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How do anarchists handle practically forced association?

+3 votes
With non-binding consensus based decision making, how are issues handled where association is forced by practical problems, such as close geographical proximity, right of passage through an area, and access to natural resources. Water rights, in particular, can affect very large areas and we are all stuck sharing the same planet if we agree to associate or not.
asked Mar 16, 2014 by anonymous

3 Answers

–1 vote
Armed to the teeth?
answered Mar 16, 2014 by lawrence (18,030 points)
+1 vote
this world requires, at times, that individuals interact with other individuals. those interactions may be ones of choice (relating with other individuals i care about)  or they may be of necessity (i need to deal with the state to get my driver's license). your question seemingly refers to the latter.

i guess how i choose to handle an undesired interaction depends, among other things, on what kind of "power" is held by who i am interacting with, within the context of that interaction. when a cop pulls me over, i know they have the "power" to pull me from my car, beat the shit out of me, arrest me, throw me in jail. the impact on my freedom is tangible, and that is going to influence my behavior in that interaction, one way or another. on the other hand, when a neighbor tries to take my water by building a dam upstream from me, assuming that reasoning with them has failed, i will do everything i can to destroy that dam. and maybe them too.

my suggestion: when you find yourself in an undesired interaction, try to know who you are dealing with and what the context of the interaction is. think about what it means to YOU to be an anarchist, then apply that to the interaction, and act accordingly.
answered Mar 20, 2014 by funkyanarchy (10,190 points)
"assuming that reasoning with them has failed, i will do everything i can to destroy that dam. and maybe them too."

But wouldn't this be far more violent and hierarchical than a decentralized constitutional democratic state? After all, you would be trying to impose your will on others. There are plenty of cases where both parties think themselves in the right. There are also models of community self-policing where the police do not act as an outside force.
"But wouldn't this be far more violent and hierarchical than a decentralized constitutional democratic state? "
good lord.
no, no it would not be more violent or hierarchical than any kind of state.
perhaps in that exact interaction, personal responsibility would be more violent (depending on what you mean by violence), but the creation and maintenance of any kind of state involves levels and forms of violence that individual interactions cannot begin to approach.
as you point out, there will always be conflict. how conflict is dealt with will be contextual. funkyanarchy posits a situation in which their life is threatened by someone who refuses to negotiate (because "reasoning has failed'). that kind of scenario can happen under any kind of social structure, and violence will always be the result. just because it's the "community" or "internal police" (ew!) responding doesn't mean it's not violent.
i do not think it would be necessarily more violent or hierarchical than *any* sort of state, honestly. and the scenario i described is one devoid of institutional mediation - it is a direct relationship between two individuals, freely choosing how to deal with their disagreements. i may end up dead in that scenario, and i am ok with that.

also, to say that defending my access to life's most basic necessity - that access being consciously denied by said neighbor's dam - is "imposing my will on others" seems a bit of a stretch to me. quite a bit.

then again, you no doubt have your own way of handling undesired interactions. that's a cool thing about being individuals - we don't all have to have the same approach, even when we share objectives.

just for clarity, if i considered myself part of some community, i would surely not ignore my friends in any situation that impacted them - some or all of us may choose to act together. however, if i was being deprived of water, i would take action to ensure my access to it, regardless of what others chose to do.  and i would not be part of any community that would take issue with that.
oops, looks like dot slipped in a response just before mine. to be clear, i was responding to aardvark.
+3 votes
I read your question as one involving communities, as opposed to individuals, since that has been answered above.

My answer is that these issues are handled like most other issues - by a bunch of people sitting around gossipping and bickering and bullshitting and somehow finding a way to live with each other.  I know that doesn't fit on a flow sheet very well, but that is how people have managed to live with each other for thousands of years, and we'll just have relearn these things.
Because if they can't find a way to live with each other, then there will be conflict and it can escalate to the point that people get hurt, and people get killed.  And since the people getting hurt are your friends and your family, there is a great incentive to find some other way to work this out; and since the other communities are suffering the same, they feel the same need to de-escalate and work things out.  Or your grandmother will kick your ass.

Armed conflicts tend to be perpetuated by Rulers throwing cannon-fodder they don't give a shit about at each other; when the dead have faces and names and meaning to you, and you have any real say in what happens, then wars don't happen.  Conflicts, yes; fights, yes; feuds and vendettas and petty personal bloodletting, yes of course; war, not so much - because you, and I, are the cannon-fodder and we decline.  (This assumes, of course, that everyone involved is acting in more-or-less good faith - which leaves out the usual suspects.  And of course, those places and times in a resource death-spiral, where pretty much everyone is going to die anyway and they are fighting over who gets to die last.)

To specifics, water use can be very effectively managed by communities acting in cooperation, not through formal organizations and government agencies but just people talking to each other honestly.  Irrigation canals in central and south america have been maintained by indigenous communities for centuries, without central organization, despite interference from conquistidors, missionaries, and national governments.  Here it is important to understand that everyone downstream is entirely reliant on everyone upstream; this would be a situation that a capitalist would exploit to hold those downstream to ransom, yet this never happens - if you were to suggest such a thing everyone would stare at you as if you were a deranged idiot.

Right of trespass is common in most cultures (even in english common law, forced upon them by the peasants no doubt), as long as you don't harm the land or fuck with your neighbor's sheep everyone just waves and carries on.  This runs up against Anglo/American "property" nonsense, i think.

Access to a localised, special resource is interesting.  While one group could, in theory, seize and hold that resource to exploit all those others who would like use of that resource, in practice that only works when the group can use mass violence in the form of state armies or corporate mercenary militias.  If a small group tries to sieze a resource, and pisses off _all_ of their neighbors in the process, then they are not going to survive long.
Traditionally, these resources were either shared as a commons (managed by customs to prevent catastrophic depletion), or occupied by a single group that gifted them to whoever asked for them.

You will run across examples of this again and again if your eyes are open to it.  So yes, there is hope we can work with people who aren't Us, if we are all willing to try to work things out (and rearrange previous arrangements that aren't working).
If, on the other hand, you are dealing with a sociopath dumping mine waste in your Wild, or fracking your village - well, some people you just can't reason with ...
answered Mar 22, 2014 by clodbuster (1,930 points)
good answer.

the one thing i want to comment on is:

"if they can't find a way to live with each other, then there will be conflict and it can escalate to the point that people get hurt, and people get killed."

conflict is an unavoidable fact of life in a world where everyone does not share the same worldview, needs and desires. there is no possible world - at least one desirable to me - where conflict would not exist, or even be (at times) desirable. the interesting aspect of that is how we each choose to deal with conflict in our lives. sometimes, it will escalate to violence (however we define that). sometimes, it will result in death (with or without violence). these are simple (and complex) realities of life, and i find life much more bearable by accepting that, and not deluding myself into thinking that conflict is a "bad" thing, or trying to avoid it at all costs.
You make a good point.
I was a bit sloppy when I used the term "conflict".
On the spectrum from 'healthy social tension' to  'open violence' to 'mindless bloodletting', I was tending more to the verge of open violence, while you include the healthy social tension spread as well.
The only culture that could avoid any tension/conflict is one that is not only enslaved without, but enslaved within as well.