About Anarchism

Anarchism is a way of organising without central government. All forms of central government require that people give away their rights of self-determination to a separate elite. That elite may be accountable or unaccountable to the rest of the population; they can be in power by public acclaim or by force; they can be monarchic, with a single person in control, or oligarchic, with a group in control. There are many combinations, but they all have one thing in common: people give away their rights of self-determination so that they can avoid the communal duties that self-determination imposes on the individual.


Anarchy does not mean a lawless free-for-all, although that is how its opponents often present it. If anything, anarchy holds people to a high moral standard: the individual has no rights, only responsibilities to others. Failure to recognise these responsibilities can lead to the exclusion of the individual from the group, or it may lead to the others in the group banding together to sanction the individual. As the sanctions imposed by the group on the individual are ad hoc, they can often be extreme: the punishment does not have to fit the crime, it must instead fit the needs of the other individuals in the group. To work, therefore, an anarchist society has to have a high level of interpersonal tolerance: irrelevant or minor social differences have to be accepted without comment; but larger social infractions are liable to be dealt with draconically.


In hunter-gatherer societies on Earth, anarchy, informed by tradition, is the usual method of organisation. However, where a society is organised around accumulated personal wealth rather than accumulated personal reputation, anarchistic equality gives way to individualism, hierarchy, organisation and fixed social roles.


In modern societies, anarchism has been tried briefly in the French and Russian revolutions, and very briefly at other times and places. However, the unwillingness of the vast majority to take up their duties of self-determination and group responsibility has always allowed the bullies to take over, leading swiftly to the very opposite of anarchy. Whether anarchy is social model that can work in complex modern human culture remains untested, and it may be that modern humans are more hive-like and less individualistic than we like to think; but in The Dispossessed Le Guin has given us a vision of how things could work - and what we would have to give up to make them work.


You can find out more about anarchism here:


What is an anarchist?

One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.

Ursula K. Le Guin


An-anarchist is the-unknown-person?

The-known-thing is a-choice; the-choice makes the-responsibility.


Vokodon Pone aTRuz?

aTRum Pone Sig; aSig Pone aZosh.