Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Does anarchy require decivilization?

+3 votes
it may look like a stupid question, but no one in this world knows everything.

I mean, anarchy can be applied in nowadays society with internet, electricity, and modern technology?
asked Oct 5, 2014 by anonymous
"I mean, anarchy can be applied in nowadays society with internet, electricity, and modern technology?"

My answer is yes to this secondary question, as I think I'm applying it in many ways - and I'm constantly looking for more ways to live it and to find others who are willing to live creatively and against the systems of domination and authority.

It is certainly a struggle, however, and often I feel hypocritical as I still use so many "products" and conventions of hierarchical society. But if I didn't think it was possible, I wouldn't be here writing about it.

1 Answer

+1 vote
Alfredo Bonanno defined anarchy as a tension to be lived every day in conflict with the established, non-anarchist order. That, at least, is how I read his writings.

I don't know if 7 billion people can live in a state of total anarchy. I believe that such a phenomenon will indeed require decivilization, and probably generations of healing from the toxic culture, as well as rotting of and forgetting how to use the physical infrastructure carved out of the landscape by civilization.

When Rome fell, Western civilization survived because the husk of the empire that it left was eventually re-used, and a large enough portion of humanity was domesticated enough where civilization could keep on turning. (Oversimplication, I know. Historians put me in my place please if I'm getting this wrong) The situation could easily be the same with our global civilization.

But I do think that it's possible for enough people to live anarchy where states are forced out of territories, cultures are infected with anti-authoritarianism, and such. So no, anarchy doesn't require decivilization, but I do think that it can more easily flourish in it and helps the process along.

edited to fix grammar
answered Oct 5, 2014 by flip (3,970 points)
Again, that's my point. ARE complex societies civilization? My argument is that "civilization" really doesn't exist, except as an arbitrary, inherently inaccurate, means of broad categorization.

And yes, you are right, societies are very much evolved. "Create" was a poorly chosen word.
Does the word 'civil' and/or 'citizen' have any relevance outside settled, agriculturally-based, centralized and hierarchical power structures? Given the terms' Latin roots and narrowed usage by the Romans and onward in the west, I'm inclined to think not.

Again, as I think Lawrence pointed out in another thread, your idiosyncratic usage of terminology is more a hindrance than a refinement.
I'm not arguing for a new definition of civilization, I'm arguing that by it's old definition, it's a poor concept.

 "Civil" is one of those words that really means whatever you apply it to. "Citizen" is the word for a person living under the authority of a centralized state. Though they share roots, they aren't really directly comparable to the idea of "civilization", though  I don't know why they would be compared anyway, I never used either of those words.

When we use the term 'civil' we usually mean by it, 'polite,' which strictly means to be a recognized unit of a polity, of the 'polis,' the city, and as such, a *citizen.* A 'polite' person is a civilized person, a politically-recognized 'person,' a citizen. Thereby they are recognized as belonging (or not) according to the Power that have created, built, and maintain the city through its moral code set in law; civilization.

Catching the drift?
Sure. But that still doesn't really address the fact that "civilization" isn't a useful term. If you define it as a moral code set in law, then sure, you can define those other words by that, but really those other words aren't that useful either. Lots of societies that are considered "uncivilized" have strict rules that could be considered "laws".