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What Is (& Not) Anarchy? (2 of many)

June 21, 2015

Slightly weary at the moment, I’m going to allow myself to be a lazy narrator and quote from our author’s Occupy page on what anarchy is, and some things that it is not.  I’ll add a few comments.

So what it IS.  Quoting:

“What I’m talking about speaks in the word, itself:  “an-archy”.  Ancient Greek.  The “an” or “a” prefix was a negator.  The “Archon” was a ruler.  “Archy” points to a structure of society and governance with a ruling person or group.  Typically that structure has included a “hierarchy”:  “hieros” meaning “sacred”, and thus a laddered organization with the most sacred members at the top, and then on down.  An example from theology would be the placement of a [creator] god at the top, and then the organization by rank of the higher to lower angels and other heavenly types [then humans, with males ranked above females and children, then the “chain of being” down through animals etc. in ranked order].  “Mon-archy,” a single ruler, in our history suggests a king, sitting above descending ranks of the nobility, all of whom rule the vast bottom populace for the purpose of gathering wealth to keep themselves in power [to gather more wealth—hoping to keep themselves safe and living high on the hog (Anglo-Saxon; porceau to the Norman invader who claimed the throne by familial connection)].”

Thus, anarchy: a society with no hierarchy (or rather, as I’ll imagine it, significantly minimal hierarchy) and no ruler. What might be the characteristics of such a society?”

I’ll begin extensive thinking about that, a “Pragmatic Anarchy,” on the next page on this theme.

But what is it NOT?

“When I say anarchy, I’m not talking about throwing bombs (Americans have done enough of that), or breaking store windows.   That’s either the Egodrama of posers, or the hormonal excitement of the unavoidably inexperienced, or the ruthless recklessness of the delusionally self-centered, or the ignorance of fools being paid to sabotage the resistance, or, that’s violent revolutionary overthrow.”

I’ll add that anarchy is not (1) no governance—even people who live alone govern and organize their behavior; we do that because we’re finite creatures and life goes best if we are healthy, e.g. we adhere to reality/truth and we act lovingly, which requires doing one thing not another, in patterns. The same applies to people who live with other people, maybe even more so. Nor is it (2) no institutions—we need to get things done, so we organize to do them better by doing them together, and that includes an institution of governance.

The point of evolving an Pragmatic Anarchy is that it’s a better way of staying healthy and getting things done, organizing and governing ourselves, than we are doing now.

Nor is anarchy (3) the same as chaos, licentiousness, or Libertarianism. Again quoting:

“So, admittedly this is my fantasy. It differs from the libertarian fantasy, in that [ pragmatic anarchy] emphasizes community, knowing that we are not each ‘an island entire and of itself,’ [John Donne] and finding self-empowerment in the care of others.  It differs from capitalist fantasies, in that its purpose is not to make persons rich and powerful, it does not include a built-in principle of inequality, and it does not function as a system of exploitation.  It differs from the philosophically conservative fantasy, in that it does not propose that humans are inherently bad.

Nor does it propose that humans are inherently good.  IMHO humans are simply innately capable of both good and bad.  Perhaps brain science will show that some individuals are genetically inclined toward good, or toward bad, because of the effects of their dna on their brain functioning.  But I suspect that the vast majority of us are bent by both nature and nurture to go back and forth—luckily, with the capacity and inclination to learn to do more good than bad.

Achieving anarchy will take a lot of time.  We will have to evolve society into it.  But we should no longer wait to get started in a serious way.  The first step is to imagine it….”

I share the author’s fantasy, and will be imagining out loud about it, a lot.

Link to What Is Anarchy? (1 of many), and page on 12/11/14.

From → anarchy

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