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News Anarchism is the philosophy of a stateless society

  1. Oct 3, 2009 #1
    Anarchism is the philosophy of a stateless society without a political order. Nevertheless, it seems to be associated with elements of the far Left, not the far Right which has historically been associated with a strong authoritarian state often termed "Fascist". Here's Mussolini's popular description of a fascist state:

    http://www.coursework.info/AS_and_A_Level/History/Modern_European_History__1789-1945/Everything_for_the_state__nothing_outsid_L19844.html [Broken]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_left

    On the other hand, the traditional Left generally favors a strong state heavily involved in most aspects of national life as opposed to the laissez faire capitalism with very limited government generally favored by the traditional Right.

    It's my understanding that Raul Castro quoted Mussolini (perhaps unknowingly) in the 1960's regarding the above, although he may have used the term "revolution" instead of "state". I've not been able to find a confirmation of this on the net. Perhaps someone else can confirm it. In any case, such a statement would seem be well within the known views of the far Left.

    How can anarchists and those of the far Left favoring an all powerful state live under the same banner? Does it make any sense at all? Someone please relieve me of my deep confusion.
     
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  3. Oct 4, 2009 #2

    russ_watters

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    Re: Anarchism

    I think the apparent contradiction informs about the reality of the anarchist position.
     
  4. Oct 4, 2009 #3
    Re: Anarchism

    This is just a simple matter of labels in politics being used to mean different things by different people, usually for the purpose of misleading the public about themselves or their opposition. One person's "left-wing" is another's "right-wing". It's common today for the word "liberal" to be used as a synonym for socialist, but classical liberalism is a belief in "laissez faire capitalism." Some use "right-wing extremist" to mean libertarian, while others use it to mean authoritarian.

    And it varies by country. In European countries, "liberals" are the ones who believe in (relatively) unregulated free market capitalism.

    Then there's the increasingly popular "neocon" which I have not been able to get defined by those using it, and they obviously don't mean "neoconservative" according to the dictionary.

    As can be seen in most posts in this forum, this is a major barrier to honest debate. People use words to mean whatever they want them to mean with no regard to what others, or the dictionary, use the same words to mean. We are losing the language.

    In particular, it seems that many (on the left?) simply use "left" to mean good, compassionate, etc, and "right" to mean bad, wrong, uncaring, etc. as if they really have no idea that different people have different political beliefs, instead of just different motives and priorities.
     
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  5. Oct 4, 2009 #4
    Re: Anarchism

    There is no specific economic left or right position intrinsic to anarchism. There are right wing anarchists (anarcho-capitalists) and left wing anarchists (anarcho-communists) and a lot of positions in between (anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-mutualist, anarcho-feminism, green anarchism, Christian anarchism and so on).

    How can leftist anarchists be logically consistent? Shouldn't they favor a large and powerful state? The answer is that the political spectrum is in this case two dimensional with the x axis being economic left - economic right and the y axis being authoritarian and libertarian. Thus, it is entirely possible to be a social libertarian.

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/facebook/pcgraphpng.php?ec=-8.88&soc=-4.67 [Broken]

    axeswithnames.gif

    Noam Chomsky is an example of this.
     
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  6. Oct 4, 2009 #5

    f95toli

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    Re: Anarchism

    That is not quite true. Historically the left has favoured communal living with small more of less self sufficient communities; e.g. the Israeli Kibbutz is very much a socialist idea (which originally also included communal child rearing etc). Most of the "outside" involvement would come from the community, not the state.
    Hence, when it comes to utopias the difference between some forms of socialism and anarchism isn't that great from a practical point of view (although socialist are of course not opposed to the existence of a government that takes care of things at a national and international level).

    Edit: Mattara bring up a good points, parts of the "New Right" in the US are actually anarcho-capitalists and some could even be described as anarcho-minimalists (which basically means that they believe that the state should be as small as possible, and essentially only protect ownership and perhaps manage the national defence, everything else should be handled by the private sector, i.e. as deals between individuals).
    Anarcho-minimalists are more or less "conventional" anarchist but they have come to their position using "right wing" philosophy (basically extreme individualism)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  7. Oct 4, 2009 #6
    Re: Anarchism

    This is an oversimplification. Anarchism is the philosophy of a stateless society without a centralized monopoly of violence. There can certainly be voluntary political order in an anarchist society.
     
  8. Oct 4, 2009 #7
    Re: Anarchism

    Anarcho-communism isn't really a political system, since it involves no political power. It could only exist if "the members of such a society would spontaneously perform all necessary labour because they would recognize the benefits of communal enterprise and mutual aid". Which basically means it can't exist unless every single person in the group agrees to participate voluntarily. Which limits the maximum size to about 2-3 people at most. :tongue:

    It also seems to bear no relation to what the word communism normally means, ie complete government control of the economy. Sure it's claimed that such government control is temporary, lasting only until it is rendered unnecessary by each person complying voluntarily. Yeah, like that could ever happen.
    It would seem more consistent to label the x axis as economically authoritarian - economically libertarian and the y axis as socially authoritarian and socially libertarian.
     
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  9. Oct 4, 2009 #8

    D H

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    Re: Anarchism

    Adding another dimension is a good start. However, two dimensions is in a sense just as artificial as one. Two people who happen to occupy the same spot in the political compass but are diametrically opposed on the church-state divide probably should not be left alone in the same room for any extended period of time.
     
  10. Oct 4, 2009 #9
    Re: Anarchism

    I think it's an assumption held by many Americans that I have not found in the UK that socialism is associated with an authoritarian state. Also here free market and free society are in no way synonymous as they appear to be in America.
     
  11. Oct 4, 2009 #10
    Re: Anarchism

    I completely agree -- in this context "communism" merely refers to the idea of common ownership of the means of production.
     
  12. Oct 4, 2009 #11
    Re: Anarchism

    Without an authoritarian state, who would enforce the socialism? They're not synonymous, but socialism requires an economic "authority", while free market capitalism does not. In fact its main characteristics are economic liberty and the lack of state "authority".

    And many in the U.S. value economic liberty as much as liberty in social issues.
     
  13. Oct 5, 2009 #12

    f95toli

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    Re: Anarchism

    No one.
    One of the main assumptions of "classical" socialism is that once the society has reached the stage of true communism (in the original meaning of the world, not Stalin's re-definition) everyone would have their basic needs met and therefore voluntarily participate because it would be in their own best interest. This also implies that that people can be satisfied by having "enough" material possessions; this is one of the main differences between socialism and liberalism (since the latter assumes that we always strive to get richer).
    Classical socialism isn't exactly Utopian as such, as far as I know it generally accepts the need for a small police force etc; but that could at least in principle be handled at the local level.

    The only "classical" political philosophy that is intrinsically authoritarian is conservatism; all the other philosophies are to some extent "Utopian" in the sense that they assume that people would voluntarily participate if we only had an ideal (meaning theirs) political system.
     
  14. Oct 5, 2009 #13
    Re: Anarchism

    Only with great scientific and technological advancement and abolishment of religious authority (most modern religions) can anarchism be achieved - is this too strong? After all, anarchy is rather unrealistic in these current times.

    Despite the notion of having limited government, I don't think conservatism (in its current state and taking into account that it represents a broad spectrum of values) can ever achieve anarchism and would require a sense of authority (liberalism) in order to do so.

    Are there any writers that explain how anarchism can be achieved?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  15. Oct 5, 2009 #14

    f95toli

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    Re: Anarchism

    There are a few misconceptions here. Firstly, conservatism could NEVER lead to anarchism; the former is -by definition- authoritarian and hierarchical; anarchy is in a sense the opposite to conservatism.

    Secondly, conservatism is essentially dead. There are a few parties around that call themselves conservatives (e.g. Torys in the UK, perhaps CDU in Germany) but they are in reality mainly liberal parties with a strong family-values and law-and-order agenda.
    Nearly all political parties in the western world are now liberal (and that includes most parties that call themselves "socialists" since they are nearly always social-democrats which favour liberal economic policies).

    Thirdly, liberalism is -again by definition- NOT authoritarian. "Small government" is one of the cornerstones of liberalism; conservatives are in general in favour of "whatever works" (including "big government) since they emphasise social stability.
    Historically the conservatives were mostly monarchists, I think it is fair to say that Saudi Arabia and similar countries are perhaps as close you can get to the classical conservative "ideal" society today.

    Note that conservatism (nor any other ideology expect liberalism) never took off in the US, the southern democrats in the 60s is probably as close as you can get. The people who call themselves "conservatives" in the US are not; the "New Right" in the US is essentially a mixture of classical liberalism with some elements of social conservatism (often with elements of fundamentalism). Both the Democrats and the Republicans are very much liberal parties.
     
  16. Oct 5, 2009 #15
    Re: Anarchism

    If that's the case, why are there several users on this forum who get offended when conservatism is mocked - assuming their republican?

    I thought Democrats was synonymus to Liberal and Republican to conservative.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  17. Oct 5, 2009 #16

    f95toli

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    Re: Anarchism

    I have no idea how that happened, presumably this change of the meaning of the words it is something that took off in the media during the rise the the New Right in the early 80s(Moral Majority, Reagan etc). But it is something very specific to the debate in the US, nowhere else.
    My guess would be that it has to do with the fact that the New Right were/are socially conservative in the sense that they "oppose change", but that is not directly related to political conservatism. The right wing of the republicans are essentially classical liberals n everything except when it comes to policies relating to the family (and obviously everything that has to do with sex).

    Edit: It is perhaps interesting to note that the "sister parties" to the Democrats in Europe are usually parties that call themselves "conservative". The Conservative party here in the UK (Torys) are much closer to Obama than the Republican party, the same is true for e.g. the Swedish conservatives (which are extremely pro-Obama). However, note what I wrote above about these parties not being really conservative anymore (they have been around for a long time, once upon a time they were really conservative parties but have gradually shifted towards liberalism).
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  18. Oct 5, 2009 #17
    Re: Anarchism

    The word socialism isn't used to refer to that often today. And I know "true" communism would be stateless, relying on voluntary participation. But of course that takes it out of the realm of a political philosophy and into the realm of wishing everyone would just live a certain way without being forced to. Obviously that can't happen, humans (as a whole) simply would never do that if they have any freedom at all. Even if most wanted to, without the use of force, some would engage in capitalism.
    Classical liberalism (free market capitalism) isn't Utopian at all. It relies on voluntary participation, but does not need unanimous, or even majority, participation. It only requires economic liberty (absence of coercion). Groups would be perfectly free to practice voluntary communism, while others are free to engage in free enterprise.

    Even in the U.S. in its capitalist heyday, there was never any law against any form of voluntary communism or socialism. There simply is no reason to use force to compel participation, or to prohibit any economic activity except fraud and theft.
     
  19. Oct 5, 2009 #18
    Re: Anarchism

    "And many in the U.S. value economic liberty as much as liberty in social issues"

    The free market idea is basically economic anarchism, and as such carries all of the problems therein. In a pure free market you end up with large corporations monopolising the market and bullying any potential competetors.

    "The word socialism isn't used to refer to that often today"

    As far as I can tell, the word socialism is mostly used in a derrogetary way in the US. In Europe socialism is not associated with authoritarianism. You should also be aware that liberalism is generally associated with left wing politics in Europe, and so socialist parties are considered more liberal than conservative (more capitalist) parties.
     
  20. Oct 5, 2009 #19
    Re: Anarchism

    What evidence do you have for that assertion?

    It is simply empirically false. Free market forces tends to counteract monopolies and there is an enormous incentive in the free market to fight monopolies.
     
  21. Oct 5, 2009 #20
    Re: Anarchism

    Well since decide to stop buying coca cola products on moral grounds, I have noticed that in many stores and cafes they are they only soft drinks they stock. As another example in the UK British Telecom are continually being forced to sell under monopoly laws since they have taken over the market. More commonly the monopoly is shared by a few competing companies, as is the case with supermarkets. Supermarkets continually drive local shops out of business, making it very difficult for any small newcomers to enter the market.
     
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