(from Oxford) Anarchy: absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.

And what are your thoughts on this exactly?

I’ve always been under the belief that anarchy can never truly exist: human nature naturally seeks power (whether in the household or in the oval office). To me it seems like unattainable ideal, much like Marxism, in something utopian that can never be accomplished.

It’s worked so well in Somalia.:rolleyes::smack:

It works well enough with civilized people on a small scale. Some tiny commune of 150 or so people, say. But it doesn’t scale up. Once a group becomes large and complex enough you need something beyond individuals acting on the basis of ad hoc arrangements with each other to keep society stable, you need an artificial, formal structure; a government.

Anarchy relies on every person being strong.
When there are people willing to follow another you have the start of a government.

Yeah. I could see a large scale anarchy working in some sci-fi scenario where everyone in it is a posthuman sapient starship or some huge hive mind; where every individual has the knowledge, information processing and general capabilities that it requires an entire community of humans to achieve. But in the real world we’re individually weak and dependent on society to function; nor do we even have the brainpower to handle a anarchic social network of even a thousand people, much less millions or billions.

It’s inefficient, unless we assume all individuals have access to all relevant information, and that can only happen in relatively small groups.
So it’s monkeysphere, tops. Joan Vinge tried describing a “demarchy” in her Heaven Belt stories (i.e. a minimally administered direct democracy set in a society populating an asteroid belt) but from what I recall, her society tended toward corporate and tribal thuggery, rather than rugged individualism.

It doesn’t even work at those numbers. All attempts at “anarchy” that have been tried, even in small groups, have taken place within an existing, regulated and much larger society that provided security that protected the commune.

There’s a reason why even HG societies that consisted of fewer than 100 people had very strict and heavily enforced rules of governance.

Dunbar’s number is only an approximation of the number of people that someone can know. It’s not a level at which a society can function without rules. Even if I know someone really well, they can still be a self-serving, unprincipled arsehole. The only saving grace is that I *know *they are a self-serving, unprincipled arsehole. Any society containing such a person still requires laws that curtail what she is able to do. Otherwise she will steal, rape and murder to gain power and influence.

That is the reason why anarchy does not work and can not work, regardless of group size. If there is absolute freedom and no laws then there is nothing that can prevent any strong individual from taking whatever she wants. To be controlled requires a collection of other individuals ganging up to stop her. But if that occurs then the collection of other individuals has, by definition, curtailed the freedom of the individual and imposed a law. Anarchy has immediately ceased at that point.

The mere absence of government would by itself be nothing but a cleared field ripe for the reintroduction of government. If anarchy is possible it would require some active principle that would allow it to defend itself against both external conquest and internal nascent tribes and gangs; what, I don’t know. It would probably require an almost atomistic individualism to a degree that no human society has had hitherto.

Even if all individuals have perfect information, I still can’t see how it could possibly work.

To give you an hypothetical: we have a community of farmers with perfect agricultural, behavioural and meteorological knowledge.

They know that drought is coming which will result in famine. They know that if they pool and save half of their seed and ration the other 50% then everybody will go hungry but they will have enough to replant following the drought and feed all the survivors.

Alternatively they can sow all their grain right now, and almost all of it will die. As a result 95% of the population will starve to death.

And one person in the community is a crack addict, and she will steal any grain that is stored and sell it to buy crack.

To the extent that any human society will ever have perfect information, that group has it. Everybody knows all of these facts

But that still doesn’t make anarchy a workable system.

The optimum solution for that society is still to ration the grain, but nobody will actually go for it without government enforcement. If there is just one selfish individual in there, she will steal the rationed grain to buy crack. And because everyone has perfect information, they know that is what he will do. That makes it impossible to get anybody to agree to ration their grain because everybody knows that it will be stolen and the plan will fail.

All that perfect information gives you is the ability to make optimal choices according to your personal desires. It doesn’t *change *those desires. So long as one person is a selfish prick, she can have perfect information on how to optimise her personal position at the expense of everybody else, but she will still act like a selfish prick. And everybody else can know perfectly that she will act like a selfish prick, but that won’t stop her from acting like a selfish prick either.

Perfect information simply doesn’t solve the problem that humans are individuals with individual and conflicting desires. Laws are needed to do solve that problem, by forcing individuals to forgo their own desires for the benefit of society.

I think anarchy would require some kind of accepted code duello, which would spell out the terms under which irreconcilable disputes would be decided with deadly force.

I think that any code defies anarchy. Isn’t anarchy totally without rules?
And if I wanted someone to die why don’t I just murder them? Higher chance of success and less chance of me getting hurt.

The definition of anarchy cited in the OP is limiting. In case that wasn’t the intention, I’ll just point out that anarchism comes in many forms and flavors, and does not have to include lawlessness or absolute individual freedom. The most general definition might be something more like “opposition to authority and/or hierarchy, usually in the form of the State.” This includes a lot of different communities, some of which are listed helpfully on wikipedia.

Anarchy can exist, and has existed – just not ideally. But that’s not saying much… democracy hasn’t existed ideally either.

Which is either so broad as to be meaningless, or less no less limiting than the OP.

Read literally, this definition includes the Democratic and Republican parties as anarchist, since both clearly oppose “authority and/or hierarchy” as part of their ideological platform.

And read as meaning that anarchism opposes all authority and/or hierarchy, then none of the Wikipedia examples are in any way Anarchist.

Yet not one of them existed except as a small portion of a broader, often totalitarian, government that provided basic protections to the communities from threats both within and without.

Well, democracy has existed, and does exist, ideally. To use the standard definition, democracy is "a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. "

By this standard definition the world is full of ideal forms of Democracy. The fact that such systems may not seem ideal to you does not make them anything other than ideal democracies.

That contrasts sharply with Anarchy, where there has never been a functioning society that had no all authority and/or hierarchy.

Like I said earlier, some active principle would be needed; a supermajority of people would have to agree to live by- I won’t say laws, but- guidelines for living without government. Or as some libertarian sites put it, “There are rules, just no rulers”. At a minimum, people would have to agree to be anarchist- to respect others’ independence and not try to subjugate them, and to not band together into groups to attempt to do the same, and to not tolerate attempts by anyone to do so. Or to put it another way, the two principles I see discussed most often are that anarchy/libertarianism/whatever would be non-coercive and anti-collectivist. There are limits on both of course; people would have to have the right to “coerce” people to stop trying to coerce them, with lethal force if necessary, and the system as a whole would be necessarily be a collective, albeit an emergent one instead of a centrally-directed government.

Is this possible? I don’t know- 5500 years of statism would seem to disprove it, and I don’t have all the answers- I’m grasping at I-don’t-quite-know-what here. But I don’t know for certain that it’s flatly impossible.

Common misunderstanding/canard.
It’s just that pretty much every anarchist has his own idea of what the unwritten rules should be… But be that as it may, existing anarchist communes do have their own sets of laws (e.g. Freetown Christiania, which admittedly is dangerously close enough to a proto-state to not be considered anarchistic anymore). Some also have proto-governments and/or democratic assemblies.

Anarchy doesn’t necessarily mean zero rules or authority - it means zero rules or authority that are *imposed *on the people. As soon as coercion is involved, it’s not anarchy any more. But if 10, 20, 300 people all agree that Rule X is a good thing, then they’ll all apply Rule X organically on a self-determined basis. That’s the theory, anyway.

Its not ideal at all. Humans cannot and should not have absolute freedom. There are just too many sick fucks out there. Mankind should forever be ruled by a government with some basic human rights at its core