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    Thread: Is anarchy a good idea? How could it work?

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      Is anarchy a good idea? How could it work?

      Every time I get into a discussion with an anarchist about how the needs met by police, courts, lawmaking bodies, and military could be met in an anarchist community, the conversation seems to hit a wall. I never get clear answers. The only answers I ever get are extremely vague. I finally got a little bit more of a specific answer from somebody earlier tonight on YouTube. He said that town meetings could solve everything. I responded by writing a story and following it with a question. If anybody reading this is an anarchist, please answer the question.


      In an anarchist community, a man plays his music way too loud 20 hours a day. He is using concert speakers that he has on his roof to blast early Metallica and Slayer at all hours except when he sleeps. He is a professional writer, so he never has to show up anywhere. He just stays home, writes, and blasts thrash metal from concert speakers on his roof. His neighbors complain, and he doesn't care.

      The neighbors set up a town meeting, and the noisy person doesn't want to go. At the town meeting, many of the people decide that the man should turn his music down. A lot of others say that he is on his own property and can play his music as loud as he wants to. Although the majority says he has to turn it down, the minority is complaining about who couldn't make the meeting because of good reasons and say that the decision does not count. The majority tells them to shut up and decides to go make the man turn his music down. The only way to do that is to go into his house and make him do it. The minority says they can't trespass like that, but the majority ignores them because it's about "justice." The only way to stop them is to fight them, so they have a battle in the guy's yard. 12 people get shot to death. When the justice crew (or trespassers?) walks into his house, he freaks out about having his house broken into and shoots the people.

      Now there has to be a town meeting about the shooting. The residents disagree on what kind of town meeting to have and who has the right to force the man into jail if he is found guilty. Seven different town meetings are held to decide the fate of the man, and they argue over which one the man has to attend. They have to have a town meeting over which town meeting the man has to attend, but 15 town meetings form over that because they all have different ideas on the rules of town meeting trial.

      A mob of people decide that they will end the clusterfuck by kidnapping the man and hanging him, and they hang him. They get caught, and now they are all facing town meetings for murder, but they and their supporters say they should not have to even go to a town meeting over such necessary justice. They are kidnapped and taken to a town meeting, but another town meeting says the lynchers are supposed to be at their town meeting, so they kidnap the lynch mob, and then the kidnappers are facing town meetings for violating a town meeting. The rages over so much perceived injustice result in a town civil war, and half the town is killed.

      Meanwhile, Russia invades the United States because it no longer has a government. Russia has fighter jet teams, tank battalions, a naval fleet with aircraft carriers, drones, and millions of trained and organized soldiers. They also have enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world. They use organized, high quality military strategy in working to take over the land. Since Canada and Mexico always depended on the United States for protection, Russia invades them too.

      What can be done about this nightmare without the formation of a government?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      About the noisy neighbour: the others could build a soundproof wall surrounding his property, so that his noise would not reach them. During this building process, he and they would almost certainly reach an agreement.

      As for Russia invading the US, if it had no formal government: what would be the purpose for doing so? The US is valuable, to other governments, only for as long as the US itself has a government (with all the power structures that such a government wields over the public). An invading government, in an area without such power structures, would have to take each valuable asset in turn. In order to actually gain anything at all, Russia would have to seize control of every single thing they wanted - an insurmountable task. Especially so, since the people would not surrender without a fight (and, if they were not intensely stupid, they would be well organized - something that can not really be said about the US federal government ).
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      So ... is this the real universe, or is it just a preliminary study?

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      If you define true anarchy as 100% "every person for themselves," it's not sustainable because people will always form groups (government, basically) for protection and for "justice" from other people out to dominate and destroy.

      Russia invade the US? Um, no. Believe it or not, not every country in the world follows the western model of "exceptionalist" imperialist conquest in order to prop up an otherwise unsustainable debt-based fantasy-casino economy (and no, Crimea is very very clearly not such a case).
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      Quote Originally Posted by FryingMan View Post
      If you define true anarchy as 100% "every person for themselves," it's not sustainable because people will always form groups (government, basically) for protection and for "justice" from other people out to dominate and destroy.
      What does this have to do with anarchy? This is a very odd definition and I've never in my whole life heard an anarchist define it this way.

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      One definition on wikipedia:
      Since its inception in the original ancient Greek, anarchy has been used in the negative sense to imply political disorder or lawlessness within a society.
      But then again, I don't associate or communicate with anarchists all that much.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Voldmer View Post
      About the noisy neighbour: the others could build a soundproof wall surrounding his property, so that his noise would not reach them. During this building process, he and they would almost certainly reach an agreement.
      That would be blocking him in, and he would have a big issue to raise. Why should neighbors have the responsibility of building the walls? Shouldn't he have to do that? Also, what about above his property?

      What should be done once the story had reached the level where I asked the question?

      Quote Originally Posted by Voldmer View Post
      As for Russia invading the US, if it had no formal government: what would be the purpose for doing so? The US is valuable, to other governments, only for as long as the US itself has a government (with all the power structures that such a government wields over the public). An invading government, in an area without such power structures, would have to take each valuable asset in turn. In order to actually gain anything at all, Russia would have to seize control of every single thing they wanted - an insurmountable task. Especially so, since the people would not surrender without a fight (and, if they were not intensely stupid, they would be well organized - something that can not really be said about the US federal government ).
      Russia has a major history of conquest, and so do countries in general. World history is covered with wars over invasions.

      Quote Originally Posted by FryingMan View Post
      If you define true anarchy as 100% "every person for themselves," it's not sustainable because people will always form groups (government, basically) for protection and for "justice" from other people out to dominate and destroy.
      Anarchy is the absence of government. I agree that such a situation would result in the formation of government. History is full of examples of gangs fighting for rulership. When none of them take full control, the result is chaos. That is happening in Somalia right now.

      Quote Originally Posted by FryingMan View Post
      Russia invade the US? Um, no. Believe it or not, not every country in the world follows the western model of "exceptionalist" imperialist conquest in order to prop up an otherwise unsustainable debt-based fantasy-casino economy (and no, Crimea is very very clearly not such a case).
      Have you studied the history of Soviet Russia? They were big time into conquest. The Soviet Union was an empire.

      War over conquest is so prevalent in world history that it could be the title of a world history book.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      What does this have to do with anarchy? This is a very odd definition and I've never in my whole life heard an anarchist define it this way.
      Here's the first listing from the O.E.D., in case Wikipedia fails to stand up to scrutiny:

      1a. Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder.

      1b. A theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty (without implications of disorder)
      Not to question the authority of the anarchists you've heard speak, but I think these definitions might represent the understood condition of anarchy.

      Also, to the OP, these definitions, along with my own understanding of anarchy, sort of imply that town meetings would not exist in an anarchist community. Every man really would be for himself, so no one would be willing to form groups, have meetings, or enforce the will of any majority on another individual. So I guess that might mean that true anarchy would not work, Somalia being an excellent example of what happens when it reigns.

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      Somalia has groups fighting each other. The definition of "government" does get pretty fuzzy in this, but most anarchists believe in group organization without having an official "government." BLUELINE says he believes in that. I wonder if he is going to chime in on this
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      I wonder if he is going to chime in on this
      Nope.
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      Basically anarchy only works if everyone is a decent and good person that is willing to cooperate with others. In other words, it can work on a small scale but the more people you have the more likely you are to have some jerk in the mix and that screws up the entire system.

      In the above situation, there is two obvious solutions to the problem. The person turns down his music because he realizes he is bothering others. The people living near him move away. Again that requires the first person respecting others right to have some peace, or other people respecting his right to be annoying and finding an alternative such as moving, or accepting it.

      Maybe person A plays his musics too loud but person B likes to walk around the streets naked. If he is willing to live with sound muffling headphones so the music no longer bothers him, in exchange for the ability of others to look the other way while he walks around town naked, everyone gets along. Everyone needs to be very mature though, and willing to put up with stuff to get what you want at times. There are people today, who would probably live just fine in such communities, but humans in general are not ready for such communities. We need to mature more as a race before we can work together like that without any rules.
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      Quote Originally Posted by FryingMan View Post
      One definition on wikipedia:

      But then again, I don't associate or communicate with anarchists all that much.
      That doesn't answer my question. Show me an anarchist who defines anarchy that way.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      Here's the first listing from the O.E.D., in case Wikipedia fails to stand up to scrutiny:
      Why are you using a dictionary definition? If you want to examine the beliefs of anarchists, you need to use their definitions. Otherwise, who exactly are you arguing with?

      I want to be clear on this point, because at least two people in this thread missed it:

      It's ok to disagree with the political philosophy itself, but not on definitions. Definitions must be agreed upon before any real discussion can take place. Now, you can go right ahead and define anarchy as <insert bad things> if you want. But that's not what an anarchist means when they use the word. So you're arguing against a position that no one holds.
      Last edited by cmind; 02-26-2015 at 03:51 AM.

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      ^^ Sorry; when you wrote this, I thought you were looking for where such a definition might come from:

      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      What does this have to do with anarchy? This is a very odd definition and I've never in my whole life heard an anarchist define it this way.
      So posting a definition from an authority that most of the world tends to accept or at least respect seemed appropriate, just to show that others do indeed define anarchy in an "every man for himself" light, in spite of the fact that you were unaware of it. Generally, I think, established definitions of words tend to have something to do with the words. I hadn't realized that the stuff anarchists tell you takes precedence over accepted definitions. I guess that's okay, as long as you do not talk to people outside their circle about anarchy.

      I made no mention of "examining the beliefs" of anarchists; I'm not sure where you got that from, as I don't think the thread was doing that either. Also, I wasn't arguing about anything, just presenting a definition from a better source than Wikipedia, so I guess I wasn't arguing with anyone.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Descensus View Post
      Nope.
      You're an anarchist who doesn't want to explain how anarchy could work although you post in this forum? Are you sure that you're an anarchist? I keep seeing so many suggestions that you are not one. Why is that?

      Quote Originally Posted by Alric View Post
      Basically anarchy only works if everyone is a decent and good person that is willing to cooperate with others. In other words, it can work on a small scale but the more people you have the more likely you are to have some jerk in the mix and that screws up the entire system.

      In the above situation, there is two obvious solutions to the problem. The person turns down his music because he realizes he is bothering others. The people living near him move away. Again that requires the first person respecting others right to have some peace, or other people respecting his right to be annoying and finding an alternative such as moving, or accepting it.

      Maybe person A plays his musics too loud but person B likes to walk around the streets naked. If he is willing to live with sound muffling headphones so the music no longer bothers him, in exchange for the ability of others to look the other way while he walks around town naked, everyone gets along. Everyone needs to be very mature though, and willing to put up with stuff to get what you want at times. There are people today, who would probably live just fine in such communities, but humans in general are not ready for such communities. We need to mature more as a race before we can work together like that without any rules.
      There are also murderers, rapists, burglars, muggers, car jackers, and invading armies to think about.

      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      Why are you using a dictionary definition? If you want to examine the beliefs of anarchists, you need to use their definitions. Otherwise, who exactly are you arguing with?

      I want to be clear on this point, because at least two people in this thread missed it:

      It's ok to disagree with the political philosophy itself, but not on definitions. Definitions must be agreed upon before any real discussion can take place. Now, you can go right ahead and define anarchy as <insert bad things> if you want. But that's not what an anarchist means when they use the word. So you're arguing against a position that no one holds.
      This thread is about not having a government and how things could work in such a situation.
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      Have you studied the history of Soviet Russia? They were big time into conquest. The Soviet Union was an empire.

      War over conquest is so prevalent in world history that it could be the title of a world history book.
      The Soviet Union was not Russia. Have you studied the entirety of Russian history? They were invaded and oppressed so many times, from the West and from the East, repeatedly, that they very understandably have developed a highly sensitive attitude towards security. In fact, Russia has been *amazingly restrained* in their responses to unbelievably provocative actions by the US and the west, where if the US were put in analogous situations to the ones they're placing Russia, the US would have gone apish!t a long time ago. The bolsheviks represented external forces, and did not represent historical Russian culture.

      Recognizing the undeniable evils of the Soviet period, the Russian people could not be completely subdued, there were still amazing developments within the Soviet times: unparalleled literacy rates and education, arts, culture, and so forth.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      That would be blocking him in, and he would have a big issue to raise.
      Yes, and that is why he would be willing to reach an agreement.


      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      Why should neighbors have the responsibility of building the walls? Shouldn't he have to do that? Also, what about above his property?
      If his noise bothers his neighbours, then they have to defend themselves against it. Building a soundproof wall would do the trick. It is not his obligation to provide their protection.

      However, building such a wall costs money and effort, and that is why the neighbours would be willing to reach an agreement.


      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      Have you studied the history of Soviet Russia? They were big time into conquest. The Soviet Union was an empire.

      War over conquest is so prevalent in world history that it could be the title of a world history book.
      Certainly true. But if you look back over the same history, you will find that conquest always implies taking over the power structures left by the previous government. If there are no such power structures to take over, then conquest becomes rather hopeless, since it would require too much effort, because it would be necessary to build these power structures from scratch - which is very expensive (witness the cost of modern government).
      So ... is this the real universe, or is it just a preliminary study?

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      Quote Originally Posted by FryingMan View Post
      The Soviet Union was not Russia. Have you studied the entirety of Russian history? They were invaded and oppressed so many times, from the West and from the East, repeatedly, that they very understandably have developed a highly sensitive attitude towards security. In fact, Russia has been *amazingly restrained* in their responses to unbelievably provocative actions by the US and the west, where if the US were put in analogous situations to the ones they're placing Russia, the US would have gone apish!t a long time ago. The bolsheviks represented external forces, and did not represent historical Russian culture.

      Recognizing the undeniable evils of the Soviet period, the Russian people could not be completely subdued, there were still amazing developments within the Soviet times: unparalleled literacy rates and education, arts, culture, and so forth.
      The Russian Revolution was conducted by Russians, and they ruled the country and formed an empire. The Soviet Union is also known as Soviet Russia. The country now called Russia was part of the Soviet Union. However, we are off topic.

      No matter what you think of whether Russia would invade a large land with no government, my hypothetical still involved a Russian invasion. My question is how such a thing should be handled. You can substitute in a country you believe would engage in such a conquest. There are lots of them. The issue I am trying to analyze is how anarchy could work, including how invading militaries could be handled without a government.

      Quote Originally Posted by Voldmer View Post
      Yes, and that is why he would be willing to reach an agreement.
      That is not guaranteed. What should happen if he doesn't?

      Quote Originally Posted by Voldmer View Post
      If his noise bothers his neighbours, then they have to defend themselves against it. Building a soundproof wall would do the trick. It is not his obligation to provide their protection.

      However, building such a wall costs money and effort, and that is why the neighbours would be willing to reach an agreement.
      What would they be willing to tolerate? Do you see a possibility that somebody wouldn't agree to it?

      Quote Originally Posted by Voldmer View Post
      Certainly true. But if you look back over the same history, you will find that conquest always implies taking over the power structures left by the previous government. If there are no such power structures to take over, then conquest becomes rather hopeless, since it would require too much effort, because it would be necessary to build these power structures from scratch - which is very expensive (witness the cost of modern government).
      It is generally resources, including land itself, that rulers are after. Every piece of land on this planet was taken over by a government at some point. Most of the land has been taken over by multiple governments.

      Suppose that the hypothetical I described really happened, all the way to the end. At that point, how should it be handled?
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      That is not guaranteed. What should happen if he doesn't?
      Then he would be fenced in.


      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      What would they be willing to tolerate? Do you see a possibility that somebody wouldn't agree to it?
      I have no idea what these imaginary people would be willing to tolerate. Certainly it is possible that someone would not agree to it. Then that person would stand aside.


      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      It is generally resources, including land itself, that rulers are after. Every piece of land on this planet was taken over by a government at some point. Most of the land has been taken over by multiple governments.
      Yes, of course it is generally ressources, rulers are after. That's what they use the power structures to obtain.


      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      Suppose that the hypothetical I described really happened, all the way to the end. At that point, how should it be handled?
      No I won't suppose it, because I don't agree with the premise (the imaginary development you created). I don't subscribe to any "town hall meeting" type of anarchy; my guess is that such a form of anarchy would only work in fairly small (and probably geographically isolated) societies.
      So ... is this the real universe, or is it just a preliminary study?

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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      That doesn't answer my question. Show me an anarchist who defines anarchy that way.
      Okay. Here are the words of Peter Kropotkin, a prominent and seminal anarchist who gave this definition for the Encyclopedia Britannica:

      "the name given to a principle of theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government - harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of the needs and aspirations of a civilized being..."

      Which harmonises pretty well with how FryingMan and Sageous characterised anarchism.
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      You guys really aren't understanding my point. So I'll try it again. I'm not trying to say that anarchism is good or bad, or what its effects would be. I'm just pointing out that if you want to criticize any position, including anarchism, you need to criticize the actual position. If you define the word "anarchism" as a bunch of bad stuff, then you are not having a discussion. You're just making a circular argument. The fact that the average dumb fuck defines anarchy a certain way means jack shit. The academic definition of anarchy is totally different.

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      ^^ Okay, then, dumb fucks and academicians aside, what is the definition of anarchy that you believe is the actual , current, and accurate one?

      I'm sure your definition will help with the conversation, perhaps offering a solid baseline, so why not offer it up, rather than tell us all we are wrong for citing actual sources (including a well-known anarchist, who you seem to dismiss as a dumb fuck). I'm also not seeing the bad stuff we've inserted into the definition, so if you'd like to share that too, go right ahead...
      Last edited by Sageous; 02-26-2015 at 05:33 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      You guys really aren't understanding my point. So I'll try it again. I'm not trying to say that anarchism is good or bad, or what its effects would be. I'm just pointing out that if you want to criticize any position, including anarchism, you need to criticize the actual position. If you define the word "anarchism" as a bunch of bad stuff, then you are not having a discussion. You're just making a circular argument. The fact that the average dumb fuck defines anarchy a certain way means jack shit. The academic definition of anarchy is totally different.
      You're either trolling or there's something seriously off about you. You asked for a definition of "anarchism". Several people provided authoritative definitions, but according to you it didn't count because the definitions weren't given by anarchists — and for some reason you didn't care to provide a definition of your own from the numerous anarchists you've spoken with. Now you've been given a definition by an actual anarchist, but it's still completely irrelevant, because... well, I don't even know at this point, you didn't even pretend to have a coherent reason for rejecting the definition this time. Tell me: you clearly have zero intention of making any kind of positive contribution to this discussion. So... why exactly are you here?
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      There are also murderers, rapists, burglars, muggers, car jackers, and invading armies to think about.
      All of which will fall under people being jerks. In the future, when we can eliminate poverty and crime then the chances of a successful anarchy style government working will be greatly improved. At the moment, with how the world is now, a pure anarchy results in something like Somalia. Not a pleasant place.
      StephL likes this.

    24. #24
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      ^^ Okay, then, dumb fucks and academicians aside, what is the definition of anarchy that you believe is the actual , current, and accurate one?

      I'm sure your definition will help with the conversation, perhaps offering a solid baseline, so why not offer it up, rather than tell us all we are wrong for citing actual sources (including a well-known anarchist, who you seem to dismiss as a dumb fuck). I'm also not seeing the bad stuff we've inserted into the definition, so if you'd like to share that too, go right ahead...
      Anarchism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Start at the top of the page.

    25. #25
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      ^^ Your post seems to run counter to what you've been saying...

      Aside from this definition being someone else's definition, and not yours, it is also conceptually the same as the definitions we already listed for you, and that you quickly railed against as academic nonsense. So, is Wikipedia non-academic enough for you, which makes FryingMan's definition above valid? Also, what happened to your definition based on what actual anarchists told you? I had assumed you would have a sentence or two already in your head; why lean on Wikipedia if you are already sure of the definition?

      Also, I can't help but notice you linked to a definition of anarchism, rather than anarchy, though that likely isn't too important.
      Last edited by Sageous; 02-27-2015 at 01:42 AM.
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