Friday, January 21, 2011

Anarchist Utopia

"Anarchists" protesting in Greece.
Milo Nickels

What do you picture when you hear the word "anarchy?"  Do you picture a mob of angry people smashing windows and looting televisions?  Do you picture fire, destruction, and carnage?  Do you picture idiots with T-shirts tied around their faces throwing rocks and tipping over cars?  

If you are like most Americans, these are the exact images that pop into your head, and that is very unfortunate.  

Although many people (correctly) believe that chaos would be the absolute end result of anarchy, it is important to remember that "anarchy" itself is not a synonym for "chaos" (although it is quite often and unfairly used that way).

Unfortunately, one bad apple spoils the bunch, and most people who openly call themselves "anarchists" are those bad apples.  The ironic part is, most of these people are "anti-capitalists" and, therefore, support political systems where governments control economies.  How can you honestly call yourself an anarchist if you support government control of anything?  

To assume that all anarchists are riotous punks is no different than assuming that all democrats are welfare bums or all republicans are war mongers.  We mustn't focus on the bad apples.

Anarchy, in reality, is nothing but a political philosophy.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anarchy as follows:
  1. a: absence of government  b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority  c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government.
  2. a: absence of denial of any authority or established order  b: absence of order: disorder anarchy of nature
Note: the word Anarchy itself is composed of two parts: An · archy, An (meaning without), Archy (meaning government or rule).  The literal translation, then, is simply "without government"
Notice what is missing from those definitions.  There are no mentions of violence, upheaval, riots, or chaos.  The closest they come to any of that is definition 2b whereby anarchy can be thought of as "disorder," but disorder does not automatically or necessarily lead to violence either; nor is disorder always a bad thing.  Without disorderly gene mutations we'd still be monkeys.  In particular, you should pay attention to definition 1c.  Anarchy can be thought of as a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom.  This is the side of anarchy that everyone seems to forget, and it's a far cry from gas masks and Molotov cocktails.

If you are someone who typically equates anarchy with chaos, please challenge yourself to open your mind.  Try, just for a minute, to think of anarchy from the utopian perspective:
  • Would you rather live in a world where police enforce laws, or one where people respect the lives, rights, and property of their fellow man to the point where police and laws are no longer necessary?
  • Would you rather live in a world where welfare is required to keep people afloat, or one where all people have the capacity and drive to earn their own way?
  • Would you rather live in a world where banks and businesses must be bound by government regulations and restrictions, or one where the bankers and businesses could be trusted to pay fair wages and sell goods at fair prices? 
  • Would you rather live in a world where governments have to control the people, or where people are responsible, sensible, and thoughtful enough to control themselves? 
Obviously, we don't live in such a world.  And, sadly, we never will.  Like virtually all utopian ideals, a completely free (anarchistic) society is an impossibility--constrained by human nature.  Anarchy itself isn't bad; people are.  Human nature is fraught with greed, aggression, lust, and ignorance.  This dark side of human nature is the only reason that people require governments at all.

Although the vast majority of societal ideals and visions of utopia are unobtainable, simply because they are bound by human nature, this does not mean that we should stop striving for those societal ideals or seeking those utopias.  Just as we will never wipe out all racism, all terrorism, all poverty, or all greed, we will never be able to eliminate all government.  But the grim reality that we can never be perfect, should not stop us from striving as a people to be better.  We can always have less racism, less terrorism, less poverty, less greed, and less government.

Please, if you are someone who automatically envisions destructive chaos when you hear the word "anarchy," try to think about what that word could actually mean.  If you are one of the morons in the above picture, calling yourself anarchists but proving exactly why governments are necessary, stop acting like an idiot.  

The real road to achieving an anarchist utopia is not through violence, disrespect, and chaos.  All of these activities only lead to more government.  An entirely free society, where government is no longer necessary, can only exist where people respect one another, accept responsibility, treat each other fairly, and have compassion for their fellow man.  In short: we don't need government if humans are humane.

If you truly understand how wonderful our world could be without government, I hope that you will go forth -- and think like an anarchist.

Milo Nickels began blogging and cartooning about politics in the year 2000.  After achieving some notoriety at that time, Milo took a break.  Now, Milo has launched a new website, Five Cent Revolution where he continues to write about political issues.  In particular, Milo focuses on constitutionalism, critiques of modern liberalism and progressivism, and defends individual liberty above all else.  Milo wants the government out of our wallets, out of our business, and out of our lives to the greatest extent possible.   

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Anonymous said...

I don't assume all riotous punks are anarchists, I just assume that the "riotous punks" are the police pretending to be riotous punk anarchists. As soon as you address using agent provocateurs as the means of suppressing legitimate dissent, as a means of gaining the poltical leverage to pass legislation that would other wise be dead on arrival, then I'm not going to think your article is nothing more than a red herring...

mauiguy said...

The term anarchy has an incredible amount of negative baggage attached to it (read burning cars and flying molotov cocktails).

There's a new movement afoot sans the shady reputation.

To learn more visit:

Anonymous said...

If I'm correct, the protesters in Greece are protesting the fact that the government, in bed with the banksters, is trying to make the people of Greece wage slaves for generations. I don't care if they're anarchists or not; if that's the actual situation, what are they supposed to do? Just bend over?

Rufus said...

The author is wrong when he agrees that "chaos would be the absolute end result of anarchy ..."

Order is the end to chaos, and is ideally realized spontaneously through peaceful and voluntary association and cooperation.

Prajna said...

The big mistake is to think anarchy leads to chaos because of human nature.

Human nature is maligned by those who have never studied their own nature. Really the greed, selfishness, violence and chaos attributed to human nature is a product of human culture. I have studied my nature in depth and have found it to be the exact opposite to that - peaceful, loving and altruistic. It would surprise me greatly if anyone who managed to transcend their cultural indoctrination, so as to discover their real nature, did not arrive at a similar observation.

An anarchist utopia is completely possible to achieve once people can overcome the brainwashing that they have been subject to since birth. The idea that it is in our nature to be disgusting, violent, selfish beings is part of that brainwashing.

Love, peace, happiness & grace,

Guy Jones said...

If you have ever lived in a shared house it will be apparent that a true Anarchist society is impossible, because no one washes up or does the house work, it is always someone elses responsibility. But I agree with the sentiment of this article and applaud the writer for pointing out what is obvious to those of us who have trodden the Anarcho path only to realise that it is a pipe dream. Plus those people who go out rioting are often Agent provocateurs, what we should all agree upon at the very least is that when ever a demo is organised it MUST be peaceful. That way if there is violence from our side of the shield wall it will be disruptive forces from the other side set on destroying the image of the people united against big government and their corporate masters!!
Love & Peace must lead the way because love is the only reality and everything else is fear. Which is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Anonymous said...

The "human nature" that requires us to be governed is situated in the R-complex portion of our brains, or, the portion of our brains concerned to obsession with survival. Look around - TPTB have made sure that our R-complex survival instincts are engaged in every part of our day. Fear of losing our jobs, our money, our houses, fear of war, of terrorists, of the gas price going up, of not keeping up with the Jones, of what people will think of us... We then will give our power to anyone or anything we believe will save us from these perceived threats to our survival.

This was done to us, intentionally, in order to get us to believe we are at heart savages that need to be controlled (governed). This is not true. We need to remove our fear-based programming and TPTB who are doing that programming, and again remember that we are good, decent human beings who do the right thing.

13 Muluc said...

I'm a real anarchist. I recently posted a very similar piece on my own blog, "Who's Afraid of Anarchy?" The bottom line, as I see it, is: Who owns me? Is it me, or some one else? I'd say it's me, and so would most people if their governments ordered them to do something that conflicted with their basic humanity. Thats all an anarchist is really.
Any grown-up deserving of the name is capable of regulating their own behavior. Most parents are quite capable of caring for their children, not because there's a law that says they have to, but because they are capable of assuming adult responsibility. There will always be a few who can't, but how would that be different than now? If the government were to fall, would YOU lose all sense of personal responsibility and go all Mad Max? Do you really think your neighbours would? (If so, you should maybe think about moving.)

Blair said...

I personally have never met an anarchist like the ones depicted in the picture. Who knows in this day and age, who the people actually are in the picture.
In the spring of 2004, I read two books about participatory economics. One was entitled,"PARECON - Life After Capitalism" by Michael Albert and the second was
entitled," Kibbutz - The Story Of GivathBrenner". In my opinion, people today want Democracy and "to be informed" and they feel by finding others who beleive in direct democracy, they will be creating a better world not only for themselves but for people in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Utopia means "No Place".

Etymology, from the Greek: ou = NO, topos = PLACE

So maybe it's not wise to use that word to describe the idea/philosophy.

David McElroy said...

Preaching and practicing truth and love, prohibiting fraud or force, Jesus Christ demonstrated himself to be the finest libertarian. His one known act of violence, driving the money changers out of the temple, is when the "authorities" of his time were urged to put him to death. Snakes bite!

Glen Allport said...

Want to abolish ALL use of initiated coercion (i.e., non-defensive coercion)? Do you take the non-aggression principle seriously? If so, you are an Abolitionist, and I believe it makes sense to call yourself exactly that.

See "Call me an Abolitionist, Please" at STR:

and "The Abolitionist Argument in 35 Seconds"

Anonymous said...

I'm stronger than most, organized, self disciplined, hardworking, thoughtful, reputable, and have never participated in a gift economy, in which I was fairly compensated.

While I believe that charity is often legitimate, productive people can't count on reciprocity, when their own emergencies inevitably come.

You have told us not to have greed, nor to discriminate. This implies that we will not have freedom of association, especially as it applies to business.

Anonymous said...


jeff said...

Strange comment from this article

"If you are like most Americans, these are the exact images that pop into your head, and that is very unfortunate."

Didn't this happen in Greece, why would this author direct his article to the attention of Americans as if we were all out there rioting and acting in a violent manner?

I for one do not agree with what is going on here in the USA with Health Care Reform, I hope the GOP turns the tide of the Democrats usurping of power that is not recognized by our Constitution, demanding that everyone carry health insurance, but I don't see riots in our streets.
I see a process of peaceful grass roots reaction in changing of the gaurd, by voting the rascals who thought they could enforce socialism by congressional fiat.We have in fact three seperate an equal branches of government.

We The People understand our Constitution better than those we vote into power, we love our freedom, life and liberty and shall always persue happiness by voting the SOB's out of office, lets just see what the Judicial system brings about when they review the unlawful Health Care. Riots? Naw, just good judgment.


Anonymous said...

The assumption that human beings are capable of living in communities without some rule of law is flawed and unrealistic. A very simple examination of human history will show you that humankind is not able to function properly without rule of law. Fail.

James Stuart Sinclair said...

Good article - except for your contention that "Obviously, we don't live in such a world. And, sadly, we never will." Anarchy of the responsible kind, ie. a truly voluntary society in which people behave decently because they want to, not because they are forced, is being implemented right now by the Gaiene Communion (dot org), and no doubt in other ways. Don't be so quick to yield the fight to the statist enemy.

su said...

i think lao tse tsu was a classical anarchist.
he believed in the natural order, the natural law and the natural flow. where there is power over others that is where the danger lies. where there is a resting in the natural state, that is where peace lies. anarchy has got a bad name, i bow at its wisdom.

Anonymous said...

All men are born free. Governments create anarchists by attempting to limit and take natural born freedoms away. If you believe in "limited government," you are an anarchist.


Aunt Bee said...

"Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods." ~ H. L. Mencken

Anonymous said...

"Without disorderly gene mutations we'd still be monkeys."

Now we know just who is writing for the blog. We don't know what they are now, but they are certain they used to be monkeys. I'm not sure they still are not monkeys. I'm certain I'm not nor ever was a monkey. Time to change the name of this blog to!

Anonymous said...

The great northeast blackout of 2003 indicates pretty clearly that people, by and large, are not kept at bay by oppresive government control. Rather, most people are co-operative, helpful, and want to work to make their lives and their communities better. The news stories of this blackout were filled with stories of people helping each other.

The thing is - there was no warning. There was no time for the Police State to move their contract killers and agent provocateurs in place to cause mayhem and frighten the citizens.

This, of course, does not address the real issue, which is that people DO respond to bullies - bullying works, which is why the criminals do it.

Until we, as a society, and as responsible adults, learn to deal with predators and criminals ourselves, and not rely upon the government to do it, we will continue to be subject to disruptions and manipulation.

We have a lot to learn before we can even think about anarchy as a positive lifestyle.

But thanks for offering the conversation - it was fun!

Anonymous said...

There's no way a Utopian can be made for humanity by humanity. Those who think were brainwashed by culture to be inherently selfish, overly emotional and corrupted are fools. We breed hate, prejudice, racism and ignorance. Even if every human on this planet was educated enough, we would still get wrathful, greedy, and hateful out of emotion not logic or given power, status or money.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but that's how this reality is. I agree 100% with this article. One thing I find funny is that capitalists can't seem to realize capitalism is a darwinism "survival of the fittest" system down to it's core.

I have a question what came before; Emotion or Corruption? Cause I believe those two, are the root of the problem with humans, me not excluded.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your idea that it is beyond "human nature". I'm of the idea that what is passed for "human nature" is learned and passed on from the parents as soon as one comes out of the womb. I believe that this is obtainable. However, I'd be quick to point out that we wouldn't need bankers period. The idea of banks is based on one of control. In order to have an increase of money in an account, the has to charge interest on money lending. To me this is unacceptable. I do like the rest of the description though.

Christina Lamano said...

The problem is and which produces the images of violence and riots etc is because without government, you are without government offices - this includes no courts, no police, no military, no nothing. Unfortunately, there are more than a few bad apples. There are many many MANY bad apples that will steal and take whatever they want from where ever or whomever and quite easily with no consequences especially against young and elderly persons, weak, frail, and unarmed. Just because you do away with government, doesn't mean you've done with evil and there are evil people out there who will kill, mime, cheat, steal, rape, harm etc.

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