Anarchism/Talk

< Anarchism

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

Tim, in anarchy, you replaced the historical definition of the term with a propaganda definition that has no value. The propaganda definition is inaccurate since anarcho-syndicalists "opposes cultural, economic, and political institutions equally, often failing to distinguish between them" and so fall in the category of destroyers of society in the definition. The definition describes two groups, and then lumps anarcho-syndicalists with "anarcho"-capitalists in the wrong group. Further, I made no mention of government in my definition, because it's irrelevant. Anarcho-syndicalists aim to demolish government by not acknowledging it. To claim that "anarcho"-capitalists have equal claim to the term anarchy as anarcho-syndicalists is a gross distortion of history. The latter have existed for more than a hundred years. The former about two or three decades. I do not think you understand Anarchism. Are you an anarchist or otherwise student of the movement? -- RichardKulisz?


I didn't add the part about anarcho-syndicalism, someone else did. Maybe it should be deleted.

The history of anarchism is something that can be addressed in a subsection. Which group has "historical priority" is non-essential when describing what anarchy is.

The concept should be addressed logically, with a genus-differentia definition. anarchy is a social system (genus) that differs from all other social systems in that in advocates the absence of government (differentia). Then we take the genus anarchy as we just defined it, and look at different types of anarchy. I do not think genus-differentia definitions count as propaganda.

TimShell

The problem isn't in the format of the definition but in its substance.

Anarchism is not limited to politics or rejection of government. As a system, it is the absence of all hierarchy everywhere. The limitation of 'hierarchy' to political hierarchies is completely artificial and not supported by anarchists. In fact, it is easily disprovable since 'politics' is merely distribution of power and the existence of power structures in other areas of society is self-evident. Politics is inseparable from the rest of society.

Anarchism is a methodology not an ideology. Anarchism is a way of acting, a means to an end, and not the end itself. Insofar as 'anarchy' exists at all, it must be derived from anarchism. Most anarchists do not have a specific vision in mind so if one wants an honest description of what anarchists work towards then one must look at what they're actually doing. To figure out the destination anarchists wish to reach, look where they're going and not the distination which some tiny minority of people who may or may not be anarchists claim they're trying to reach. Anarchism is a movement defined by people at the bottom, not a hallucinatory vision dreamed up by "leaders" at the top. If you think this is "diffuse" then that's just too bad.

And by anarchists I mean anarcho-syndicalists whose belief in anarchism is genuine as evidenced by their having fought and died in revolutionary wars in order to bring about anarchy (whereas anarcho-capitalists have not). Saying that the history of anarchism is irrelevant is as naive as saying that the history of Marxism is irrelevant. Do you propose that a good definition of Marxism can be given by capitalists or Stalinists? To believe that an ideology can be fairly described by its enemies or propagandists who merely seek to exploit it is hopelessly naive. -- RichardKulisz

Fare: Anarcho-capitalists did fight, and lose, the English Revolution, and fight, and win, the American Revolution. Unhappily, they weren't warned enough against the federal government, that grew over decades from something insignificant to the huge horror it now is. As for a friend or enemy giving a definition, what matters most is that it be someone who has a deep understanding of the phenomenon he describes. No need to be dead so as to describe death, to be a baby so as to describe a baby, or to be terminally hit by Alzheimer's disease so as to talk about Alzheimer's disease.


Richard, I'd be very curious to learn about the differences and, if any, the similarities between anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-capitalism. I know very little about these theories. I wish you would explain the facts about what the theories state, in as unbiased a fashion as possible, on anarchy (or perhaps AnarchIsm). Why not just make the necessary changes? I'd be very curious to see the results! -- Larry Sanger

I already made the changes and Tim unmade them on the basis that they're "diffuse" and not what he expects them to be. And now he's added more propaganda. What does an individual incident (the shooting of some US President) have to do with the day to day actions of anarchists? Where's the mention of Direct Action? Where's the explanation of how anarchists use the general strike and sabotage? And what the heck does murder have to do with famous anarchists (why is it in the same paragraph)? It seems to me that Tim aims to divide anarchism into two sides; nutso bombers and capitalist extremists. If this is indeed the case then Tim falls into the "enemy of anarchism and propagandist exploiter" category and should refrain from trying to define the term, let alone suppressing other people's definitions of it. The failure to list Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin and Noam Chomsky as famous anachists and the inclusion of an absolute nobody like Leon Czolgosz (whose own mother said was too stupid to be an anarchist) tells me that Tim isn't familiar enough with anarchism to impose his views of it on anyone else. And since every political ideology has resulted in the murder of at least one leader of an opposing ideology, Czolgosz shooting McKinley means nothing. The murders of anarchist leaders at the hands of capitalists more than compensate. Focusing on an aberration is a common propaganda technique.

Anarchism is a rejection of all hierarchy and authority. "Anarcho"-capitalism is a special case rejection of governmental authority in favour of capitalist authority. "Anarcho"-capitalists refuse to acknowledge that capitalist authority exists, that it is arbitrary, unjust and should be dismantled. It isn't possible to honestly describe "anarcho"-capitalist arguments and viewpoints without pointing out how baseless and oversimplistic they are. For example, a common argument among capitalists (and "anarcho"-capitalists are just capitalists who pretend to care about liberty) is to represent the free market as an auction where labour power is sold to buyers. Of course, it isn't because such an auction leaves the impression that the labour market is a seller's market when in fact it is a buyer's market. The best way to describe anarcho-capitalism is probably as a religion -- just state what they believe and nothing more. And if I described Christianity, I would describe it as a group fantasy dynamic to counter feelings of powerlessness, self-hatred and wishes for self-annihilation all caused by traumatic child abuse. This wouldn't go over very well with most people. -- RichardKulisz

Fare: capitalists believe that buyer and seller are symmetric roles. You exchange something you have and don't care for too much for something you don't have and comparatively prefer. Money here is but an intermediate that allows for world-wide cooperation; it doesn't change the intrinsic symmetry in a voluntary exchange.


The miscategorization of anarcho-syndicalism was my fault. Since it looks like it's the main form of anarchism, I figured it deserved mention, but wasn't sure which heading to put it under thanks to the mention of cultural institutions. At the time I wasn't thinking of institutions as organizations for whatever reason. Bleah...easy to catch, at least. -- JoshuaGrosse

Of the two categories, you chose the least offensive one. The second category of 'people who oppose all social order' (implied by "which supports social order" instead of "'the social order") obviously refers to bombers only. The problem is that both categories are extremely offensive and propagandistic distortions. -- RichardKulisz


It seems to me Jimbo has shown a way around this dispute, although Richard and Tim may disagree. At least Jimbo has illustrated the general direction that we should move in when we have these sorts of disputes. The aim is to describe the theories in such a way as cannot be objected to by their proponents or their opponents--by attributing the very descriptions of the theories to their proponents and then explaining what the differences and conflicts between competing theories are (rather than ignoring the fact that there is a conflict, or engaging the conflicts on the page itself). It seems to me this is something that anyone here can do with a little practice. Might be good for you, too.  :-) -- Larry Sanger

There's just a couple problems in recognizing AnarchoCapitalism as a form of Anarchism. 1) Anti-capitalist anarchists were there first so including capitalists only serves to confuse matters. 2) AnarchoCapitalism is limited geographically to the very right wing countries. 3) Capitalism is authoritarian since private property is an inherently authoritarian concept (to deny that the owner gets to dictate to everyone else or that this is a form of authority is blatant destruction of the English language), so AnarchoCapitalism is a contradiction in terms. 4) It's not clear that AnarchoCapitalism is a serious political ideology instead of mere political maneuvering. So I find equal time given to AnarchoCapitalism to be a bit irritating. -- RichardKulisz

Fare: 1) Anarcho-capitalists were arguably there first. Consider the seventeenth century Levellers in England, for instance. 2) At the Bastiat2001 conference, there were people from 30 countries and 5 continents. So much for the geographical limitation of AnarchoCapitalism. 3) let's agree to disagree on what authority is, ok? Or else, I could return you the argument. 4) you brain is muddy indeed.

While I disagree with you about the status of things here, the point I have been making to TimShell I will make to you as well. This article, the short article on the term 'anarchy' can simply serve as description of how the term is used. It may be a shame that things have gotten confused, but rather than ignore the confusion, I attempted to describe it so that a newcomer to the term will better understand. The point may not be to give each side equal treatment, but merely to educate newcomers that the term is actively used in two different ways. --Jimbo Wales

I'll answer briefly, weakly, and vaguely. (1) Matters are already long since "confused" (and it's not that confusing); you can't change that. (2) Er, so what? (3) Suffice it to say this requires more argument. (4) This seems very implausible, given that there are many serious people who identify themselves as anarcho-capitalists. I understand your irritation, but I also think you're going to have to live with it. If you really care so much about how political views are represented on Wikipedia, wouldn't your energies be better spent elaborating anarcho-syndicalism fairly--which would include anarcho-syndicalism's response to anarcho-capitalism? -- Larry Sanger

I'll answer briefly. (2) is a response to your observation on (1); matters are not confused everywhere and it behooves us not to confuse them further. (3) Property is control over how others use an object and right-libertarians argue for absolute property rights with total control over how others use an object. If people do not recognize this as authoritarian then the point requires more argument than belongs in an encyclopedia entry. (4) You're right, that was a mistake. I was speaking from personal experience only. (5) I am well-rebuked. :) -- RichardKulisz

In case anyone really doesn't know what anarcho-capitalism is supposed to be about, have a look at this article. See the final paragraph for how the author treats the problem Richard raises.

Why don't we treat the matter the same way - reserve libertarianism for the right, and anarchism for the left? anarchy would have a note at the bottom saying "sometimes used in a broader sense to include AnarchoCapitalism, which blah blah" but would otherwise treat traditional forms, and libertarianism would have a note sating "formerly used in a broader sense to include AnarchoSyndicalism, which blah blah" but would otherwise treat what have become standard forms. It seems to me this is the simplest way to disentangle the two philosophies. -- JoshuaGrosse

I think it is inaccurate to say that libertarianism is 'right' and anarchism is 'left'. I know, anyway, that most libertarians would balk vehemently at the label 'right'. These are people who want to legalize marijuana, pornography and gay marriage, who want to end registration for the draft, and permit free immigration and emigration from all countries. The opposite positions are all traditionally associated with the right (at least in the U.S.).

Why is it that I can use terms so universally recognized everywhere except wiki, where they are instantly balked at? Right and left have nothing to do with anything so specific as moral majority or degree of government control. The former refers to a desire for equality of rights, the latter for equality of condition. Or at the very least, they will every time I use them. :)


I didn't realize that those terms were universally recognized or used in that way. Are they? I mean, exceptions of all kinds immediately pop to mind.

If the right wing is supposed to be for equality of rights, then why do they tend to seek strong laws to restrict the use of drugs used by lower classes (marijuana) while not seeking to restrict the use of drugs used by the upper classes (wine)? What about equality of rights for homosexuals to marry?

If that's the way that the classification is supposed to work, then we have to say that Republicans are more liberal than libertarians, because libertarians favor equality of rights for homosexual marriage! Sounds strange to me! I think that in this particular case, the *left* has the idea of equality of rights.


Ok, so I didn't go all the way to the end of the spectrum. The very farthest right would be a system of plain and simple inequality, like despotism and aristocracy. As you go to the left, equality of rights gets added, then of opportunity, and then of condition. The idea is that inequities are ironed out as you go left.

I think this is a reasonably standard version of the political spectrum. It does a good job lining up with other criteria, for instance, stance on capitalism (which leads to inequality of condition, so goes on the right). The libertarian party actually uses this latter axis on its page, so it obviously doesn't reject that dichotomy, at least. It just for whatever reason doesn't refer to it as the left-right political spectrum, probably because they don't want to be equated with conservativism. -- JoshuaGrosse


In spite of all the heated discussion, the articles on Anarchy and Anarchism aren't very useful. _Why_ do anarchists wish to do away with government? (Other than the typical mainstream answer, "Because they're dumb") How would an anarchical society work? (Other than the typical retort, "It wouldn't") Why are people drawn to the ideas of anarchism, especially today when we are surrounded by the fruits of strong nation-states? (Or is that the wrong question?) Exactly why do non-anarchists find it's concepts so frightening and disturbing? Is anarchism only worth considering as an alternative to national governments, or does it hold principles, processes, and beliefs that are worth examining in their own rights?

(I ask the last question because I've heard people say in the past, "Wiki is a good model of the viability of anarchy," and as I'd never really equated the two, it makes me especially curious about what exactly the principles of anarchy are. The current wikipedia articles aren't of much use in answering that, though, unfortunately.)


Yet another opinion.

Without getting into all the various "sects" or "factions" of current anarchist culture (if culture it be) lets first get into basic definitions.

"Anarchy" comes from the Greek "a (n) arch" meaning "no ruler". Thus any social system that has no entrenched (short or long term) authority can be looked at as anarchy.

A system which has worked in some cultures of "delegation" of authority or leadership, which can be revoked at will is "anarchy". Such a system may indeed be hierarchical, as for instance a household (or other small group of individuals) may have a head, the households may in turn form a village or tribe with leaders or delegates elected by the heads of households. These may in turn form into clans with similarly delegated authority, and the clans may form into states. The basic ideas here are that election as a delegate is revocable at any time and that membership is voluntary.

(There may and probably will be advantages to membership and penalties for non-membership. For instance, members of the group may protect each other from outsiders as well as renegades within the group. A non-member would have no such protection, and thus would be an "outlaw" or "fair game" (same difference). Another instance, membership in the group might be necessary to get a sexual partner or members of the group might share the child-raising duties.)

Seems to me that anything much beyond this is factionalism and should be described as such. Notice that I said nothing about "rights", "privileges" or "equality" in the above, that was deliberate. It could, and likely would, be the case that any social group would have some set of acceptable behaviours that would be required of their members. Different rules of acceptable behaviour would not, in themselves, make one group more or less "anarchistic" than another. Rather, they would be simply examples of different groups that might or might not be equally anarchistic on other grounds.

Am also of the opinion that an article on anarchism should be mostly about the nature of the beast, with the history and current factionalism being distinctly secondary. -- buzco


I agree strongly that the article should mainly be about the nature of the beast (it should be about philosophy), although I disagree that there should be any avoidance of the topic of the history of anarchism--that is essential to understanding what it is (what it can be and has been, more like). (I think there should be a long, long article about the history of the anarchist movement--perhaps at anarchist movement). But in your recent revision, you simply excised a bunch of text. That's out of line, as far as I'm concerned. A lot of that information was perfectly useful and, as far as I know, reasonably accurate. If you thought differently, you should explain why on the /Talk page. So I'm simply replacing the old text. If you think the article should have more of an emphasis on the philosophy of anarchism, don't delete other information, as though it's competing--add the required information! --LMS


We're getting a real bad overlap in anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, and traditional anarchism. Any takers on cleaning it up? I recommend keeping the separate entries, in addition to the separate anarchy entry. --The Cunctator


I just moved my more detailed discussion of libertarian socialism & anarcho-capitalism to libertarian socialism and anarcho-capitalism. My proposal is as follows:

  1. The anarchism article will discuss the different understandings of the term anarchism, and the disputes over the proper meaning of the term. Anarchy should I think just be a pointer to this.
  2. Libertarian socialism should discuss libertarian socialism, including arguments for and against, the different varieties of it, and what a libertarian socialist society should look like. Traditional anarchism should be a redirect to this.
  3. Likewise, anarcho-capitalism should discuss the same stuff for anarcho-capitalism.

-- Simon J Kissane


I agree with the above, except that the popular usage of the term anarchy should be on its own page.

The following was written while Simon wrote the above entry..I'm leaving it in for the record, though we're clearly moving to a resolution and mostly in agreement.

Why not keep that discussion on the anarchy page? Also, it's poorly written, with needless redundancies ("(mainly as a term of disparagement) to mean complete chaos and disorder", "different and contradictory senses by different people") and poor sentence construction.

The discussion of the popular definition of anarchy shouldn't be on the anarchism page. Proponents of anarchism don't use the term in that sense.

Thus I replaced the first paragraph with another beginning which more clearly expresses the same information, while leaving disucssion of anarchy to the Anarchy page.

Please convince me that I'm wrong or being unnecessarily disruptive. Until that time, as I have given a justification for my actions, I will consider myself in the right. --The Cunctator


Hey, don't take it so personally :) I think anarchism should at least mention the popular sense of anarchy, since a lot of people before they hear about anarchism as a political movement have only heard of anarchy in the popular sense of the word. Thus I think anarchism should discuss it, if only to avoid possible misconceptions.

Besides, as Larry likes to say, Wikipedia is not a dictionary. Outside the context of an article like anarchism, there really is no place in an encyclopedia for a discussion of what anarchy means: thats what a dictionary is for.

Also, if you think my initial paragraph is not badly constructed, you are welcome to try to fix it. Just please try not to delete any important information. -- Simon J Kissane


Also, the changes you have made to the article have two problems: 1. you presume that there is some common meaning of 'anarchy' between the two branches of anarchism, which is questionable to say the least. 2. by making a link to anarchy you seem to be suggesting that if you go there you will find an in-depth discussion of what anarchy is, but you won't, mostly just a link back to anarchism. So I'm going to restore the old version of the page. -- Simon J Kissane


I'm not taking it personally. I just think you're wrong. I understand your motivations, but they're wrong-headed. Yes, if we don't have a separate anarchy entry then we need to have a discussion on the anarchism page.

But there's no reason not to have a separate entry. I really think it's much better to have entries emphasize what the terms mean rather than what the terms don't mean.

In response to your points,
1. There must be some common ground, or different groups wouldn't lay claim to the same word. And the common ground is the "abolition of civil governments". If you believe that to be incorrect, then find the correct common ground.

Well, yes, both agree that anarchy involves "abolition of civil governments", but they have completely different understandings of what "abolition of civil governments" means. And a lot of anarchists would say it is much more than that, that it involves the abolition of all coercion, though again they disagree on what constitutes coercion. The common ground is more superficial than deep. -- SJK

2. The discussion of anarchy isn't that in-depth, but it doesn't need to be. Everything that is said about the term in your version of the anarchism page is said on the anarchy page. But succinctly. If you feel more needs to be said, then go ahead, and expand the anarchy page.

Finally, my version of the beginning doesn't eliminate any information. It just eliminates verbiage. Please demonstrate what information my version leaves out.

p.s. Is libertarian socialism actually a term libertarian socialists use, or do they call themselves anarchists?

They call themselves both. Historically, some prefered one, others prefered the other; anarchism seemed to be winning out, but then since anarcho-capitalism has come along they've started using libertarian socialism as a term to distinguish themselves from anarcho-capitalism. (They use other terms as well, e.g. left anarchism, or just 'real anarchism') -- SJK

--The Cunctator


Also, can I suggest maybe we get a third party to help break the deadlock? (E.g. Larry or Jimbo?) -- SJK.


I don't really think it's a deadlock--the article is developing quite nicely. The only real conflict is whether or not the discussion of the term anarchy should be on its own page (which I think it should) or should be on the anarchism page (which Simon thinks it should). Also, SJK, you have some great insight, which I hope you'll add to the text of the articles. -- The Cunctator


Am I the only one who finds it funny that both of those forms of anarchy change from a system of "rule by person" to "rule by rule"? It's funny that beings who can't quite get it right while actively adjusting the system think that they can magically get it right and not require human supervision. Even allowing for a really really good system, Murphy's Law would catch up to a system like this sooner or later.

"Anarchy - the state the world is actually in since all man-made laws are imaginary and self-imposed, but in which the world never shall be since there will always be some thug willing to impose his will upon you." - How's that for a paradox?

I just wanted to vent my musings on Anarchy, and I thought that /Talk would be the appropriate place.

Fare: as for "rule by rule", indeed, that's anarchists of socialist or capitalist kind accuse each other of not being real anarchists.

Fare: As for human supervision in general, it supposes (1) that some men are better than others (2) that even those better men can do good, when entrusted with power, and (3) that there is a working mechanism to select these men and entrust them with power, rather than e.g. ambitious bastards. Murphy's law catches quite fast with any supervision system, too. For anarcho-capitalists, the crucial point is that when people are individually responsible, whatever wrong happens teaches them and makes them better, while when there is any kind of collective decision, wrong happens to other people than those who made it happen, so people are irresponsible and don't get better.

Fare: As for your paradox, anarcho-capitalists solve it by claiming that they have a theory of Law -- of actions that are legitimate or illegitimate. Thus, the world is not in an anarchy because the things that are currently recognized as legal or illegal do not match their notion of legitimate or illegitimate. And as for fighting thugs, anarcho-capitalists believe individuals should bear arms, and that if sufficiently of them are ready to fight, no tyrant can win (taking as example the American Revolution).


I'd just like to say that I think it was a bad idea to merge Anarchy into Anarchism. The separate Anarchy entry made it much clearer what the use of the word was. Also, by merging the two there is now content on the Anarchism page that doesn't really belong there. For example, talking about the use of the word "anarchy" by punk rockers, etc. is ancillary to the "anarchism" entry. In general I advocate more distinct entries, not fewer. If you have two related concepts, and one is wholly subordinate, then I advocate them being under one entry, which would imply subpages--e.g. ethnic nationalism belongs under nationalism (but people like Larry Sanger hate subpages, so that won't happen), or redirects (like "happy" to "happiness"). But most of the time concepts are related but neither is wholly subordinate. And Anarchy is not wholly subordinate to Anarchism. I think redirects should mainly be used for misspellings. --TheCunctator


I don't think the bit about punk rock is at all misplaced on the "anarchism" page; it's simply a philosophy or an ideology like the others. It seems that this is the extent of our disagreement. If I believed that anomy was in a different class of topics than anarcho-capitalism, than I'd think they should have seperate pages. If you agreed that anomy was just like a-c or l-s, then that would make this just like "happy" / "happiness". Am I right? --DanKeshet


Anarchy and anomy are not indistinguishable concepts. "happy" is the adjectival form of "happiness". Punk rock isn't simply a philosophy or an ideology like the others; rather, there's a pretty big difference between political ideologies and music. However, I want you to know that I can also buy to some degree the argument for merging them. I just think that people here have been getting a little too merge/delete happy recently and lean towards separate entries. In other words, the extent of my disagreement lies in the philosophical grounding of wikipedian ontology. --TheCunctator


I didn't mean to say anarchy and anomy are indistinguishable; only that seeing how a bunch of groups are laying claim to the word "anarchy", anomy has as much of a claim as any other. (If somebody could refactor/summarize the above discussion down to important bits, I could add more from my Netscape text widget.) --dk