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What fiction or other art portrays anarchic society?

+4 votes

What novels, movies, poems, etc. portray anarchic interactions positively?

I have this idea that people are uncomfortable acting in ways that they can't emulate from stories, either historical or fictional.  I want to have some titles available to offer friends and family, especially children.

I'll start off with Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men.  What else can you think of?

asked May 23, 2015 by k.lin (470 points)
the movie Harold and Maude portrays some anarchic interactions, including the two characters' relationship. i recommend it for ruth gordon's performance alone, and i think some kids would like it too (i watched it originally at about age 11).
Hella hella Harold and Maude.

you may find interest in reading Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin. i've only read the first volume.
edit: reread question. it may not be what you're seeking as it doesn't depict an anarchic society.

"slow apocalypse" was an interesting look at how people deal with the breakdown of society (takes place in los angeles). not explicitly anarchist at all, but i found aspects rather thought provoking. i actually think it is the most realistic "mainstream" depiction of that situation i have read. which may not be saying much.

5 Answers

+3 votes

Crimethinc actually put out some things I think are alright on these terms: 

Expect Resistance is both polemic (in the spirit of Days of War Nights of Love) that is a little more, well, polemic than I like, but has three (or four? I would have to re-read..) narratives that nicely tie in the recycled and sometimes bludgeonsome bits of theory through the stories of some folks coming together at a university occupation, and then shooting off from there. This book engaged me in a way that their earlier books hadn't.

They also put out two children's books, The Secret World of Terijen and the Secret World of Duvbo that I found delightful.

Someone will mention Bolo'Bolo so it might as well be me (still haven't read it, but many people do like it),

Aragorn! has written a couple zines (Story of the Bear People Story of the Racoon People) that I enjoyed, don't know if they give much of a vision, so much as serving as allegory.

There are more things... this is what I can think of right now (meaning I will edit or comment to add more).

answered May 23, 2015 by ingrate (21,970 points)
edited May 26, 2015 by ingrate
+2 votes

i'm gonna take a shot at my first answer, so bear with me. there are a few movies that depict anarchist interactions or societies.

- Rebellion in Patagonia - it's about anarcho-syndicalist workers who are allied with other workers against the transnational wool company. the rebellion of the workers was brutally put down. the movie takes place in argentina and i believe is based on the massacre in Patagonia in 1821. 

- Alexander The Great - it depicts an anarchist named Alexander and others attempt to overthrow a monarch. Alexander later betrays the people and sides with the monarchy. 

- Zero For Conduct - it's about a student rebellion at a boarding school.

- Salt of the Earth - depicts a collective of miners and their struggles to work freely and live their lives freely.

- Behold a Pale Horse - about the spanish civil war and a bandit. it's somewhat based on an anarchist guerrilla named Francesc Sabate Llopart 

- Viva Zapata! - it's about Emiliano Zapata and set during mexico's revolution. 

i provided the imdb links to make them easier to find. there are other films like Land and Freedom and a few more i can't think of. hope that was somewhat useful

edit: fixed formatting and wording

answered May 25, 2015 by Zubaz (4,140 points)
edited May 25, 2015 by Zubaz
+2 votes

I can't believe no one has mentioned Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed. It's a bust read for any anarchist. Also, William Morris' News From Nowhere is somewhat libertarian socialist response to Bellamy's Looking Backwards. Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is also good, but it has been an inspiration for ancaps and other right libertarians, so be warned. Nonetheless it is a depiction of a society free of government force. For movies I suggest LIbertarias, which depicts the Mujeres LIbres of spain (Free Women of Spain). 

answered May 28, 2015 by Happinessisbunk (220 points)
0 votes

i'm on the last book of the terra ignota trilogy, by ada palmer, who has a very interesting, confusing, philosophical take on a sort of bolo'bolo style society (barring the extremely significant size limitation, among other things) that includes two different groups i would call anarchic (the blacklaws and the utopians), within a larger context that could also be called meta-anarchy or some fucking thing. don't quote me on that. 

kinda reads like a philosophy doctoral thesis in fiction form, which isn't to say it's dry, although it is at times. anyway, if you have some time and brainspace, i think it's worthwhile.

edit: to include some other science fiction pieces, because i feel this list so far is seriously lacking--
iain banks' culture novels
"the last of the masters" by PK dick

always coming home by UK le guin (if i recall correctly) (i mean, it's definitely by ursula, and i think it has an anarchist society. it's been decades since reading)

walkaway by cory doctorow

woman on the edge of time by marge piercy

the city, not long after by pat murphy

answered Nov 11, 2018 by dot (52,130 points)
edited May 3 by dot
sounds potentially interesting. except the "philosophy doctoral thesis" aspect. i have such an aversion to academic philosophical texts - not least because of my relatively limited vocabulary that requires me to look up every third word - that i may not be capable of giving it a fair chance. (edit: though in reality, it is the opaque, elistist tenor of the text more than the words per se) but maybe this winter, once i'm done all my winter priorities and stuck inside for 3 months, i would check it out. primarily because i really want to know what "meta-anarchy" might be. :-)
yea, it's not academic. it is kind of the opposite of that, although it would probably make more sense for people who are grounded in folks like voltaire and hobbs (definitely not me). but it might be more fun for folks who are not (less checking references, more imagination).

my housemate didn't make it through the second one, but agrees that it's an interesting effort. the writing is oddly... can't think of the word for it. gothic, maybe? i look forward to your thoughts come spring.

edit:ok - not meta-anarchy. just unreliable narrator and a very gradual explanation curve, i guess.
definitely addressing questions about government, society, and religion in an interesting and aggressively non-anti-civ way.

coolest treatment of gender, i think. fwtw. have fun!
+2 votes

There are a series of books by Iain M. Banks known as the "Culture Series" that's about space anarcho-communists known as 'The Culture' that have colonized the galaxy. The Culture is comprised of many different alien species, post-humans humans, and A.I. A lot of the books deal with the dilemmas faced when interacting with authoritarian planets. There are 10 or 11 books in all.

Voyage From Yesteryear by James P. Morgan could be considered to be depicting an anarchist society. It deals with a first generation of humans born on some planet that are completely disconnected from humans on earth and are raised by robots who teach them about true freedom. Then the fascists arrive and try enslave them

Eumeswil by Ernest Junger. It's not about an anarchist society, but the main character is a Max Stirner type of individual anarch living in a society eerily similar to today's society.

Aaaaaand this is a bit of a stretch, but if you're into that Kevin Tucker primal anarchy stuff then Monkey Planet aka Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. The human like species in that book 'rewild', undomesticated, and devolved themselves into hunter gatherers that can't talk, per se, but can make noises. There are a few movies based off the book, but they're a wee bit different.

answered Jun 4 by Zubaz (4,140 points)
edited Jun 4 by Zubaz
i had to upvote you just for your ending understatement

maybe similar to what z said about "Eumeswil", and at the risk of straying a bit close to an-cap style libertarianism, i found the main character of ayn rand's "the fountainhead" to be similarly stirner-esque. it has been quite a few years since i read it. now that i think of it, i remember a passage in "anthem" (also by rand) that struck me as a virtual egoist stump speech. :-)

rand is a perfect example of someone whose ideas (as i take them from my readings) are overall far from my own, but there are elements that i find useful.

i would take that as a reason to doubt stirner, rather than as a credit to ayn! ;)
i doubt em both, believe me.

but i take what makes sense for me, from both.