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.


+1 vote
I am asking this having read the comments of a previously asked question and the answers given.  I would have thought the opposite would be true that there is no longer any basis for class within the condition of anarchy.
by (2.0k points)
edited by
One down vote, which is ok, just looking for some clarification.
i think the question is unclear at best; it might better be asked as two separate questions:

is there a (widely accepted?) anarchist definition of class?

would class (as so defined) still exist in a condition of anarchy?

most  anarchists i talk to/read seem to see class through the lens of marxism/capitalism, whether or not they themselves are left-leaners. i would be very interested to hear a non-marxist definition of class coming from anarchists. personally, i see class as just another way of placing groups of individuals into a pre-defined box with pre-defined characteristics. those boxes tend to be based on economics, or in some cases social/cultural status (often the same, not always). but i see no substantial difference between those kinds of boxes and the boxes of race, gender, eating choices, clothing, hygiene, etc.

as to the second question, that surely depends on whose "condition of anarchy" you are referring to. since class generally has some connotation of oppressor/oppressed (or at minimum, some sort of hierarchy among/between classes) associated with it, surely no condition of anarchy i would choose to live in would have classes. but i tend towards an individual-based anarchy; i don't know if, for example, social anarchists would find some reason to retain classes in some non-hierarchical way.

maybe a social anarchist could chime in with their thoughts?
It seems that anarchy often is seen as a working class revolt against an upper class or ruling class.  Yet the very concept of one class opposed to another just reverses the direction, so that the working class would become the oppressor of the rich and powerful.  I see no real difference just in the number, not the form.

As I see it, Anarchy in concept is for everyone, it just operates differently than governments or other forms of control.  I don't care if someone lives like a king, I just want to live according to my own choices and desires.  Rulers only have power though the minds of their subjects and the forces of military.  That could be the focus, to take that power away from them, but not to overthrown or oppress them.

Thanks for clearing some things up for me.
clear as mud, eh?  ;-)

i would say, priimarily "red" anarchists see anarchy as "a working class revolt against an upper class or ruling class".  myself, i see it as living my own life as i desire, and revolting against *anything* (individual or "class"/group/institution) that restricts my freedom to do so. sometimes that will mean i revolt against institutions (capitalism, government), sometimes against groups (the sheep-like pc police), and mostly, against individuals that choose to oppress me.

all that said, i could not agree more with your observation that replacing one power structure (or reversing polarity) with another does NOTHING towards creating anarchy.
Rothbard comments on Calhoun in a footnote in his Power and Market:

"Castes would be a better term than "classes" here. Classes are any collection of units with a certain property in common. There is no reason for them to conflict. Does the class of men named Jones necessarily conflict with the class of men named Smith? On the other hand,  castes are State-made groups, each with its own set of violence-established privileges and tasks. Castes necessarily conflict because some are instituted to rule over the others."

So the answer is there of course are (non-conflicting) classes in anarchy, but there are no castes because there is by definition no state (ruler) to create them.
Downvoted for answering a question by quoting a non-anarchist.
Of course there would.  But, it would be more up to interpretation by the parties involved.  There would be less importance of a national "poverty level" or anything like that.  But sure, it's human nature to band together to create classes.  Even in socialist societies, you still see classes... they're just created and enforced by a state.  

The idea that anarchism involves some sort of class-based revolt (a worker's revolution) is wrong.  Anarchism is the ultimate limiting of government.  True anarchism requires a level of objectivism that deals with divorcing one's personal feelings with policy.  In other words, whether or not you feel that federal labor requirements or social welfare is a good thing or not, Anarchism does not deal with the virtue behind government intervention, it deals with how much of a limiting impact it plays on individual liberty.  In the end, when you have a central body enforcing labor standards and class maintenance, you have authoritarianism, not anarchism.  Whether production and property and the economy is controlled by a government, a church, a workers' union... it is still authoritarian, and thus, not anarchism.  Syndicalists and so-called "Anarcho-Communists" miss this.  They seem to think that, since the end justifies the means, it's okay for a central authority to exercise control in this manner.  It's kind of like Republicans claiming to be small-government because they're economic liberals, yet when it comes to being big-government on civil issues, it's okay because they agree with that kind of control.  It's subjective thinking.  Whether or not you think control is justified has nothing to do with Anarchism.  

It presents a paradox.  People will assemble.  It will happen.  So, how do you protect an anarchist society from falling under a home-grown government (be it a corporatist presence or a synidcalist union)?  Well, you can't.  The only thing you can really do is to have a central government whose only role is to protect the internal geographical structure from outside interference.  The rest is up to local communities on a voluntary basis.

So, I guess the quick answer is: Anarchism has nothing to do with class... it only suggests the absence of "national recognition."
"So, how do you protect an anarchist society from falling under a home-grown government (be it a corporatist presence or a synidcalist union)?  Well, you can't.  The only thing you can really do is to have a central government whose only role is to protect the internal geographical structure from outside interference."

"No."  Nice rebuttal.  "No."
7 years later i'm finally willing to add to my brilliant and eloquent rebuttal, oh poster-who-is-now-anon.

creating a government to protect against other governments relates to anarchy like strengthening men and encouraging them to be overly masculine to protect us against other similar men relates to keeping women safe. my rejection of such reasoning, while not compelling to someone who doesn't already agree, was much in synch with your declarations: "it will happen" "you can't" etc.

but really looking at this old old question leads me to ponder when it is conceding too much even to respond. and how that can change, given breathing room.

Please log in or register to answer this question.