Anarchy

   Anarchy is or could be a state of affairs advocated by anarchists in which individuals acting separately but with expedient consideration for each other, acting together only when absolutely necessary (voluntarily and cooperatively rather than under any leader), but usually acting alone, could theoretically make a better life than is likely under the authority of any special interest group masquerading as a benign government.

    That's MY definition, and I'm quite sure it's a good one, though, of course, I know that it bears little resemblance to the very negative definitions of anarchy and anarchism found in most dictionaries, written by philologists who don't seem to have much respect for anarchists. It may not perfectly correlate, either, with the actually respectable theory held by anarchists themselves of ideal (what I'd call south-sea-island) anarchism. And it isn't even relevant to the really existing, not very ideal but almost already all-pervasive state of ("Look, Ma, no hands!") anarchy, for which no definition or theory is needed; all you have to do is look around you.

    In the 50's, when I was very young, I enjoyed the company of several other young men who called themselves anarchists in the ideal sense or (if they didn't know the word) at least professed an outlook that amounted to anarchism. So did I. And I still do in a way, but only as a second or third-choice and prohibitively unlikely ideal.
   As a civilized person, I view the voluntary or even involuntary civilized restraint of anarchic or natural impulse in favor of a commitment to a social contract or a rationally contrived civil state as the best course. But I acknowledge that anarchy not only came first, it's still a seemingly reasonable concept which, though less intelligent than a truly civilized civil state would be, apparently comes more naturally to most humans, and acknowledgement of that fact is one of the necessary starting points for realistic philosophy.
    Furthermore, in the existing world, anarchic tendencies, to the extent they're contained (or covered up) at all are more forcefully than voluntarily restrained by semi-civil mechanisms called tribes or nations or countries which ARE NOT in fact rationally contrived civil states (see Civil State). But even though those EXISTING mechanisms are so clumsily and/or dishonestly contrived (usually to control everyone BUT a few greedy and cynical insider anarchists) that THEY (the countries) may be the worst of all options, mature philosophy has to hold well organized civilization (IF we could achieve it) as preferable to anarchy.

   AGAIN, anarchy (or rather anarchism) is the theory that individuals acting separately but with expedient consideration for each other, acting together only when absolutely necessary (voluntarily and cooperatively rather than under any leader), but usually acting alone, will make a better life than they will under the authority of any special interest group masquerading as a benign government.

   That DOES make sense, and anarchy could work just as anarchists wishfully think it could on an ecologically healthy island, preferably semi-tropical, with a human population of a very few habitually inoffensive (i.e. temperamentally civilized) but tough minded intellectuals all well rounded in survival skills. It might even work with a hundred or more such people (depending on the size of the island), though I doubt it. But the difficulties of transitioning INTO and maintaining such a situation would definitely increase with the numbers, and any mix of uncivilized types into the population would probably fatally undermine it. In fact, with something less than a hundred people on an average island of, say, less than a hundred square miles, some contradictory ground rules would be needed and an at least initial conceptual clarification and acceptance (i.e. tacitly contractual, i.e. tacitly organizational) phase would be unavoidable, and the number requiring a possibly inhuman initial conceptual consensus achievement AND an insidious semi-secret (strenuously denied) ongoing control mechanism wouldn't be very large at all. The fewer participants there were and the more naturally civilized all the participants were, the easier it would be.
    But this is all just interesting theoretical reflection because, as it actually stands, there are billions of people on this ruined planet (ruined as much by capitalist anarchy as by overcrowding by the way) and most of them are philosophically inept and enough are prone to barbarism or cunning conspiracies to ensure that, without wise leadership (probably necessarily initially dictatorial) and very effective organization, barbarism and opportunism of all sorts will prevail - including exploitation and slavery. In fact, that's the way it is. If an ideal anarchic colony springs up in the midst of things as they are, it must be impossibly isolated, or it must immediately go into a defensive communal mode and start waging a war of extermination on the rest of humanity, a course that would certainly obscure the virtues of anarchism and would probably cancel its principles.
    I can easily envision a desirable anarchic situation (words like state or arrangement or maybe even community are contradictory to the concept of anarchism), but I can also easily imagine it going astray, since naturally barbaric and stupid individuals cannot be prevented from violating the rules (hmm) of anarchy except through some organized means, and it's inevitable that undesirable special interest groups would come together who could wield organization against pure anarchists like a WMD against primitives. This was all proven in the small political pudding of Pitcairn Island, and there's plenty of proof in the general, world-sized pudding.

    Generally, I don't think of anarchy as an ideal anymore, and it dismays me to encounter people my age who still call themselves anarchists. My own concept of Enclavismo, is as close as I'm willing to go to the principles of anarchy, and it's not anarchy. It's only a psychological strategy of individual escape not from the civilization of my dreams but from the existing mess. It's what other realists have called a separate peace. I and my friends avoid the rules of society when we can and follow them without necessarily respecting them when we have to, but we have rules of our own which often duplicate society's rules. And we do not foolishly disavow the value of organization. Anarchists have no example of their theory working out. Meanwhile, the best example I know of in which millions of people live a good life is the very well organized (not at all anarchic) island of Cuba.
-Glen Roberts

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