What is Anarchy?

I have found that time and time again I have been converting people after simply explaining to them what Anarchy actually is.

Now keep in mind that there’s a group of people called Anarcho-Capitalists who would completely disagree with me on this. Even though every time I debate the semantical topic with them,  they are left confounded and unable to defend their stance. Not the stance on whether Anarcho-Capitalism is preferable or not but just whether it should actually be referred to as Anarchy.

Now, Anarchy in Greek means “No Rulers”.

However, Anarchy does not mean chaos and does not even mean the absence of  rules as you have so been told. There indeed are rules, just no rulers. I have many friends who proclaim themselves Anarchist, many of them Anarcho-Capitalist and I am sure they would all agree with me on that.

Here is where I split ways with Anarcho-Capitalists: They say Anarchy is simply a entirely voluntary society; one without government. But I say it is more than that. I think the correct term that Anarcho-Capitalists are looking for is Panarchism. I say Anarchism is actually the complete absence of hierarchies, which would include the Capitalistic hierarchy. Panarchism means you have a choice, while Anarchism is a specific choice to be made.

I will come back to Panarchism in a bit. Because an Anarchy cannot exist unless there is also Panarchy. But first I will go over how exactly a society functions without hierarchy.

In an Anarchist society, as I define it, everyone has the same amount of political power. No single individual has anymore power than any other single individual. Instead of the decision-making process being structured like a pyramid or a ladder, it is a completely level field.

To say that one person has authority over another is to say that such a person has more rights than the other.

So Anarchism can actually be summed up in just one single word; equality. If you follow that one simple thing to it’s rational ends, you will have Anarchy.

Hierarchy and equality cannot co-exist. You must pick one; I picked equality.

The most technical way I can sum-up Anarchy is that it’s a Socialist Direct-Democracy which takes place in a Panarchy, which is to say voluntary.

And now you may ask; why Socialist? or why Democracy?

Well like I said, Anarchy does indeed have rules. It is no free-for-all.

The definition of Socialist that I am using here is worker ownership of the means of production. What that means is that workers self-manage themselves democratically instead of having a boss. This is the traditional meaning of the word Socialist.

Unfortunately the word has been confused with both State-Socialism, which I adamantally abhor, and redistribution of wealth, which I am in favor of but still find it unfortunate that the term Socialism has been confused with it for the most likely reason that most Socialists favor it.

State-Socialism is state ownership of the means of production as opposed to true Socialism, as I mentioned, is worker ownership of the means of production.

If workers owned their own work-space there would be no need for minimum wage, no need for the 8 hour day, no need for vacation time rules or regulations demanding for a decent working environment, because the workers would be able to make the suitable conditions they favor for themselves. No longer could you be fired and sent to starve simply because a boss didn’t like your hair or a face you gave him or because he was in a bad mood that day. Perfect balance between suitable working conditions and economic efficiency would finally be found.

And what about Direct-Democracy? Well, what Socialism already makes is Direct-Democracy within the work-place. And what Panarchism does, which I’ll get into next, is turn governments in businesses. So turning the government into a direct-democracy is only a rational extension of putting Panarchism and Socialism together.

And now for Panarchism. This is the even more misunderstood part. People assume that because Anarchies(or Panarchies) are voluntary, it means you get to do whatever you want; just go ahead and start shooting people in the streets, you’ll choose not to go to jail. But that is simply not how it works.

Panarchy, as I mentioned, is turning governments into businesses. What this means is that you can choose to have a government’s services or not by choosing to pay for them. So instead of a government forcing you to use it’s services and also forcing you to pay for them, both acts are voluntary. When this happens, borders disappear.  In other words, you are able to choose your government without moving.(keep in mind that it may not be particularly correct to refer to them as governments since they are voluntary, perhaps they should be called communes) But it it would probably be more beneficial for you to pick one of these communes which are stationed near you, for quick use of emergency services.

It is also an open choice for you to pick no commune at all. Which means you abide by no laws on your own property besides your own. However, this would be unreasonably risky for you since you would have no aid if someone commits a wrong against you or your property. Not picking a commune does not mean you would be able to freely torture and kill people on your property. Chances are that the people you’re doing such a thing to would have their own communes which would intervene if they found out. And even if they didn’t have such communes, good Samaritans would most likely still intervene or some commune may wage war against you as larger nations do against each other today.

To further illustrate my point of turning governments into businesses; I could contrast it with what would happen if you turned businesses into governments. People say that forced government is necessary because we need policing. But do we not need food just as much as policing? The answer is yes, we obviously need food. So imagine that one day a grocery store comes to town. This grocery store then forces you to take it’s products and then forces you to pay for them. It also declares that you cannot buy from any other grocery store, in order to do so you would have to move out of town. You may not want the food from that store, the prices may be too high, or you may not agree with where some of the money goes. For this scenario to happen, I’m sure you agree, would be complete lunacy. So why has government gotten away with it? Because you can’t shoot people with food.

So now I hope you understand what Anarchy is. If you have questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments area below.

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