Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Are anarchists necessarily against ALL government?

+1 vote
I know that there are anarchists that reject democracy and what not, but for those that agree with the philosophy of direct/consensus democracy for decision-making within society, isn't that a form of government (people governing themselves; government for the people, by the people)? Or am I just tripping too hard on salvia?
asked Jan 28, 2012 by Vindico Vaco (1,360 points)
Some anarchists embrace "self-governance" as opposed to government. Not sure what distinguishes "-ance" from "-ment"... I hate to go there, but i guess this is yet another case of semantics. Maybe someone else can clear this up?

Anarcho-democrats reject the state governing, but not horizontal governing methods. Surely many of these would hold a critique of hierarchy, but likely some are comfortable with a certain degree of formalized leadership. Two folks that come to mind are Cindy Milstein and David Graeber, though there are surely many more.

1 Answer

+2 votes
If anarchists are true to their principles, then yes, they are necessarily against all government. This does not mean that they might not choose to live by certain social mores. What is different is the formality of structure. Whereas anarchists might choose to live by common agreements, or even to operate within groups which use democratic decision making, those ties are hardly enforced through law. There might be social stigma, shunning, or rejection from groups (or further, violent retribution or reaction) based upon the individual’s choice not to participate in such mores, but ultimately, if I choose to not live by the commonly held standards, it is my right. This opens up lots of other cans of worms, but that is likely another question and one that I might endeavor to explore, but wouldn’t pretend to have the answer to.

Anarchists who speak of direct democracy are, in my opinion, doing themselves and anarchism/y a disservice. Using the terminology of democracy seems to have come into vogue with Murray Bookchin and his adoration of the ancient Greek city-state as well as the New England Town Hall, and really caught hold following 1999 WTO protests plastered the chant of “This is what democracy looks like,” into the public consciousness. It was at this point that I started to take note of lots of anarchists (in particular social ecology types and some anarcho-syndicalists) propagandizing anarchism as a sort of ultra-democracy: the most democratic of all democracies. Ultimately though, even direct democracy means the individual bows to the decision of the majority, and, if formalized (even if done face to face as opposed to through representation) this is decidedly not anarchistic.

Regarding consensus, it does, ideally, ensure that all voices are heard, and that a mutually beneficial and acceptable course of action is taken. I am a fan of consensus, but I also think it can be easily manipulated and abused, and have always understood consensus to work in an anarchistic (I HATE that word) manner if the group making decisions is both solid enough to be able to find common means and ends, and fluid enough that people are free to pick and choose when a decision will affect them.

The difference, to riff off of what Enkidu wrote, between “government” and “self governance” is that one is imposed upon by threat of external coercion, and one is internal. This doesn’t begin to address the problem of eliminating our internal cops, spooks, and so forth, but it is an important distinction, all the same.
answered Jan 30, 2012 by ingrate (23,770 points)
Yes, if you mean "THE government."
"THE government" is a group of people perceived to be the heads of "the state," a group demanding compulsory compliance to their 'political policy,' and which (claims that it) retains a "monopoly on the use of force in a given territory," but more specifically, 'the state' is viewed to have the right to INITIATE force in situations that no one individual is perceived to have the right to use force.
"citizens" are not viewed to have the "power, right, or authority" to "tax" - to force "services" on people demand peoples wealth and initiate force for non-compliance..
they are not perceived to have the "right to rule" the specific "territory," as "the state" is.  
to "govern" is to "rule," to "rule" is to "control," so anyone trying to "govern" you is trying to "control you."
(this will get into the difference between governance and -the-government)
there are situations in which force is justified, however (self-defense, protection of property, though property is viewed with scrutiny around these parts and completely warped by 'the state'-- the nature of current state-backed property relations would change and topple without the massive coercive institution backing it, probably)- so while to govern is to rule is to control, if someone attacks you, and you use force to control them, you could be said tro be 'governing' them but you would be within your 'rights.' what 'the government' does, however, is make the claim to rule the individual initially based upon whatever perceived 'authority' to do so... it orders people around from the jump, and initiates violence against those in the territory who disobey. it claims to be 'THE ruler.'
 'anarchy' is a situation of 'no rulers,' which can only boil down to 'self-rule' 'self-government' etc (all there is.. state-worshipers have just been brainwashed into believing "the government" is  "in control..." of what? all 'the govt' does is order everyone around and hurt people who disobey. if it were 'in control' how did people even disobey?). in this situation, no one individual would be viewed to have the right (as the state is viewed to have) or authority to impose their will on the others..
"democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance" h.l. mencken
"what should we do?"
"not sure, here are some ideas.."
"let's vote and do the one that wins"
you might as well cast lots or  pray to the flying spaghetti monster to solve your problems. if nobody is coerced into following along, fine. in the context of 'government' or 'the state,' 'direct democracy,' 'democracy' as a 'form of government,' etc.. it's just a bunch of people ordering everyone else around in a territory and initiating violence if they disobey. if it doesnt have that, i wouldnt call it "a democracy," maybe "democratic." the way i view it the only"democratic political philosophy" is anarchism, as it recognizes each individuals right, or "vote" of self-ommission.
...