Anarchy is the state of a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body. It may also refer to a society or group of people that totally rejects a set hierarchy.
The word anarchy was first used in 1539, meaning "an absence of government". Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his 1840 treatise What Is Property? to refer to anarchism, a new political philosophy which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations.
In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of traditional forms of government and institutions. It can also designate a nation or any inhabited place that has no system of government or central rule. Anarchy is primarily advocated by individual anarchists who propose replacing government with voluntary institutions.
The word anarchy comes from the Medieval Latin word anarchia and then from the Greek word anarchos "having no ruler", with an -+ archos "ruler" literally meaning "without ruler".
2.1. Political philosophy Description
Anarchism as a political philosophy advocates self-governed societies based on voluntary institutions. These are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. While anti-statism is central, anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations, including yet not limited to the state system.
There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, or participatory economics. Some individualist anarchists are also socialists or communists while some anarcho-communists are also individualists or egoists.
Anarchism as a social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a mass social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon which nevertheless did influence the bigger currents and individualists also participated in large anarchist organizations. Some anarchists oppose all forms of aggression and support self-defense or non-violence anarcho-pacifism while others have supported the use of militant measures, including revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.
Since the 1890s, the term libertarianism has been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States. At this time, classical liberals in the United States began to describe themselves as libertarians and it has since become necessary to distinguish their individualist and capitalist philosophy from socialist anarchism. Thus, the former is often referred to as right-wing libertarianism or simply right-libertarianism whereas the latter is described by the terms libertarian socialism, socialist libertarianism, left-libertarianism and left-anarchism. Right-libertarians are divided into minarchists and anarcho-capitalists or voluntarists. Outside the English-speaking world, libertarianism generally retains its association with left-wing anarchism.
2.2. Political philosophy Immanuel Kant
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant treated anarchy in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View as consisting of "Law and Freedom without Force". For Kant, anarchy falls short of being a true civil state because the law is only an "empty recommendation" if force is not included to make this law efficacious. For there to be such a state, force must be included while law and freedom are maintained, a state which Kant calls a republic.
Kant identified four kinds of government:
- Force with freedom and law republic
- Law and force without freedom despotism
- Law and freedom without force anarchy
- Force without freedom and law barbarism
Although most known societies are characterized by the presence of hierarchy or the state, anthropologists have studied many egalitarian stateless societies, including most nomadic hunter-gatherer societies and horticultural societies such as the Semai and the Piaroa. Many of these societies can be considered to be anarchic in the sense that they explicitly reject the idea of centralized political authority.
The egalitarianism typical of human hunter-gatherers is interesting when viewed in an evolutionary context. One of humanitys two closest primate relatives, the chimpanzee, is anything but egalitarian, forming hierarchies that are dominated by alpha males. So great is the contrast with human hunter-gatherers that it is widely argued by palaeoanthropologists that resistance to being dominated was a key factor driving the development of human consciousness, language, kinship and social organization.
In Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, anarchist anthropologist David Graeber attempts to outline areas of research that intellectuals might explore in creating a cohesive body of anarchist social theory. Graeber posits that anthropology is "particularly well positioned" as an academic discipline that can look at the gamut of human societies and organizations to study, analyze and catalog alternative social and economic structures around the world, and most importantly, present these alternatives to the world.
In Society Against the State, Pierre Clastres examines stateless societies where certain cultural practices and attitudes avert the development of hierarchy and the state. He dismisses the notion that the state is the natural outcome of the evolution of human societies.
In The Art of Not Being Governed, James C. Scott studies Zomia, a vast stateless upland region on Southeast Asia. The hills of Zomia isolate it from the lowland states and create a refuge for people to escape to. Scott argues that the particular social and cultural characteristics of the hill people were adapted to escape capture by the lowland states and should not be viewed as relics of barbarism abandoned by civilization.
Peter Leeson examines a variety of institutions of private law enforcement developed in anarchic situations by eighteenth century pirates, preliterate tribesmen, and Californian prison gangs. These groups all adapted different methods of private law enforcement to meet their specific needs and the particulars of their anarchic situation.
Anarcho-primitivists base their critique of civilization partly on anthropological studies of nomadic hunter-gatherers, noting that the shift towards domestication has likely caused increases in disease, labor, inequality, warfare and psychological disorders. Authors such as John Zerzan have argued that negative stereotypes of primitive societies e.g. that they are typically extremely violent or impoverished are used to justify the values of modern industrial society and to move individuals further away from more natural and equitable conditions.
4.1. Examples of state-collapse anarchy English Civil War 1642–1651
Anarchy was one of the issues at the Putney Debates of 1647:Thomas Rainsborough: I shall now be a little more free and open with you than I was before. I wish we were all true-hearted, and that we did all carry ourselves with integrity. If I did mistrust you I would not use such asseverations. I think it doth go on mistrust, and things are thought too readily matters of reflection, that were never intended. For my part, as I think, you forgot something that was in my speech, and you do not only yourselves believe that some men believe that the government is never correct, but you hate all men that believe that. And, sir, to say because a man pleads that every man hath a voice by right of nature, that therefore it destroys by the same argument all property – this is to forget the Law of God. That theres a property, the Law of God says it; else why hath God made that law, Thou shalt not steal? I am a poor man, therefore I must be oppressed: if I have no interest in the kingdom, I must suffer by all their laws be they right or wrong. Nay thus: a gentleman lives in a country and hath three or four lordships, as some men have God knows how they got them; and when a Parliament is called he must be a Parliament-man; and it may be he sees some poor men, they live near this man, he can crush them – I have known an invasion to make sure he hath turned the poor men out of doors; and I would fain know whether the potency of rich men do not this, and so keep them under the greatest tyranny that was ever thought of in the world. And therefore I think that to that it is fully answered: God hath set down that thing as to propriety with this law of his, Thou shalt not steal. And for my part I am against any such thought, and, as for yourselves, I wish you would not make the world believe that we are for anarchy. Oliver Cromwell: I know nothing but this, that they that are the most yielding have the greatest wisdom; but really, sir, this is not right as it should be. No man says that you have a mind to anarchy, but that the consequence of this rule tends to anarchy, must end in anarchy; for where is there any bound or limit set if you take away this limit, that men that have no interest but the interest of breathing shall have no voice in elections? Therefore, I am confident on’t, we should not be so hot one with another.
As people began to theorize about the English Civil War, anarchy came to be more sharply defined, albeit from differing political perspectives:
- 1651 – Thomas Hobbes Leviathan describes the natural condition of mankind as a war of all against all, where man lives a brutish existence: "For the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small families, the concord whereof dependeth on natural lust, have no government at all, and live at this day in that brutish manner". Hobbes finds three basic causes of the conflict in this state of nature, namely competition, diffidence and glory: "The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation". His first law of nature is that "every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war". In the state of nature, "every man has a right to every thing, even to then go for one anothers body", but the second law is that in order to secure the advantages of peace "that a man be willing, when others are so too reedom of speech, press, assembly, unions and the like". The Bolsheviks accused the Makhnovists of imposing a formal government over the area they controlled and also said that Makhnovists used forced conscription, committed summary executions and had two military and counter-intelligence forces, namely the Razvedka and the Kommissiya Protivmakhnovskikh Del patterned after the Cheka and the GRU. However, later historians have dismissed these claims as fraudulent propaganda.
4.2. Examples of state-collapse anarchy Spain 1936
Francisco Franco, a fascist Spanish general staged a military rebellion which attempted to overthrow the Popular Front the established Spanish government, in 1936. Following Francos rebellion, anarchist, communist and what remained of Popular Front joined forces against Franco. This was seen as a social revolution as much as a political revolution to some. Throughout the war and shortly after, many Spanish working-class citizens lived in anarchist communities, many of which thrived during this time. With major support of Germany and Italy, the Nationalists won the war and set up a fascist dictatorship led by Franco, effectively ending much of the anarchism in Spain.
4.3. Examples of state-collapse anarchy Albania 1997
In 1997, Albania fell into a state of anarchy, mainly due to the heavy losses of money caused by the collapse of pyramid firms. As a result of the societal collapse, heavily armed criminals roamed freely with near total impunity. There were often 3–4 gangs per city, especially in the south, where the police did not have sufficient resources to deal with gang-related crime.
4.4. Examples of state-collapse anarchy Somalia 1991–2006
Following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia and the ensuing collapse of the central government, residents reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional or Islamic law, with a provision for appeal of all sentences. The legal structure in the country was thus divided along three lines: civil law, religious law and customary law xeer.
While Somalias formal judicial system was largely destroyed after the fall of the Siad Barre regime, it was later gradually rebuilt and administered under different regional governments, such as the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland macro-regions. In the case of the Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government, new interim judicial structures were formed through various international conferences.
Despite some significant political differences between them, all of these administrations shared similar legal structures, much of which were predicated on the judicial systems of previous Somali administrations. These similarities in civil law included: a) a charter which affirms the primacy of Muslim sharia or religious law, although in practice sharia is applied mainly to matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and civil issues. The charter assured the independence of the judiciary which in turn was protected by a judicial committee; b) a three-tier judicial system including a supreme court, a court of appeals and courts of first instance either divided between district and regional courts, or a single court per region; and c) the laws of the civilian government which were in effect prior to the military coup detat that saw the Barre regime into power remain in forced until the laws are amended.
5.1. Lists of ungoverned communities Ungoverned communities
- Drop City, the first rural hippie commune Colorado; 1965–1977
- Comunidad de Poblacion en Resistencia CPR, indigenous movement Guatemala; 1988–present
- Zomia, Southeast Asian highlands beyond control of governments
- Ras Khamis
- Libertatia late 17th century
- Republic of Cospaia 1440–1826
- Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African social movement 2005–present
- Kowloon Walled City was a largely ungoverned squatter settlement from the mid 1940s until the early 1970s
- Anarchy in the United States 19th century
- Neutral Moresnet 26 June 1816 – 28 June 1919
- Slab City, squatted RV desert community California; 1965–present
- Diggers England; 1649–1651
5.2. Lists of ungoverned communities Anarchist communities
Anarchists have been involved in a wide variety of communities. While there are only a few instances of mass society anarchies that have come about from explicitly anarchist revolutions, there are also examples of intentional communities founded by anarchists.Intentional communities
- Utopia, Ohio 1847
- Life and Labor Commune 1921
- Whiteway Colony 1898
- Freetown Christiania September 26, 1971
- Trumbullplex 1993
- Kibbutz 1909–present
- Rebel Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities MAREZ; 1994–present
- Free Territory Ukraine; November 1918 – 1921
- Revolutionary Catalonia 21 July 1936–May 1939
- Federation of Neighborhood Councils-El Alto Fejuve; 1979–present
- Democratic Federation of Northern Syria Rojava; 2012–present
- Shinmin Prefecture 1929–1931