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How does an anarchist society deal with freeloaders?

+1 vote
Say someone simply didn't want to work, in an anarchist society people are given what they need and this person figured he can just sit back and not do his part. What will you do to get this person to work? Not give him food? But if you do that, won't the person start taking it if he isn't being given it? And if that happens, what will you do to the thieves? Jail them? Who decides to put them in jail? A court system? Thanks to any who may answer my question. I have my own thoughts on this, but its all theory some have called absurd even.
asked Jun 25, 2016 by anonymous
hi anonymous. i'm going to put tags on your question. also, here are some similar questions. perhaps they will add to your question, and whatever answers you get.


hi, here are some things about the end of work, along similar lines to what lawrence linked. unfortunately I don't think there's any way to answer the question as you've posed it - that is, as a hypothetical.

the short version of my own answer is that I think everyone should be a freeloader, and that this shouldn't be thought of as a problem, since an anarchist society wouldn't be concerned with production whatsoever.

I think you might find the following to be relevant for your thinking.

There's a pretty decent book, very clear although I don't accept all of it, by Kathi Weeks:


The Right to Be Lazy, by Paul Lafargue, is kind of a classic of the genre. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/index.htm

You may also be interested in the work of Marshall Sahlins on how this has worked out in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_affluent_society

I like this subject so I'd be glad to try and answer in more detail if you like!

2 Answers

0 votes

I honestly don't know that the answer changes all that much from how we deal with freeloaders now in a capitalist society (with perhaps one exception, and a lot of nuance as to what the options actually look like in one versus the other).

As I see it the options would be:

  • Allow the freeloading to continue because the individual is valued/cared about for some other reason, or because the consequences of not tolerating it are worse than the consequences of tolerating it.
  • Publicly shame the person into doing work. Coercion can be quite effective!
  • Ostracize the freeloader from the group entirely. Is it a house? Kick them out. A commune? Tell them to leave. A neighborhood? Run them out. This could be done using a variety of tactics from verbally telling that person to go, on up to beating the shit out of them if they don't leave or show their face again.

What makes this different than in a statist/capitalist society is that there are no formal laws or law enforcers to be called upon, so if someone is continually freeloading by killing and eating your chickens (or tomatoes, or whatever...) and it gets to the point where action must be taken, that action is going to have to be direct.

I didn't add force the person to contribute because, well, anarchy?

answered Jul 1, 2016 by ingrate (20,790 points)
"so if someone is continually freeloading by killing and eating your chickens (or tomatoes, or whatever...)"

"I didn't add force the person to contribute because, well, anarchy?"

this statement shows what's confusing about the "freeloading" matter, it would seem that what your describing in the first paragraph can be considered "theft" rather than "stealing"

If i were the one to answer this question (why i didn't answer it) i would talk about how overblown the fear of "freeloaders" is, there are still people who think that our society is fucked up because people on welfare don't work.

However, it's also interesting to think about how for someone typically making this argument, there's a similarity between the total fuck-ups (people who have serious drug problems and don't understand how to live in an honest socially acceptable manner) and the politicians/etc who run the system.
–2 votes
Either, the freeloading would be allowed, or they will not receive the benefits and common ownership. It can work like, "You don't work, you can't expect the benefits of the community".

We need to work(produce) to survive, so contribution to the community is necessary to live. If the person doesn't contribute to the community, then the person shouldn't receive the benefits from labor(unless, the person has disabilities, in that case, they may not be required to do some labor).

There is no force here, they can't force this person to work, but can deny benefits(then can leave the community).

Now, you mention stealing, since this person may be denied benefits, that person may try to steal for themself. People who steal or use violence threaten the social peace of the community. Anyone who doesn't respect the social peace shouldn't be part of the community, they would have to be banished. There would be no prisons or death penalty, but just banishing from the community and possibly joining another community elsewhere.
answered Jul 13, 2016 by Zer0 (260 points)