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Dear non-anarchists,

 
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:I think we can all agree that there has been no communities without some sorts of hierarchy.



No, I don't agree with that.  Egalitarian bands don't have hierarchy.  
 
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Every primitive society I've ever heard of had leaders or chiefs of some type. Which didn't? Or are we defining hierarchy differently? I define it as a situation where some members of a group have more influence then others. In any case, children generally had less influence!
 
Tyler Ludens
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This is the definition I'm using:

"hi·er·ar·chy

noun
a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority."

In an egalitarian band, chiefs or elders have no higher status than children, as all are considered vital to survival of the band.  No one individual is more important than (ranked above) another, as the band is dependent on all individuals.  Chiefs and elders may have more authority* (knowledge, ability to make decisions) than children, but not greater importance.    

*I'm using the word "authority" here in the sense of "Joseph is an authority on plant breeding" not in the sense of having power over another.

 
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As I read that definition, "according to status or authority" can include authority as the only factor, and such bands would have some members with more experience or wisdom, thus accorded more authority on matters. Granted, the ranking would be far closer to flat than rigid caste systems, but it would exist.
 
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mmm I am a little confused as I am not aware of any egalitarian bands outside of theory books a bit like the example of the writing miles gave earlier for anarchy.
Now in the past I have read lots of political stuff that first of all starts with inventing its own definitions and then goes on to explain the perfect society  most of it from the marxist /lennonist /trostkist factions  I will admit . The problem I see is that we dont start with a blank page rather we have the weight of history genetics and expectations to deal with , read Des capital for more on that . I think it is best to start from where we are not where we would like to be .https://global.britannica.com/topic/Das-Kapital

David
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I think a society where some have more authority, but all are considered equally valuable/ important, would still fit the definition of hierarchy given above. Status is a funny thing; it can be informal but still present. Definitely in family groups in almost all primitive societies the father had more status then other members, and older more then younger.

But anyway, Tyler, which historic groups fit your definition of egalitarian bands? And how did they police themselves and or defend against outsiders?

 
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John Weiland wrote:In some regards, I liken this discussion to standing at an open well...



If I'm understanding you correctly, it seems that the "water" in your metaphor of the well symbolizes something like "the ability to get necessary things done." The "broken pump" symbolizes "unsustainable civilization" and the "bucket" symbolizes "sustainable tribalism."

To extend the metaphor, anarchists contend that the "well" of hierarchy is by no means the only source of water available, nor the closest, nor even the cleanest or most thirst-quenching. We contend that every individual is a potential spring of creativity, ingenuity, and passion. That if only these springs are unblocked and allowed to flow freely we will have more than enough water to both quench our own thirsts and to pool together our energies in order achieve ever more inspiring and beautiful existences of joy and abundance. Let us abandon the stagnant well full of poisonous sludge and instead unleash a clear-flowing river of life, freedom, and endlessly dynamic possibilities.

Tyler Ludens wrote:Are there any functional examples of anarchic societies (current or extinct)?



Yes, many. As you yourself alluded to, egalitarian bands of hunter-gatherers were the norm throughout most of human history. But contrary to the claims of anti-civ theorists, agriculture and civilization did not always lead to hierarchy and statism. Allow me to draw your attention to the ancient city of Çatalhöyük, circa 7500-5700BCE.

wikipedia wrote:Çatalhöyük had no apparent social classes, as no houses with distinctive features (belonging to royalty or religious hierarchy, for example) have been found so far. The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and seeming to have equal social status...



Wikipedia also lists a few examples of anarchist communities. One important thing to note is that states typically view anarchic experiments as a threat and almost universally attempt to co-opt or destroy them, meaning that many communities must maintain a degree of secrecy in order to avoid repression. This makes learning from their insights and experiences more difficult, just one more way that statism impedes scientific progress.

That said, in many ways, anarchy is alive and thriving, wherever and whenever people relate to one another as equals and engage in voluntary cooperation. In the cracks and interstices of state-dominated society, everyday anarchy blooms.

Tyler Ludens wrote:

William Gillis wrote:Power is built on force, and while the crude measure of the 2nd Amendment at least recognizes this, the self-disarmament of liberals and the ideological capture of many armed “libertarians” by white identity politics and authoritarian national collectivism have together opened a window that Bannon is exploiting.

To me this seems to be saying that because liberals and progressives didn't gun-up, they have allowed Bannon to take power.


Liberals didn't just not personally "gun-up," they actively collaborated and continue to collaborate to put millions of guns (and countless tanks and drones and missiles and intrusive surveillance equipment) into the hands of the police and the military. Liberals actively constructed an immensely powerful police state designed to be capable of crushing all dissent and that apparatus has now been (predictably) seized by ruthless sociopaths who have no qualms with using it.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:There is actual violence, and there is symbolic violence... I see very little violence actually associated with collecting taxes, or enforcing regulations. The violence is mostly symbolic...


The threat of violence associated with laws and taxes is not merely symbolic, it is the actual threat of actual violence.

Yes, as you point out, the state only occasionally has to follow through on their threats because for many people, coercion, (the threat of violence,) is sufficient to compel compliance. But that doesn't make the coercion any less actual, nor does it justify the actual violence committed against those who do not obey and who fail to avoid capture.

Karl Treen wrote:Somalia



Claiming that the unfortunate current situation in Somalia is a stateless society is, again, to conflate "chaotic rule by warlords" with "the absence of rulers." Somalia is a particularly classic example because the Xeer, a traditional non-state form of jurisprudence practiced for centuries by the Somali people, has been repressed and (partially) supplanted only through decades of violent intervention by European states. War-torn modern Somalia in many ways exemplifies the opposite of the peaceful social order of anarchy: a clear case of "a state of disorder due to the presence or recognition of authority." This doesn't stop the Somali people from continuing to attempt to determine the course of their own lives, however, and even in the face of civil strife their decentralized telecommunications industry offers the cheapest and most reliable cellphone service on the continent.

The seeds and sprouts of anarchy are everywhere if only one bothers to look.

Again, I find myself short of time before I can address all the points I would like to. But for now, for those interested in what actual anarchists have to say, as opposed to what novelists have to say about fictional anarchists, I recommend the resources here: Anarchism 101
 
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This is too juicy not to take a bite of.

David L wrote:

Anarchy to me equals chaos if its not chaos then its not anarchy its something organised .

 It may equal that to you, David, but the definition of anarchy is simply 'without rulers', not  'without rules'.  Many justify dismissing anarchy, anarchism, and anarchists because they associate these concepts with chaos, and this is because these folks are ultimately confusing these anarchistic concepts with Nihilism.  Nihilism is every man for himself, fuck the consequences.  Trump is a nihilist, and a Fascist, and a Capital Criminal in my mind...  But that's a different rant.  

If we study the history of anarchists, anarchism, and anarchy, we will find that the great social movements are actual based in these concepts, because they encapsulate freedom from oppression, responsibility, and collective goals... pretty much permaculture, if it was a political movement, from what I can tell.  In such study you will also find the rare occasion when someone with the title of anarchist has blown something up, or has assassinated someone; it is these last examples which the modern use of the word Anarchy has unfortunately come to be, which is essentially defined by nihilism, but this definition has been grabbed by the media and the powers of the conservative universities steering the group mind.

Gilbert F wrote:

We should work to ensure we have more leaders,

 In anarchy, we assume that we are all leaders, and take responsibility for our decisions/actions.  We do not expect other people to tell us how to live; in fact we find this insulting to our inherent intelligence.  We assume, in fact that the rulers do not know how we should live.  Just as we have all the tools and information to transform this planet if we as individuals focus on permaculture, so to is our 'political' world transformed by our taking our lives and our communities into our own hands.



   Tyler L wrote:

       abolish positions of power like the presidency



   Curious to know what is the mechanism for accomplishing this.  Some people seem to think it is by not voting, but recently that didn't prove to work very effectively.

Evan P responded:
There is no single mechanism. There is no magic lever we can pull or refrain from pulling that will abolish positions of power like the presidency. There are, however, a diversity of tactics we can pursue towards that end.

We can start by explicitly rejecting the legitimacy of positions of power, and encouraging widespread resistance to injustice. By calling attention to both specific instances of domination and the phenomena of power relations more broadly, and consistently voicing opposition to all power relations on ethical and pragmatic grounds, we can encourage a society and culture of radical intellectual vigilance that is more resistant to both overt and subtle tyranny. By getting out in the streets and engaging in public protest we can remind those living under the threat of repression that they are not alone, that they have allies, that together we have hope. By backing up our words with direct action, by helping and protecting immigrants and refugees to freely travel and live, by using, expanding, and sharing tools and knowledge like permaculture and encrypted communication that can enable individuals to overcome dependence on harmful systems, by doing our best to minimize or eliminate our support of harmful systems like the state and to increase our support of peaceful, voluntary, and sustainable alternatives. As the world changes so must our approach and we will need to engage with and develop new tactics based on circumstance, but maintaining a consistent ethical orientation in favor of the expansion of individual agency can inform our choice of which means to use in order to achieve our desired ends.  

 I agree with Evan...  on these points, except that I would caution tipping the balance of the amount of energy that is spend resisting what you don't want, and place the majority of your energy building the world you do want.

Be the change you want to see in the world.  

I trust that America will ultimately come to terms with it's petty dictatorship and incredibly retarded political system and become a socially responsible nation of individuals and communities through various means of real anarchy, or it will dissolve into something that is very ugly, very nihilistic, but... not anarchistic at all.  It's your choice. Every action, every decision, every interaction... these are your democracy, fueled by the desire for freedom and justice.  Build your community, and heal this mess, or stay a collective of individuals acting for themselves alone and be divided/conquered by the powers that you continue to let be.

   
 
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To throw another Catholic into the mix, ala Chesterton, I think Lord Acton summed up the best argument for anarchy, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Might also add that the earliest form of 'economy' was mutual obligation, per David Graeber et al.  
 
David Livingston
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Çatalhöyük had no apparent social classes,
Just because there is no evidence of a social structure does not mean there was none . A different interpretation could be that we have not found any evidence yet. It was a long time ago may be the rulers lived somewhere else since destroyed for example . The " village " could have been a slave encampment for example etc etc too many unknowns for me to accept this as evidence .

David
 
David Livingston
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Wikipedia also lists a few examples of anarchist communities. One important thing to note is that states typically view anarchic experiments as a threat and almost universally attempt to co-opt or destroy them, meaning that many communities must maintain a degree of secrecy in order to avoid repression. This makes learning from their insights and experiences more difficult, just one more way that statism impedes scientific progress.

I enjoyed this part of your argument . To me it's wonderfully circular takes me back to my old days of sparing with the SWP. Briefly a list is made of groups who have bravely tried something new ( and fair play to them for that we agree ) but it did not last not because there was any flaw with their concepts but the " statists " stopped them . Another interpretation could be that simply their system did not work . I am still not convinced .
I also liked the touch about secret societies having the answer that trope has been doing the rounds since the masons and the illuminati .

David
 
David Livingston
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Robert
If instread of rulers you say leaders to me anarchy has alway implied without leaders and that where I have issue as I have never come across a system that had leadership that did not come with out advantage , hierarchy power and patronage. The classic story about this is animal farm of course.

David
 
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Alot (sp) of wonderful discussion here.
The French anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote,

"Whoever puts their hand upon me to govern me is a usurper, a tyrant, and I declare them my enemy."

While I think this is generally true, I'm also minded of the function of a (mechanical) governor in an engine, it's a device to prevent the engine over revving and destroying itself. Thus, while a person governing me, or my group is generally to be treated with suspicion, the function of a governing element is a necessary component.

Anarchism is at it's root, IMO, concerned with placing as much responsibility, decisions making and autonomy as possible with the individual. Which is not what the majority of people want, in the book Thinking fast and slow, Daniel Kahneman makes the observation that thinking, (as opposed to coming to conclusions that you like emotionally) costs energy, and people (generally speaking) will always tend to choose the easy option.

Having said all that, I still hold that it's true that anarcho-syndicalism is generally the direction to head in, it still tends to founder on the rocks of unionism and class struggle and heavy left-wing politics, which is why I see movements such as the transition town having a better chance of creating meaningful change.

By the way, has anybody read Lean Logic by David Flemming?
 
nancy sutton
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Maybe we'll have the chance to 'try out' anarchism in the (near?) future.  A prominent historian's prognosis:
" Modern representative democracy, he (Spengler) pointed out, has no effective defenses against corruption by wealth, and so could be expected to evolve into corporate-bureaucratic plutocracies that benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else. Those left out in the cold by these transformations, in turn, end up backing what Spengler called Caesarism—the rise of charismatic demagogues who challenge and eventually overturn the corporate-bureaucratic order. "

Factor in climate change, and devolution maybe inevitable.  To the level of the individual, though?
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Robert
If instread of rulers you say leaders to me anarchy has alway implied without leaders and that where I have issue as I have never come across a system that had leadership that did not come with out advantage , hierarchy power and patronage. The classic story about this is animal farm of course.  

 The problem here, is that the anarchy that you feel that you are observing isn't really anarchy.  What it is, is people rebelling against rulers or authority, which has some similarities but is very different.  Without people assuming responsibility for their actions (leading through example) we end in either chaos (as you describe the leaderless state of so called anarchy), or authoritarianism (where some figure or group assumes power over all others).  In anarchy, we assume leadership over our own lives, and within the associations which we choose to become involved with, not over other people.  We might suggest to them that there is a new or different way of looking at something, or of doing something, but it is going to be their choice.  As such, Anarchism can be ultimately the most democratic form of representation. It's all about choice but in it's true form, it is also all about responsibility, and as such we expect that others will be responsible for their actions.  We do not assume authority over others in any of our associations with others, but only over our part within it, and what we contribute to it.  Leadership is a trait found in few, only because we only seem to place value in it when we give other people the power in this culture (but this culture is very messed up, based on cyclical patterns of oppression dating back before the Romans invaded the rest of Europe.  This cyclical pattern of violence, coercion, authority, is a culture that has been imposed upon our collective mind, not an truism that must be followed.  To assume that as humans we must give our power away in order to have structure in our culture and our lives is, to me quite ridiculous, but it is one of the powers (if believed) that allows that status quo to carry on, with very little change allowed.

HI Rus,

The French anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote,

"Whoever puts their hand upon me to govern me is a usurper, a tyrant, and I declare them my enemy."  

  I am a huge fan of Proudhon's anarchy, but in his philosophy and his other writings there are, what I would consider flaws. The Spunk Library has a great write up on him, here My personal view of anarchism is something between his initiating anarchist model and kropotkin's Mutual Aid, with some Syndicalism and Collectivism thrown in,  Kropotkin's book is perhaps the best definition of my style of anarchy around, but the foundation of anarchy as laid out by Proudhon stands quite solidly on it's own as the key example that should be followed, because, his is, as Spunk rights "an anarchism based upon a potential within actually existing society", rather than something that has to be imposed from the outside, or in some utopian ideal; the latter of which is why so many people fail to give credence to anarchism, and feel that it is unrealistic.

Many view anarchism as something that will eventually be usurped by communism, but that is only because the flower of true communalism has never been allowed to flourish under the boot, right or left, of oppressive forces who we have allowed to rise to power over us.

We are at a unique point in history, in that we have an almost infinite supply of information about such things, and as such we can potentially sidestep the coercive forces and allow them to flounder, flail, and fail at building their world of false security, while we build a real sustainable and healthy collective society of mutual aid and true security.  Join together, friends and neighbors, communities are the pattern of the Earth.  
 
Roberto pokachinni
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In Canada we have our own version, but it wears a happier face, and was won by outright lying, as opposed to telling the 'alternative facts' and dominating the media in this way.  Unfortunately I bought the lie, here in Canada.  You see, even though I'm an anarchist, I still vote.

I voted for the Liberal party of Canada, and consequently Justin Trudeau for two reasons.  One was that ,our country was ruled by someone more like Trump (in that he acted more autocratically than previous prime ministers) for nearly a decade, named Steven Harper, and our local MP was from his Conservative party.  The other reason was because of Trudeau's promises made during and repeated after the election, which he is either floundering on, or has completely rejected since coming to power.  

The most pressing of these, and the main reason that I voted Liberal was because he stated that the most recent election was going to be the last election run on the first past the post system, which by his own admission won his election in a 'false majority'

Despite this, he got to power and tried to form a committee stacked with his party people to figure out the question of voting reform!  This stacking of the committee was rejected by popular demand (an anarchist move, if ever there was one).  He then was forced to form a committee with people from the other parties having strong representation.  This group was given a mandate to conclude the best voting system for the country.  The committee came up with Proportional Representation.  This was not to the Liberal liking, since they, under Trudeau, wanted the system to change, but to Ranked Ballots.  So, Trudeau fired his minister for democratic reform, a woman who was only doing as she was told by him, but only after he completely threw her under the bus by having her state that the committee did not do it's job (which it fully had, even to the letter of the mandate set out by the Liberals), and then he hired another woman to the job (since he is claiming to be a feminist and has the most female ministers in office ever in Canada), and to make the announcement that changing the voting system was not in the interest of Canada (thus throwing her under the bus as well)... and so that's how it has stood for a few days.  We shall see what the people do about that.  

You see, many people voted liberal for the same reasons that I did.  They wanted to strip Steven Harper of his power, and they wanted to change the voting system to Proportional Representation.  If the last election was actually proportional representation and people voted the same as they did in the election, then Justin Trudeau would still be the Prime Minister, but the members of parliament would be split more evenly with the other parties, thus giving more voice for the people who voted for other parties.  

The interesting thing is that if the system had already been proportional representation I, and many other people, would have voted Green or for independent candidates instead of Liberal since these people more encapsulated their life choices with their platforms, and so Justin Trudeau might have had an even lesser stage to play his politics on.

So even if the American public demanded similar voter reform to proportional representation, a VERY different situation could come to your country in a hurry that is much more representative of the masses, and people would be much more inclined to vote if such as system (where their vote truly mattered and was able to gain representation), was in place.  There are options to explore.  But it's going to take a lot of people standing up and taking their power back and being the leaders that your constitution and amendments allow you to be.

 
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Gilbert Fritz wrote: Every primitive society I've ever heard of had leaders or chiefs of some type. Which didn't? Or are we defining hierarchy differently? I define it as a situation where some members of a group have more influence then others. In any case, children generally had less influence!



Gilbert, many of the tribal people around the world did not have leaders or chiefs, until the term was put on them by Europeans. Many of these people were actually matriarchal council "ruled", which just didn't fit with the European sensibilities. A man had to be in power, not a council of women. It should also be noted many of these tribes had no official leadership even if they had a council which is why ruled was in quotes. While there might have been councils of elders, or women, or warriors these councils often had no authority to tell others what to do. They made suggestions, but there was nothing binding in what they suggested. Suggestions were often ignored, by some or many of the others in the tribe. These councils were just a body of respected people who commonly had good advice. Not elected leaders, or inherited leadership. These respected people could easily be ignored or challenged by anyone in the tribe. These leaders also could be replaced by someone new speaking more wisdom regularly, or the leader saying too many dumb things. Because they didn't actually hold a real position, it is just one of respect for their general ability to give good advice. Most any tribe with this sort of set up tends to also be well known for great orators. The ability to speak well and sway people is highly developed in such communities. Because in consensus based societies like this, the way things happen is people talk and make convincing arguments for their plans to others. Well spoken oration becomes a trait learned early on and techniques are passed from generation to generation as the kids listen to speech after speech from elders.

As for children. Typically there will always be the simple hierarchy of parent and child. Rare is any society who just lets a child run free as if they are able to decide good vs bad choices. Though many consensus based societies are much more willing to let children give input and attempt things or decide things on their own. While some control is put on children for their safety, a lot more leeway is given to children.
 
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evan l pierce wrote:Thanks for bringing up that good point about the disenfranchised, Joseph. Youth, felons, and undocumented immigrants are some groups that come to mind.


And anarchists...

 
Gilbert Fritz
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If I had a guild of plants that I thought was a great idea, but it kept being taken over by outside, undesired species in the real world, I might realize that it was not such a good idea after all. I had not taken all factors into consideration. Egalitarian/ anarchist societies seem usually to be overrun by hierarchal societies; this may say something about them.

But, all is not lost! With the guild above, I would redesign the guild so that it still met my goals, while fitting better into the landscape.

Since the landscape now contains hierarchal societies, what are the goals of an egalitarian society (the qualities that make it good for humans)? Could those goals be meet in another way? Say, through a Distributist style guild system? (I'm a distributist; thus the specific suggestion.) But in general there are many ways to a particular goal.

As an aside: even in an egalitarian society, if you tried to kill someone in the group, you'd probably run up against coercion!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It's hard for me to discern whether we are currently living in an anarchical society, or in a hierarchical society... Both exist side-by-side in my area.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Tyler L wrote:

As I understand it, band life differs from anarchy because bands are not based on "absolute freedom of the individual" but on the individual's place within the band.

 Absolute freedom still enables the band members to find their place in the band.  Modern tribal life, or Anarchism, would consist of doing as you wish for work, to suit a functioning society, which is what most people would like to do, but for the usury system and other elements of the dominating elite getting their claws into our lives hindering many of us from following our path to freedom, or having the time to organize a new system of positive community inter-relations; this is further undermined by the common misconceptions of what Anarchy is, as Evan well explained.  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who many consider the founder of modern Anarchy is quoted here:

If the sphere of activity of each citizen is determined by the natural division of work and by the choice he makes of a profession, if the social functions are combined in such a way as to produce a harmonious effect, order results from the free activity of all men; there is no government.  

 In permaculture we seek to replicate the order of natural systems (symbiotic patterns of complex inter-relations), which seem chaotic only because we who are schooled by Rulers are used to linear thinking in regards to order, and thus have created systems based on a idea that we have control over select items as separate entities from others, which actually leads to chaos, as in modern industrial chemical agriculture.  Just as in Permaculture, we seek harmonious effect from the products of our labor which we do freely for the benefit of the whole.  As such I view permaculture as a major force of Anarchy globally.  

Tyler L wrote

Sounds like they were political parties and not societies/cultures.  I think this thread is talking about anarchic society/culture, but I may be confused.  

 This is sort of true.  This sort of membership was... somewhat a sign of the times, but Anarchism was never, or almost never, seen as political, or as a political party like the communist party.  The big difference is that most anarchist movements, and societies were anti-political, they were social movements within cultures who rejected the imprisoning strictures of unnecessary laws, while respecting rules which made sense.  Anarchism is more of a philosophy, a way of looking at the world, a way of engaging in our surroundings.  Anarchism claims equality of all, and seeks cooperation above every other option.  

Any social movement which raises freedom and justice, or even seeks to build unity or community where there is a lacking, at any time is an anarchist society within that culture.

Here is a CNN broadcast which contains an interview with one of my favorite of the many modern faces of Anarchy, Emma Ruby-Sachs, Deputy Director of Avaaz (a movement that I have been a part of for 10 years).



 

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Joseph L wrote

It's hard for me to discern whether we are currently living in an anarchical society, or in a hierarchical society... Both exist side-by-side in my area.

 All nations at this time in history have elements of both, even Somalia and other countries held in the grip of an extreme dictatorship.  The world is far more complicated than can be defined by a single societal term... but there are ratios to how much the individual philosophies effect a given person.  The problem, as I see it, is often that regardless of whether we are trying to live as anarchists in this world, the laws of the hierarchal society end up defining much of what is allowed to happen, particularly if the anarchist person wants to live openly within the society as opposed to living in isolation from it.  Again, I will quote Proudhon:  

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-ridden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, checked, appraised, seized, censured, commanded, by beings who have neither title, nor knowledge, nor virtue. To be governed is to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, indorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected.



Joseph L wrote

They mostly aren't maintaining their power by use of actual violence, they are maintaining it by use of symbolic violence, the idea that they could use violence if they chose to.

 While I mostly agree with you, I am not a person of dark skin, poor, with very little opportunity in my neighborhood/life, so I kind of come from a place of extreme privilege being born a white male of moderate income in a community of predominantly social oriented folks, and thus this agreement is biased by my privilege. Even from my perspective of privilege, as a punk, as a hippie, as a person who drives a less than spectacular vehicle, as an outspoken critic of the state, I have felt the presence of the police in my life in ways that were greater than symbolic.  While I agree with almost everything that you wrote in posts in this thread, I felt that this needed to be pointed out from my perspective.  

Another Proudhon quote:

To be governed is, under pretext of public utility and in the name of the general interest, to be laid under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, exhausted, hoaxed and robbed; then, upon the slightest resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, annoyed, hunted down, pulled about, beaten, disarmed, bound, imprisoned, shot, judged, condemned, banished, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.



Karl Treen wrote  

I also agree that we need to create community everywhere. And that the Unites States is not a logical, indivisible unit. It makes no sense except as a union of very different states that come together only for purposes of mutual interest and self defense.

I do not, however, have any trust that humanity is innately generous and good. I live in a neighborhood where people shoot each other with alarming regularity. I believe that we need laws and government to protect us from each other - and from the government itself.

 Basically, Karl, you are an anarchist.  The need to create community everywhere, which you agree with, would heal your neighborhood where people are routinely shooting each other, and, if extrapolated across your country and the world would create a culture where government was no longer necessary as a legal overlord.  The goodness and generosity that come from a neighborhood that begins to function better can be seen in the following short Ted Talk by  Ron Finley: South Central L.A. Guerrilla Gardener It also shows the potential of permaculture to change society.

note: edited for grammatical clarity
 
Gilbert Fritz
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So, in an anarchist small town, where any cooperation is voluntary, somebody is murdered. Each person has a theory as to what happened, but there are many different possibilities and potential culprits. What happens next? I'd like the anarchists here to each trace out a plausible scenario. (Which does not include "this would never happen in an anarchist society.")
 
Devin Lavign
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:So, in an anarchist small town, where any cooperation is voluntary, somebody is murdered. Each person has a theory as to what happened, but there are many different possibilities and potential culprits. What happens next? I'd like the anarchists here to each trace out a plausible scenario. (Which does not include "this would never happen in an anarchist society.")



This is one of the "big problems" skeptics of anarchism love to toss at anarchists. But rather than out right answer for anarchism let us instead think for a moment what happens in our current society if such a thing happens.

What we know from your set up.

#1 someone was murdered
#2 multiple theories and suspects

Well we don't know much now do we. But would we not, investigate, collect clues, narrow down theories to what fits the clues, interview suspects, eliminate those with allibies, narrow focus upon suspects the clues and interview suggest as most probable. Then when you have only one suspect or a group who fit a theory of multiple attackers, take it to court and see if you can convince a jury that the theory works and the person is guilty of a crime.

Now what makes you think a similar course can not be done with an anarchist community? Nothing in there really is defined anarchist or hierarchical. In fact the whole convince the jury part sounds more consensus based decision making, a rather anarchist way of doing things.

This sort of thing is often tossed out as a gottcha question against anarchism. But why does such a thing need a very different approach? The fundamentals would be pretty much the same.
 
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:So, in an anarchist small town, where any cooperation is voluntary, somebody is murdered. Each person has a theory as to what happened, but there are many different possibilities and potential culprits. What happens next? I'd like the anarchists here to each trace out a plausible scenario. (Which does not include "this would never happen in an anarchist society.")



Chances are that no one here will be able to adequately counter all the possible objections to free market justice solutions. But David Friedman has written extensively on just that. Here's a start: http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_29.html

Probably the most important thing I learned from David Friedman (son of Milton) is that under free market anarchy no one person needs to have all the answers. Someone will come up with a solution to whatever problem - likely several someones with competing solutions and eventually the best solutions will win. Under a government system all solutions have to pass a political test, which eliminates many possibly better solutions.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Devin; the biggest question is: once you know who did it, (or think you do) what would you do?  Lock them up in your private basement? Fight off their relatives who came to get them out? You'd need some method of enforcing rules that everyone agreed on; now that is starting to sound like a police force.

Ron:

The private protection agencies theory of Friedman is interesting, but I'm not sure if it would work out smoothly in practice. In any case, I imagine there would always be some who couldn't afford it, and would be marginalized without protection. I'd rather that everyone pays in proportion to their abilities for a service that protects us all. Can such a service be used wrongly? Yes, of course, but abuse does not take away use.

Research the historic private fire companies, and why Ben Franklin decided a public fire company was a good idea. In short, fire hoses tended to be used on rival companies instead of on fires, and nobody wanted to put out a fire in a building owned by a client of a rival company.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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I'm not sure what to say to your posts on this subject Gilbert, but, perhaps, I should begin with the hope that you can think outside the boundaries of the dominant culture when you try to imagine an anarchic society.  

In a tribal culture, or system of tribal or anarchic cultures, there were still, and probably will still be such things as murders and war, and police.  That does not mean that there needs to be a hierarchy of dominion of strong over weak, or rich over poor.   It also does not mean that the group makes an industry of war, policing, and imprisonment.  It also does not mean that their was a continuous need for war, police, and the likelihood of murder within a healthy anarchy would be very rare. What it means is that these cultures have a strong ethical base and basis for collective thoughts on such things, a group of collective mores as it were which bind the lot of them into a cohesive unit because they agree fully with it, inherently because that's who they are, or who they as a group imagine themselves to be, and when that gets broken it's everybody's business, and the responsibility of the group to deal with.  Whether this is the invasion of their home, their homeland, or the of the collective group ethics and values... as in the case of murder; the group is ultimately responsible; it is their failing that has caused this, not solely the problem or guilt of the accused.    

The primary difference though, beyond that is that most of the groups that needed to have such people as police or warriors had what can be termed warrior societies, who acted for the good of the whole tribe, or band, and were very rarely needed, and had other tasks to do generally like hunting, protecting the village from predators, or providing for the elders or infirm, when not needed for such concerns.  

When they were needed, they were very popular and were paid (with status and honor, for the value of their dangerous contribution) well for the task.  Whoa, did I say status?!!!  Yeah... I'll return to that in a bit.  

This is very different from a system of highly organized criminals who operate an 'economic' system which is largely based upon usury, exploitive consumption, and war (where the powers directing the war never touch a weapon or see blood or trauma, but expect the poor within their culture of hierarchy to do so in gratuitous volume, and then when these poor souls return they are often not treated very well considering their often horrifying contribution).  These esteemed individuals who bestow upon themselves the privileges of holding power, wealth, luxury, and freedom call this system a democracy promoting individual rights, freedom of choice, blah, blah, woof, woof... but for a fee... and as such: the best society that can be devised, or at least the best one that money can buy... or...  or... NOT!  (but it's seemingly impossible to even get in a word edgewise with them about that!).  These same criminals of economic means draw up laws in a language called legalese to suit their purposes, and then tax the rest of the people to pay a pittance for a 'public' police and army force, and secret service force, and investigative force, and 'intelligence' force, and whatever other forces you might not be aware of, to hold 'rule of law' under the guise of security for all.    

For the most part, what would happen in a tribal culture or in an anarchist culture, if a murder took place might look, at least in some parts, like the modern restorative justice process.  The family of the victim and the family of the accused would sit in council with respected community members who were versed and respected for their understanding of others, and then they would be joined by the accused.  And then they would hash out an agreement as to the terms of the arrangement.  Likely the accused and his family would be looking after the family of the victim, as well as community service beyond this in ways that would help the family of the victim and the accused himself to heal the wounds of the event.  All of this would be done, under the observation of trusted council and possibly members of the warrior society, more commonly likely known as peace keepers in the non-Orwellian use of the term (meaning it is literal, not the opposite meaning).

While there is status in an egalitarian society, it is based on merit of achievement toward the good of the group, on common acknowledgment of these merits, on the notions of valuing true leadership/council, and the strengths of individuals in any given task, regardless of age, familial group, or gender.  

A quick search of Restorative Justice will find many ideas that could enlighten this conversation at least as a starting point for ideas of possibilities.  

Here's a couple:

Restorative Justice 101 for Violent Offenders

Restorative Justice in Canada  
 
David Livingston
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"I'm not sure what to say to your posts on this subject Gilbert, but, perhaps, I should begin with the hope that you can think outside the boundaries of the dominant culture when you try to imagine an anarchic society."
As a friend of mine once told me me if you want to go there you had best off not starting from here  I believe that like life its self societies evolve usually in ways we cannot imagine nor guess . and while "anarchy " might be an interesting thought experiment it like every other imposed attempt at regulation of society will fail due to the complexities of us humans .

David
 
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David Livingston wrote:"I'm not sure what to say to your posts on this subject Gilbert, but, perhaps, I should begin with the hope that you can think outside the boundaries of the dominant culture when you try to imagine an anarchic society."
As a friend of mine once told me me if you want to go there you had best off not starting from here  I believe that like life its self societies evolve usually in ways we cannot imagine nor guess . and while "anarchy " might be an interesting thought experiment it like every other imposed attempt at regulation of society will fail due to the complexities of us humans .

David


Anarchists don't want to impose anything on anyone. We want to live our lives in peace. If the rest of the world wants democracy they can have it. Problem is that the people who believe in government impose their system on us. So we are not allowed to live in peace, we are forced to jump through the hoops of democracy, to pay for the wars and the corrupt politicians.

What most Anarchists do is simply to bow out. We stop supporting the system, either through voting or through taxes (local currencies, bartering, growing our own food, building communities independent of government) - peaceful non-compliance. With the birth of the Internet we are no longer to be found in one place, we are more like a Web of people across the globe. That makes it harder for government to attack us, which makes it even easier for us to live peacefully.

I would never want to make anyone live out my ideals if they don't want to. I just want to be left alone.
 
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Karl Treen wrote:I do not, however, have any trust that humanity is innately generous and good.


It is not necessary to have any trust or faith in any essential human nature in order to observe the historical and ongoing harm caused by systems of domination. It doesn't require any trust to therefore consciously cultivate the evolution of our social structures towards minimizing or eliminating opportunities for domination. In many ways, anarchists' consistent critique of power, our plea for ever more checks and balances, and our drive to maximize freedom, is based on the understanding that to trust some people with power over others is extremely dangerous. Even those with the best of intentions are plagued by local knowledge problems when in positions of centralized authority.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:But, has there ever been a stable community without rulers of at least some sort?


Has there ever been a stable community with rulers? Those subjected to the precarious situation of being ruled over, or "led" without their consent, might object that both stability and true community are sacrificed when rulers come to power.

Even if there was no historical precedent, (though there is plenty,) of stable communities without rulers, why should that stop us from seeking more empathic ways of connecting with one another and attempting to treat each other more ethically? Our ancestors didn't have online permaculture forums or the global internet either, and yet here we are, sharing ideas with each other all over the world at an unprecedented speed and scale, expanding our knowledge and dynamically evolving our practices in pursuit of progress and permanence. We can build better tools. We can build a better future.

Gilbert Fritz wrote: The Lord of the Rings


Tolkien's masterpiece is a beautiful argument for anarchy. Consider the metaphor of the Ring of Power: too dangerous to be wielded, even by those who would use it for good, it must therefore be destroyed.

in a letter to his son Christopher, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote: My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) [...] the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.



David Livingston wrote: Çatalhöyük had no apparent social classes, Just because there is no evidence of a social structure does not mean there was none . A different interpretation could be that we have not found any evidence yet.


You seem to be conflating social structure with a class society here. No one is claiming that ancient Çatalhöyük had no evidence of social structure. Clearly, thousands of people living together in a city constitutes the existence of social structure. In spite of this relatively dense concentration of people, however, there is no evidence that their social structure empowered any one class at the expense of others.

In the absence of evidence, insisting that they must have actually had a (hidden) ruling class would seem to be an act of faith.

It seems like an especially hypocritical move for you to make, David, considering that in your very next post you accuse me of appealing to "secret societies" in response to my observation that the pervasive existence of systematic coercion under modern states tends to drive underground those dissenters who wish to live in peace.

David Livingston wrote:It was a long time ago may be the rulers lived somewhere else since destroyed for example .


It's funny that you mention that where the rulers lived might have been destroyed. Actually, archaelogical evidence suggests that immediately prior to the noted period of relatively peaceful and egalitarian coexistence, the people of Çatalhöyük did indeed suffer under the tyranny of masters and apparently found it prudent to abolish them. They deconstructed the rulers' manors and the gods' temples and instead reorganized their social structures into more anarchic forms that flourished and remained stable for dozens of generations. That these stone-age peoples were able to succeed in their social revolution should give us hope that we may do likewise.

But, again, even if there were no historical precedents, we shouldn't let that stop us from endeavoring to make tomorrow better than today!

Gilbert Fritz wrote:If I had a guild of plants that I thought was a great idea, but it kept being taken over by outside, undesired species in the real world, I might realize that it was not such a good idea after all. I had not taken all factors into consideration. Egalitarian/ anarchist societies seem usually to be overrun by hierarchal societies; this may say something about them.


To extend your metaphor here: a guild of plants analogous to an anarchist society would need to be radically diverse, and rather than conforming to any master plan or design would instead be a highly dynamic and constantly evolving polyculture. By comparison, a statist "guild" would be more along the lines of a monoculture, laid out in rows not for the health of the plants but for the legibility of the farmer, its fertility dependent on endless external subsidies, and regularly sprayed with poison to kill any perceived weeds or pests.

As the permaculture movement's co-founder put it:

Bill Mollison wrote:The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves.

 
David Livingston
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Dawn
Everyone wants to live there lives in peace i do not think that this is a unique view of anarchists Who wants the opposite of that ? I do not  think that peace can be found by cutting oneself from the world . At the moment we are conversing via a computer and telephone and internet etc etc all of these things invented by folks working together or even in competition with each other they are a product of our admittedly imperfect system  . I am not convinced that any other more perfect system and as a life long socialist I have seen a few mooted let me tell you . I beileve we should be trying to work together to change for the better for us all .

Evan
"In the absence of evidence, insisting that they must have actually had a (hidden) ruling class would seem to be an act of faith."  Er thats not my point my point is merely absence of evidence is not evidence of absence . So yes a society that "appears" not to have had a heiracy   existed but then lots of other suppositions are possible .  Its like people get confused when I say I believe that UFOs exist . Yup there are things we cannot identify flying around BUT that does not mean I believe in little green/grey / select colour of choice men kidnapping americans on a daily basis .( why mainly  americans ? )  atmospheric phonomina ,the CIA etc etc there are lots of other possibilities .
"But, again, even if there were no historical precedents, we shouldn't let that stop us from endeavoring to make tomorrow better than today" I agree with you so lets take the garden or your land as a metaphore  . What the first thing you do ? You observe what works well ( what do we mean by well ? ) Do you as a permaculturalist want to change everything ? Its a lot of work . Nope you plants stuff see what works what does not you remove try elsewhere or another plant etc etc you work with the land and nature . In essence I see this as socialism Working with others as opposed to competition where the devil takes the hindmost . Co-operation above all not isolation .

David
 
Dawn Hoff
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evan l pierce wrote: In many ways, anarchists' consistent critique of power, our plea for ever more checks and balances, and our drive to maximize freedom, is based on the understanding that to trust some people with power over others is extremely dangerous. Even those with the best of intentions are plagued by local knowledge problems when in positions of centralized authority.


This! We do not trust people with centralised power, we want to be able to walk away from any power-structure that is becoming sick.

I could easily imagine in a anarchist society that there are tribes/small groups that operate on socialist terms, some are more like Galt's gulch etc. etc. some are democratic, some are more... dictatorial (like Wheaton Labs). As long as you have the freedom to walk away and opt out - choose not to participate when the power structure no longer fits you, and maybe even live in places where there are none - where you are completely on your own, then it is still anarchy to me. But today these pockets of freedom don't really exist. In some countries you even have to pay to become a non-citizen...

I personally don't have a problem with helping other people who are in a pickle - but eg. the "health" system in the west is more focused on making moneys for the pharma industry than actually helping... I don't mind paying for renovation, or even for roads - but when I have to pay for wars in the middle east, surveillance that spies on me and my family and corrupt politicians, along with those services, I deem that other people have lost any right they might have claimed over my money. Centralisation of power leads to corruption - when people can opt. out of subsidizing that power, that is when we will have real checks and balances.
 
Tyler Ludens
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People can opt out by having an income so low they pay no federal taxes.

 
David Livingston
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Thats me and you both then Tyler
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:People can opt out by having an income so low they pay no federal taxes.


Yes, but I am still required to pay property tax, and where I live in Spain I am still required to send my kids to government school (not that I comply). I do my best to opt out, and ignore law that I find insufferable - like the one about schooling - but I do find that every time I want to do something on my property I have to pay some tax, to get some kind of permit... I have to ask permission for nearly everything. Now I can ignore those laws, and to some extent I do, but that comes with a risk of penalty. I am not free (and would not be much more free anywhere in Europe - which governments has decided is where I am "free" to live - most anywhere else I would have to ask permission to live).
 
Dawn Hoff
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Dawn Hoff wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:People can opt out by having an income so low they pay no federal taxes.


Yes, but I am still required to pay property tax, and where I live in Spain I am still required to send my kids to government school (not that I comply). I do my best to opt out, and ignore law that I find insufferable - like the one about schooling - but I do find that every time I want to do something on my property I have to pay some tax, to get some kind of permit... I have to ask permission for nearly everything. Now I can ignore those laws, and to some extent I do, but that comes with a risk of penalty. I am not free (and would not be much more free anywhere in Europe - which governments has decided is where I am "free" to live - most anywhere else I would have to ask permission to live).



Just to add - choosing to not earn money is absolutely an option, and something we are working towards in our family - it takes away your financial support to a system that you don't condone. It is part of the defunding of government strategy.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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In practice, I tend to agree with you folks; our government is oppressive, our economic system benefits the 0.01%, and the best thing to do is set up  local communities of voluntary cooperation.

In theory, however, I'm a traditionalist; I honor the democracy of the dead. Most thinkers throughout time have posited the desirability of some form of government; I doubt that I am a better thinker then all of them. And some of you even seem to have some "rulers" in your schemes, you just call them something else; and they are not tyrannical.

In other words, I think we may be saying the same thing in different ways.

I knew that Tolkien quote about anarchy; that is why I pointed out that even in an Anarchic society there may be force used and leaders of sorts; the shire is the nearest thing to an egalitarian society that can be imagined, but they used force and followed a leader to "scour the shire" in the end.

For what it is worth, I'm a Distributist, not least because there are actual historic models of it working; not vague examples from archeological studies in dead civilizations or anthropological studies in primitive tribes. I think you'd all gain a lot by studying it; the works of G. K. Chesterton are a good place to start.  
 
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David Livingston wrote:"I'm not sure what to say to your posts on this subject Gilbert, but, perhaps, I should begin with the hope that you can think outside the boundaries of the dominant culture when you try to imagine an anarchic society."
As a friend of mine once told me me if you want to go there you had best off not starting from here  I believe that like life its self societies evolve usually in ways we cannot imagine nor guess . and while "anarchy " might be an interesting thought experiment it like every other imposed attempt at regulation of society will fail due to the complexities of us humans .

David



I would counter that anarchism is not imposed nor is it just a thought experiment, instead I would suggest anarchism is the natural default state of humanity. That anything else is imposing something upon the natural state of anarchism. From kids being natural anarchists in their refusal of authoritarian control, to tribal communities that tend to be anarchistic more than hierarchical to self organize, to the every day interactions people have that are anarchistic in nature no mater what sort of governmental system is imposed around them. The true aberration and imposition is the hierarchy and imposed systems of governance. Most of life even under a governmental system is still anarchistic, since it is the natural state of humans.

 
Devin Lavign
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A worthwhile video explaining anarchism can be found here

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Also, a suggestion; before continuing we should get some definitions of terms that we all agree on. Some people seem to be defining hierarchy as some having more influence then others, some seem to define it as oppression of one class by another. Some seem to be "anarchists" of the anarcho-capitalist sort, and others of the anti-civ egalitarian tribe sort. Etc. I think a lot of the disagreements here could stem from using words in different ways, so some simple definitions would help a lot.
 
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Got a New Homestead? Here is What You Need to Know to Before You Start a Homestead
https://permies.com/t/97104/Starting-homestead-strong-foundation
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