Anarchy is an Impermanent and Unnatural State

It is a commonly observable fact that almost all animals possessive of a social instinct form distinct societies. ‘Society’ in this usage means that an animal creates a discernible hierarchy of members; some lead and some follow.

It is observable in wolves, ants, monkeys, birds, and most any kind of animal.

It then becomes nothing short of astounding how many people believe that anarchy is a state worthy of serious consideration for adoption in a society, especially with highly social creatures like humans. I contend that the very notion of an ‘anarchistic society’ is a contradiction in fact, not only because of this casual observation and conclusion, but also as a matter of cause and effect and human nature.

An anarchy, as I understand and as I use it here, is a state of lawlessness, where there is no government of sorts to adjudicate between members. To put it more finely, it is a state where no coercive and consolidated force is in effect; no force to make its members do anything other than what they want to. More utopian ideas of anarchy even assume that people will ‘self-govern,’ and benignly may I add.

Anarchy is a state most rare, especially in our time. It has never been the prevailing condition of the human as a group. A tendency of a group in a state of anarchy is to consolidate and establish a sense of order. It is built in into the human; probably even in nature.

An anarchy will gradually resolve itself; it may take time, but it will always resolve itself by assuming a form that is orderly. This is because of two things:

A) First, a human will rule what it can. “The strong do what they can and the weak do what they must.”
It is a self-deception, and is naive, to think that humans will stay content in a lawless state, stay content with what they have, when even in a police-protected government like we enjoy today, people take what they can, even to the point of breaking the law. Thus, the imagined ‘ambitious taker’ will proceed to dominate what he can, possess what he can, taking advantage of disorder and lawlessness. However, once he possesses something other than his own, he automatically becomes a coercive force.

B) The second is a result of the above-mentioned first; to counteract aggression, an anarchistic society must band together to prevent their subjugation under the ambitious. They must then achieve enough coercive force to stop the coercion by the aggressor. If they fail to do so, anarchy stops. If they succeed, anarchy stops.

Thus, an anarchy is impermanent because people will always try to consolidate. With consolidation comes power; with power comes coercion.

If one wishes to make to make an anarchy permanent, even this kind of faux-anarchy, one must impose some sort of deliberate social order wherein anarchy is the style of government. A coercive force is needed to push others to stay in anarchy - but then, it ceases to be an anarchy, for a provider of the coercive force is needed. A form of governance arises by necessity, one who will, in effect ‘impose’ anarchy.

Of course, some may argue that a benign anarchy is possible. Pardon my language, but that is fuckery of the highest order. Humans are humans are humans. Again, if in lawful societies people coerce others, what then in a lawless state?

correct. anarchy is not and cannot function as a social organization of individuals, and even an accidental localized anarchy will tend naturally to establish order and structure via rules and authorities.

true anarchy would be a state of individuals in nature, living and fighting independently against one another. this could perhaps persist if the population density was low enough and the land rich enough to prevent most possibilities for conflict; however, at the point that even two individuals ban together to gain more power over the others, the situation ceases to be anarchic and becomes tribal-- and this banding-together is inevitable, since man can (and should) secure greater power and chance for survival by joining with other men.

society is a natural, good, and inevitable human construct. the true question is not whether society or anarchy are necessary or inevitable, however; they true question is “what is the best or correct form of social organization? what social structure provides man with the greatest benefits and the least harms?”

that is the true sociological question, one that, apprently, man has yet to answer.

Hypothetically, if anarchy (not in the sense of confusion and violence but in he sense of simple lack of law) were to be permanent, I guess all (or at least almost all) individual should be very conscious and willing to settle any dispute by discussion.

It’s like the condition for communism to function.
I mean, communism to work out, all participants should be willing to he best effort in job (and don’t mind working for some people who cannot perform well).

In both cases, humans aren’t like that, and both anarchy and communism wouldn’t last, so long.

Maybe we can think of network configuration.
The anarchy can be seen as peer to peer network.
There is no central server/controller to dictate what to do.
But each node has to understand and react correctly to other node.

Having said these, I don’t think humans are geared for rule/law based society, either.
It’s because there are many people who are ready to take advantage of law, rather than understanding and respecting the ideas behind the law.
When other law abiding people notice and ge upset, they may stop respecting law and the society will go into more or less chaotic state.

But then, out of fear for the life of wild jungle society and the desire for the convenience and comfort, someone would propose to follow some ideas and rules and laws, again.

In the discussion forum, we can simply ignore someone if we don’t like to interact.
In the physical world, we may not have that option.
And other person may not have the ability to understand certain thing.
With law, s/he understand or not, we can conveniently request law enforcement services (if available…).
Without law and without much possibility in mutual understanding, we may have to abandon what we wanted to do, or we have to make more effort and use different methods to interact with the person in the way we can obtain what we want.

So, the law/authority is a mean to economize the effort needed to interact with idiots, so to say.
As we are generally pretty stupid animal, we have lots and lots of laws …
And some people fear the anarchy probably because they know they can do stupid things to others and thus they are afraid of others who may be capable of doing same thing to them.

anarchy, this dream

and the funniest part is that we actually believe in it when we’re teenagers and read Bakunin for the first time…

I don’t know, I never really believed in Anarchy, even when I was a teenager. It’s just so… utopian to think that humans can function like that. Yeah, it’s like communism in a way - it presumes that humans will act a certain way, in accordance with theory… when theory should be accordant to human nature.

exactly.

I like to say that such theories are doomed to fail precisely because they don’t really take human nature as a whole in consideration. They are only based on the ‘best side’ of man, the part of our personality that is supposed to appreciate justice, equality, food and dignity for all, etc. Human beings simply aren’t like that.

You all have completely missed the boat in regards to anarchism.

  1. In regards to this idea of human nature. You state human nature is this and can only be this, which
    prevents anarchism. There is no set human nature. we are not all this or that. Why do you think it is so
    hard for psychology to pin down human nature. Because it is different for everybody and quite often
    different for people during the day. Hitler was considered a very nice person to work for and he was kind
    to animals. So what is the “nature” of hitler, the psychopath or the kind person to work for…it was both.
    So to fix a set idea of human nature fails because human nature is not set, not a constant for people.

  2. your very idea of anarchism is just plain wrong. Anarchism is not based on some idea of rugged individualism or
    primate state of nature. It is based on the very strength of the human race, which is cooperation. It is cooperation
    that has created human society. And that cooperation is not based on fear of the law or fear of someone but
    on the very real understanding that we cannot succeed without me helping you and you helping me. We do not make
    it in life without a great deal of cooperation. The very structure of society is based upon this idea of cooperation.
    The very basis of education is cooperation. You do not and cannot learn by yourself. You have thousands of people
    cooperating to help you get an education over the years.

In the business world, you do not and cannot build a business by yourself.
Even bill gates build the evil empire with cooperation of thousands of individuals.
One might object and say “but they got paid”. He got a group of like minded individuals to work
for him. Yes, they got paid, but it wasn’t about the money because it is rarely about the money.
Any job can pay someone money, but the cooperation one gets when you get a group of like minded
individuals working on the same idea goes beyond money. For the money comes at the end of the process,
not the beginning.

The political world in a democracy is totally about building a census about an idea and then cooperating/working
to bring that idea to fruition.

It is not every man for himself that created the modern world, but the cooperation between
people that build the modern world. And that cooperation is the basis of anarchism. People cooperating
because it is the right thing to do. People cooperating not because of money or threats or fear, but
because a group of people can accomplish more together than one person can accomplish by himself.
that is the basis of anarchism.

Kropotkin

1) In regards to this idea of human nature.
Humans may differ in some way, but their core motivation is the same. Humans act on wants; this is true for everyone. I may be a ‘kind’ person, but that’s because I want to do kind things; I simply follow my ‘wants’.
Now, let’s say that a benign anarchy exists somewhere. There will, of course, be people there, and resources, being always limited, will ensure that not all the wants of everyone in the benign anarchy will be fulfilled. Now there will arise a question, not whether one of the members of this community will take what he wants through ill means, but only when.
You may consider me a cynic, and I would say that I am only a realist. I have observed and come to know people, and their behavior is all the same - they go after what they want, sometimes regardless of the effect on others.
You may say that you are not like that, you are like this; ah, but now you are contradicting yourself, for you said that people are not all the same - hence we cannot take it as a guarantee that your behavior will be like that of the next person. Everyone will be ‘different.’ And therefore, if some people are good, then some will be different from them - some will be bad.

  1. your very idea of anarchism is just plain wrong.
    First of all, I think my idea of anarchism is correct. ‘Rugged individualism’ is something that I never once alluded to in my original post. It is why I took an effort to clarify my definition of anarchy first.
    Secondly, cooperation is what I was saying as the reason why an anarchy is impossible. To cooperate requires a hierarchy; a hierarchy requires order; to impose order, or to maintain it, one requires force, whether it be force of will or of action; in other words, some form of coercion on its members it requires.
    What I think you are thinking about when you say anarchy is some kind of utopian non-competitive society where people barter goods and have no central government; what, like native Americans? Like tribesmen? I think almost all of them, if not all, has some kind of ruling hierarchy to impose this ‘anarchic’ order.

  2. Regarding Business
    Well, you are basically agreeing with me. In a business, you need a clear, ordered structure of leadership; an entrepreneur or a CEO fulfills this role. That’s not anarchistic.
    I agree with you, this is not a ‘every man for himself’ mentality that created the world. It is cooperation, it is consolidation of power, it is the delegation of tasks, and these characteristics should not theoretically exist in a real anarchistic society. If they did, then it wouldn’t be anarchistic, now would it?

Neuropsychologists are yet to prove the wide spread assumption that “a human will rule what it can”, which this whole argument is built on. It is true that through the sciences of history modern man can observe the structural organizations of the past and that social scientists can observe the present and state: The whole world conists of hierarchies. Anarchy is not a natural state of man.
That is however a very thin line to walk because man has only ever lived on one planet and hence we have only one subject to examine. If man had been sent back to the time of it’s birth who knows what societies had evolved, even when the biology behind it would have been the same. We can however, without doubt, confirm that our culture is greedy and power hungry but if it is because of psychological or physiological factors no one can say.

Furthermore anarchy is not a “form of government” and hence it can not be compared with despotism, republicanism or whatever it might be even if some are eager to do so. Anarchy means “without ruler” and it is the opposite of government and state.
A more fitting comparison would be anarchy vs. hierarchy and whether the hierarchy is a dictatorship or a democracy is of no importance.

So they are exclusive of one another, is that right? if there’s anarchy, there’s no hierarchy, vice versa?

In a strictly sociological context that is correct. However the word hierarchy has many meanings. One is where Marx and other sociologists use it as a way to describe the chain of command in a state, nation or other large organization which has a clear centralized structure and is ruled from the top down. Since anarchy is a form of society which opposes this and favors flat organization there can not be hierarchy and anarchy at the same time.
In a broader sense of the word hierarchy is used to describe e.g. the structure of a family, and if that applies then there are of course hierachies within an anarchistic society as well. I was however referring to the terminological meaning of the word.

Edit: Another aspect to it is whether we judge anarchy from a scientific or personal point of view. For example: was the USSR really a proletarian dictatorship?
A sociologist would answer no, because theory (original thesis) differs from reality (interpretation and adaption). However in popular opinion it is often said that the form of government in the Sovjet Union was communism.

itlog: 1) In regards to this idea of human nature.
Humans may differ in some way, but their core motivation is the same. Humans act on wants; this is true for everyone. I may be a ‘kind’ person, but that’s because I want to do kind things; I simply follow my ‘wants’.
Now, let’s say that a benign anarchy exists somewhere. There will, of course, be people there, and resources, being always limited, will ensure that not all the wants of everyone in the benign anarchy will be fulfilled. Now there will arise a question, not whether one of the members of this community will take what he wants through ill means, but only when.
You may consider me a cynic, and I would say that I am only a realist. I have observed and come to know people, and their behavior is all the same - they go after what they want, sometimes regardless of the effect on others.
You may say that you are not like that, you are like this; ah, but now you are contradicting yourself, for you said that people are not all the same - hence we cannot take it as a guarantee that your behavior will be like that of the next person. Everyone will be ‘different.’ And therefore, if some people are good, then some will be different from them - some will be bad.

K: Their core motivation is the same? This is clearly not true. And everybody have different “wants” and quite often people go against their “wants”.
For example, you want some pretty women, but know for whatever reason, don’t need the crap a lot of women bring.
I have observed and come to know people, and their behavior is all the same? I wish. People don’t always go after what they want, for whatever reason.
I wish people would be consistent in their actions and behavior, it would make life a whole lot easier. Yes, some people are “good” or “bad” whatever
that means, and so what? What does that have to do with anything?

K: 2. your very idea of anarchism is just plain wrong.

I: First of all, I think my idea of anarchism is correct. ‘Rugged individualism’ is something that I never once alluded to in my original post. It is why I took an effort to clarify my definition of anarchy first.
Secondly, cooperation is what I was saying as the reason why an anarchy is impossible. To cooperate requires a hierarchy; a hierarchy requires order; to impose order, or to maintain it, one requires force, whether it be force of will or of action; in other words, some form of coercion on its members it requires.
What I think you are thinking about when you say anarchy is some kind of utopian non-competitive society where people barter goods and have no central government; what, like native Americans? Like tribesmen? I think almost all of them, if not all, has some kind of ruling hierarchy to impose this ‘anarchic’ order.

K: Cooperation needs an hierarchy? Not at all. It simply needs people to agree to work together.

  1. Regarding Business
    Well, you are basically agreeing with me. In a business, you need a clear, ordered structure of leadership; an entrepreneur or a CEO fulfills this role. That’s not anarchistic.
    I agree with you, this is not a ‘every man for himself’ mentality that created the world. It is cooperation, it is consolidation of power, it is the delegation of tasks, and these characteristics should not theoretically exist in a real anarchistic society. If they did, then it wouldn’t be anarchistic, now would it?
    [/quote]
    K: You don’t need a clear, ordered structure in business. That is kind of the point. the rest, the consolidation of power and the delegation of
    tasks can be done without an hierarchy. The idea of hierarchy leadership is so 20th century. :-" The new idea is leadership within the group without
    an hierarchy. It is not hard.

Kropotkin

You argument is based on equivocation. Most anarchists do not use the term in its colloquial ‘chaos, no rules’ sense. I would suggest reading the works of anarchists, not that these all have the same take on anarchy, and then responding to them, rather than working from the colloquial word meaning.

K: Their core motivation is the same? This is clearly not true. And everybody have different “wants” and quite often people go against their “wants”.
For example, you want some pretty women, but know for whatever reason, don’t need the crap a lot of women bring.
I have observed and come to know people, and their behavior is all the same? I wish. People don’t always go after what they want, for whatever reason.
I wish people would be consistent in their actions and behavior, it would make life a whole lot easier. Yes, some people are “good” or “bad” whatever
that means, and so what? What does that have to do with anything?

Yes. People follow their wants. By doing a thing, anything, you ‘want’ it.
Your wife may tell you to go buy diapers at the convenience store at 4:00 in the morning. You don’t ‘want’ to, if anyone asks, but you are acting out of want - you want to be a good father, you want your wife to shut up, you want your baby to have clean diapers. You are operating on a want.
Everyone operates on wants.
As for the attractive woman - so then, you want to not-want her, is that correct? You are motivated to stop yourself from wanting her. You want to not-want her. Semantics, but it’s true.
As for the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that you mentioned, I was saying that a benign anarchy, based on the assumption that people will self-police and be good to one another, is impossible.


K: Cooperation needs an hierarchy? Not at all. It simply needs people to agree to work together.

No. Every human relationship has a hierarchy. Just like no two matter can occupy the same space, no two human egos can occupy the same level in a relationship. No one will admit to this consciously, but it’s true (I think. Everything here is just based on my experience, not based on neuropsychology or anything.) When you talk to an elder person, there is a difference in the relationship hierarchy. To a child, it’s different.
Cooperation without hierarchy is impossible. In any cooperative venture there must always be a direction towards which the members must work together in achieving. No one cooperates ‘by itself’. A member of a group will always arise as the literal leader towards this direction.

K: You don’t need a clear, ordered structure in business. That is kind of the point. the rest, the consolidation of power and the delegation of
tasks can be done without an hierarchy. The idea of hierarchy leadership is so 20th century. :-" The new idea is leadership within the group without
an hierarchy. It is not hard.

Hah. That’s a novel management model. I have heard of it, yes, I believe in tech and in creative-tech companies (like valve, I think.)
But they still have a hierarchy. One is still the owner, one is still the manager, one is still the employee. Just because there are no clear job titles doesn’t mean that they are all equal in terms of group influence. The employee still cannot fire the boss. The boss still has control over the employees. It’s just a management tool to increase office morale.
“The new idea is leadership within the group without an hierarchy. It is not hard.” I agree. It’s not hard - it’s impossible. If there is a leader, then there is a hierarchy. If one delegates tasks, then that delegator is the leader, even for a moment. But at that moment of delegation, then there was hierarchy. In any case, who will impose the rule that there will be no leader? The group? Then that group becomes a quasi-government.
One may argue that a system can be put in place where people are simply delegated tasks by a non-human entity, like an agreed upon timetable, but then the human factor is simply replaced with a human-designed one.

I am beginning to see your points, I admit, but I still stick to my original statement that anarchy is impermanent and unnatural.

Can you recommend some good works? I admit I have not read a serious piece about it. All of my statements thus far have stemmed from, um, my own thoughts.

Anarchy is a very multifacited concept. The one golden thread (to use Wittenstien’s term) that links all uses of the word Anarchy is the opposition to Hirearchy. When is said that Anarchy is the natural state of man, this referers to the egalitarian orginisation of early nomadic bands. In small groups of up to 40ish members, leadership was unclear and fluid and indivisual freedoms (from others) was maximised. As societies got larger, due to agriculture and industry, the heirarchy got more and more ridgid, clear, and important. So if you take Anarchy as no heirarchy that was never true, but if you took it as fluid and weak heirarchy- that’s been the case for most of human history.

Now another look an Anarchy is the concept of Anarchic order. The concept where indiviual free choices add up to a system. This is the idea behind the free-market- that choices of agents in the market will move in such a way, the invisible hand, to be better than any command economy. The concept is even better illustrated by ant colonies. While traditionally we have said the ant colony has a queen and workers, this perception is incorrect. The truth is an ant colony is a place of no punishment and no law. All the ants act on indivisual instinct and their efforts are coordinated automatically. For example, an ant notices that there is plenty of food but some egges are out of place, they will become a nurse moving eggs based on the changing temperature. The queen never issues any orders, instead she recieves information about the colony and will produce the right number of workers or soilders. Primates obviously haven’t evolved to this level of cooperation, but there is nothing to say that we won’t. A recent Scientific American stated that the last 10,000 years has been a period of rapid human evoluition in terms of digestion and psychology. That is from the time of the first farmer we have evolved to fit the new lifestyle. I would not be surprised if we evovled from egalitarian nomads to heirarchical civilations to technological anarcist. (Some say true anarchy will only be possible via cold fusion.)

Anyway, if I have a point it would be that neither Anarchy or Heirarchy can exist fully. Just like neither matter nor vaccum can fill the whole universe. In a very arachic society there will always be at least temporary leaders or perhapse evil-doers that take advantage of the populus until they turn about and kill him. In a very Heirarchical society there will always be places and times where the rules don’t apply. It makes me remember college. My alpha males said don’t smoke cannibus, but I did. Our moral leaders said be heterosexual, so we made giant gender netrual cuddle piles. I went to class as I felt like it, I mostly did what I wanted. I think college for many is a small pocket of anarchy in our hirarchical civilisation.

Without getting this discussion too far down the slope to semantics that is, even though commonly reffered to as a hierarchy, not a correct definition of the word.

The organization of people at different ranks in an administrative body = hierarchy (sometimes called power structure, pecking order)

Sources:
wordwebonline.com/en/HIERARCHY

What you are talking about is generally separated from the sociological meaning of the word by calling it a social hierarchy. Humans are biologically forced to having a relationship of some sort with every other human being they encounter, and hence social hierarchies appear by automatization. This is however not the same as a power structure.

That is true. But again with such a wide concept of what a hierarchy is then there is no one who can say that an anarchistic society can be without hierarchies. Another thing to keep in mind is that anything from two layers and up is terminologically a hierarchy so even if there is an anarchistic society with citizens and people with specialized responsibilities and the group is so small that they need no administrator (or other person who controlls the group at a higher level) it is strictly a hierarchy because the spec.s have power over the others in certain areas.
On the other hand most would agree that even if linguistics mean that the utopias envisioned by anarchistic theorists is indeed hierarchies, most would still view them as flat organizations because all delegation of power is temporary and the groups are too small to qualify for being “administrative bodies”

itlog: Can you recommend some good works? I admit I have not read a serious piece about it. All of my statements thus far have stemmed from, um, my own thoughts."

K: There are plenty of good introductions to anarchism books. Alexander Berkman “What is anarchism” might be one of the better ones.
I suspect you can find a few online. I have never looked because I have most of them in my library anyway.
Anarchist to read would include Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin and of course my name sake, Peter Kropotkin, probably the best
known anarchist. His autobiography is very interesting by the way," Memoirs of a Revolutionist", long book, 500 pages or so.
and their is a good biography of Kropotkin called “Anarchist Prince” by George Woodcock, Woodcock by the way has a great
overview book called " Anarchism: a history of libertarian ideas and movements", 1962

Kropotkin

I’ve always thought of anarchy as a existence without centralized leadership or government.

A existence with conceived social rules and hierarchies but also a existence where social rules or hierarchies go unenforced without any central form of government guaranteeing them by rule.

As a existence where individuals are left to fend for themselves without any centralized net agency enforcing protection over them.

Of course the creator of the thread is correct! The sanctity and purity of central government makes anything else inconceiveable.

Centralized government is inevitable! All of history has built itself up for centralized government alone!

Enjoying the discussion, but in a rush here. I believe I’ve quoted the following here before, but here it is again. I think it’s a great visual for what an anarchist properly wants to offer:

From George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History…:

To describe the essential theory of anarchism is rather like trying to grapple with Proteus, for the very nature of the libertarian attitude – its rejection of dogma, its deliberate avoidance of rigidly systematic theory, and, above all, its stress on extreme freedom of choice and on the primacy of the individual judgement – creates immediately the possibility of a variety of viewpoints inconceivable in a closely dogmatic system. Anarchism, indeed, is both various and mutable, and in the historical perspective it presents the appearance, not of a swelling stream flowing on to its sea of destiny (an image that might well be appropriate to Marxism), but rather of water percolating through porous ground – here forming for a time a strong underground current, there gathering into a swirling pool, trickling through crevices, disappearing from sight, and then re-emerging where the cracks in the social structure may offer it a course to run. As a doctrine it changes constantly; as a movement it grows and disintegrates, in constant fluctuation, but it never vanishes. It has existed continuously in Europe since the 1840s, and its very protean quality has allowed it to survive where many more powerful but less adaptable movements of the intervening century have disappeared completely.