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Anarchy/Anarchism, its a nice idea, but it'll never happen.

+2 votes
I've heard this statement so many times when discussing Anarchist ideas and principles, as well as how an Anarchist world could be achieved, I was just wondering, what response would you give?
asked Oct 27, 2014 by Anarcho-Goth (830 points)
I'd say that it does happen, it has happened, it will happen...in various ways to varying degrees. If pressed further, I give examples (historical, personal, observational, theoretical) if I perceive the person has an authentic interest in exploring/sharing ideas and experiences.

If I'm told that it will never happen that the entire earth's population of people will live in complete anarchy simultaneously, I say that I don't know about that with any certainty one way or the other. But that unknowing doesn't stop me from trying to live anarchy as fully as I can at any given moment, nor will it prevent me from seeking out others who feel the same way. As long as I have this strong, internal desire, it's more real to me than just a "nice idea".

Anarcho-Goth, I like your question as it's something I've faced and likely will face even more as I've become more outspoken about my views.

I'm wondering what your response has been to people, and what challenges the dialogue has presented to you...and of what use you think it is to you to find new or different responses. This is stuff I struggle with on a fairly regular basis, and I'm interested in hearing other peoples' experiences and observations. I'd appreciate whatever you'd like to offer.

edited to add....

I'd be glad to hear anyone else's responses as well.
I usual find myself responding with historical examples, such as the Spanish revolutionary period and also make reference to the Ukrainian free territory. I sometimes try and use modern examples such as free town Christania and I also appeal to psychological and evolutionary concepts like Altruism and demonstrate how such behaviour can be understood as being an example of mutual aid. I might also use examples of small scale cultures that show distinct egalitarianism and anti-hierarchical tendencies. I suppose ultimately though it depends who I'm talking to and what their background and understanding is.
I suppose I'm just trying to construct better more convincing arguments, and trying to learn from others who may have encountered such responses themselves.
Thanks for the reply, AG.

Yeah, I've often found myself wanting to construct more convincing arguments too. More recently, I've been primarily concerned with being as clear as I can - and then, if I feel I've done that, I try to determine if the person is really interested in exploring ideas or if they want to argue for hierarchy. Then, I'm either in an interesting, dynamic conversation....or, the whole discussion is over quickly. Both of those situations are desirable to me. But the convincing part I'm trying to give up on completely. I've become exhausted mentally and emotionally going that route too many times for my own sanity! :)

2 Answers

+1 vote
I usually respond that humans lived in a state of anarchy for the vast majority of human existence on earth.
answered Oct 27, 2014 by flip (4,790 points)
As I said such cases are not universal, but there are several interesting examples of societies that are non-sedentary, and are distinctly egalitarian and even anti-hierarchical, an example could be the Mbuti. I think Flip's was a valid point, when looking at other cultures and even more so when looking at what we understand as past cultures, we are looking at them through our modern or 'post modern' understanding. Words like authority and hierarchy are imbued with our modern understanding of them, this is not to say that many tribal, small scale or non-agricultural, non-sedentary people are not or were not hierarchical, merely to say that those concepts are a facet of our understanding of our own society. Avoiding imposing ones own societal schema's and understanding onto the structures of another society is immensely difficult, which is why so called 'anti-civ' versus 'pro-civ' arguments are filled with potholes. The fact is that both those terms and understandings are flawed and largely dated, and whilst you may think it unproductive to avoid comparing cultures, it is something that is necessary to actually understand another culture in its own language. I think its just as unproductive to try and compare and classify cultures.
Lawrence, your ideas are trash (seriously, these kinds of statements are SO cathartic. Once I stopped caring about formality, discussion got a lot more fun). They have no basis to even argue against. I'm basically blowing my words into the wind, and thus I'm not motivated to flunk all my classes to bend over backwards trying to accomodate all of your irrelevant, superficial criticisms. But you continue with your "I must be right because my ideas say I'm right, and my being right says my ideas are right" nonsense, I'll stick with science and unmuddled common thinking, free from the restrictive chains of philosophical circular thinking.
Seriously bro, you need to step back and learn what a discussion is and how to argue. You make no sense because your statements are devoid of substance. "Your ideas are trash" is an empty insult. Pointing out your lack of substance is not irrelevant or superficial -- unless you have idiosyncratic definitions of those terms. I'm not asking you to flunk any of your precious classes; what I said is that using your studies as an excuse for not responding to any of the actual, real, and substantial criticisms I and others have brought up is a deflection. I don't care about your studies, but if you don't have time to respond to other people's objections, you should probably not write stupid things that are bound to be challenged.

There's no circular reasoning on my end. If you can show me even a single example of that, I'll give you a sincere and open apology.
I tried typing out meticulously worded and carefully thought out discussions. People just jumped on whatever superficial phrases they could to avoid responding to any of my actual points, leaving me wasting a lot of energy for no reason. So I just decided to accept the fact that on this website, the inflammatory statements I make are the only ones that are ever going to actually be read.

As for circular reasoning, I can't remember whose argument it was, but the old "You can't possibly be representing this person's thought, because you didn't pick the aspects of that person's thought that I agree with" argument and its variations are pretty irritating. As is the old "you don't know anything because this philosophy says that you can't possibly know that. I know this because this same philosophy says so" argument is tiring as well.
I can't help wondering why you bother at all, why bother making apparently inflammatory statements on a website you seem convinced is frequented by fools and arrogant faux intellectuals? Interaction with this site and those who frequent it is entirely voluntary, nothing will happen to you if you do not respond or correspond with any of the strangers on this site. What will happen however is that if you make statements that are not grounded in any kind of fact or are not supported by reasoned arguments you will lose any credibility with those who do frequent this site, likewise if you make arguments based upon poorly thought through ideas people will challenge and question them, but again, why do you even bother and why do you even care, if this site is frequented by such peoples as seem to irritate you so much?
+1 vote
I often say a bit of what flip and baa both said, and that even if the ideal anarchist future (not that there is one ideal here, but I would be trying not to digress too much) is never forthcoming, that should not stop or hold me back as an anarchist from attacking those things that Ihate and that inhibit my freedom or that of people and things that I love or care about.

If we only wait to act until victory is certain, we'll be waiting a long time.
answered Oct 28, 2014 by ingrate (23,670 points)
If we wait until victory is certain, it will never arrive. We will never achieve a better world if we resign ourselves to its impossibility. If we aren't going to fight we might as well give up now.