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Lab Ant
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Originally posted by William Gillis on Stigmergy - The C4SS Blog, January 30th, 2017

Dear non-anarchists,

Dear non-anarchists,

If we can urge you to do one thing in this spiraling crisis, please note the way the “checks and balances” of the liberal state are rapidly dissolving in the face of a demagogue president with near universal police support.

   - Many cops are just outright ignoring the court orders against Trump’s draconian ban.
   - Cops at Dulles are reportedly detaining and shipping people off to unknown offsite detention centers (ie black sites) to avoid a ruling saying those detained at Dulles should be granted access to legal counsel.
   - Cops have refused to talk directly with a sitting US senator and have in many places responded to legal/etc. requests with sneers of “ask Mr Trump.”

While journalists and civil rights lawyers can help apply broad public pressure, it is absolutely critical that you recognize at the end of the day popular legitimacy from a sheet of paper is not what ultimately empowers the state. Cops with guns are the ultimate foundation of the state, it could not exist without them and their violence.

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. You allowed an institution of incredible power to be formed, and to grow, and those at its helm have finally realized they don’t need to obey the rules or the norms you tacked onto it. They may yet be proven wrong in this instance, the variables may yet come out against them. But at this point it’s clearly a matter of chance. Please remember this.

If you want real checks and balances, then abolish positions of power like the presidency and dissolve centralized organizations with monopolistic control over means of violence. Instead of three branches of government in the US, why not three hundred million? Each of us individually taking responsibility for holding others in check, distributedly collaborating in ever vigilance to stop the emergence of thugs/cops and warlords/politicians.

We might yet get through this crisis, in some form or another. And despite this brief bit of “we told you so” lecturing anarchists have your back in any substantive resistance you wish to undertake against tyranny. But please learn some lessons from this situation.



 
pollinator
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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 l pierce
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Tyler Ludens 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.

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.
 
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Seems to me like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics found itself in bankruptcy, lost the support of the people, and dissolved in a weekend. The same thing could happen to the United States of America. Something like 80% of the people in the usa didn't vote for the current president, so it's not like he is carrying any sort of mandate from the people.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I personally fear that I will likely not survive the collapse of the US.  

Collapse of the US is the stated goal of the actual person in charge, Steve Bannon.  People striving to preserve the institutions of the US (such as the ACA, EPA, NOAA, etc) are in opposition to him and Trump.  Those hoping for the collapse of those institutions would seem to be on the same side as Bannon and Trump.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Something like 80% of the people in the usa didn't vote for the current president, so it's not like he is carrying any sort of mandate from the people.


Voter turnout was that bad?

Something like 40-45% of voters voted for him.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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There is a lot of theater that accompanies politics... For example, if 31 million people watched an inauguration ceremony, that means that 288 million people (90%) didn't watch it... Seems to me like the people that are interested and/or involved in politics are a tiny minority. Most people just live their lives paying little attention to politics.

The most recent SuperBowl game had 112 million viewers. That's only 35% of the country, which means that 65% of the country didn't watch. So again, a small minority that are interested in that sort of thing.

A great way to disconnect from politics is to toss out the TV, and limit Internet useage. Hard to get excited about something that isn't constantly in your face.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Voter turnout was that bad?

Something like 40-45% of voters voted for him.



Approximately 58% of eligible voters voted.
 
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Something like 80% of the people in the usa didn't vote for the current president, so it's not like he is carrying any sort of mandate from the people.


Voter turnout was that bad?

Something like 40-45% of voters voted for him.



The chart below is from a potentially-partisan source, but it roughly matches my understanding of voter turnout and Joseph's statistic.  The chart shows the winner with roughly one quarter of the potential votes.  And in the final tally (reached well after the chart below was prepared I assume) the losing candidate had roughly three million more votes than the winner, so 80% may be right on.  

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The chart below is from [url=https://mises.org/blog/26-percent-eligible-voters-voted-trump]



That chart leaves off 87 million people that are disenfranchised for one reason or another. I'd make the chart more like this...

voting.png
[Thumbnail for voting.png]
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks for bringing up that good point about the disenfranchised, Joseph. Youth, felons, and undocumented immigrants are some groups that come to mind.

It might be interesting to see the results of a "representative-democratic" system whereby non-votes were counted as votes to abolish the office in question.

To expand a bit more on Tyler's very good question: The relevance and even the very coherence of a concept like the "office of the presidency of the united states" is itself dependent on a complex social/cultural/ideological framework composed of a host of related, partially overlapping, oftentimes mutually-reinforcing, and sometimes contradictory concepts. Each of these underlying concepts possesses its own degree of internal consistency and rootedness in the minds of different individuals. To tease out the inherent contradictions in a concept like "the president of the united states," to break down the underlying ideas into their constituent parts, and to systematically discard those notions that rest on fallacy or disregard for ethics, is a notably complex endeavor, but one that can and does happen organically if an individual takes the time to think deeply about and engage with questions of ethics. There is no single mechanism for abolishing the presidency because there is no single mechanism that enables it. And unless the fallacies that underpin the idea of the legitimacy of the state and coercive authority are themselves addressed and rebutted, a concept even worse than "the presidency" may be put forth to take its place. We have a lot of work to do. But is it really that hard to imagine a world where someone claiming to be "the president" is as nonsensical and irrelevant to your life as someone claiming to be "the emperor?"
 
evan l pierce
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Collapse of the US is the stated goal of the actual person in charge, Steve Bannon.  People striving to preserve the institutions of the US (such as the ACA, EPA, NOAA, etc) are in opposition to him and Trump.  Those hoping for the collapse of those institutions would seem to be on the same side as Bannon and Trump.

One can simultaneously and consistently reject the legitimacy of the US government as such and the legitimacy of the "alternatives" proposed by the likes of Bannon and Trump.

Whether one likes it or not, the bundle of contradictory ideas and fuzzy emotional connotations contained within the concept of the US is highly unstable and has been in a sort of sustained and cyclical collapse/evolution since it's very inception. We can react to this latest cycle of collapse by pining for the golden days of yesteryear and trying to "make america great again," or we can embrace a future wherein we take direct responsibility for our own lives, cooperatively organizing voluntary associations to meet our needs and to promote the health of our environment and our neighbors, rather than relying on fragile hierarchical institutions inextricably interwoven with coercion and riddled with privilege.
 
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Hmmm.... this brings to mind:  '150 Strong: Pathway to a New Future', Rob O'Grady, put out by Dmitry Orlov's press.  (Based on Dunbar's Number, the apparently optimal size of a successful human group in prehistoric times, per anthropological studies.)  It is a comprehensive history and prescription.  And  "A Paradise Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit... what humans actually have done in crisis situations in the past ... an antidote to the speculative 'Mad Max' predictions.  

My personal opinion is that the basic poison in our current situation is the debt-money system that arose with the Bank of England and the emergence of modern capitalism around 1700.  (Another interesting book:  'The Empire of Cotton', traces capital's requisite successful 'wealth accumulation' to slavery, of all kinds ...exposes it's illegitimacy.)  HOWEVER, it is almost impossible to explain the mind-boggling current 'money creation' system to the average person in simple language... and what has no 'name', nor a 'picture', is pretty much invisible.   (According to John Kenneth Galbraith, this was the intent of economic jargon... obfustication.)

So, my plea is for concise, clear, simple, picture-creating language that might enable all of 'us' to be on the same page... which is the only place, I think, that we can start from in journeying 'forward', rather than backward.  (BTW, John Michael Greer has been covering a lot of this on his blog.- The Archdruid Report)   In the face of the 'owned' MSM, this is a tall order.  However, one clarifying technique, in trying to understand what is actually going on, at any time, is to 'follow the money'.  (This trail is usually very skillfully hidden.)

I've posted lately about my gratitude to be living in Cascadia, and having millions of almost-empty square miles of mountains and deserts between us and the rest of this 'melting pot'.  A recent book, 'The American Nations', gives a good overview of the colonial cultures that are still rooted in areas of this 'country'.  Per J. M Greer's 'Retrotopia', I think a 'devolution' (as recommended by Schumacher)  would be a very good idea... on the road to anarchy, in it's true definition ;)   Meanwhile...... I give clueless 'normals' 3 'magic words':  1) potatoes, 2) cabbages and 3) chickens/ducks, and alarm them with the historical fact that thousands of Ukranians starved to death trying to eat grass.

(BTW, Evan, I would love to see a 'translation', or a 'Cliff Notes', of that blogger's presentation [and your commentary?] into plain, simple English ... I am so easily discombobulated ;)


 
Tyler Ludens
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nancy sutton wrote: I give clueless 'normals' 3 'magic words':  1) potatoes, 2) cabbages and 3) chickens/ducks, and alarm them with the historical fact that thousands of Ukranians starved to death trying to eat grass.



I think I would feel really depressed if you told that to me, because I fully expect to starve to death.  Being "clueless" I am not able to grow my own food supply.   I do agree with many ideas of anarchism, though worry that in a collapse into anarchy, many people will starve because there is no provision to avoid such a thing.  In a collapse, most of my neighbors will move to where the food is - the city.  They likely won't stay and try to learn how to grow food because it is quite difficult to grow food here and there's no longer much of a tradition of growing anything besides oats and sorghum, which nobody eats. If a collapse could be slow enough to change the culture, that would be beneficial, but most people talking about collapse seem to assume a fast collapse of only a year or so, not long enough to change the culture, which could take decades.  

 
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oats and sorghum, which nobody eats.  



I've never eaten sorghum, but I know a lot of people who eat porridge made from oats every day.
 
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Just because the great majority of people talking about collapse assume it will be fast, or that it will never happen at all, does not mean they are right. Collapse can also be slow, taking decades or centuries to complete... like the fall of the Roman Empire, and numerous others throughout history. The Soviet Union fell apart in a week, but that was just the last act in a decades-long process of decline and dysfunction.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, our household eats oatmeal from the store.  The crops grown here are not grown for human consumption and very few people farm here.  The landowners hire contract farmers to farm for them, in many cases.  Could more people farm here?  Possibly.  Will people here turn to farming in a fast collapse?  I don't believe they will, I believe they will move to where the food is, which is in town at the grocery store.  I'm talking about what I believe my neighbors are likely to do, not some hypothetical people.  My neighbors are retired or exurban.

We also eat molasses, which is made from sorghum, but not in this locale.
 
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I have eaten Sorghum aka millet and ate porrage today in fact
I believe society works bacause we want it too .  If you dont want it to it breaks down ; Anarchy to me equals chaos if its not chaos then its not anarchy its something organised . If its organised then its organised by whom ? Why ? etc etc and there fore has a name organised anarchy is an oxymoron , anarchy is  a political  vacuum in to which usually a strong man ( usually male ) steps .
David
 
Tyler Ludens
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As I understand it, for this discussion the word anarchy is being used this way;   "absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal" - and not the common use of the term - "a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority."  If I'm wrong I hope the OP will clarify.

 
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I'm a bit confused by what we mean by anarchists.

Reading works from the early 20th Century (like Orwell's Homage to Catalonia - brilliant book by the way, relevant to current events), it sounds like anarchists are official organisations that helped formed a pro-worker, anti-fascist, anti-feudal government often working with the communists of the day.  

Yet anarchy means being without order, law, and reason.

What do we mean by it in today's context?  
 
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Evan I P: "We can react to this latest cycle of collapse by pining for the golden days of yesteryear and trying to "make america great again," or we can embrace a future wherein we take direct responsibility for our own lives, cooperatively organizing voluntary associations to meet our needs and to promote the health of our environment and our neighbors, rather than relying on fragile hierarchical institutions inextricably interwoven with coercion and riddled with privilege."

B Redhawk: "....a chief is not for life, nor is it a dynasty family, when a chief is found to be lacking ability, they are replaced by the people selecting the one they perceive as best suited to the job.   It is more about the family than it is the individual, yet all have the same voice when it is time to select chief and elders.
If you want to become tribal, then you need a group that is more about the whole people than the family. Tribal means you (the individual) have importance but not as much as the family proper or the family extended or the band or the tribe.  The good of the people (as a whole) comes first and you don't even have to think, it is what is right.
Within a tribe there are different jobs to be filled and carried out with specific duties for the good of the whole. The Nation chief is liken to the president, he has under him Tribal chiefs they are part of his council.  There are elders, wise people who are also part of the council and represent the people of their sub-band or band or tribe.  There are holy men/ women, then there are healers then there are those who hold the knowledge of medicine. There is no such person as a "medicine man" or shaman as most people seem to think. " --  https://permies.com/t/54397/Forming-tribe

I guess I agree with those perspectives out there that propose that hierarchy may be inescapable:  Are there any examples of social mammals that do not have some sort of hierarchy.  If not, that doesn't necessarily mean that humans could not be hierarchical, but would suggest that it will be an uphill battle to achieve a non-hierarchical existence.

In some regards, I liken this discussion to standing at an open well.  There is an old, dilapidated, but still functional bucket sitting by the side of the well.  The well now draws water from a series of pipes that are connected to a pump that transfers water into your vessel of choice.  Only today, the pump is not operating for myriad reasons....broken pipe, bad pump, bad motor, no source of energy.  Standing there, you begin to imagine many types of solutions to getting water from a deep well into the vessel of choice, embarking on numerous gedankenexperiments with the  virtual intermixing of models and approaches.  Pretty soon, in addition to your own growing thirst, you realize you need to get a good vessel-full of water to your destination.  And so you grab the bucket......

I like to take what Redhawk and similar viewpoints have noted into an argumentative tool that has been invoked before, albeit painting with a broad brush:  Although not all tribal-type existence could be said to be 'sustainable', only among tribal-type situations will you find the most sustainable paradigms for human existence.  I would argue that history has shown 'civilization' paradigms to not even come close, predicating their successes on resource over-exploitation.  So considering the 'well' analogy, the bucket is some acceptable form of tribalism, along with the way the most harmonious version of that embraced 'hierarchy'.  And it's somewhat 'ready-made'....has existed for thousands of years and continues to exist to the present in some form (and as it still exists today, I don't feel is engaging in "pining for the golden days of yesteryear").  In the 'well' metaphor, the pipes and pump represent civilization and other non-sustainable paradigms: That the most sustainable tribal paradigms remaining are being over-run by the juggernaut of civilization should not be surprising and won't be dealt with here.  It is quite possible that some form of human sociality will arise to supercede what we've witnessed up to now.  But in the meantime, I would propose that something wildly new is not so urgently needed to replace "..fragile hierarchical institutions inextricably interwoven with coercion and riddled with privilege", since as Redhawk has noted, hierarchy can exist....has existed.... without capitulating to these baser operations.  To conclude that hierarchy inevitably leads to coercion and privilege is, I feel, to view the natural (?) existence of hierarchy within social mammals through the distorted lens of (mostly Western) civilization.  So the current 'civilized' manifestation of hierarchy I can agree has to go.  But would anarchy be the best immediate solution along the way to what may eventually settle into a (neo)tribal-type existence?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Are there any functional examples of anarchic societies (current or extinct)?  The closest I can think of are the tribal societies with shifting leadership (chiefs for specific situations, but no "Big Man").  
 
nancy sutton
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Sorry to be a cause of dis-ease for you, Tyler.  I should have mentioned that the '3 magic words' apply only in a temperate region... I'm in Western Washington.. typically relatively damp and mild ... except for the last two exceptionally hot and dry summers.  (So 'water' is what I'm working on.)  

You're in Texas somewhere or other, so what are your 'Three" (or more)?   I chose mine to supply the three macronutrients essential to human health:  carbohydrates, protein and fat;  and that are easy to grow and store (biggest bang for the 'buck' :).  (For vitamins and minerals, we can eat the weeds here ... what about you?  grow dandelions?)  What are your easy-to-grow carb sources?  I don't know your area, but just one guess... winter squash... several (or more?) plants from one hill - easy to water one spot :)   Do you have feral pigs in your area... I had read they are becoming a big nuisance... but good eating :)  

I know you have the answers :)  And have worked on the water issue... buried 'hugel' (a favorite of mine too), etc...plus I'm burying/making biochar (lot of wood up here).. and sodium bentonite clay (cheapest 'clumping' cat litter) ... I produce free nitrogen fertilizer every day : )   Re: bent. clay, Elliott Coleman recommended it as a beneficial soil amendment, based on German studies... but Germany and Maine are far from Texas... your soil may be full of clay and very alkaline... ?)

Anyway that's enough from me, and this is getting OT ... very glad that 'anarchy' has been correctly defined, finally!  Used as a scare word (or 'thought stopper' as JM Greer described in a great blog post) it is the 'bomb throwers'... but I think of it more as Schumacher's 'devolution' down to a granular level... seems the world is devolving already... USSR broke up; EU is cracking; Kurds, Basques, etc. are agitating for their own countries....why not this smelly 'stew pot'?
 
raven ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Are there any functional examples of anarchic societies (current or extinct)?



Orwell lists several in his book on the Spanish Civil war.  He joined the militia of the P.L.U.M which, according to Orwell, was an anarchist group that worked with the communist part (later persecuted by the same party for being too pro-worker) to overthrow the old feudal government and fight against the fascist dictator Franco.  

I haven't done a lot of reading on the politics of the time, so I only have Orwells word for it and a smattering of mentions in other non-political works.  But it appears that these anarchist formed political parties and organisations.   here is what wiki has to say about anarchism in spain  Not all of the wiki agrees with Orwell's first-hand account, however, even Orwell says that the information available of the actual events were heavily influenced by political aims and that it's possible that what actually happened will never be known.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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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.  
 
raven ranson
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Tyler Ludens 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.  



I'm confused too, that's why I'm asking.  

My understanding is, back then, the only way they saw to make big social and political changes, was to organise.  To have shared values and goals.  Which confuses me as anarchy means to me to be unorganised.  But to be anarchist meant to be organised - you would even have a party membership card as part of your identity papers.  

Looking at this thread, it begins with the idea that we could take individual action to stand up for what's right.  But it also recognises that individuals don't hold much power.  "Power is built on force" which produces the question, what force does the individual have?  If the current power system is dissolved into one where each individual acts as a check and balance for the others - how do we do this in a way that works together and not against each other?  Is this the goal for modern anarchists?  It seems different than past anarchist goals.

I'm trying to reconcile this idea of anarchism with historical examples I've seen.  It seems very different.  

It's just, I'm not very political and usually tune out when modern politics are concerned.  I am, however, getting very interested in early 20th century European politics and how they parallel current events.  That's where my questions are coming from.  An attempt to understand what these words mean in our current context.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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R Ranson wrote: "Power is built on force" which produces the question, what force does the individual have?



The original quote seems to be telling us it is in guns:

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.  If that isn't what it's saying, I need a translation.

I'm a really, really dense person, so people need to spell things out in the simplest terms sometimes for me to understand them.  I can't detect subtext or hidden meanings.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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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, one person in thousands of  violators is prosecuted. The fearful say to themselves, "I'd hate that to happen to me, so I'll comply".  The non-fearful say to themselves, "There is little chance of being prosecuted, so I'll live life as I think best."

There around 0.8 million police officers in the usa. By the time a work-week is divided up into shifts, that makes only about 200,000 officers on duty at any given time. Perhaps half of an officers duties is devoted to paperwork. So perhaps there is something like 1 officer actually on patrol per 3000 people. 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.

It takes a tremendous amount of resources to actually use violence against people. Because people tend to fight back. Using symbolic violence (a court system) is much less expensive. Even the use of symbolic violence is severely limited, because there simply isn't enough money in the world to pay for the court system that would be necessary to prosecute more than a fraction of actual violators.





 
Tyler Ludens
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I saw acquaintances of mine succumb to symbolic violence during a previous administration when they cautioned each other not to talk about certain topic for fear of being "locked up."  I tried to convince them that nobody actually cared what they did or said, but they almost seemed to revel in the fear.  These people so afraid to speak their thoughts called themselves Freethinkers.  
 
David Livingston
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The problem I see from over the pond is the number of people who believe in self fulfilling prophesy.for example  Like they are coming for my guns so I should buy more guns and hide some therefore because I hid some they did not bother with me . Meanwhile the sellers of guns have a grin a mile wide . Its the same with the "not" freethinkers . Orwell talked about double think in 1984 , a book I recommend to everyone .  
On the subject of anarchists I would really suggest folks get a hold of this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Was_Thursday . Its very good and if you substitue Isis for anarchy makes one think today as well . Its out of copywrite
 
raven ranson
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Speaking about 1984:  There is a word in newspeak for the kind of talking we hear from Mr Trump.  Orwell called it Duckspeak, and it can be an insult or high praise depending or both at the same time (it's a doublethink word). It's like the things the media calls 'trumpisms' and the speeches his advisors make about alternate facts (1984 again), or basically anything where the person gets up and toes the party line saying the expected words.  Every time I hear Donald duck Trump speak I'm reminded of Duckspeak.  

Thanks for the book recommendation David.  I'm off to find a copy.
 
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I respectfully disagree with anarchy.

Government has, effectively, been abolished in some countries in the Middle East.  Similar situations have arisen in Africa.  That's how strongmen and dangerous religious extremists take control.  People will seek out strong-man protectors if there is no government.  "Strong men" are NOT nice people.  This is not the utopia you imagine.  If you really want to live in a country where anarchy rules, there are plenty of opportunities.  Consider moving to Somalia, for example.  They have anarchy there.  I hope you do not choose to do so.  Anything is better than anarchy.

God bless.
 
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Since there still seems to be a fair bit of confusion regarding what anarchists mean by "anarchy," I'd like to draw attention to the word's greek roots: "an-" meaning "without," and "archons" meaning "rulers."

Quite simply, anarchy means the absence of rulers.

That it has in popular parlance taken on connotations of "chaos" or "rule by warlords" is indicative of the relative success of statist ideologues in attempting to defang an existential threat. Of course, those who would be our rulers need us to fear that unless we let them rule over us then we will instead be ruled over by others even worse. To swallow this false dichotomy of the inescapability of rulership is to abandon all hope. To hell with that. The future is yet unwritten.

nancy sutton wrote:150 [...] Dunbar's Number [...] 'devolution' (as recommended by Schumacher)



While we must certainly abolish large-scale relationships of power like empires and nations, devolving power down to bioregions or even local tribes of 150 members is not enough. Local, immediate, attentive, human-scale relationships based nevertheless on domination can in many ways be even more erosive of individual agency than distant rulers to whom one can be perhaps at least illegible, if not invisible. Of course, the threat of distant rulers feeds off of and exacerbates the threat of local rulers and vice-versa, as mutually-reinforcing concepts that underpin positions of power.

We need resilient local networks for securing our most basic needs. Having good relationships with good neighbors goes a long way. But in our embrace of the benefits of localism, we must not lose sight of the immense expansion of knowledge, choice, and possibilities to be gained by increasing our global interconnectedness.

tyler ludens wrote: I do agree with many ideas of anarchism, though worry that in a collapse into anarchy, many people will starve because there is no provision to avoid such a thing.


Collapse does not equal anarchy. And anarchy does not equal collapse

We must "build the new world in the shell of the old" by designing and constructing resilient and (ideally antifragile) distributed systems that empower people to meet their own needs without being dependent on states, corporations, etc. Many of the insights of permaculture are key to this project. The evolution towards anarchy is a complex and dynamic struggle with many unfulfilled niches. What skills do we each have as individuals that can be shared or applied to the task of directly creating solutions to the many problems we face? How can we best leverage our collective knowledge as an interconnected world to work towards overcoming scarcity and the many threats posed both by potential collapses and the rise in popularity of authoritarian nationalism?

Tyler Ludens wrote: As I understand it, for this discussion the word anarchy is being used this way;   "absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal" - and not the common use of the term - "a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority."  If I'm wrong I hope the OP will clarify.

Yep, that is basically the way I'm using the word.

However, I still feel the need to point out what an Orwellian corruption of language has been perpetrated in order to cultivate such a "common use of the term." Big brother forbid we should even consider states of disorder due to presence or recognition of authority, much less define "government" as synonymous with such chaos.

I have more to say and am attempting to respond to thoughtful replies in the order they were posted, but it's hard to keep up. I'm glad this subject is garnering such interest and I appreciate all the engagement.
 
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evan l pierce wrote:Since there still seems to be a fair bit of confusion regarding what anarchists mean by "anarchy," I'd like to draw attention to the word's greek roots: "an-" meaning "without," and "archons" meaning "rulers."



I would agree inasmuch as we have to stop electing "rulers" and only elect public servants.

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.
 
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But, has there ever been a stable community without rulers of at least some sort? (Tribal chiefs, war leaders, whatever you want to call them. In any case, some people with more power then others.)

If yes, where are they? What are or were they like?

If not, then the following analogy might be relevant. Let's say somebody walked into the room and told you that he would build an electrical motor, and that it would be better then every other motor ever built. However, he was not going to look at any existing motor of any type, nor was he going to study the history of mechanical development.

Would you bet on his succeeding? If every stable community or society has had rulers of some sort, maybe we should think about why this is. "Abuse does not take away use."

My theory of the state is that individuals, banded together into families, found that cooperation would help them meet their goals; thus, the primitive state. In any group, some members will be more forceful and better at leadership then others; they will be likely to become leaders.

Have there been many abusive rulers and states? Yes; but I'm not sure we therefore need to abolish them.
 
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Very neatly put, Gilbert. My sentiments exactly.

With all respect to the well-meaning anarchists, please consider how many guns are sloshing around this country. I don't want to have to buy one to defend my family.  The police in my state are not perfect, but they are an OK bunch as a general rule. And, though I have been disappointed at times, I am not afraid of our local government. It represents us as well as any imperfect system probably can. Looking around the union I am often thankful that I live here. Come check us out sometime.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:But, has there ever been a stable community without rulers of at least some sort? (Tribal chiefs, war leaders, whatever you want to call them. In any case, some people with more power then others.)



Egalitarian bands of hunter-gatherers don't have rulers.  This essay (Thesis #7) discusses band life:  https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jason-godesky-thirty-theses#toc8

I've found that whole series of essays to be useful and helpful.

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.  The individual has no existence apart from the band, their existence is dependent on the band and the band is dependent on the individuals who make up the band.  People give support to the band to get support in turn.

 
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This article from the mises institute explaines a lot about what a state of anarchy would be like.
MISES
 
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I think one crucial distinction to keep in mind is that between leader and ruler. A leader gets people to willingly follow them through persuasion but not force. A ruler uses force (including fear and intimidation) to get people to obey.

An example of anarchy: The people of a small village see value in building a bridge over a river. No one can build it by themselves, so someone steps up and says "I have a plan". That person asks everyone to pitch in, either with labor, supplies, or money. One old lady, who would be one of those most benefitting by the bridge, says she won't help in any way. The leader says "OK, we won't hold it against you because the benefit we would gain is greater than the feelings of spite we'd have if we didn't". The leader organizes the project and gets it done. Then the leader steps down. This is anarchy with voluntary and temporary hierarchy.

In a government version of that, the ruler would force the old lady to support it, perhaps by taking some of her property. When the bridge is completed, the ruler stays in power to "administer" the bridge.

With tools available now like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, the supposed need for rulers is much less now. Imagine if every town used GoFundMe for their projects instead of taxation.

Oh, and I have heard of Viking age Iceland as a close approximation to anarchy. David Friedman (son of Milton) has written about that IIRC.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I think we can all agree that there has been no communities without some sorts of hierarchy. Some hierarchies have the consent of those led; they are leaders. Others don't; they are rulers. We should work to ensure we have more leaders, less rulers. Well and good.

However, then comes the issue of force. I think a leader could use force while still remaining a leader, not a ruler. If rules can't be enforced, there is not rule. There are no groups without rules of some sort. Secondly, I would claim that in some areas, particularly small towns, local cops do have the consent of the governed and are leaders, even if they use force; that is what the community wants them to do.

If leaders/ community can't use force, how will they protect themselves? There are always going to be some "bad guys" either inside or outside the community.

For a good description of leaders using force, see the end of The Lord of the Rings.
 
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