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–9 votes
First let me say that I am NOT arguing for minarchism in the least, and that is not what I mean by "constitutional anarchy." Let me also say that the term "constitutional anarchy" is one I made up, and so you should probably read the following explanation before answering. Sorry if it's a lot to read, but reading is necessary to understand my point.

What I mean by "constitutional anarchy" is the idea that an anarchist community, in its formation, should draw up a list of (edit:) specific aspects of community and personal life (end edit) that should be respected by everyone in the community, regardless of the circumstance. Kind of like the Bill of Rights, but agreed upon by everyone, not just rich white guys. Noncompliance would be punished by ostracization or some other kind of negative social sanction (for more information, check out the various questions on this site about anarchists dealing with crime).  Participation in the community, and thus agreement to follow the outline of the constitution, would be completely voluntary, and different communities wouldn't be in any way obligated to have the same constitutions. People could very easily "shop" for a community with a constitution that they preferred, or if they wanted to change the constitution, they could take it up with the community.

These constitutions would not in any way restrict personal freedoms, except as they relate to the well-being of other members of a community. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you don't hurt other people. This is a well-established anarchist credo, and a constitution would simply clarify that statement in relation to the community.

I know that many people will make the argument that by its nature, an anarchist society will never have atrocity or inequality and there is no reason to create a list of "rights" because every right that a person could possibly have would already be respected, but I don't believe that's true. For example, the issue of sex atrocities and the people who commit them comes up often, and there has never been a really good answer given, answers are usually vague and noncommital. (The "just let the family deal with it as they see fit approach" does NOT work. Often it results in feuding clans, which results in the creation of authority and institutionalized violence). A community with a concern for the sexual well-being of its young children could draw up a constitution that states that children incapable of explicitly stating consent and giving a clearly reasoned explanation of their consent (which would eliminate most kids under 13) have the right not to be pressured to have sex, and a girl who is not old enough to safely have a child without a serious risk to her wellbeing has the right to not be pressured with sex (eliminates most girls under 16). If a person violates that, they would become subject to punishment by the community. If a person doesn't like that, and I'm sure some anarchists wouldn't like the idea of that kind of restriction, they could simply find another community without that kind of constitution, or without any constitution at all (though I imagine most families with young kids, especially girls, would choose to live in communities with more protective constitutions).

Also, as an irrelevant side note I want to mention the fact that this American obsession with ridiculously young girls is probably a side-effect of a pedophile culture that doesn't value or respect womanhood. Women in most traditional cultures don't generally have their first child until they are in their twenties.

If a community felt it appropriate, it could even be helpful to outline methods of "justice"(another loaded term, but basically I mean the way of dealing the appropriate consequences for individual actions, not the consequences themselves. Those would need to be decided individually, per case) in the constitution. For example, as I mentioned, family vengeance quickly leads to clan warfare, which creates a violent, authoritarian culture. Instead, I might propose a method of "trial by open, voluntary jury," in which the entire community is allowed to weigh in on the issue before a punishment is dealt, helping to make sure that just one group of people, like an angry family, isn't exercising sole authority over that person's fate.

Oh, and finally, this constitution is not concrete. There is no centralized state enforcing it, there is no authority inherently belonging to it, it is simply a list of suggestions that the members of the community request that each other follow on the potential penalty of social punishment. If a community happened to become divided on an issue about the constitution, it could easily divide itself into two halves, with people simply joining the half that they preferred. Communities are not concrete either.

I know that this idea of a "constitutional anarchy" will probably be rejected by purists, but it might have some promise. Let me know what you think. Even if it has some issues that I'm not seeing, it's a flexible system. Oh, and yes, I'm most sympathetic to the anarcho-communist school of thought, so you can probably see where I'm coming from in that context (and now all the post-leftists can make fun of anarcho-communism in retaliation).

edited to fix tags
by (-10 points)
edited by
"if this whole semantical ridiculousness about the nature of "rights" is the only obstacle to my idea..."
But the nature of rights is *the central issue* to your bizarre quasi-statist idea. If you can't be bothered to separate the rights discourse from its immersion in statist language -- not to mention practice! -- then it's always going to be difficult for people who have dispensed with that discourse as a way of trying to convince anyone of anything to take you seriously. If you were to use moralism as the basis of your arguments, you'd get similar responses.

tl;dr: rights and morality are for saps.
lantz: "Rights aren't "laws", at least not in my scenario. They are guidelines."

OK. No harm done since your constitutionalism amounts to nothing more than, "Aw jeez, come on fellas, can't we just play this way?"

I just can't understand why it took so much heavy breathing and keyboard pounding to get there.
While I usually find the knee jerk reaction to talking about "rights" to be intellectually lazy, your proposal illustrates the dangers quite well. Certainly all groups need ways of maintaining and negotiating values and behavior, but your proposal seems very legalistic. In fact, I'm having a hard time distinguishing between your examples and actual laws, despite the clever phrasing. You might as well say things like "You have the right to not smoke marijuana", and pretend that's not a law. I've found written rules to be useful sometimes, but I think it's extremely dangerous to consider them as a basis for organization. They are specific tools to solve specific problems. Why not concentrate on integrating other modes of interaction into your life? Ritual, celebration, mandatory drinking sessions, all the tools you can think of.
I was gonna make a long reply to these comments, but you know, you guys are actually right. A society based on the harm principle, and mutual aid, and free association, doesn't need a list because rights are already built into those principles. However, I still think that communities should try to reach an agreement on behavior that will not be tolerated, and advertise those agreements to potential members. I might believe in equality, but I still have no interest in ever living in a community that tolerates pedophilia or anything like that, because those are the kind of topics that the harm principle can get a little fuzzy about.
Lantzed again!

2 Answers

+2 votes
[since nobody chose to actually log an answer, allow me.]

the phrase "constitutional system of anarchy" is one of the most bizarre i have heard in quite some time. kind of like "anarcho-capitalist". it just doesn't work, in my mind.
by (13.4k points)
i realize this answer speaks only to the phrase itself, but i figure all the comments above do sufficiently for actual concept. or else i'm just being lazy. :-)
I wouldn't call it lazy at all. Succinct is how I'd categorize your answer.

It's often easy to get lost (at least for me) in pages of concepts, theories, explanations, and interpretations. But like you, that phrase sounds strange to's a contradiction within itself. I can't visualize it, feel it, or understand it, and pages of words doesn't help me.

So, I appreciate your answer. A "constitutional system" is not of interest to me, except to wish for its demise.
Your idea is great, don’t let these dogmatic folk get you down.

A contract is the reification of an agreement. It provides proof and is a reminder of what was agreed upon.

Nothing wrong with writing down and communicating things that have been agreed upon.

If we didn’t need to write things down then we’d already be in an anarchist utopia. We do not operate in a system of intuitive synchronicity. We actually need to work somE things out and communicate them.

So called rights, improperly posited as they are, are not simply a legitimate, they are likely necessary; otherwise you will have tyrannies of power (populist, economic, etc.).

I am obviously bias and only came to your 2014 post because I am thinking about this concept.
whilst you might look at reification, the act of making some abstract concept into an object, as providing permanence, i tend to look on this as obscuring and alienating.  i like to try to live my life moment to moment, immediately and without mediation, my desires and wishes changing as i change.  not that its going particularly well ill admit, but im hanging in.  to try and view our acts as permanent and timeless, our wishes as timeless, i think we are only going to lead ourselves rather quickly down a hole of disappointment.  -sounds like my ex, hayo!- *airhorn*  on that note, i would like to know if people who like the idea of 'constitutional anarchy' sign relationship constitutions To Remind Themselves.  as i was writing that last sentence i realised that thats literally what a marriage is, its a relationship agreement hahahaha  im too high who let me on the internet

i also like that you imply that the only thing between us and an 'anarchist utopia' is paperwork.  can we skip to the end, miss out the form filling?  shall we call it 'bureaucratic anarchism'?  communication /= a constitution, unless you mean that its constitutional that bill clinton 'did not have sexual relations with that woman'.

umm i do not think that it is the lack of legal writs that lets people act genocidy, or rapey, or manipulative.  unless those legal writs are backed up by policing system.  very much doubt that a 'constitution' is going to do me much good in an argument, a fight, or even a conversation.  but then again, i dont want a constitution, so that might have something to do with it.

edit; in short, no.  to me anarchy and constitutions go together as well as chalk and cheese.

"... regardless of the circumstance"  is a huge red flag for me. it  avoids/ignores the role of context in individual relations. which makes it completely uninteresting to me.

"If we didn’t need to write things down then we’d already be in an anarchist utopia"

ROFL!!!!!   seriously?

working things out and communicating are necessary in life. writing down rules by which that should happen is the opposite of any anarchy i am interested in.
You act as though we did not have some 298,000.00 uears* to work things out in.

What has been done up to this point has been insufficient. Look around you. Is it working out? Far from perfect, better than in the past but very far from perfect.

How do you think communication happens? How do you think language and learning are tranmitted? How do you settle on what anarchism is and how it operates?

If it is “everyone doing their own thing” then I guess the capitalists and imperialists should do as they please.

Come on, stop rolfing and be real with yourself, actually put your head into how this may work.

Roght now Eric Posner is doing more for anarchism than you are (Radica Markets).

avc:How do you think communication happens?"

in many different ways....and i consider many means of communicating much more effective than writing (even though i enjoy it a lot)....

"Eric Posner is doing more for anarchism than you are"

i sure hope so!

cause i ain't doin shit for "anarchism". while there are plenty of useful, fun and informative ways to use writing, codifying ideology is not one i have any interest in find useful.

AVC, I don't understand how some lolbertarian is doing anything for anarchism? Sarcasm or ancappism? btw since you seem to possibly be a lolbertarian, the concept of rights give whichever group that's in power, more power. The creation of the US constitution would be an excellent example of that. Bad lolbertarian, bad!  I don't understand why you're repeating the dogma that rights help prevent tyranny or do anything for an individual. Irony.
–2 votes
comrade, kindly forgive grammatical mistakes in my answer.

comrade, anarchy in politics refers to stateless ness or abolition of existing state. that is it requires development of people or liberation of people from false consciousness. it can't be done without waging struggle against capitalist regimes, authoritarian facist and religious heads who form head or ruling class of state. remember that state is a body and it  requires a head to monitor the activities of the entire body. it decides action, inaction,ability and inability. However state is non living entity which lives because of people. if people are stateless then we can say that people are free. people are like soul to the state. this soul is caged inside the state.liberation is breaking out of this cage and becoming free.Marx hence proposed a regime of proletariat,dictatorship of proletariat(oppressed class or working class). According to the communists this dictatorship of proletariat will eventually wipe out all bourgeoise elements of society and transform into new world with new man. that is eventually the concept of state is destroyed and people will live without artificial agents like money borders, gender rules, religious authority and will have freedom to choose their way of life. however people may form their own laws to punish criminals or negative elements of society. but we should always remember that crime may happen because of many reasons. the stateless movement which is a constant evolving process will ensure that there will be no crime due to poverty or inequality(it is not possible in a true anarchist society where different life styles are tolerated and people respect the lives of other individuals.).Marx proposed a way, communists developed different documents which are all commentaries on theories and philosophy of Marx. And we all know the state of communist movements around the world. None of them were successful. Thus this shows that anarchism is not an ideology which is based on certain beliefs and which cannot be achieved by writing certain documents.. Anarchism needs global awareness, development of consciousness. Anarchists need to reach out to people. Anarchists need to struggle. Anarchists should inspire people with actions. That is. we cannot force people to become anarchists. thus we should support any struggle against existing authorise. we should support liberation movement in Kurdistan. we should support dalit movements in India. we should support blacks ,homosexuals, poor and homeless , environment and animal right activists in usa. we should support liberal moslems. we should support Shia in sunni countries ,sunnis in Shia countries. we should support Russians against brutal Russian regime. we should support unity of europeans and freedom struggle of europeans. we should support anarchists in Greece. we should support oppressed and poor of South Americans and africans. we should support children in refugee camps . we should support Chinese,tibetians and many opressed people in brutal neo capitalist socialist china.we should support aboriginals of all countries. we should support Palestinians . we should therefore support every oppressed and repressed person irrespective of gender,color,race,sex,identity,nation,clan,tribe etc. we should stand against all sorts of facism and authoritarianism. we should support every liberation movement. we should support justice. we should intensify anarchist movement against all kinds of racism and authorities. we should not stop rebelling against authorities. we should not tolerate authoritarianism which is against anarchism. anarchism is not an ideology. it is nature and it is natural. nothing is perfect in nature. shapes are irregular. nature is irregular and unpredictable. chaos is its nature. we should become natural.we should encourage people to become natural and be part of nature. anarchism is truth. anarchism is the solution because it is truth . anarchism is solution to every question.
by (80 points)
Could you edit your answer into paragraphs? That huge paragraph is really hard to read.

"anarchism is truth. anarchism is the solution because it is truth . anarchism is solution to every question."

Honestly, that sounds like something religious fundies say when out recruiting or going door to door. What is "anarchism is truth and the answer to everything" supposed to mean? That's fine and dandy if you believe that, but it makes as much sense if I were to claim Zubazism is truth and the answer to everything. You write somewhere above anarchism isn't an ideology, but present it as an ideology by writing stuff like "anarchism is truth and the solution to everything" and all these other roles and stuff that you say its adherents need to abide by and do.
i agree, zubaz. well said. that whole "anarchism is truth and the answer to everything" thing is such a religious sounding turn-off i could barely get through it.