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What Is Anarchy?

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 15 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Anarchy means lawlessness. It does not mean riot or chaos. The government schools and the corporate media have taught you to believe that Anarchy means disorder because they need you to believe that order and peace can only exist where they are imposed by government laws and enforced by government police. The elite few who pull the strings in the government and in the corporate media need you to believe that social order requires social control. After all, they intend to do the controlling. They expect you to surrender your freedom to their authority. In exchange they promise you peace, protection, security, and order. But what they deliver is fear, war, police brutality, and humiliating security checkpoints. Their order means taking orders. Their protection is a prison.

In Anarchy there is another way. Instead of a coercive order imposed by government, we believe in consensual order. Instead of protection from brutal government cops, we look to individual and neighborhood self-defense. Instead of "relief" from indifferent government welfare bureaucracies, we look to fighting unions, worker solidarity and cooperative community-based mutual aid. Instead of "order" imposed by obedience to government laws, we look to voluntary contracts and agreements between free people negotiating as equals.

We oppose all government prohibitions, government taxes, government borders, government police, and government wars, because we are for peace, freedom, and social harmony. These can only exist between people who come to agreements as equals, not between people who are forced to obey out of fear. It is government law that produces violence, riot, and disorder. Only in Anarchy can there be true order, real peace, individual freedom and social harmony.

If you are interested in learning more about these ideas, or meeting other people in Las Vegas who are working to make them a reality, check out the Vegas Anarchist Cafe at: http://vegas.anarchistcafe.org[1]

  1. [1]This is the text from a series of handbills that Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left prepared to advertise the Vegas A-Cafe, back in 2008. I wanted a place to link just to the text, without the clutter of a bunch of now out-of-date meeting information, so I’ve made this a separate post. –CJ, Sextilis 2015.

6 replies to What Is Anarchy? Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Roderick T. Long

    Looks great — except “Anarchy means lawlessness” puzzles me a bit. It doesn’t mean that etymologically, nor do all anarchists in practice reject the notion of law. Indeed, you yourself have elsewhere endorsed the notion. What am I missing?

  2. Black Bloke

    I had the same question as Roderick, but he beat me to it (by several hours). Other than that, and the grammatical errors here, this was a good post. I’ll probably end up incorporating some elements of it into something I’m doing.

  3. scineram

    Rod beat me to it too.

  4. Rad Geek

    Roderick, Black Bloke, scineram,

    Well, there is a sense in which I reject the notion of law and a sense in which I don’t. If law means something like general and enforceable rules of justice, or generalized conventions and rules of procedure for settling disputes about justice, then I’m happy to accept the notion of law; if it means a prescription legitimately enforceable and binding in conscience because issued under color of government authority, then I reject that entirely for the usual reasons. (Both in the sense that I think that the things to which statists apply the term laws are without any color of sovereign authority, and also because I think the statist conception of law itself depends on a logical impossibility, i.e. a just state.)

    The question is as much a rhetorical one as anything else: whether, given the dialectical context, it makes more sense to leave intact the statist identification of law with authority, and then attack the claim that order requires law (in the sense of government edict); or whether to attack the statist identification of law with authority, while leaving intact the claim that order requires law (in a sense divorced from the notion of a sovereign legislative authority). Elsewhere I’ve favored doing the latter, but I’m just as happy to do the former if it better suits the rhetorical context.

    I’m trying this way of doing things because my suspicion is that anarchistic conceptions of law mainly appeal and make intuitive sense to confirmed anarchists, or to people who are already immersed in the natural law tradition. To the average person on the street, it takes a fair amount of explaining. Which is fine; I’m all for explaining. But if my audience is the average person on the street and I have only 3-4 short paragraphs to work with, I think that it’s probably easier to just go ahead and use the word law in its authoritarian sense, in order to convince people that laws (in that sense) are not necessarily and can rightfully be broken or simply ignored (after all, there are plenty of cases in popular culture of people who are thought of and talked about as heroic law-breakers), than it is to uproot that conception of the law, motivate the new conception that you want to replace it with, and then still come back around to explaining the kinds of alternative institutions that anarchists envision in place of government enforcement. So I chose to use the word lawlessness to mean without government legislation or government jurisdisction as a rhetorical choice, in order to be able to quickly get on to the point that government laws don’t deliver what the government promises, and to talk about how anarchy provides another way.

    Does that clarify?

  5. Black Bloke

    Thanks for the clarification RG.

— 2015 —

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