Anarchy: What's the deal?

We live near Pittsburgh, and with the recent G20 making history, we checked things out. Anarchists were demonstrating (without a permit, which I guess is their M.O.). As I know no Anarchists, I was wondering if anyone can explain their “goals”.

[li]What results do they expect/desire from their demonstration?[/li][li]Do any communities exist today that are anarchical(sp?)?[/li][li]Where did the anarchists I saw come from? How did they organize?[/li][/ul]

Lastly, we were wondering what their response would have been if the police had opened fire with real ammo and slaughtered a bunch of them? They are anarchists, after all. . .would the survivors have complained to authority? Would they have used the system (courts)?

Anarchists basically think that people can be left alone to figure out life and their interactions with others. Centralized governments are felt to be inherently dangerous.

In truth, we do live in an anarchist’s world since government and everything else is the output of individuals acting according to their own perceived self-interest versus what they think others will allow them to get away with.

But whether an anarchist would perceive any society in the world as having ever been anarchist, I couldn’t say. Humans almost always form some sort of hierarchy where one person has more say-so than the others about how to go about stuff, so I would personally vote that given human nature it’s impossible, but that you can make it so that all hierarchical groups are fairly small and independent. Of course, they’ll generally be in torn apart nations, and the individual groups are fighting for their survival, so I’m not sure that this is an encouraging example.

As and aside, some years ago I read that the anarchists were going to have a national convention. I thought that was hilarious.

They were perhaps trying to achieve propaganda by the deed. The theory is that violence and unrest shakes the population’s faith in the government, either because the government is unable to prevent it or because the government acts too harshly in suppressing it.

That was coined to justify the actions of anarchists who threw bombs and did other violent actions in Europe prior to the First World War. It seems a little odd to use it to describe unsanctioned protests; “Direct Action” seems more apt a phrase.

Anyway, here’s something that’s always confused me about Anarcho-Syndicalism: How can anyone maintain a Socialist state without a government enforcing the ban on private ownership of the means of production? What is supposed to happen in the A-S world when someone declares he owns, say, a garden and offers up his crops for barter? It seems that there would be no way to stop Anarcho-Syndicalism from turning into either Anarcho-Capitalism or (Minarchist) State Socialism.

From what I can see, Anarchy is a form of male birth control.

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[li]Do any communities exist today that are anarchical(sp?)?[/li][/QUOTE]

People usually say present-day Somalia is the closest thing to it that exists.

Some anarchists has a sense of irony. During the infamous Seattle protests of 1999, some anarchists took over a dilapidated building, which I assume was owned but just not developed. . A news reporter went in to interviewed them and noticed a sign with “rules.” made by the anarchists, about what people couldn’t do in the building. I don’t really remember the interview, but the reporter did point out the hypocrisy of the sign to them.

I am an anarchist myself, but there is a lot of STUPID in the world, and the notion that a good way to eliminate all systems of authority is to vandalize and disrupt things is more or less on par with trying to prevent pregnancy by distributing aphrodisiacs.

(I like the “rules” thing too :wink: )

So what do you advocate? I mean in terms of goals, not means of achieving them. What, for example would you have us do in the US? Completely eliminate Federal, state, and local governments?

Anarchy isn’t the absence of rules, it is the absence of authority outside of complete consensus. Pointing out the ‘hypocrisy’ of rules in an anarchist commune isn’t serious political analysis, it’s ‘gotcha ya’ journalism.

FTR I disagree strongly with anarchism.

ETA beaten to the punch by AHunter!

The problem with defining anarchism is that probably no two believers have the same definitions, goals, or purposes. Some anarchists probably do believe in no rules, some in consensus, some in other sets of values. And from all the reporting I’ve read over the year they have a lot of things they are against but these are also spread over a wide range of issues.

Anarchists are like economists. Ask a dozen and you’ll get thirteen answers. :slight_smile:

Seriously, my ideal political goals and all that?

Well if I’m allowed to bypass “means of achieving them”:

• there would not be a “US”, or any other country, if we’re assuming the goals have actually been reached. world government.

• it would not be government as you know it, though: no formal structure putting ANYONE in a position of power over ANYONE would exist ANYWHERE.

• structures would exist; they would be structures of a different sort though (most of ours ARE based on hierarchies of power and authority, of people over other people). these structures would be structures of things like “how permanent is a decision” or “how local regional or global is the scope of this decision” or “how often do these many people meet” etc

• no money, no money system, nothing akin to any economic system we are currently accustomed to, including barter. no specific reciprocity of any sort (where you get something SPECIFIC back in return for whatever you contribute as goods or services).

• no official formal ownership of anything. not so much that property is a foreign concept, but that THEFT is a foreign concept.

• no serious competition. competition is for games and fun, sports and cards and whatnot.

• no assumption about a ‘characterological’ makeover of human traits is posited as necessary or likely, but at the same time a lot of what are often assumed by people NOW to be human traits are considered to be the behavior of people IN CONTEXT, i.e., that the ‘human nature’ we see now is the behavior of people as they behave in the context of our existing system, which rewards adversarial competitive behaviors while preying upon people’s ‘nicer’ more cooperative inclinations as an exploitable weakness

• participatory decision-making, decentralized, hierarchies of size of organization (household, neighborhood, community, village, town, etc) without “leaders”; absolute confederacy in which the component participating elements cannot be coerced by the larger pieces of which they are a part; local initiative combined with a hierarchy of established decisions that, as they rise in the hierarchy of decision-permanence, are respected as the foundations of organized society — sort of like ancient Judaism and the reverence for the Law, these would simultaneously be the embodiment of wisdom and the guidelines for behavior and the embodiment of who we are as a people; and would mostly generate compliance despite the complete lack of law enforcement

Just out of curiosity: Have you read ursula LeGuin’s Disposessed?

It’s probably the only, albeit fictionalized, description of an anarchical society that I know of. I don’t claim to be particularly intelligent; but I’m having trouble envisioning the world as what AHunter3 describes.

Reviewing SmashTheState’s posts and his links can be an eye opener when it comes to the irrationality of anarcho-syndicalism.

Yeah. The problem with understanding Anarcho-Syndicalism is dealing with Anarcho-Syndicalists.

One anarchist historian characterized it as an opposition to hierarchical social arrangements. The geometric alternative is “Networks”, the preferred mode of governance consultation.

So I wake up and go out to drive to work, or buy groceries, or what have you, and my car is gone, I’m SOL?

Or would it be OK to go and hotwire a neighbor’s car?

No need. No keys. And no such thing as “buy groceries”. Although it might make sense for you go to go pick them up. If they aren’t close to a kitchen near to you, someone’s gotta move 'em.

There are probably some cars in places indicating that they aren’t currently “in use”. Dunno exactly how it is in your neighborhood. Probably you can take the one your neighbor normally uses without greatly annoying your neighbor (unless neighbor was going to take off to Tierre del Fuego later today and really LIKES that car) since your neighbor can get wheels from somewhere else and may not be going anywhere today anyway. 'twould be nice to leave a note.

So, we’d be living in 1960’s style hippy communes? A literal interpretation of John Lennon’s “Imagine”?