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How would an anarchist society deal with crimes like rape or serial murder?

–4 votes
I'm personally a anarcho-syndicalist; but, this is something that perplexes me often. I don't see how a mutualistic society could intern people, without state backing.

And you hardly want private police, like the *cough* anarcho-capitalists.

Thanks! Btw.
asked Mar 26, 2012 by anonymous
First, a crime is something that is illegal. Second, it would probably depend on the community.

3 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer
There are so many clarifying questions/objections required by your casual statement... For an anarchist to use a term like "crime" is automatically a problem; such a concept is meaningless in a context where deviant (non-normative) behavior is dealt with by the affected individuals making up a community/commune/affinity group (or whatever other meaningful level of social organization you like). That's commonly called Direct Action. "Crime" is a legal category, requiring an institutionalized system of allegedly neutral conflict resolution to take the place of what the statists see as their purview alone: retaliation, retribution, vengeance (the pretense to rehabilitation should be, by now, completely discredited). This usually takes the form of arrest, trial, and incarceration. In short, punishment for behaving outside the parameters decided by those who run the State. By taking the response to deviance out of the hands of those directly affected, the legal authorities are merely delegitimizing (and making it a crime!) the autonomy and cohesion of any meaningful level of social organization.

What would happen in an anarchist society to deal with rape and murder would probably look a lot like what happens in other non-statist cultures when someone does something particularly nasty: the survivor, the family and friends decide how to proceed, whether it's one or more of the following. Public shaming or beating; concern coupled with compassion and care; expulsion; execution -- and a million other possibilities in between. All options are on the table, unlike what happens in statist cultures, where the authorities decide the punishment in a sham neutrality for the good of "the people."
answered Mar 27, 2012 by lawrence (20,630 points)
I agree with your answer, but I would expect these actions to be outsourced by most. I would expect individuals would specialize in the actions that you mention (shaming, beating, compassion, expulsion, etc.). Most people in the society would not have these specialized skills, so they would likely have another person carry out these acts as an agent. And that would be an example of how specialization of labor and market interaction creates opportunities for positive sum exchanges.
0 votes
^Like Veranasi said, it depends. On the situation, the area, the people, etc. In an Anarchist society, people would have to be more responsible. There's no more running to the police when you get scared. When you no longer have that false sense of security, you will begin to develop a new, real sense of security and how things should be handled.

If someone was killed in a community, the area would obviously go on high alert. I imagine people would be split and have multiple ideas but that could be managed and that's a topic for later. I think generally, people would take up arms and take responsibility into their own hands.
answered Mar 26, 2012 by AnarchicSaint (300 points)
I have to say something here, I registered just for this reason, it is NEVER the responsibility of a potential victim to prevent any kind of assault. Specifically in the case of rape, I have gotten tired of hearing again and again how it's apparently my fault for being out too late, or alone, or just locking the door instead of having 5 locks, an electric fence and a gun cabinet. I'm sorry that some asshole decided to break into my house, and beat me till I couldn't fight back anymore. No, I don't think the police did any good there, but saying that "people would have to be more responsible" isn't a sensible response at all to this sort of question.
OK first it doesn't matter if it was a sensible response because fuck yo felling it is 100 % yur fault if yu get raped because yu didn't stop it yu failed at making yur self strong enough to stop it. how can yu exspect someone to protect yu if can't protect yur self nd if yu can't protect yurself how yu exspect to protect someone else
Jess241, I completely agree with you and that I am very, very sorry that you should find such an insensitive and ridiculous comment as the one made by this yurtle carachter (asshole) above in a place like this.
What causes rapes are rapists. If one victim is not available, he will simply look for another one until he finds his opportunity. You'd have to be either incredibly stupid or, of course, SELF-INDULGENT to ignore something as simple and obvious as that.
Thank you for speaking up. All my sympathy to you.
" it is NEVER the responsibility of a potential victim to prevent any kind of assault. "

i have to vote down that statement, because it "isn't a sensible response at all to this sort of question"... in an anarchist context.

it is the "responsibility" of each and every individual - especially ones that identify as anarchist - to take care of themselves. that responsibility may not always fall on the individual ALONE, but it does fall on the individual PRIMARILY. there are of course exceptions (folks with severe disabilities that are incapable of doing so, eg). but saying a victim (*potential*, no less) is NEVER responsible for protecting themselves from assault...  wow.
I think the term "responsibility" is being thrown around too much, here, and in a way that is confusingly similar to "fault".

I don't think being subjected to assault of any kind is the "fault" of the victim, or a failure of their "responsibility" to protect themselves (assuming they didn't do something to instigate the conflict in the first place; obviously this isn't a factor of sexual assault).

I do think that, in a realistic sense, the protection of individuals relies upon the efforts of individuals to protect themselves - as well as the efforts of anyone who might care about that individual.
+2 votes
Hi! New to this place but I love pondering about this sort of question.
Thing is, apart from what has already been said about the concept of "crime" in relation to anarchism, I feel that rape and serial killing are things that would not happen (or happen very little) in an anarchy.
Rape is not about sex. It is about power, domination, humiliation. It is about using sex as a tool to humiliate another person. I really don't see why a person would feel the need to do that unless they had been born and bred into a competitive environment.
As for psychopaths, there is much discussion about what causes their illness, but it is nowadays largely known that most of them are not killers. I share the belief that the environment in which they grow up is determinant to whether or not they will be dangerous to other people or to the society as a whole.
And even if there were murders - cold blooded, intentional murders - the people would view them differently from the way we view them today. Because the very idea of retribution, of wrongs making rights by being put together would not exist - or, in the very least not be as strong - in a cooperative society, I believe.
As to the ways in which an anarchist society would deal with a behavior that endangers its very existence or the safety or well-being of its components I think that yes, as has already been said above, there could be any number of ways in which that problem could be solved, exactly because there would not be a one institutional sistematized way to deal with it.
However, believing that an anarchist society is much more than just the external changes (no government, no property, no money), I find it hard to imagine that torture, execution or even imprisonment would actually take place.
answered Dec 12, 2013 by Learner (180 points)
Social ostracism. People identified as rapists and murderers would find that nobody would deal with them and that the basic norms (Grundnorms) do not apply to them. For example, if a man rapes a woman and the woman's brother kills the man in retribution, people would likely sympathize with the brother and choose not to ostracize him from their social sphere for his actions. In this case, the basic norm that you have a right not be murdered did not apply to the rapist. I am not endorsing retribution as the deterrence nor saying that it is likely to be the way an anarchist society would deal with people that violate the non aggression principle. There is great value in cooperation that would serve as a kind of positive reinforcement to not violate other people's rights. The difficult part is being able to identify these individuals. I think that this difficulty would be overcome because it is valuable information that people would labor to obtain.

edited to make comment.
I agree with your assessment that an anarchist society would likely have little or no instances of rape and serial murder. If children were raised in a peaceful manner and the non aggression principle was the norm, these people would not exist. I disagree with your claim that property and money preclude anarchy. I agree that institutionalized prison systems and punishment models would not exist. If there were people like this they would be ostracized or killed for their transgressions.