Anarchy, something worth striving for. No, not chaos. Not a society without any structure, or rules. Not people in masks smashing things because they can… Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to let you dismiss it that easily :) So what is Anarchy? Why is it important for the evolution of the human species?
Anarchy is about freedom, it is about peace. It is about personal liberty, accountability, and responsibility. It is about community, co-operation and connection. Anarchy is about morality. A topic that has been for so long pushed to the side as we fumble our way through life, without any real clarity of what is right and what is not. Anarchy literally means ‘without rulers’. It is the result of the logical application of the recognition of property rights and of a philosophical proposition known as the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), which states that the initiation of the use of force is immoral, always, in any time, any place, no matter what uniform you wear, or who you work for. Anarchy simply just describes a situation in which members of a community do not recognise the right for any one person or group of people to rule over others using coercion or violence, and as such, do not sanction such a person or group to do so. An anarchist society consists of individuals who understand that voluntary relationships are the only real relationships, and that no good can come from coercive interactions. We seem to have no trouble with this principle in our personal lives, wherein we do not force someone to employ us, or date us, or talk to us, but when it comes to society as a whole we seem to think the opposite must apply for things to function. So anarchy is the understanding that people must be left free to act of their own will, and that this principle holds universally. Whether it be to help the poor, voluntarily; to fund medical care, voluntarily; to care for the environment, voluntarily; or to employ others, voluntarily. And, it is the understanding that it is impossible to be moral where coercion exists; that morality ends where a gun begins.
Now, let’s talk about what anarchy is NOT. Anarchy is not an ideology that suggests a certain structure of society. It doesn’t outline a way to solve poverty, or insist that money be used to trade. It doesn’t propose a method for ensuring medical safety and standards, or suggest an approach to issues of drug addiction, or how to protect worker’s rights, or to take care of the environment. It does not propose theories on how to achieve sustainable energy practises, or where to build vertical farms, or how to derail society’s sick orientation toward money and material wealth. While it is based on non-aggression, anarchy does not promise peace, or that there will be no problems with violence between people, or that there will be no people with evil motivations. Anarchy promises just one thing: a commitment to solving problems without using coercion or violence. As you may have anticipated, applying this philosophy to society we find ourselves without the existence of any institution or person that has been sanctioned to the monopolistic right to rule over others. Anarchy means no artificial hierarchies with a right to use force at will, no kings and queens, and no governments.
Let’s talk a little about government then, since that is the dominant authority in the current era. Government comes from the latin words ‘gubinare’ meaning ‘to control’, and ‘mens’ meaning ‘mind’. Government literally means ‘to control the mind’, which really ought to cock every persons head into an exploration of what government really is, what it means for our lives, what it claims to do, and what it actually does. Government can be defined as ‘a group of people with a monopoly on force in a given geographical location’.
What does government actually do?
There are three main ways that government initiates the use of force: through the control of the monetary system, through taxation as the forced funding of the governmental institution and their activities, and, through the regulation of the economy and human behaviour through laws backed by violent enforcement. Behind every law, behind every legislation, behind everything we are told to do by government is a gun to enforce it. Often this gun can be muted or forgotten, due to the huge distance between the victim and those voting and implementing the laws, preventing people with truly connecting with the consequences of supporting government legislation. Would you harass someone, try to kid nap them, even shoot them, because they were smoking a joint and refused to be taken away by you? If not, then why vote someone else to do it for you? Wearing a blue uniform does not change the immoral nature of this type of action. Furthermore, if you had to pay directly for the huge costs of drug law enforcement, would you still care so much about the private choices of others? Having this gun and law book available with endless tax dollars to fund it is so tempting for those who don’t want to get their own hands dirty when they choose to blatantly force their opinions on others.
The government claims it does things for us, but do they actually do what they say they will do? And do their programs work? How about the ‘War on drugs’? The ‘War on poverty’? The ‘War on illiteracy’? The ‘War on terror’? Kinda not kidding about this using violence to solve social problems thing, am I? So how’s the drug trade going these days? I think we can safely say we’ve lost the war on drugs. And when you look at the success of the countries that have legalised drugs and treat addicts as medical patients, it seems obvious where we have gone wrong. And are the poor being fed and sheltered? How is equality doing these days? The poor are pretty poor, and the rich quite rich, aren’t they? So the government care about education, huh? 19% of high school graduates in the USA cannot read and write. And terror is always lurking behind the next false flag… that war will never be won, because the government need enemies to keep the military-industrial economy ticking over. What about the environment? Consider the amount of environmental damage inflicted through war, particularly nuclear. Consider the ghost cities in China built by their government, just built to keep the economy going but with no one living in them! When we wonder who is going to take care of the poor, who is going to protect our rights, who is going to educate the young, etc etc, we must ask ourselves, are these things actually being done to any effective degree anyway?
The power of the government provides a tempting tool for power hungry and greedy individuals to exploit in order to ‘legally’ manipulate society and specifically the economy to meet their agenda, benefitting the few at the expense of the majority. Without this powerful tool, this artificial power over others that is granted to them via politics would not exist. One truly horrendous legal protection that lobbyists can obtain from politicians is the example of ‘The Monsanto Act’, which describes that Monsanto cannot legally be held responsible for any negative effects their products might prove to have in the future. A free pass for the agriculture and chemical giant who is responsible for Agent Orange. The truth is, the government are just a group of individuals, just like you and me, but who have a whole separate category for what is right and wrong. Does it seem strange to you how if a man in government uniform kills to achieve political preferences it is called ‘fighting for freedom’, but when you or I kill for our own motivations, it is immoral and called murder? The great thing about thinking philosophically is that things begin to reveal themselves as what they really are, and inconsistencies become apparent. “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name” said Confucius. The reality is, taxation is theft, our rights can be violated at will by those we elect to protect them, and we are slaves to our governmental masters.
What does government mean for our lives?
In my view, the major impact of the existence of government on our psyche is that it has turned us into apathetic and isolated cogs in a machine, by narrowing our field of concern for many aspects of life that we have signed over to this faceless other; to the ‘government’. Government kindly offers (no wait, it demands) to take care of many of the obligations of life, such as giving us money when we don’t have a job, monitoring and regulating our impacts on the environment, caring for the disabled and elderly, ‘combating’ poverty, educating the young, protecting people from their own bad choices, ensuring ethical business practises and industry regulation, transport infrastructure, industry subsidies, trade export and import freedoms (or not), ‘immigration’ control and defence (against the enemies of the state, whoever they are decided to be, and wherever this imaginary ‘border’ lies), medicating the public through mandatory water fluoridation, health care, crime prevention and rehabilitation, weather modification, postal services, and many other facets of life as the government continues to grow. One huge list for sure, and a fine one, if it weren’t for the fact that all this is done through the forced participation of the public. It is all done by one institution, with no competitors able to propose better practises, with every person’s money forced to fund each activity despite whether or not they use that service. Everything the government claims it does, is a responsibility we have outsourced to this huge umbrella organisation and subsequently absolved ourselves of any concern for. This, I feel, is the major downfall of what government means to its people. We have outsourced our personal accountability for our actions, our moral obligations to care for each other, our freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, our genuine charitable spirit, our initiative to be informed about our world, and our necessity for authentic communities to work together. We have outsourced our very lives in the process of a vote, a vote in which we sign over our sovereignty, that very thing which makes life rich and worth living. With government at every corner we turn, and every choice we try to make, we have lost ourselves and become idle zombies. We are children to the state.
So why government? What makes us think we need it?
- Is it because individuals are incapable of making ‘the right’ choices for themselves, and therefore need to be protected from their own incompetence by a group of other individuals who know better? (Though of course we voters are just smart enough to elect these super people, and to be morally responsible for our government’s actions. Either we are incapable of moral responsibility and accountability, or not).
- Is it because of the idea that people are inherently evil, and this true nature must be constantly kept at bay by heroes with regulation, coercion and punishment as their tools for compliance, without such restraint people would naturally end up annihilating their own species? (Who are these super beings that are not part of the ‘inherently evil’ sect of humans, and who are trying to help us for our own good? And if we are naturally evil, why are we going against that which comes naturally to us? And if we were naturally evil, we wouldn’t see it as evil, would we? A little thought experiment might be useful here… Let’s say everyone is evil, then we cannot permit a government to exist as it will be used as a powerhouse for evil. Or maybe, no one is evil, and in that case we definitely do not need a government to ‘protect’ us from anything. Let’s say the majority of people are evil, with a few good people, then again we cannot permit a government to exist because a democracy would lead to the minority of good people being outvoted by the evil. Or perhaps, most people are good, and we need government to protect us from the few evil, but in this situation it is precisely the attraction of such a powerful tool as the government that it will inevitably be the evil people who will gravitate toward such roles and inflict their evil upon society in a much greater capacity).
- Is it because the only reason people don’t rape, steal and murder is because of government laws, and therefore we must use the threat of violence as the primary means of encouraging good behaviour in society? (Speak only for yourself: Would YOU rape, murder and steal if all of a sudden you would not be punished by law for it? Just like we know right and wrong without needing religion, we know what is socially acceptable behaviour and what is not without government law. And for those in need of moral guidance in such matters, there are healthier ways of dealing with such sick people).
- Is it because we are protecting ourselves from those few dangerous ones in society who may steal from us one day? (So our solution is to sanction a group of individuals with armies to have the right to violate our rights at will? Of course, such a powerful position is surely to attract those thieving types? Furthermore, ask yourself what happens if you don’t pay your taxes? You think that isn’t theft?)
- Is it because upon exiting our mother’s womb we voluntarily signed a metaphorical social contract submitting ourselves to the current system in play in that geographical area and thus sanctioning the actions of the rulers of that system? (We are creatures of the Earth, and to be born is NOT anything of the sort.)
- Is it because the government actually provide services that we would otherwise purchase with our tax dollars anyway, and since the government are elected by the people, they will always do what is desired by the people? (Perhaps. But if this were the case, why do they need to FORCE us to purchase their product or service? If we have to be forced to ‘do what’s right’ because we don’t know or have the care to, who are the people deciding what’s right and why it should be done? Obviously in this case it is NOT a democracy! Let’s say we did have a true democracy though, how would you feel if 51% of the people voted that your leg be cut off? ‘Democracy’ is not the shining political pinnacle we have all been taught to believe.)
Our belief that we need authority to function as a species has given rise to government, and so we have given a few people a bunch of guns and legal rights to oversee our interests. So, why do we hold this belief that we need authority to function? The relentless conditioning we are subjected to throughout our lives via unnatural hierarchies such as governments, religion, the education system and even family structures, all serves the purpose to indoctrinate us into a master-slave mentality, where we believe that others do have the right to rule over us. This is not the truth, and unlearning this false dichotomy is the first and most important step to freedom and a better world. Realising that you are a sovereign being is the essential change in the psyche that is required in order for us to create a truly free existence. Furthermore, we have been trained in ‘doublethink’ to believe that in order to have peace we need violence to enforce it. War does not equal peace, and peace cannot be achieved through violence. But are we capable of evolving beyond these primitive ways? Are we actually interested in morality for any higher purpose, or are we just tribal animals with only one goal: to survive?
What is human nature?
An ancient debate. But I think we can say a few things definitively. Human beings adapt. It is predominantly our environment that shapes us, particularly the environment that we are exposed to during those first few years as a child. Growing up in a peaceful and loving home, most often results in a human with peaceful and loving traits. Growing up in an environment where it is necessary to kill to stay alive, where even those close to you abuse you, produces humans with a fear-based mentality and tendencies to be violent. Our brains are incredibly malleable, and we can see from the enormous scape of human ability and disposition that we can essentially be moulded into any character. We have the potential to be good, and we have the potential to be not so good. Additionally, survival is not the only motivating factor for human behaviour. People act out of love, out of loyalty, to stand up for a belief, or to act with moral integrity, sometimes sacrificing their life for such things. It is also important to note that it is precisely our desire to be good that is so often used by evil to manipulate us into serving their agendas (Read Atlas Shrugged?). Thus we can see humans have a thirst for higher thought and a natural desire to be virtuous. So when thinking about the potential for humans to be good it is important that we do not get stuck in the pessimistic and limited view that human nature is set and unyielding, but instead see human nature as a choice we make everyday, despite our past, to be better than we were yesterday.
Just like humanity progresses technologically, we evolve spiritually too. And it seems that at this moment in history the world sits on a precipice of a defining moment in our evolution as a species, where we have a choice: to transcend this animalistic survival mentality and commit to non-violence, or, to remain in this lower state of consciousness perpetuating the master-slave and tribal warfare paradigm. Anarchy IS this choice, it is the word that defines this moment of moral clarity, if we choose to accept it. By committing to the NAP, we are aligning ourselves with virtue from the outset, and starting down a new path toward greater empathy, connection to our fellow man and the world around us, and toward interactions of peaceful negotiation, where satisfying our need for survival does not have to come at the expense of others. Human beings are naturally co-operative, social creatures, as we rely heavily on our relationships and communities to survive. If anything can be called human nature, it is our need to co-operate with one another. So, even if our only motivations are in survival, if we are left ungoverned and the only way to survive is to co-operate, then that is ultimately what we will do. Don’t underestimate the power and natural tendency for spontaneous order in times of confusion, and the ingenious of human innovation to get the job done.
So, let’s say we make that choice, we make the blind leap into a future based on non-aggression and find ourselves faced with a new set of challenges for our creative problem-solving brains… a world without government. What would this look like, and how on our beloved Earth could it be possible?
The anarchist society
There are many things that humans need to co-ordinate in conjunction with one another in order to live in the most efficient and prosperous way, enabling us to maximise the joy in each others company and talents. The first thing that is important to understand is that just because the government used to provide a service that we needed, doesn’t mean that without government this service is unable to be provided. If in a democratically governed society enough people are concerned with educating the poor for government schools to exist (even if that wasn’t the original purpose of public schools…), then it is fair to assume that in a free society this desire will continue, and that without the government enforced solution of public schools this desire will manifest itself in a different form of a solution, most likely a more creative and effective one. The same idea applies to other charitable tendencies of people, in where the removal of the government programs aimed at addressing these desires will not remove the desire itself from the people.
All the services and products previously provided by government that are required in an anarchist society, can and will be provided by the ingenious of the human entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. The difference in a free society is that they will not be a monopoly, and they will be funded voluntarily, instead of at the point of a gun. Groups will form that will offer services that government previously provided, such as building roads, charities to help the poor, organisations to resolve disputes and to oversee contracts, etc. But these companies will be subject to the critical and fussy preferences and demands of their customers, and so will always work toward efficient and socially approved practises or they will be at risk of losing business. Imagine an organisation selling defence and security that actually had to earn your trust and your dollars by proving their proficiency, risk management, and customer care, rather than the forced funding of national defence agencies which have no need to do such things and in fact have a complete monopoly on force and so are inevitably corruptible (and actually PROFIT from situations where they ‘defend’ us). There will no doubt be people who are concerned with the wellbeing and responsible management of the environment, so how might we address this need without the state to oversee such matters? Perhaps a group of people come together (and surely other competing groups would too) with the goal to investigate large-scale industry impacts on the environment and collect the relevant data, and provide up-to-date information to concerned consumers in order to facilitate conscious and informed decisions in the market place. If enough people are concerned about the actions taken by a certain corporation which is harming the environment in some way, then they could express their concerns through their purchase power, through petitions and public media, utilising the power of reputation and social approval to make or break an economic venture. Concerned about corporate greed and power to dominate? Me too, and this is also a big question mark. But one thing we know for sure is that without the powerful arm of the state and lobbying, subsidies and legal protections, corporations will lose their politically enforced advantages and be at the mercy of public approval just like everyone else. Direct and real-time democracy will be in action through an economy that is subject only to the whims of informed and conscientious consumers, rather than the deep pockets of political lobbyists and corporate interest groups. The framework for checks and balances on business practises instead of coming from a law-book will come from the concerned individuals themselves and their communities on whom business depend for support.
The same idea could apply to personal grievances, wherein the reputation of the individual is a necessity to their success and acceptance in society. Dealing with dangerous human beings may end up taking a totally different approach without government involvement. A society might choose to focus more on prevention, and rehabilitation, rather than prisons and the perpetuity of violence in the families which is so often the cause of criminality. But we know for sure that in a free society, there will be no prison-industrial complexes and police forces that profit from criminality, and the society will have all their resources aimed at preventing circumstances which create criminals, such as traumatic childhoods and violent parenting. The society will literally profit from peace, as insurance companies will have to pay whenever violence and crime occur. Society of course will need a way to encourage good behaviour and discourage destructive behaviour, and social ostracism is a powerful tool in this way, especially when one’s survival is dependent on his networks and economic relationships. If a person acts in a way that is detrimental to others, the society has the ability to bar the person from the life-supporting benefits of living within a community. Instead of using laws backed by the guns of the state to threaten people into behaving, it will become economically and socially essential to to one’s survival to maintain amicable relationships to members of their community. In regulating behaviour, social approval will be the carrot, and social ostracism the stick, leaving everything up to individual choice.
From the above examples of how an anarchist society might work, we can see that a significant factor of the success of such a free society is it’s reliance on the participation of the individual. It relies on transparency in community and industry practises, it relies on well informed consumers, and above all, it relies on a citizenry who understand that they are responsible for their own lives, choices, and consequences of their actions. It will be a citizenry who understand that no-one else is going to express concerns for things on behalf of them, that if they believe the poor need help, or the environment needs protecting, or that a company is supporting unethical practises, then they must take it upon themselves (in partnership with others with similar interests) to address such concerns. People want to feel safe, to be protected from risk and dangerous people, and so the marketplace will provide solutions to this. Free and public databases could exist that provide transaction and interaction histories of people and organisations to help guide consumer choices, just like how eBay, Couchsurfing, AirB’n’B and many other communities work today. Your evaluation of that hotel you just stayed in will become the regulator, so next time booking.com send you an email to review something, participate! Your opinions will become an essential element in creating a safe environment for your fellow anarchists. This type of voluntarist environment will create a mentality of deep social conscious, awareness and empathy for each other, for the environment, and for the way the world works, where individuals think about what they believe in, what they value, and how they want to contribute and connect. People will need to awaken to their place in the world, the choices they make and how they impact the world around them. We will become truly alive!
What we need is a revolution of the mind.
However we might end up satisfying our needs and solving our social problems, the only thing that really matters here is that the community has committed to doing so without the use of violence and coercion, because that is the necessary moral approach to an evolving humanity. One thing I’m looking forward to (in my next life maybe…) is seeing the increased connectedness of a society that understand that community is everything when there is no government babysitting us. As mentioned above, I feel that the major negative impact government has had on us is to isolate and disconnect us from each other and the world. The faceless government welfare programs are not able to transmit the charitable spirit of those funding it, and so the sentiment is lost on the recipients. Imagine the effect of a genuine charitable handout to someone in need, where they can see where the help is coming from, and can truly feel the empathy flowing to them. Unlike the disconnected ‘help’ coming seemingly for ‘free’ from a faceless government, this genuine human interaction of true charity will have a much more positive effect on both the donor and recipient. Rather than giving your tax dollars over by force to government to ‘take care’ of such things, in a free society we would be able to generate true feelings of connection to others and in that way allow human empathy to flourish. Furthermore, without the existence of imaginary borders and group identification based on empty definitions such as nation states, there will be no default ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality, and we would be free to network and form bonds in a voluntary and organic way, with those we choose for whatever purposes, where loyalty is earned not demanded. Might this eradicate racism and international wars? Anarchy is connectivity.
We also need to increase our focus and gain more clarity on universal morality. We need to deconstruct this confused world and recognise some fundamental ‘wrongs’ and ‘rights’ and then live by them with integrity. Education would do well to teach children about principles, responsibility, their rights and natural law, and most importantly, negotiation skills which are essential in a voluntarist society. We need to create a community that focuses on virtue, kindness and creativity and rewards these things, while discouraging harmful behaviours. Right now the opposite is true, where lack of empathy is rewarded in the cut-throat corporate world, where money rules over creativity, and lies and deception are cornerstone values in politics. Much of the new human that is required for a mentality that is ripe for anarchy, is going to have to be a result of good parenting practises, where the child is brought up without being hit, and is not forced to simply obey authority for reasons unexplained to them. The rigid hierarchical structures of family structures, of schools, and of religious organisations, has raised a human being with a deep belief and dependence on authority, leading to the passive acceptance and sanctioning of the unnatural power of government. We must breed out the belief in authority, and the addiction to violence as a means of solving problems, and the idea of government will seem nonsensical and evil. Anarchy cannot be imposed, it cannot be selected as a chosen ideology and then inflicted upon an immature society. It must be learned and earned through the development of moral thought. It must come via a revolution of the mind and spiritual evolution which understands and accepts natural law, and that voluntarism is the only moral way forward.
Pipe dream? Maybe. Generations away? Definitely. But the reason why the theory behind anarchy is considered goes much deeper that just entertaining thoughts on how cool it would be if this or that. Anarchy is about understanding what is right, and having the courage and integrity to apply these principles to one’s life. It is a resetting of the game to replace every coercive interaction with the core principle of voluntarism. Thus far we have relied on force to solve social problems, and this has led to a traumatised and misguided humanity with a deep belief in authority, and who has forgotten what it means to be free. Without highly developed empathy, negotiation skills, and a social conscience, the human condition as it stands right now is not fit for the type of mentality required for a free society. But the human condition is what we choose to experience.
You probably have a ton of questions that have not been sufficiently addressed here, and I can honestly say that I do not know the answers. But if you, like me, feel a deep resonance to the philosophical principles outlined here as the basis for considering anarchy, then I urge you to continue your exploration on this fascinating and rabbit-hole deep topic. The point is that I have no idea how society should run, I have no idea how people should live their lives. And this is the reason why I am unwilling to support a system which is based on a majority of people voting in a few sociopaths to enforce their beliefs and preferences on everybody else (and thats if it’s a democracy, which is hardly what you could call it).
So, I’m not going to continue sugar coating all this stuff in sweet and fluffy morality talk. At the end of the day it all just comes down to whether or not you believe in the good in humanity. It can be quite simple really, this choice. Just ask yourself: “Do I coerce others in my life at the moment? Or am I capable of negotiation to get by? Do I not rape or murder only because there is a law waiting to punish me, or do I have a real moral conscience guiding me?” The answers lie within you. We need to stop answering these questions on behalf of others, stop trying to dictate how others should live, stop trying to macro-manage the economy, and start to explore our own values and actually live them. We are not just victims of our environment with no capacity to make conscious choices. Our path is not set, we have a choice. It is up to each individual to make this choice and stand by it with integrity, and no one else can make it for them. Don’t worry about trying to save the world, ‘society’ doesn’t exist, it’s just a whole lot of individuals acting according to their beliefs (or like sheep). Being an anarchist just means you have made the choice to join ‘Team Good’. Despite our violent past, where we have come from, the traumatic childhoods, the centuries of war, I believe we can make choices that override the influence these factors have on who we are. By making the choice, we define ourselves. In one of my favourite books, Dumbledore says to Harry Potter; “It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are”.
For more, see:
History of education system – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZp7eVJNJuw
“Atlas Shrugged” a book By Ayn Rand
Anarchy explained - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__vv6eRj2-k
Adam Kokesh on Anarchy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKutQK4FYPs
Stefan Molyneux a great interview on Anarchy – http://youtu.be/DBd8ZkQwFJs
Stefan Molyneux answer FAQ about anarchy – http://youtu.be/60veZm9ZbyU
Mark Passio on natural law NAP and SD – http://youtu.be/204aGDVa3Vw
“Practical Anarchy” a book By Stefan Molyneux