• AntonioP
    11
    I am interested in seeing peoples' thoughts here related to the arguments that anarchists make against the concept of government and politics in general.

    Briefly speaking, anarchy means "without rulers". Anarchists argue that the institution we refer to as "government" is illegitimate, because no one has the right to rule over another. Ruling over others is akin to owning them, which is essentially the model of having masters and slaves.

    This might sound odd at first, and as if I'm going off on a tangent, but I will explain how these concepts are related to politics and the institution of government. Governments are ruling classes which force society to obey their laws through force. If you disobey their laws, you will be forcibly fined or jailed. Essentially, the institution of government is a mechanism used by politicians to impose their will on society. However, if you try to explain or answer why society should have to follow their laws, there will be no satisfactory answer.

    A law is comprised of words on paper. If I wrote down some random rules such as "You can't eat ice cream on Sundays" or "You must wear a red hat on public buses" and called them laws and claimed that you have to obey them because I have declared them as laws, would you take me seriously? If not, then why should the politicians who write their own dictates and call them "laws" be taken seriously?

    One can argue that there is a difference between some random person making up "laws" and the politicians in the government making up laws, since the politicians were elected by society. Yet if the politicians passed some law or laws you don't agree with, does anything make those laws so special that they have to be obeyed even if they are dumb or harmful?

    I am looking forward to your thoughts and feedback!
  • unenlightened
    7.1k
    I am an anarchist, and as such, I do not accept that there is any rule preventing the making or imposing of rules. If you don't want to obey anyone else's rules, that's absolutely fine, but you will probably get locked up or killed. And wipe your feet before you come into my house.
  • universeness
    3.5k
    Governments are ruling classes which force society to obey their laws through force.AntonioP

    I don't think this is an accurate description of a democratically elected government. People in government come from every class but apart from 'economic' separation, I don't think the term class has any value we should accept or wish to sustain.

    A law is comprised of words on paper. If I wrote down some random rules such as "You can't eat ice cream on Sundays" or "You must wear a red hat on public buses" and called them laws and claimed that you have to obey them because I have declared them as laws, would you take me seriously? If not, then why should the politicians who write their own dictates and call them "laws" be taken seriously?AntonioP

    But what about criminal laws for example, do you think those are needed in a human community?

    It was attempted in relatively small groups in France during their revolution and Spain during their civil war, I think, but I don't think there are many, if any, surviving communities that live under an anarchist doctrine. Do you know of any?
    If one did get fully established and recognised. I wonder if this would be their national anthem:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.6k

    Why did you name the thread "The philosophy of anarchy", when the op is only talking about the philosophy of governance. Are you ready to get on topic, and talk about an absence of government, rather than talking about governance?

    Suppose we remove all forms of governance. Could we proceed to live in this way? Would there be problems? If there is foreseeable problems, how would we deal with them without any form of governance?
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    . However, if you try to explain or answer why society should have to follow their laws, there will be no satisfactory answerAntonioP

    You cant find a satisfactory answer because you've used a circular definition:

    "Society" is created/the product of mutually agreed laws/order. Society is about being social : Social etiquette, manners of interaction, customs, norms, commonly held practises or what we could say as "the official and unofficial laws of conduct" of how to cooperate/be civil.

    Are the laws of a society enforced on them (tyrannies/dictatorships) or mutually agreed upon, amended, revised to reflect the collective conscience (democracy).

    Plus, I think it's fair to say laws and ordered systems work on all levels. Your own body has laws and orders to maintain a non cancerous state, to stay healthy and not let your body systems fall into "disorder" - derangement, decay.

    Would you promote anarchy against a government if you had to allow your cells to do the same to your own bodies government? Become anarchists that rebel against the immune system (law enforcers) and spread out beyond their domain to take down the system?

    Also we self police regularly. We have quite a large range of freedoms in society - of what career to pursue, of what hobbies to take an interest in, of what places one may live, how many kids you'd like, what things you wish to purchase.

    I think in general law is to prevent people from being harmed. Whether they do it knowingly or accidentally.

    I could concede maybe that there could be some place in the world where one can go and live away from society if they so choose. But if everyone that is dissatisfied with society moves to that place they just institutionalise it into another society - because they have to live with eachother.

    The only way to not be governed is to go it alone. To be a solitary hermit living out your life in absence of anyone else who have their own set of rules and behaviours that they may expect you to adhere to out of common courtesy/respect /politeness.

    Luckily for them the world is big enough to do such a thing. And I'm sure hundreds of people are currently living alone or as a couple unknown and ungoverned on vast plains or in vast forests. Truly free of expectations and policing. But I'd say that is a hard life. Uncomfortable and potentially deadly. No access to modern medicine.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    If not, then why should the politicians who write their own dictates and call them "laws" be taken seriously?AntonioP

    Because politicians are under intense scrutiny, public opinion/outcry, get lambasted by the media, by the courts etc if they write down or suggest any laws that seem absolutely arbitrary or absurd.
    Not only that but they have a whole team of policy reviewers, ethicists, political scientists, and a series of checks and balances to tick before any such law gets passed.

    What you describe is more "law by decree" which is what the Kings of Old did. Kings nowadays don't even have such an easy time passing any laws without the remaining government reviewing it, or public opinion.

    The only people who do what you describe are fascist dictatorships. Which exist. And I think anarchy is most likely only appropriate in such a harmful/toxic governance. I believe its called revolution when the public become sick of their sh*t and turn to anarchy.

    As happened in France with King Louis
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    An authority must be legitimate. For instance it can be justly reasoned that a father is the legitimate authority of his child. A politician is the legitimate authority over swaths of people because those people voted him in. They believe a feudal remnant such as a voting contest is the legitimate means to select authority, and that authorities need to be selected in perpetuity. So be it; but these little games and the fact that they play them legitimizes the contestants and especially the winners as authorities. What isn’t legitimate, but criminal, is that these politicians claim authority even over those who do not vote, who do not want to participate in their charades, and who have not voluntarily agreed to participate in their hierarchy.

    Laws are legitimate and criminal for the same reason. People have bestowed politicians with the legitimate authority to make them. The man scribbling rules has no such legitimate authority.
  • Tzeentch
    2.1k
    To understand the anarchist's basic problem one must understand that government has only one tool in its toolkit and that is violence.

    Why should A get to threaten B with violence to do X?
  • introbert
    182
    Anarchy/ism doesn't represent an ideal imo, but a negation of an ideal. It is to individualism as absurdity is to nihilism. Anarchy from my perspective is the negation of rule. This is important because it is reflexive and in opposition to rules. There are states of true 'rulelessness' that are affirmative of care, for instance, not following or denying rule but showing care for self and others.
  • Isaac
    9.1k
    it can be justly reasoned that a father is the legitimate authority of his child.NOS4A2

    Go on then.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.2k
    Governments have violence as the last resort, but have several options before the beating and shooting begin.

    Briefly speaking, anarchy means "without rulers". Anarchists argue that the institution we refer to as "government" is illegitimate, because no one has the right to rule over another. Ruling over others is akin to owning them, which is essentially the model of having masters and slaves.AntonioP

    Do people, individual and collective, NOT have the right to employ government?

    No, ruling over others is not in itself akin to owning them. In a feudal society the peasants may have had very few rights, but they weren't slaves. (We ought to know what real master/slave relationships look like.) Modern despotic governments maximize their control through pervasive surveillance and the threat of violence, and some countries are like that; most are not.

    Our best bet is a democratic society with a sufficiently limited government that it is possible to conduct one's life as one likes more or less, while at the same time living within rules that make community possible. This will involve a fair amount of social friction. Some people will make too much noise; some will use alcohol and drugs which impair their behavior (however subjectively pleasant they may be); some people won't mow their lawn; some people will have sex in public places; some people will engage in.petty crime and get away with it.

    Some people will behave in a way that is unacceptable for any society to accept: shooting people at random; stabbing somebody on the bus; reckless driving; selling spoiled food, stealing large amounts of money; burning buildings down, etc. A livable community requires ways to effectively suppress these kinds of criminal behavior.
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    Go on then.

    It’s the authority that has to justify it. All I know is that if I see a father stop his child from running into a busy street I’m not going to question that authority. I will question the authority of an official, though.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    My issue is that if anarchy is to take down government (the ruler) what does an anarchist suggest replacing it with? The anarchist themselves? Is that not ye another ruler.

    When a power is overthrown is it not replaced with yet another? Some people like to leave decision making to others and will tow the line so to speak. They want to be sheep. If people want to be sheep who ought to shepard them and how can they do so without admitting they are a ruler?
  • Isaac
    9.1k
    It’s the authority that has to justify it.NOS4A2

    You said...

    it can be justly reasoned that...NOS4A2

    How would you know it can be justly reasoned if you can't supply me with what those just reasons would be?
  • Tzeentch
    2.1k
    Governments have violence as the last resort, but have several options before the beating and shooting begin.Bitter Crank

    What would you call a household where everybody does what the head figure wants out of fear of getting beaten?

    And what would your reaction be if the head figure excused themselves by saying the beatings are only a last resort for when the fear of being beaten isn't sufficient to force obedience?
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    Well, saying “it can” also implies that “it cannot”. The point is, again, that the authority has to justify it.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    What would you call a household where everybody does what the head figure wants out of fear of getting beaten?

    And what would your reaction be if the head figure excused themselves by saying the beatings are only a last resort for when the fear isn't sufficient to force obedience?
    Tzeentch

    How about if we rephrase it as what would you call a household where everybody does what the head figure wants or face being exiled, told to leave and make their own way without any support?

    The head excuses themselves by saying that exile is only a last resort if one's desire to cooperate isn't sufficient enough to maintain a cohesive collective.
  • Tzeentch
    2.1k
    I'd call that domestic abuse, and awful parenting.
  • Isaac
    9.1k
    The point is, again, that the authority has to justify it.NOS4A2

    I can't make any sense of that. Say I'm the government/parent and I offer you a series of justifications as to why I have authority over you. Is that it now, do I have legitimate authority now I've justified it?
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    I can't make any sense of that.

    Of course you can’t.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    I'd call that domestic abuse, and awful parenting.Tzeentch

    I would call it preservation of one's/a groups welfare when faced with someone insidiously caustic. If a member of my familys only source of pleasure and validation is to harm others then they are not welcome any longer.

    Of course I would try to persuade them to consider others feelings and be more open to difference of opinion. But if they are incapable and have demonstrated purely individualistic intent then they ought to truly be individual right? Fend for themselves as that is all they care about in the end.

    They may always rejoin the family unit if they offer an agenda that isnt wholly self serving.

    If I am the father of such a family. I must protect everyones interests to the best of my ability. And if one person is being wholly ruinous to everyone else's esteem perhaps they need time alone to reflect on what their siblings/family.mean to them, and if they really think its right to inflict suffering on others just so they can have some form of self esteem.

    I wouldn't hesitate to rid of pure malevolent nastiness. Whoever may propagate it.
  • T Clark
    10.3k
    I am looking forward to your thoughts and feedback!AntonioP

    Say what you will, large scale institutions, including societies and nations, can not operate without governance. It's not a matter of what's right and what's wrong, it's a question of what will work and what won't. If your solution is to somehow prevent development beyond the scale of a village, good luck with that.
  • Hanover
    9.1k
    If any of you subscribe to the belief that copying data is a holy act, you might want to consider joining the Kopimist Church. As far as religions go, it's not the stupidest one.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missionary_Church_of_Kopimism
  • Bitter Crank
    11.2k
    What would you call a household where everybody does what the head figure wants out of fear of getting beaten?

    And what would your reaction be if the head figure excused themselves by saying the beatings are only a last resort for when the fear of being beaten isn't sufficient to force obedience?
    Tzeentch

    I'd also call that abusive parenting; societies are not families, though.

    Despotic regimes employ violence on similar terms: IF you do not obey the Maximum Leader, the result will be imprisonment, beatings, torture, and possibly death. Such despotic regimes exist, but they stand out against the majority of societies whose response to unlawful behavior goes no further than imprisonment. Imprisonment is coercive, certainly, but coercion is not the same as violence (beatings, torture, execution etc.).

    Violence or nothing is a false binary. Societies use coercion (fines, for instance) to enforce rules. Leave your car on the street after a snow storm, and it might get towed away--a coercive measure people find quite aversive. Coercion yes, but the streets cannot be cleared of snow if people don't move their cars out of the way.

    Force and coercive measures are not inherently violent. There are also passive measures which society uses -- literal and figurative 'speed bumps'. Regulatory review of land use proposals are a speed bump; ruling against the developer ("No, you can't build a slaughterhouse in the middle of a residential area!"). The refusal of a permit is likely to feel coercive. If the developer persists, force (in the form of intrusive court proceedings) may be used. We're not talking about beatings or killing anybody here. Force and coercion are none-the-less employed.
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    Coercion carries with it the threat of violence. It is such that if you refuse to conform to a demand you are then subject to force in a way that results in physical assault, theft, abuse, battery, kidnapping, confinement, and so on. it’s true that many governments put less violent impositions between the threat of violence and the violence itself in order to convince one that he should comply, but the threat of violence is always there as a last resort should he not.
  • Tzeentch
    2.1k
    Imprisonment is coercive, certainly, but coercion is not the same as violence (beatings, torture, execution etc.).Bitter Crank

    Force and coercive measures are not inherently violent.Bitter Crank

    The two are linked. How do you get someone into prison that does not wish to go there? With violence, or with threats of violence. Those two are in my eyes of the same moral quality.

    Nothing in our justice system makes sense without violence to back it up - the threat of violence is always there. If it wasn't, it wouldn't work. That's why the moment the justice system's capability to intervene is in question things like rioting, looting and anarchy start taking over in a heartbeat.
    That's why I consider the entire system to be predicated on violence.

    Prison I find to be comparable to torture, even if it would be a "mild" form of torture, if such a thing exists at all.

    Violence or nothing is a false binary. Societies use coercion (fines, for instance) to enforce rules. Leave your car on the street after a snow storm, and it might get towed away--a coercive measure people find quite aversive. Coercion yes, but the streets cannot be cleared of snow if people don't move their cars out of the way.Bitter Crank

    We go back to the head figure of the family, who now states "my household cannot function properly without violence and threats of violence" - would you consider this acceptable? I wouldn't.

    I don't see why it would be acceptable in one instance, but not in the other. It seems like a double standard to me.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.2k
    I don't see why it would be acceptable in one instance, but not in the other. It seems like a double standard to me.Tzeentch

    Because a society is not the same as a family. I grew up in a family where confrontations were rare. We seven children behaved ourselves without violence. Threats of violence? As my father would say, "If you don't stop complaining [crying, whining, etc], I'll give you something to complain about." Or, "If you don't stop squabbling [in the back seat], you can get out and walk home."

    When were these threats turned into violence? They were not. Our parents' anger was novel enough for us to take it seriously all by itself. Were we ever spanked? Yes. Was that violence? No; it didn't rise to the level of violence. There are families where parents exercise violence freely; fists, kicks, hard slaps, belts, etc. I have seen this in action in families (and worse, actually) and I definitely do not approve of it.

    There is no parent in society. There are citizens, and there is a government. there are written and unwritten rules governing interaction between citizens, and between the government and citizens. A lot of these rules have the force of law. There are penalties laid out for violating the law. Unwritten rules have penalties which result, too. Like, leave angry drunks alone. Threaten an angry drunk and you will likely get socked.

    Societies have an implied social contracts which bind citizens to treating each other more or less civilly (and most of the time, the contract is honored). There are mutual obligations which are understood. The law, however, is not an IMPLIED social contract -- it is explicit. We understand that if we violate the law, there may well be quite unpleasant consequences. Prison is one of the possible consequences.

    If you think being in prison is the same as being tortured, then that is what you think. I don't agree; I would vastly prefer not to be in prison, but it isn't ipso facto the same as torture. (That said, a prison certainly can be operated in such a way that it is torture).

    I will agree that the threat of violence (of some material sort) lies behind governmental authority and power. Law and the social contract assigns to the state the privilege of exercising violence to compel compliance in designated situations. I'm OK with that. If we don't want to be the recipient of privileged violence, then we don't flagrantly violate the law. We are careful about when, where, how, and why we tempt the state into pouncing on us.

    The smart rat doesn't tempt the cat to pounce, unless he's very near his bolt hole.
  • Banno
    19.2k
    if you try to explain or answer why society should have to follow their laws, there will be no satisfactory answer.AntonioP

    None satisfactory for you, it seems. The rest of us see a benefit in all ceding the right to do violence to a third party; something we learned in kindergarten.
  • Tzeentch
    2.1k
    Societies have an implied social contracts which bind citizens to treating each other more or less civilly (and most of the time, the contract is honored). There are mutual obligations which are understood. The law, however, is not an IMPLIED social contract -- it is explicit. We understand that if we violate the law, there may well be quite unpleasant consequences. Prison is one of the possible consequences.Bitter Crank

    The problem with social contracts is that I was never asked to sign one. The dependency is first created without ever offering an opt-out, and then the demands are stacked high.

    Again, I invite you to envision a family, this time one in which a depedency is created and then ruthlessly exploited. The excuse the parents give is "If my child doesn't like it here, they can just leave." - completely foregoing the fact that they worked to create that dependency in the first place, and then justifying their use of violence against their child on that basis!

    I have great problems accepting that line of reasoning, and it still strikes me as obviously abusive. I have yet to be told why societies function differently in such a way that this would be justified.

    Besides, what if the social contract is obviously defunct? Do I still have to abide by its rules?

    Is a religious fundamentalist country justified in stoning to death women for adultery because, after all, that was the social contract she supposedly signed and if they didn't like it they were free to flee the country?

    The main reason we seem to justify the "social contract" in western countries is because we like its terms, but this is the same as the religious fundamentalist defending their social contract because they like religious fundamentalism being the basis of their society.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.2k
    Besides, what if the social contract is obviously defunct? Do I still have to abide by its rules?Tzeentch

    No. Without a functioning social contract, you have chaos, and all you can do is try to stay alive.

    I invite you to envision a familyTzeentch

    No. Your approach resembles the antinatalist approach. A person is created without being consulted and therefore has to endure the consequent suffering against their will. Your vision of family (at least as you have projected it here) expects violence and ruthless exploitation. It isn't that ruthlessly exploitative families never have existed. They have--but they are not the model 99.9% of people strive for. Families are generally nurturing and loving. Do people fail in this project? Sure. We are fallible.

    The social contract (which is, granted, not a signed document. and nobody thinks it is) yields mutual support and benefit. That's how a functioning society works.

    The social contract of mutually beneficial behavior would exist in an anarchist society as much as, maybe more than, it does in a hierarchical society. Our human ability to mirror other people's needs, desires, pains, etc. long preceded civil society.
  • javra
    1.9k
    The social contract (which is, granted, not a signed document. and nobody thinks it is) yields mutual support and benefit. That's how a functioning society works.

    The social contract of mutually beneficial behavior would exist in an anarchist society as much as, maybe more than, it does in a hierarchical society. Our human ability to mirror other people's needs, desires, pains, etc. long preceded civil society.
    Bitter Crank

    Well said.

    As a kind of apropos, if one cares to think of it this way, social lesser animals also each have their own “unsigned social contracts”: a grouping of meerkats (which are relatively, but by no means perfectly, non-hierarchical, if I remember right) will abide by a social contract different from that of a grouping of wolves (which are relatively speaking very hierarchical, starting with two alpha mates and going down to the omega) - yet both these examples can perform feats of reciprocal altruism that some humans can only presume to be “unnatural”.

    Well, my take on the philosophy of anarchy: it's the unrealistically optimistic belief that all individuals in a large grouping of humans can remain ethical toward each other’s needs without hierarchical governance and policing - and that it's this very governance which makes many humans less than ethical. I find its unrealistic optimism right up there with the ideal of communism (in contrast to the concrete practice of what can be termed Stalinism): can work for some very small groupings, like a kibbutz, but it requires that all participants are on the same page in terms of ethical conduct … without there being any rotten apple to spoil the bunch.
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