differences about the issue, the minority has two choices. It can go along with the majority this time, because community harmony is more important than the issue. Maybe the majority can conciliate the minority with a decision about something else.

If all else fails, and if the issue is so important to the minority, it may separate to form a separate community, just as various American states Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, West Virginia, etc. But many modern anarchists have urged that communities, and regions, should be as self-sufficient as possible, so as not to depend on distant, impersonal outsiders for necessities. Even with modern technology, which was often designed specifically to enlarge commercial markets by breaking down self-sufficiency, much more local self-sufficiency is possible than governments and corporations want us to know.

Anarchist order is based on common consent and common sense. Some anarchists think that anarchist ideas were expressed by Diogenes the Cynic in ancient Greece, by Lao Tse in ancient China, and by certain medieval mystics and also during the 17 th century English Civil War. He inspired an anarchist movement among French workers. Max Stirner in The Ego and His Own defined the enlightened egoism which is a basic anarchist value. Students Staff Alumni. HD videos Public Relations Office. Research Impact Research spotlights Research news Case studies.

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Anarchy | The Anarchist Library

University home Schools and departments Politics and International Studies Research Research projects Anarchy as a constitutional principle. Anarchy as a constitutional principle: constitutionalising in anarchist politics. In preparation: Anarchism and Non-Domination.

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