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How is anarchism anti-hierarchy and how do they prevent one from occuring?

0 votes
I am very interested to know the answer to this. I find when looking at biological structures that hierarchies form. Even within the family setting they form.

What prevents one person, or a small group from having more than others?
What stops people from taking what they want from others?
What stops people from practically, or literally worshiping others? You have priests, prophets, sages, monks, etc, that can become widely/largely admired, which gives them more sway over others. Even teachers can have students look up to them and give them more influence than others.
You also have most people I've spoke to, whether liberal, conservative, libertarian, anarchist, etc, agreeing with a two class system. That specifically being one set of rules for children and another for adults. And I do not think that anarchism is in favor of a 50 year old dating an 11 year old. So then anarchists would then be in favor one a minimized hierarchy, rather than no hierarchy like so many seem to say?

It just seems that these things form naturally, whether quickly or over time.

I understand anarchism is mostly anti-private property but widely still recognizes personal property. So unless you halt (through some means) voluntary exchange, you can end up with some people having more personal property than others. This then leads to a class system. Yet isn't a class system or any non-governmentally enforced system just a human observation and way of classifying things into groups? We see someone with more stuff than another and so we say they are in a different class, which establishes a hierarchy.

So where is the line? Do anarchists favor society rising up against individuals who end up with too much stuff? Do they handle it through shunning and not associating with people who gain to much or receive more prestige and attention from others?
asked 1 year ago by Sin Stalker (230 points)
Your basic assumptions are wrong.

I'll reply in full at some point, probably.
1 year ago by Rice Boy (10,810 points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
First off, how do you understand "hierarchy"? Without you telling the rest of us what you mean when you use the term, we are bound to misunderstand one another.

Which biological structures are you invoking?

Which family setting?

What encourages one person, or a small group to possess more than others? What compels people to take what they want from others? What keeps people practically, or literally worshiping others?

These questions become absurd outside the context of a class-based society where the ideology of private property extends to personal property. If you make a distinction, spell it out. Most anarchist theorists have already dealt with that distinction. Since you like wikipedia, why not do a little more research here (especially the very first sentence):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist_communism

And here's the relevant footnote: "The revolution abolishes private ownership of the means of production and distribution, and with it goes capitalistic business. Personal possession remains only in the things you use. Thus, your watch is your own, but the watch factory belongs to the people."

You assert that voluntary exchange creates the conditions for certain people amassing more stuff, which leads to a class system. This is absurd. Class society forms when people have the power to compel others to work for them - or more properly, to steal from them - not when they have more stuff. Wealth derives from power, not the other way around, despite what the pro-capitalists say.

And then you make this amazing leap from those who "end up with too much stuff" (you're presuming that there will be people who can amass stuff that has permanence in order to be understood as wealth, which is also absurd) to "people who gain to [sic] much or receive more prestige and attention from others." Hold on there! How does the amassing of "too much stuff" create prestige? You are presuming the cultural values of a class system and imposing them on a hypothetical society where class doesn't (yet) exist.

If you are open to the idea that some people in a non-class system might amass "too much stuff," then surely you must be aware of the logical fallacies that come from assuming/presuming "too much stuff."

Glibness aside, your presentation of this list of nonsense does nothing to show that hierarchy is either natural or inevitable. Besides, the issue isn't really hierarchy (if by that we understand a difference of power/ability between and among individuals), but about power (the ability to compel actions of others who may not want to engage is such activities, both individually and across society) and its institutionalization in permanent hierarchies.
answered 1 year ago by lawrence (18,180 points)
I don't see how its absurd just because you say it is without reason.

I have a watch and the people own the means of production. Which people specifically? Who works in the watch factory to make the watch? Who makes the machines to do it? Who organizes the day to day function? Who gets which job within the watch factory?

What happens if the watch factory goes down, a storm or something. I have many watches. I chose to have many watches instead of having many different items. When others want a watch, must I give them my watches? Who forces me to give my watches to another? Since I gained multiple watches instead of multiple different items, am I then entitled to those other items in exchange for my watch collection?

As for the admiration of others. Who prevents religions from organizing? Since most religions have a central figure (Buddha) or community leaders such as priests, preachers, etc, how do you force people not to listen to their leadership?


I understand my "list of nonsense does nothing to show that hierarchy is either natural or inevitable," but it wasn't meant to show this. It was a question. Hierarchies exist in the majority of the animal kingdom. From packs with alphas and betas. The same exists from mammals like monkeys, all the way down to small insects.
As a linked example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominance_hierarchy

Some having more power/abilities than others is existent in every society and tends to be parred with responsbility. My question was how does an anarchically structured society deal with these inevitability that are created naturally over time. Instead, you gave me one version of anarchy (anarchist communism) and pretty much stated "Can't happen. No way. No proof but can't happen and I'm plugging my ears".  If that is your belief system, cool. But I am asking a question and your response is more of a comment/critique rather than an actual answer. I thought this site was a place to ask questions in a safe respectful environment and not one where questions are ridiculed and never actually answered.
1 year ago by Sin Stalker (230 points)
A brief comment in response to Sin Stalker: the idea of hierarchy in the animal kingdom tends to be a lot less cut-and-dry than behavioral researchers initially thought. Especially the idea of "alphas" and "betas", hierarchical pack structures, and so on. This isn't a good claim to back up your argument with.

You're also apparently not understanding the concept of personal property not being interchangeable with wealth and power. A person who wins the lottery and comes into the possession of 5 million dollars is not necessarily wealthy and powerful. A person who owns twenty cars for whatever reason is not necessarily wealthy and powerful. Objects like these only confer wealth or power within certain frameworks.

And then there's your continued assumption of industrial production that relies on a division of labor. Maybe there wouldn't be any watch factories.

As for the religious question, this relies on the false assumption that all forms of spirituality are by necessity hierarchical (via answering to higher powers, scripture, or religious leaders). It's a useless question to ask.
1 year ago by Rice Boy (10,810 points)
+1 vote
"... agreeing with a two class system. That specifically being one set of rules for children and another for adults. "

this anarchist would never agree with that or any "class" system. a class to me implies a somehow rigidly defined group, with some set criteria for inclusion in the group (in your example, biological age). this is the tired old "fit everyone into their respective mass boxes" mentality. i reject that as a way of relating to other individuals. every situation is unique, every individual is unique. why would i assume that every individual suddenly becomes "smarter" or "more mature" (or whatever) when a particular anniversary of their birth passes? at well past 50, i have never seen evidence of that. nope, i would base my thoughts and behavior on what i observe of that individual, in that moment and over time. no rule for that, just common sense, experience, and an ability to relate to other individuals (as individuals).

there are other questions/answers on this site that do a good job on the general question of hierarchy, and i think dot (among others) has made some excellent points in this regard.

i guess i would say that institutionalized hierarchy (and i can't imagine an institution without it) is a major problem for this anarchist. but when it comes to individual relationships, there are probably situations where a transient, non-codified, hierarchical power dynamic might make sense. if my 3 year old daughter wants to walk out into busy traffic, i am likely to impose my will on her and stop her from doing so. (i would also explain why i did it, afterwards.)  that is a hierarchical power dynamic. but it is one that exists for that moment between she and i; that is all it is.  ten minutes later in the kitchen, she may well be in a position of transient hierarchical power relating to me.  very different from a set of rules that essentially drills into her: "you will always do what i say, because i say so, and i am your (hierarchically endowed) authority/parent".

power dynamics between individuals do exist; a huge challenge is ensuring that they are in fact "dynamic", that they do not become codified or static or accepted as law (legal, moral or otherwise), that they incorporate the actual experiences/skills/understandings of those involved.  institutions play on a different playing field entirely, and i avoid that field as much as i possibly can.
answered 1 year ago by funkyanarchy (3,530 points)
sorry, perhaps the above should have been a comment?
1 year ago by funkyanarchy (3,530 points)
I think it should remain an answer.
1 year ago by lawrence (18,180 points)
Are you saying that there is no line? If a 60+ year old man entered into a romantic relationship with a 5 year old, you wouldn't have a problem with that?

I understand the difficult in issues a set age, 16, 18, 14 etc, or setting certain criteria for gaining "adult rights" but aren't there areas where it is so far passed the line, anyone can say, no? What sort of situation, what sort of 5 year old has the cognitive awareness to consent?
1 year ago by Sin Stalker (230 points)
Saying "there can't be a codified, static line that encompasses all acceptable behavior" doesn't imply that all behavior is equally acceptable, or that we should abandon subjective analysis of power dynamics.

Insisting that people need a clear moral code in order to prevent abuse of others is as absurd as saying that people need laws in order to prevent abuse of others.
1 year ago by Rice Boy (10,810 points)
I didn't say that. I'm asking what line exist there. If its, "people create categories and hierarchies at their whim" seems like it wouldn't work. I am asking for the specific line or view point on this specific subject, 5 yro girl and a 60 yro man.

The above mentioned example of the mother/daughter dynamic and the temp hierarchy that exists there seems like a valid line. A natural heirarchy based on organic positioning, ie a mother protecting her young, seems very logic and moral to me. You specifically state how that hierarchy dissolves, meaning there is no authoritarian construct such as government to solidify and maintain even an organically based temp hierarchy.

I was asking though how this plays in another situation, besides danger from car/street. Understandably the situation seems to call on another temp organic hierarchy, meaning parents protect against the 60+ child molester.

But what if she was an orphan. Does the anarchic society gain authority to step in for the absent parent? Meaning would another woman have the authority to step in and act as a temp mother, in the role of that the temp hierarchy or does it at this point become more statist?


On the subject of moral code, aren't many people anarchist because of a moral code, specifically voluntaryism and libertarianism (the philosophy, not the party and not limited to the right wing application)? Things such as the non-aggression principle aka non-aggression against non-aggressors?
1 year ago by Sin Stalker (230 points)
"Are you saying that there is no line?"

i am not saying there is no line (playing along with your terminology), i am saying the line is unique to every situation. and therefore trying to pre-determine a single line for all makes absolutely no sense to me.
1 year ago by funkyanarchy (3,530 points)
"Does the anarchic society gain authority to step in for the absent parent? "

in my world, there would be no institutional "society" to do such a thing. the situation would be handled according to those involved. hopefully the young girl knows and trusts somebody that could assess the situation with her and determine if/how she was at risk. or, if someone she didn't even know was witness to the situation and chose to step in, they would. the point is; there would be no set rules, no laws, every situation would be dealt with (or not) by those involved (or not).

for sure, sometimes that would end up with results that i might not be happy with. that's surely no different than the world i live in today, and i am willing to bet my life that ultimately, i'd be happier in that world than this one.
1 year ago by funkyanarchy (3,530 points)
@SinStalker:

>"I am asking for the specific line or view point on this specific subject, 5 yro girl and a 60 yro man."

Are you asking for my personal view of the subject or the view of "anarchists" as a whole or the view of a hypothetical "anarchist society"? I can only answer the first question, sort of, in that I sincerely 100% doubt there could ever be an example in which a 60-year-old person and a 5-year-old person could have a romantic/sexual relationship that isn't based on abuse and exploitation. Would I code it into law or some sort of formal moral foundation of society to say that 60 year olds and 5 year olds can't be together? No, because it's not necessary to approach it that way when all you have to do is look at the power dynamic of the relationship.

>"The above mentioned example of the mother/daughter dynamic and the temp hierarchy that exists there seems like a valid line. A natural heirarchy based on organic positioning, ie a mother protecting her young, seems very logic and moral to me. You specifically state how that hierarchy dissolves, meaning there is no authoritarian construct such as government to solidify and maintain even an organically based temp hierarchy."

The idea of very temporary, singular uses of force, violence, or coercion is not the same as societal systems based on hierarchy. I'm also not sure how exactly this is "moral", or what "moral" means when you say it. I also reject the idea of parenthood and family, so I don't think this is a point I want to argue in terms of parent/child relationships as much as it is a point about when it's appropriate to step in and prevent someone from doing something that would cause them serious harm. I believe that question requires a lot more nuance than "do parents create hierarchies".

>"I was asking though how this plays in another situation, besides danger from car/street. Understandably the situation seems to call on another temp organic hierarchy, meaning parents protect against the 60+ child molester."

Again, why is it that parents have to be the ones who step in? And how is it hierarchical to protect someone you care about from being harmed? Threatening to their autonomy, maybe, but that's not necessarily the same thing.

>"On the subject of moral code, aren't many people anarchist because of a moral code, specifically voluntaryism and libertarianism (the philosophy, not the party and not limited to the right wing application)? Things such as the non-aggression principle aka non-aggression against non-aggressors?"

No.

Or, as a more honest answer, a lot of people claim to be anarchists based on moral grounds, but I disagree with them, and I absolutely do not support morality being the foundation for anybody's anarchism. I have no interest in "voluntaryism" or the "non-aggression principle".
1 year ago by Rice Boy (10,810 points)
Just to expand a little on Rice Boy's last point, from a historical perspective the harm/non-aggression principle is a much more of a liberal idea than an anarchist one, which partly explains why most of the self-proclaimed 'anarchists' that have a penchant for it are those whose ideologies are outgrowths of classical and neoliberalism, ie 'voluntaryism'/anacaps etc.

@Sin stalker - I doubt you'll find many voices on this website advocating any morality-based anarchism, and I recommend reading Feral Faun's short essay 'The Cops In Our Heads' for a concise Rebuttal of the non-aggression principle in regards to anarchism.  http://www.anti-politics.net/feral-faun/cops-in-our-heads.html
1 year ago by Yosemite (3,140 points)

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