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Anarchist Theory

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posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 04:02 PM
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In any discussion, it's good to establish definitions first. Anarchy is not the same as chaos. Chaos is when all expectation of civil behavior has broken down. This can happen in any system or lack thereof. Historically, it happens when the state fails to live up to its expected role as protector and independent arbiter. We saw that recently in New Orleans where chaos ensued after the state abandoned the citizenry. Yet, at no moment was New Orleans in a stateless position.

Anarchy also does not mean a lack of any rules, or expectations. All it means is that there is no central authority setting those rules and expectations. Instead, they emerge directly from the expectations of members as the result of wise decisions of private arbiters.

What most people don't realize, is that for most of recorded history, the vast majority of people in civilized societies have lived in a state of effective anarchy. The kings of old did not provide legislative, executive or adjudication services for the average citizen. They were in business for themselves and cared only about collecting tributes and protecting their own interests. Law was common law. Policing and adjudication were private affairs as well except in cases of treason or failure to pay tribute or fight for the king on demand.

Common law, private policing arrangements, and private arbitration are the historical norm for nonroyals. It's only in the last few hundred years that states began to assume these roles.

There is no perfect system, but anarchy has historical precedent within civilized societies.

For anyone interested in an excruciatingly detailed and well documented study of historical and theoretical anarchy, get a copy of Bruce Benson's "The Enterprise of Law". The best deal is to purchase it directly from the Pacific Research Institute.

If you find it too difficult to believe that people act in their own best interests and respond to costs and incentives, you'll never comprehend anarchy.




posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 06:43 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham
What most people don't realize, is that for most of recorded history, the vast majority of people in civilized societies have lived in a state of effective anarchy. The kings of old did not provide legislative, executive or adjudication services for the average citizen. They were in business for themselves and cared only about collecting tributes and protecting their own interests. Law was common law. Policing and adjudication were private affairs as well except in cases of treason or failure to pay tribute or fight for the king on demand.


Odd...

Canon Law itself has existed for 1600 years.
To claim the Roman's, Egyptian's, et al didn't have any form of law or legal system is a joke to be honest.

The "King" etc, would set up offices and give people the powers to make laws. The idea of "Magistrates" comes from this.

Anarchy is a pipe-dream.

If we had it and it failed, why should we go back to a system which will likely result in the same problems all over again?



posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 10:42 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
To claim the Roman's, Egyptian's, et al didn't have any form of law or legal system is a joke to be honest.


Is that what I said? Odd, I thought I qualified it.


Originally posted by Odium
The "King" etc, would set up offices and give people the powers to make laws. The idea of "Magistrates" comes from this.


My mistake then. I thought we were talking about civilized cultures as a whole and not simply a few that did happen to resemble current systems.


Originally posted by Odium
Anarchy is a pipe-dream.


Perhaps, but that doesn't diminish its historicity nor its virtues.


Originally posted by Odium
If we had it and it failed, why should we go back to a system which will likely result in the same problems all over again?


If you consider failure as the inability to remain in place purpetually, maybe you'd like to point out a few ancient state systems that still exist today so we can all learn to succeed.



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 02:54 AM
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Originally posted by Odium
To claim the Roman's, Egyptian's, et al didn't have any form of law or legal system is a joke to be honest.

Originally posted by spamandham
Is that what I said? Odd, I thought I qualified it.


Yes, but you tried to make out that the modern legal system has nothing in common with the older systems which existed while their was a state of "Anarchy" which is wrong.


Originally posted by Odium
The "King" etc, would set up offices and give people the powers to make laws. The idea of "Magistrates" comes from this.

Originally posted by spamandham
My mistake then. I thought we were talking about civilized cultures as a whole and not simply a few that did happen to resemble current systems.


Name them then.


Originally posted by Odium
Anarchy is a pipe-dream.

Originally posted by spamandham
Perhaps, but that doesn't diminish its historicity nor its virtues.


But there is no proof that a system of Anarchy did exist.


Originally posted by Odium
If we had it and it failed, why should we go back to a system which will likely result in the same problems all over again?

Originally posted by spamandham
If you consider failure as the inability to remain in place purpetually, maybe you'd like to point out a few ancient state systems that still exist today so we can all learn to succeed.


I do believe we only have one Ancient System of Government still running to this day - in its true form and that'd be in Switzerland.

Most "Older" style Government's failed, due to the fact they were no good. The idea that "Anarchy" existed, which has yet to be displayed, would have fallen into a level of facism and/or dictatorship. Both of those are a system of Government I would not wish upon anyone.



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 12:00 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
[Yes, but you tried to make out that the modern legal system has nothing in common with the older systems which existed while their was a state of "Anarchy" which is wrong.


I don't recall doing any such thing. Perhaps you should actually just read what I posted rather than trying to psychoanalyze my intent.


Originally posted by Odium
Name them then.


Pretty much every English speaking country/colony prior to ~1700. Prior to that, common law was the legal system. Adjudication and policing functions were also private for ordinary citizens. The modern day concept of statutory law where all crimes are actually crimes against the state, policed by the state, and adjudicated by the state is really only a few hundred years old. Most of the arguments against anarchy are historically proven to be red herrings. The strongest argument against it is the defense against other invading states.


Originally posted by Odium
But there is no proof that a system of Anarchy did exist.


You've obviously done 0 research on this topic and are shooting from the hip. There are numerous historical examples of pure anarchy, and even more of psuedo-anarchy (private law, private police, private adjudication within the context of a state).



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 12:11 PM
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Give a Nation by name then, rather than assumed knowledge about parts of Africa, Asia, North America, Australia, etc.

In fact, many Native American Tribes [Kanien'kehá:ka for example] did have a system of punishment for crimes against the "State". [State of course being the tribe itself.] In fact, many of the areas that were invaded prior to the 1700's did have a form of "authority setting those rules and expectations".

Authoirty of course being; "The power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge." - so in that context, someone who was able to create laws. To claim that the Iroquois confederation, didn't have a form of Government is highly insulting to us and is highly insulting to the other Nation's, which you make out didn't either. In fact, the oldest living democracy is that of a Colony which the English invaded prior to the 1700's... [Hau de no sau nee.]

So...name those tribes?



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 01:50 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
Give a Nation by name then, rather than assumed knowledge about parts of Africa, Asia, North America, Australia, etc.


England. Scottland. Wales. These and numerous others at one point fit the description I gave of effective anarchy for ordinary people.


Originally posted by Odium
In fact, many Native American Tribes [Kanien'kehá:ka for example] did have a system of punishment for crimes against the "State".


I'm not claiming that all of history up to recently was anarchic. You can find numerous counter examples, because they are there to find. But that doesn't diminish the historical examples of anarchy and psuedo-anarchy (anarchy among the masses within a state system).

The distinguishing feature of a state is monopolistic control of territory. Anarchy does not imply a lack of authority, nor a lack of government. It implies a lack of monopolistic authority and monopolistic government.


Originally posted by Odium
To claim that the Iroquois confederation, didn't have a form of Government is highly insulting to us


Good thing I never said any such thing then isn't it?



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 02:24 PM
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So your arguement is, because Scotland had several groups who all had control of several pieces of land, that it was anarchy?

Exclusive possession or control = monopolistic

A Nation isn't defined by its borders, as they shift over time. Each of those Nation's you speak of had an established Government/group, who could make laws and claimed control over the land for the last several thousand years.

[Atlas of World History by Patrick K. O'Brien].

So name, the society where it existed...


Originally posted by spamandham
The distinguishing feature of a state is monopolistic control of territory. Anarchy does not imply a lack of authority, nor a lack of government. It implies a lack of monopolistic authority and monopolistic government.


Those places all had people claiming the land and trying to keep control of it, the problem was that other Nation's also wanted it and thus wars were fought but there still was an authority in each region.

[A History of the British Isles]



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 03:02 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
So your arguement is, because Scotland had several groups who all had control of several pieces of land, that it was anarchy?


No, it was effective anarchy for ordinary people. Why do you find it so difficult to comprehend that a state can exist and at the same time not provide to the masses the services of law, police, adjudication and infrastructure deemed essential in modern states? I have not claimed Scottland as an example of anarchy, but an example of pseudo-anarchy, for which I provided a definition.


Originally posted by Odium
A Nation isn't defined by its borders, as they shift over time.


A state is defined by the territory it controls. I'm intentionally avoiding the word 'nation' as it's ambiguous. It sometimes refers to a state, sometimes to a land mass, and sometimes to a nomadic tribe.


Originally posted by Odium
So name, the society where it existed...


Since you seem obsessed with discussing only pure anarchy, medieval Iceland.


Originally posted by Odium
Those places all had people claiming the land and trying to keep control of it, the problem was that other Nation's also wanted it and thus wars were fought but there still was an authority in each region.


History is the history of nation states. It's extremely difficult to get historical information outside that context, which is why I've emphasized pseudo-anarchy and not pure anarchy.

I am not claiming these regions had no dominant authority. The claim is that such an authority did not provide anything of value to most ordinary people. Most ordinary people lived under the same conditions as pure anarchy, except that they had to pay tribute and honor to the state. I'm also not claiming this to be the case in all societies.

It is only in the last few hundred years that states began widespread provision of the services of statutory law, police, and justice to ordinary people - the very services which are now claimed impossible to be privately offered. There are also examples of ancient public works projects. But these benefited only those who lived in the cities - a small percentage of the population.



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 04:02 PM
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But they were involved in the day to day lives of the people.

Like it or not, those people had to pay tribute to them and if they couldn't afford it their could be a lot of problems. Thus they always had to make enough food or whatever they did to make sure they could pay tribute.

It is the same now in many respects and also is that really the Anarchy you wish to live in?



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 04:52 PM
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Originally posted by Odium
But they were involved in the day to day lives of the people.

Like it or not, those people had to pay tribute to them and if they couldn't afford it their could be a lot of problems. Thus they always had to make enough food or whatever they did to make sure they could pay tribute.

It is the same now in many respects and also is that really the Anarchy you wish to live in?


Like you pointed out numerous times, these are not examples of actual anarchy, but rather, examples of the raw nature of the state - self promotion.

I don't know if all aspects of anarchy are workable or not. I do know that there are numerous historical examples to draw from where public works, legislation, police, and adjudication have been private enterprises for ordinary people (psuedo-anarchy). The weakest aspect of anarchy is the ability to provide a coordinated defense against a large scale aggressor such as an external state.

But, each state model has built from the infrastructure of prior models. Modern republics emerged from constitutional monarchies combined with widespread education, which emerged from absolute monarchies with ignorant masses, which emerged from feudalism, etc. Is anarchy the next logical step in that evolution? If you start from a base of well educated highly organized (private organization) citizens, is a state still necessary or inevitable?

The real question in my mind is whether or not present day civilization has reached a point where civilization can thrive without a central state, including the ability to mount a coordinated defense against serious aggressors. Of additional concern is can a transition be made in a peacefull way? If so, then yes, I would like to live in such a way. But even if the answers are no, there is still much to be gleaned by studying anarchy.

We don't live in a black and white world. It is possible to take advantage of aspects of a 'system' without totally embracing it. If the enterprise of law were returned to the people, and public works returned to the private sector, that would be a major step in the direction I would like to go even if a state still existed for common defense and treaties with other states.



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 04:56 PM
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Than, spamandham, I suggest you look at how Switzerland works. It highly is local level Government's, which hardly answer back to the National Government unless it is a case of referendum on an issue...

And the whole population is legally armed, which makes it awkward to invade. In fact, their model of Direct Democracy is something modern Nation's need to work towards because it works and hasn't been abused since the 1800's...



posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 01:04 AM
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Originally posted by Odium
Than, spamandham, I suggest you look at how Switzerland works. It highly is local level Government's, which hardly answer back to the National Government unless it is a case of referendum on an issue...


Local is better. Less centralized is better. I have not looked into Switzerland, so I have no idea whether it's present form is essentially the same as it's form 1000 years ago, nor do I know why it has survived as a state for so long. Until I were to investigate in detail, I have no way of knowing why it has lasted so long.


Originally posted by Odium
And the whole population is legally armed, which makes it awkward to invade.


Well then, perhaps the same could be said of an anarchic region. If so, then the last argument in favor of the state would collapse. An armed an educated population may be all that's necessary to finally shed the shackles of state oppression.



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