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Is there a discernment of right and wrong without the state?

+2 votes
First of all, I've been here before and seemed to wind up in a lot of arguments over mutual misunderstandings, so to begin, the intention here is not to stir up any further unproductive bickering for which I could have been responsible by not getting you. Apology to anyone That may not have understood me or I may not have understood. I will try to be more clear and show attention to what others say to avoid this.

now, the question or the clarification thereof  You guys seem to be of the opinion that "morality" and therefore, "rights" are not relevant to the social construct of anarchism.  I would like to civilly challenge this. It seems that the purpose of this place is to learn and teach, I hope to do both. In that order. My own personal opinion on this, which I don't label to be that of all anarchists, not knowing enough, is that the duality of right and wrong have nothing to do with the state and that the state serves no purpose to the adherence of right and wrong, in their case, mostly wrong.  What statelessness means to me, is that you can discern what is right and do the right thing without the guidance of the state or religion. Perhaps to say that you can not do the right thing with adherence to the state or religion.  the right thing to do is obvious and does not require a parent figure like the state to tell you what it is. To rape or steel from those who have done nothing, is wrong. To work hard and help others, is the right thing to do. To declare war on the third world is wrong, to stop supporting a state that does this is right.
Anyway, I'd like to know how you guys respond to this, my ears are open and I hope this was said in a way that can't be mis construed.


edited tags
asked May 7, 2013 by solid_black (280 points)
edited Apr 19, 2014 by dot
The hyphens in your tags are in the wrong places.

2 Answers

+2 votes
A friendly response to your question would be that people on here who are against rights and morality wouldn't necessarily be against what you talk about: "What statelessness means to me, is that you can discern what is right and do the right thing without the guidance of the state or religion." This is what an anti-moralist might call ethics, or personal moral, etc. The point would be to distinguish between a universal morality (or one that wants to be universal), which is necessarily embodied in and enforced by the state, and a diverse set of personal ethics, which could be anarchistic.

(side note: This does not by any means cover all the forms or levels that a critique of moralism can take. Not everyone might be in favor of a personal morality. There are also certain assumptions that this whole conversation is based on that could be questioned deeper.)

So a less friendly response would be that you are recreating a universal morality. Especially when you say "the right thing to do is obvious... To rape or steel from those who have done nothing, is wrong. To work hard and help others, is the right thing to do. To declare war on the third world is wrong, to stop supporting a state that does this is right."

It is right to work hard, and help others? That kind of morality is one of the cornerstones of American capitalism, both the work ethic and the belief in charity as the right way to address things like poverty. Fuck that.

Also why is war only wrong when it is waged against "the third world"? Waged by who? A "first world" government? A "third world" government? Insurgents against the "third world" government that seeks to rule them?

And why only stop supporting a state that bombs "third world" countries? We're anarchists. We're against all states, all the time. Right?

Last but not least... "you guys"? There's no question that this site leans toward certain anarchist tendencies and away from others, but we're not a hive mind.
answered May 7, 2013 by anok (21,030 points)
Well, in many points you've just made, I can say like the dermatologist hears all the time, "Thanks for clearing that up".  You're right, It's not some hive mentality where all anarchists think alike. That would be an oxymoron. It's just something I see a lot here.

When you say that working hard and helping others reflects the ideals of American capitalism, I have to look at people like the head of the federal reserve. Very American, very capitalist. Yet, he neither works hard or helps others.
To be against capitalism means to work much harder than any capitalist and affords the ability to help others through your labor.

That is, after capital, there is still the natural force causing you to work. Like that which dictated the life of the Native American. Which is, how do we eat. This was later replaced with, why do we eat? And soon, where should we go for lunch?

I suppose I was also looking at all states as one, perhaps looking at globalization too
far off in the future. So, when I looked at the state bombing the third world, I looked at it as thee whole system, a bit of a stretch, although, that statement  didn't totally imply that I was ONLY refusing to support that state. However, it said nothing of other states.

Thanks, @anok, very helpful.
You're welcome.

The head of any moral system is unlikely to very strictly practice what they preach--they set it up so it will serve them, not so they will serve it. In other words, the ideals of American capitalism may be as far from the activities of American capitalists as the ideals of Christianity are from the activities of priests. But I would rather discard the ideals along with the rest, rather than have a revolt that seeks to do away with the leaders but keeping (or even based upon) the ideals and morality they preached.

A natural force (like hunger) causing me to work (if work is what we want to call it) is fine, but I don't see how it translates to a belief in the good of hard work. Or of helping others.
So is anarchist moral philosophy anti-cosmopolitan and against legal moralism? I can understand that, but what would the implications of this be?

I'm not sure what "personal ethics" or "anti-moralist ethics" are.
+1 vote
The right thing to do should be obvious ideally, but this is not sufficient grounds for something to be right. If it were, then misapprehension or doubt would have no importance for our culpability or ethics. Certainty on our part should not prove to be the most important consideration in our moral philosophy. If that were the case, then dogma would be the only valid moral principle. People wouldn't even need to comprehend what's right and wrong at all. It would be *obvious*. In fact, this often proves true for the faults or transgressions of statesmen because their culpability implicates so many others that misapprehension on their part does not prove to be sufficient grounds for their accountability. They might be so scary that even relatively powerful people won't correct the errors in their certainty.
answered May 7, 2013 by madlib (3,770 points)