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What would be humane anarchist responses to different social threats to a community?

–1 vote
This is related to similar questions people have asked related to what society would call serious crimes, but I'm asking it again because I don't find the answers already provided adequate either because they don't seem realistic or they seem barbaric. What would be suitable and humane response to crimes such as mass murder, rape, serial killing?

What options are open that effectively protect society and the victims and help/deal with the perpetrator? What rights would you find it acceptable to deny them in these extreme cases, if any?

Some of the responses I've read include:
1. Let the victim decide: how does this avoid degrading into an eye for an eye, or avoid even more inhumane treatment? What limits would there be on the punishment, or what would be acceptable?
2. Exile: how can a responsible society let someone capable of murder/rape just walk away to potentially do it again.
3. Rehabilitation through metal treatment etc: how realistic is this for the more serious instances? What if the perpetrator refuses?

Finally, what would an anarchist-friendly umbrella word or phrase be for crimes?
asked Sep 11, 2013 by StormySky (160 points)
i voted down your question because it sounds to me like you're looking not to change very much, but to find pretend words that sound nicer to mask the lack of fundamental change.
what is society that it should protected?
if you've explored on this site you might recognize that "rights" is a term that is problematic, in exactly the way that you seem to be not-questionning.
who decides what "rehabilitation" means? historically the people who think they know best have done heinous things in the name of "health" and "rehabilitation".
and so on.

 etc etc etc
Thank you for your reply and the links, they were very interesting. In the context of the question I was actually talking about an already established anarchist society where someone commits one of these "crime", and protecting the individuals in it rather than any vague concept or state from physical harm.

The way I meant rights was individual human rights, as in needs and wants, maybe as a broad guideline accepted by the people (but if this is still problematic then let me know). I meant rehabilitation as a general term to describe reconciliation - if possible or welcome and any form this might take, whether it is related to treatment of mental illness etc.

From reading the pages you linked, I think deviant is the best alternative word I was looking for to substitute for crime. But to me deviant doesn't sound strong enough, like eccentric. What are your thoughts?

1 Answer

+4 votes
I downvoted this because I don't care that you don't like the responses. I also feel like you do deserve more of a response than that.

What do you mean by humane? Why should I care about being humane to someone who has wronged me? Even moreso, why is a humane response required to "mass murder, rape, serial killing?"

If the objection is that responses seem overly violent or cruel, I'm sorry but I just don't feel much sympathy towards that. If it is someone close to me that is raped or murdered, I very well might respond barbarically, and I would probably feel just fine about that. You are fixated on the worst of the worst. Certainly they are bad, but if we are looking at actual psychopaths, why not just kill them when they become a threat to us? In the absence of laws and judges and cops and prisons, that seems to me the most rational, if not humane response

If it is that they are arbitrary, well, yes. As our punishments for many crimes under the law. The fear of things devolving to "an eye for an eye" is based in a really different perspective on human behavior than the one I hold.

I get the sense you want a blueprint for how we anarchists would react more civilly in particular situations and I just can't and won't give you that, none of us can offer that up. We would (and do) deal with the messy shit as we need to, and it is different given lots of different factors.

Here are my perspectives on the three responses you touch on, and I am writing about them here not in some sort of utopian future, but how I see them playing out in the here and now. I am mostly writing in the context of discussing rape, of the three things you brought up, becasue I think there is a big leap between rape (a relatively common, and thus, to my mind, more important to address) phenomena, and mass murders or serial killings (which are both relatively rare):

Let the victim decide:   First, victim is a role that could be problematized, as there is also an ideology of victimization (and of the absolute infallibility of the victim) that can develop around this. Most often, anarchists use words like survivor, which is borrowed from the world of DV support (to the best of my knowledge) and is also problematic, but is at least allowing the individual to move beyond merely being a victim.

If the survivor of an assault (rape, other physical assault, etc) needs to act in retribution, they probably will do so, often with the support of people close to them. It isn't my role to say what they can or can't do. Equally, it is by no means required of me that I actually play a role in whatever retribution this person seeks to enact (for example if I think that they are unbalanced, making it up, or I just don't like them). Given the reality of the rape culture we live in, at least in terms of sexual assault, I tend to err on the side of believing the survivor, but I can think of at least a couple times where it wasn't clear cut enough to feel like I could comfortably decide that.

Also, yes, this can lead to factionalism, and it can lead to all sorts of ugly shit, but anarchy is a beautiful idea, not necessarily beautiful in practice.

Exile:   If an individual is a threat to a group's safety, exile or exclusion is a pretty sensible reaction. there is no guarantee that they won't come back and try to enact some sort of vengeance on the group, but that would then simply mean responding in an appropriate manner. Similarly, if someone has shown patterns of manipulative, violent or abusive behavior, they are people I don't necessarily want to be involved with.

Once upon a time exile was essentially the equivalent of a death sentence, but now people are able to pick up and leave for another place. The problem with this is that they might (and, in my experience often do) not use this as an opportunity to reflect on what they did to make a group that will accept all sorts of wingnutty people choose to exclude them, but instead use it as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, and perpetuate their old patterns of fucked up behavior. To an extent the internet can serve as a means to communicate between disparate locations about predatory or sociopathic individuals, but it isn't perfect, and lends itself to badjacketing, manipulation by our enemies, and so forth.

Rehabilitation:   I don't view people working on their shit in the context of rehabilitation the same way that the state would view rehabilitating a criminal. This is based in a very christian and very particularly progressive perspective that most contributors (at least to this site) would probably reject. The idea of rehabilitation normally includes a strange combination of improving the quality of the person in question and punitive punishment for being bad. What it ends up looking like is modern prisons.

I am not opposed to counselling. I've done it, I have friends and loved ones who have done it, and I have friends that are counselors or therapists. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it is a waste of time. If a person enters into such things sincerely, it *might* help them work through their internal stuff. The same with support groups, and so forth. Since we can't force someone to willingly participate in these things, you are right, the worst of the worst probably won't, only people who value their place in particular milieus or groups will find value in doing so. We can't change that.

Lastly, there is no anarchist-friendly word for crimes. A crime is a violation of a law, and if we are seeking to live outside of laws, those distinctions don't matter, and, alternatively, we are all potentially criminal for seeking to live so.
answered Sep 11, 2013 by ingrate (23,770 points)
edited Sep 20, 2013 by ingrate
TL,DR: Life lived (to the extent we can) outside of the law is messy, and we are imperfect at it. We come up with solutions, but most often those "solutions" end up being not as good as we'd like them to be. And that is okay, unless you are a statist or hopelessly utopic, in which case you have some other shit to work out.
Thank you ingrate, your answer was extremely helpful. I wasn't looking for a blueprint, or you to care about the perpetrators, just possible alternatives or more detailed explanations of the responses for some of the worst atrocities people can commit. To me some of the options seem overly violent and could possibly be sadistic and brutalize the survivors or people involved.

By rehabilitation I meant counselling, maybe combined with some other response.
ss, you saying "I'm not doing such and such" isnt' sufficient to convince anyone of anything. your question seems to be based on premises that have been questioned by both responses. your replies have not *explained* how those premises have been misinterpreted, just said that they have been.
for example "rehabilitation by counseling", which probably sounds quite benign to you, as it is carried out by thousands of people in near history and today, encourages women to stay in abusive relationships, and queer people to straighten up/stay in the closet (for a couple of obvious examples).
the point is that the things you think are acceptable are not acceptable once one starts looking at the underlying factors in why we live the way we do. some of the reasons why the world is so bad are not as blatant as police brutality, criminal capitalism, kkk-style racism, etc.  the fact that they are more subtle makes them more pernicious, not less.
@Ingrate - thanks for the concise critique of rehabilitation with regards to the criminal justice system; I've studied the progressive movement and theories of justice but never really put two-and-two-together in terms of the progressive, Christian, and punitive ideological background.  Sounds like the same thinking behind alchohics anonymous.  The idiocy of the CJS never ceases to amaze me.
@dot You're arguing on semantics instead of the actual issue that was the focus of my query. When I said rehabilitation I meant the process whereby the wrongdoer makes amends (whether this is as ingrate suggested, to the victim or to deal with mental issues that may have led to their actions in the first place).

And yes, counselling can pernicious instead of beneficial but the same can be said for almost anything else in existence. I didn't give examples of when rehabilitation and/or counselling should be used, so don't put words in my mouth. I have explained myself enough.
"By rehabilitation I meant counselling, maybe combined with some other response."

"When I said rehabilitation I meant the process whereby the wrongdoer makes amends ..."

i don't think you've made the argument that i'm misunderstanding your clarity.
i certainly wasn't attempting to put words in your mouth, but to explain how concepts like "counseling", "rehabilitation", etc are almost always used to *allude* to wonderful, benign responses, but are actually, both in practice (frequently) and even in theory (just not as obviously), used to monitor and control people's behavior.
edited so it reads the way I meant it to.