Anarchy gets the juice
Turns out, my more successful posts, and the only ones that have been referenced by other blogs, are the ones with the anarchy tag.
Might as well talk about it then. I will do more research, but here’s a quickie.
The online dictionary says the etymology of Anarchy is “anarkhos”, Greek for “without a ruler”. This can be interpreted in many ways, as it has, but my interpretation, and the one I think thinking anarchists abide to, is “without authority”.
This is far removed from the image of chaos and violence that most people think of when they hear the A-word. However, the havoc is not necessarily excluded.
In modern society, the concept of authority carries with it the assumption that it can rarely be questioned. If someone is in a position of “authority”, then in theory they have earned it through experience and skill.
Or at least the meritocratic principles of our society would have us believe. The truth is far removed from that ideal, and I don’t need to conjure up examples of corruption and cronyism.
The people in authority have the power to make decisions, and to question or go against their authority is breaking the law. This is the crux of what my interpretation of anarchy proposes.
In a system “without authority” (or, to maybe be more precise, without “forced authority”), just because a group of people believe that one individual is the authority on a matter, this does not mean that contrasting and not following his or her decisions is breaking the law – nor will the person who decides to go against the grain chastised for it.
For example – One man does not think that the best way to manage his farm is to have caps on his stock, and thinks all fields should be used at the same time. In modern Britain, DEFRA would rain hell upon him, he would be fined and possibly his land removed: he is breaking the law.
In an authority-less society, he can simply do as he chooses.
If his actions result in the harm of others, then this group of others can choose to exclude him, or sanction him. But this is not codified, nor is it necessary. People can choose to “prosecute” (or persecute?) or not, in any way they deem fit, if they do at all. It is society that punishes the damage-making individual, not the law.
Naturally, the system has many pitfalls. For starters, it simply would not work in governments as big as modern ones, over landmasses even as small as Great Britain. But then, I am a fan of decentralisation, so if to make anarchy work we have to stop thinking of England and the USA, and start thinking about Leicester and Chicago, so be it. The shrinking of government, while full of problems, is not something I instinctively oppose.
Secondly, there is the problem of HOW society reacts to punish the damaging individuals. The law protects the crowd from the individual as much as it does the individual from the crowd.
And this is why, while I am an anarchist in my heart, my head realises that it is not for all environments, people and contexts. Simply put, to believe anarchy would work, one has to have a strong belief in the good of human nature, and I cannot reconcile my cynicism with this.
Anarchy is a fundamentally human, and optimistic, philosophy. While there are examples of it working, such as in central Spain during it’s civil war (according to Noam Chomksy), there are plenty of others where it is simply carnage: Rwanda in 1994 comes readily to mind.