Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


0 votes
How would the problem of biosecurity i.e. invasive species be treated in a hypothetical anarchist society?

Today, in nation-states, we have institutions like the border patrol who are granted the permission from the state to prohibit anyone to import species into a region where they do not naturally occur ( to prevent the possible destruction of the habitat of other species or to disrupt the biocenose of a habitat).

The border patrol has the permission to use force to prevent the import of invasive species.

The force is often necessary because many of the involved people (people who carry exotic goods) often want to keep their special goods (with contamination potential) as a gift or are to lazy to avoid them in the first place.

The impact of these invasive species is problematic because the possible disruption or even destruction of a habitat may also affect people who do not wish this impact because of aesthetical/ideological reasons like preservation of natural habitats or have a hard time treating the impact because their livelihood is depending on it.

The possibility of an impact on "innocent" people (people who do not wish that change in a habitat) is high because invasive species tend to expand over vast areas (because the ecosystem is not adapted to them and therefore no appropriate reactions are available to react to those species and regulate the ecosystem to restore a balance) and circulate ever more like a disease.

Would there be some sort of administration on the flow of goods and control of the baggage of travelers even if there are no borders?

If yes ; who would grant whom the permission and validity ( I avoid the word legitimacy because of its authoritarian origin) to control the goods for invasive species?

If no ; how could this problem be solved ( in a hypothetical anarchist society ) ?

Could the problem be solved through creating an awareness for the problem? Should a society just trust travelers to check their baggage for invasive species? It looks like it does not work on airports to just inform the travelers.

Is information for the population per informational classes and advertising all that could be done?
by (220 points)
thanks dot. this is one of the few sites i've missed over the last year and a half. i hope to dip in from time to time with more regularity.

be well-
af, i didn't interpret what you said as intending to replace "place" with "conditions" at all. i took it as simply highlighting that there are multiple factors involved here. which is spot on, imo.

dot: are you saying some folks see "native" and "diversity" as somehow synonymous?
f@, not native=diverse in a blanket way. but when i was doing stuff with plants, yea, basically i was aiming at a more diverse plant/animal mix in my area (and the world). because the point of my planting things was partly to counteract exactly what i said, homogenization: plants taking over because they're commercially viable, invasive, and/or state-sanctioned (think, urban plantings of various sorts). native plants that are specialized for certain areas go extinct just like animals do, just like lifeways do, just like languages do. i think there's a connection.

the point for this argument would be that it's fine to talk about there being a flow to habitat, and that "native" is something that develops and changes, but in this world there's not enough time nor enough less-manipulated land for that to include stuff that humans don't actively pursue.

or something like that.
thx for the explain.

dot: "the point for this argument would be that it's fine to talk about there being a flow to habitat, and that "native" is something that develops and changes, but in this world there's not enough time nor enough less-manipulated land for that to include stuff that humans don't actively pursue."

on the approximately one acre of land i live on part of the year, i notice the flow of the habitat....and i consciously put my awareness toward manipulating it as little as possible...i don't spray anything, i don't use weed whackers, etc.....and as i look around the wider area where i live, i've noticed how many more varieties of wildflowers and plants pop up on the acre where i live, how many more bees and other animals begin roaming and flying on and around that land than they do on the land very nearby...

i guess you could also say i manipulate it to some degree, as my  mate and i tend to notice certain trees, shrubs, and flowers growing, and we try to leave them while we stomp, walk on, pull, chop, with our hands and feet on the grass that has seemed to take over most of the area that surrounds us for several miles.

i know this doesn't matter much to "the world", but i like seeing and observing the changes on the land where i live....some of which comes about by my actions, and some by the actions i don't take.

3 Answers

+3 votes
mankind is not the steward of nature.  we are not its master, nor its guardian.  in fact, there is no us and them with nature and humanity, because we are not seperate, or special.  there is just the planet, and what happens on it.

ecosystems change.  thats what they do.  thats pretty much the only thing they do consistently.  guess what?  they dont put it up to a vote.  they dont ask whether people want it.

the problems we cause for the ecosystem is not due to a lack of management and order, but the abundance of those qualities.  we have them in droves.  many of the major invasive species in the world were introduced intentionally.  think rabbits in australia, possums in new zealand, cane toads around the carribean and gulf of mexico, japanese knotweed almost fucking everywhere that isnt japan, the list goes on.  introduced to kill pests, be pretty, or to make money.  and think of this; how much less rapid and extreme transfer of wildlife would there be if we didnt bumble around on hulking great sea giants, moving tonnes and tonnes of random crap around so some fat fuck can make a quick buck, or million?

if it is the ecosystem you are worried about, i have some simple advice.  dont be.  it will deal with it.  its dealt with a lot worse and pulled through, always changing, always adapting to survive.  almost sounds like theres a fundamental lesson of biology to be learned in there, eh?  if its charismatic fauna for which you are concerned, then go join greenpeace and the wwf, march down the street, and see where that gets you.  hint; usually the other end of the street.

the main threat to the environment is not change but the pace of change, the nature of that change, mostly due to the industrial processes that prop-up the states that keep those borders patrolled by rapists and murders.  and those borders?  do they carefully map biological data on bio-regions and habitats?  or do they map the hubris and wars of bigoted, self-serving assholes trying to forge an empire?  hint; its the second

nature can survive.  thats all it does.  this notion of nature vs humanity, of duality, is whats killing everything.  pumping it full of plastic, oil, radiation, heat, fuck dood.  an anarchist society?  whats that?  there are just people living on a planet.  some of us dont want to rape and pillage it for our own insane, innane purposes.  we try our bests to live our lives honestly.  we do not try to fix the worlds problems, not that that wouldnt be nice.  what vanity!  all i control is me, so all im concerned with is what i should do next.

apparently thats take enough cough medicine to traumatise a small child, and go to bed at 5am, but hey.
by (2.1k points)
can almost feel a taoist quote coming along... time to do some digging

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe - Lao Tzu

I dig ur clinchers
+3 votes
I really appreciate what SMS said in their answer. This is really an addition to that (because I was gonna say tha same thing and less well)

We (humans, as opposed to anarchists) can't stop invasive species, and we shouldn't necessarily. I am not for invasive species, per say; the creek out my window right now is infested with New Zealand Mud Snails which, given that it channels under much of city I live in, will eventually clog it out. The banks are littered with Japanese Knotweed. Up the hill there is a mess of Himalayan Blackberry, and there are Locust Trees and Morning Glory everywhere. Me and my neighbors are cursed by English Ivy.

These are all things I consider enemies as surely as the state and I attack them constantly. Like the cops, they keep coming back. It doesn't mean don't attack.

What makes a species invasive though? It is an entirely civilized concept that is based on the idea that a place is pristine and must be kept that way. There is pretty much no where in the world that is pristine.

It isn't specific species that are the problem (not even Ivy, I might even be willing to admit, though I will still try to kill it), it is how they are introduced, and the way in which civilization (in this particular case I am thinking about boats and planes) help to move a species from one place to another faster than it allows for a place to adapt. That is a problem of civilization.

The Ivy I hate so much? That is only here because some rich guy thought that it would be fancy for his estate to look like it was in Merry Olde England and so he planted some. The mud snails from NZ? As I understand it they came by cruise ship and then leisure boaters helped spread them. Himalayan Blackberries were introduced because the native blackberries weren't as "productive"

None of that is about people just existing, it is about capitalism and civilization. It is about technics that eclipse the pace of actual lived lives for convenience or profit or comfort.

I don't have a vision of an anarchist world, but there would certainly not be some administrative board that governed what could and couldn't come in to a place. There would definitely be no Border Patrol, but then again, there'd be no borders. Airplanes rely on raw materials that might not be available anymore (sucks for your springtime Paris weekend, but is great for, well, everything else). I guess what I am trying to say, and not doing very well, is that the slowing down of travel that eliminating civilization and capitalism  would likely lead to (assuming we don't replace capitalism with some sort of socialism) would largely slow the pace at which things move from this place to that place. Often (not always, looking at you blackberries) what makes a species invasive is that it appears in a place so suddenly that the existing ecosystem can't adapt.

Imagine how much different that would be if the pace of travel was what a person could walk in one day.
by (22.1k points)
edited by
"What makes a species invasive though? It is an entirely civilized concept that is based on the idea that a place is pristine and must be kept that way."

this is a huge point. just think about all the species of life that are moved from one place to another - sometimes very far away - by insects, birds, mammals, maybe even fish. from seeds to pollen to eggs to feces to ... living beings pick shit up (purposely and not so purposely) and take it to wherever they are headed, and along the way.

the sagebrush that covers so much of the high desert mesa where i lived for many years, was apparently not "native" to the area; what some would call an invasive species. yet many today would say it is a major part of the integral character of the area.

humans are by far the most invasive species, best i can tell.
I am not sure about the concept of humans as the most invasive species idea. I would absolutely agree that we are to most destructive species on the planet, but I am also weirded out by the idea of labeling humans as "invasive." It betrays a particular misanthropy I don't hold any more. Not to say I m like, "Hurray for humans!!! Three cheers!!!", but I associate that language with the folks who are like, "we should not exist." To me that feels like a cop out on some level. Everyone I know who argues that line is either pursuing a PHD or doesn't ever do anything but shit post on the internet and go to punk shows (which is, admittedly, not that far from my reality).

It just feels like a cop out to that fact that we are part of the world, we are from here, our cousins live (and have gone extinct) here. Shit, I feel like I am veering into Daniel Quinn territory, so I'ma stop.

"humans are by far the most invasive species"

spreading out, overpopulating, and ruining ecosystems? yup

ingrate I suppose I will openly admit to being a misanthrope. not like that religious group that advocates suicide but as weve talked about here before, maybe humans disappearing wouldn't be so bad, not sure I'm at "we shouldn't exist" tho,

I say all that to say: you are right, I am in college, shitpost, and go to punk shows.

@dd fuck dood at least ur in college and go to punk shows, i just shitpost.  and yeah, humans are pretty fucking virulent.  its an observation, not a moral judgement.

ingrate: although i often have strong misanthropic tendencies, i am not one of those folks you referred to. i have had many an argument with the "voluntary human extinction" folks over the years. plus i've never been into punk music, and i have always been severely allergic to academia. :-)

humans are just another animal, and i have no moral judgement around the existence of any form of life. specific individuals, on the other hand...

that said, as i understand the term, humans are absolutely an invasive species. of course any time an entire species is referenced, it is a generalization. i don't tend - or like - to think in those terms; it is a massification that i don't typically find useful.

humans may be native to this planet (some folks don't even believe that), but so is every other species considered "invasive". i can't imagine another species on earth desiring, planning and devoting huge resources towards, the colonization/invasion of other worlds.

i think of the term as relative to a particular bioregion or ecosystem, and in my lifetime i have observed some of what humans have done to numerous ecosystems. most often (though not always), what i've observed was not likely done by those humans that may have been native to that bioregion. though i guess there will always be collaborators.

i do think there will be a massive reduction in human (and likely many other species) population in the not too distant future. how that occurs, i don't even care to speculate. but i think it is pretty much inevitable, given the trajectory of thought and activity evidenced by humans - humans alone, though not all humans - over the past few hundred years. the word "unsustainable" is way overused imo, but in this case, i think it applies rather well.

don't even get me started on "green" capitalism and (what passes for) "renewable" energy. i've been living "off-grid" for almost a couple decades now, and i co-wrote an article years ago about the full lifecycle of solar panels; it ain't pretty. and that wouldn't even come close to the same exploration of the battery technology needed to make solar panels useful for anything other than folks with money reducing their monthly gridded electric bill and feeling food about themselves for "saving the planet".

as george carlin said (paraphrasing): the planet will be just fine, it will shake off human impact like a dog waking from a nap and shaking the sawdust off its coat. unless, of course, humans blow it to bits, which is a distinct possibility (though i find that highly unlikely). yet, that doesn't mean i don't see or care about what humans continue to do. all i can do is try my best not to contribute to the destruction and uglification of the planet, and maybe once in a while help someone else to think differently about their own role in it all.

i also want to second something sms said in their answer: the idea that humans are "stewards" of the planet is absurd, patronizing and unbelievably naive.

so basically we are all some sort of greenish anarchists...
"Imagine how much different that would be if the pace of travel was what a person could walk in one day."

that is my dream. or one of them, anyways.

the frequency with which i see "environmental activists" hop on planes to go all over the world in order to promote their "green" agenda is really astonishing.

when i lived in southern oregon, the area was overgrown with wild blackberries that may well have been considered "invasive". i fucking loved them! delicious, awesome natural fencing/barrier (serious thorns), beautiful...  i ate blackberries almost every day while they were in season.

where i live now, that japanese shitweed ingrate mentioned is a serious problem, and is all but impossible to get rid of.  it is beautiful, though.
+1 vote

The ecological perspective with which I agree has been expressed very well by the others: let's try, hard as it may be, to welcome or even actively help species move around and explore a diversity of habitat. Environments change continually; it is hard to truly see any ecosystem as stable or balanced. Those species that rise to dominance change the ecosystem in ways that make their decline inevitable. We humans do have great power and therefore great responsibility (uncle ben). That responsibility, I believe, is to help keep ecosystems dynamic -- not stable. I see our apparent ecological role as the destroyer of worlds. If we are to like our own species and not hate it, we can view this role as contributing to the succession of species and creating exciting new oportunities for novel lifestyles. Rarely what we intend, but real: did I hear that microbes are evolving that can eat plastic?

That bigger picture out of the way, let's look at our personal experience: we don't like rapid change, do we? So the question is about keeping species out of our homes that would hurt our friends. I think that's totally fair. I want my friends to thrive, and I'll be damned if I let kudzu come smother them.  The question as it relates to anarchy could be: where are the borders drawn and by whom? In an anarchist society this would have to arise from the free will of an area's current occupants respecting the freedom of anyone to opt out of the collective action at any time (probably suffering the disapproval of her peers, but hey, society needs a share of rebels). This would amount to each individual fighting to defend the space she can directly influence from invasion, and encouraging neighbors to do the same. The people will change, the borders will change... ultimately the cause is lost, but by then you probably won't be around to care. In fact, maybe we have to die precisely so evolution doesn't get stuck.

by (600 points)
As I sit here and mull it over some more... Maybe what the anarchist wants to fight above all else is dominance. The invasive species would be welcome, I suppose, until its influence gets too great. At that point it switches from increasing biodiversity to reducing it. It is only at that point it becomes a problem, and the problem is not its presence but its dominance. That's when humans, destroyer of worlds, come into their own and haul it to the guillotine.

"until its influence gets too great. At that point it switches from increasing biodiversity to reducing it. It is only at that point it becomes a problem "

i think that is a very valid point.

i guess an argument against it might be something like: in a given ecosystem, species X - based on observed experience elsewhere - would be very likely to dominate this ecosystem (it would wipe out numerous others), and so keeping it out to begin with is the preferred way to preserve the ecosystem.

it becomes a rather easy analogy for how (some) human groups deal with adversarial groups. antifa activists want to prevent suspected fascists from even speaking in their "ecosystem", likely for similar reasons.

"If we are to like our own species and not hate it,"

i find it useless to speak of "liking" or "hating" an entire species. at least when i am capable of - and desire - having direct relations with individuals of that species. it would be meaningless (and dishonest) for me to say "i love the canine species". it would be honest for me to say "i have known several dogs that i love". exactly the way i would refer to humans, or any other species with individuals that i might choose to relate with. which definitely includes various plant species.

however, there are species that i do not choose to have individual relations with; and in those cases i likely do generalize to that level. mosquitoes, ticks and poison oak come to mind. and the sagebrush that dominated the terrain where i lived for any years (considered by many in the area to be an invasive species).

although even then, i usually eliminate them one at a time, and i do tend to feel something for that individual as i kill it. many are the times a friend has walked up to my place and heard me saying "don't suffer, just die!" as i swat biting insects to their death. when pulling and digging up by their roots sagebrush or poison oak, i usually found myself apologizing to them while acknowledging and respecting their insanely strong root systems (esp the sage).

We are on the same wavelength here, oddly enough. And I concede that we can and should (yeah, I said it: "should") attempt to predict what the addition of a new species will do to an ecosystem. Based on that we have to make our decision about welcoming, tolerating or preventing its arrival. But I insist our prediction will be wrong in some ways and we should (yes, I said it again) hedge our bets by only doing it half-ass. I mean, kill the ticks, but not 100% of them.
i killed 87 flies yesterday (yes, i kept count for some reason...i like games i guess) that somehow kept squirming into the cabin where i live - even when i closed all the windows and doors!

i felt somewhat bad about it, as for over 3 hours i had nothing on my mind but killing the little rascals....but i killed them anyway.

today, only 3 or 4 emerged, and i left them alone.

i don't know how much that little story has to do with the topic at hand...but it seemed timely given the discussion of ticks and skeeters between syrphant and funky....and i still have the image of all those flies in my mind.. they sure felt like an invasive species threatening my biosecurity....and i had no time to ask for permission from an administration!   :)
I always felt bad about killing insects and weeds and even cutting asparagus. Then about a year ago I stumbled on a concept in an early-twentieth century biology treatise: Sacrificial Abundance. It is as if the vast majority of plant and insect species "intentionally" overproduce (eggs, leaves, etc). Overproduction beyond the point of compensation for bad luck; beyond the point where marginal utility turns negative. A big part of this production, it would seem to the author, is "intended" for trade with mutualists and appeasement of ennemies. Not that this strategy is the result of any conscious reasoning, just that evolutionary innovators that developed this behavior benefitted from it in the sense that their descendance persists.

Like, you have extra children because in the interest of some you will sacrifice the others to the volcano god. You don't know which ones the volcano god will want, so you make them all suitable for both survival and sacrifice.

edited to add a better analogy: Like, you grow fifteen extra arms. Now, maybe you would benefit from having four arms, but if you had to keep all your arms most would just get in the way. You didn't grow all those arms to keep them: the usefulness of most of your arms is not in their operation but as delicious meat for others; you might get something in return (if only the joy of giving), maybe at least be allowed to live.
Another concept that helped me deal with the problem of breaking the golden rule in relations with plants and insects: I don't remember where I read or heard it, but the individual organism can be seen as the parent divided and refreshed. The difference between sexual and asexual reproduction is maybe not so great. If what we actually see in a patch of weeds is both a bunch of weeds and a single weed in many independently viable parts... well, we can kill them without killing it (we need only leave a few alone).

Think of your bloody business of killing 87 flies as giving a haircut to the fly that lives on as the 3 or 4 you left alone.
Your comment, BA@, isn't irrelevant to the topic: it sort of shows how an anarchist society might automatically/naturally deal with immigration in general, of all species.
thanks, syrphant.....both of your comments made feel better...and the second one caused me to see a relationship i didn't see before...