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could anarchism work?
Posted: 03 September 2007 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In a small community maybe a few hundred, could it work?

Could a society of purely traders work?

My theory is that a small town (less then 500) could and should exist as a pure market, with no government.

All currently state operations (such as hospitals, fire stations, schools, roads, and utilities) would be totally privatized. Courts, army, and police would be run, if needed, by associations of volunteers (similar to a co-op).

Is this possible (in the long term)?

What possible objections can be raised against it?

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The first obstacle is the balance between short term self-interest and good of the society.  If the members all recognize that putting the other members of the society first is better for them in the long run, it can work.  If they are only interested in their own needs and desires, the society ceases to exist and it’s just a gaggle of competing individuals.  Second, what does the group do about anyone who is disabled and can’t continue to contribute or children if their parents die?  If everything is privatized each would have to pay for the services supplied.  So, are the disabled and the children allowed to starve and die?  If the community as a whole takes care of them, then government is already forming. 

If a house catches fire, why should the firemen put the fire out if the owner isn’t there to pay them?  If he paid in advance (insurance) who keeps track of all the payments for all the potential services? 

I believe that anarchy can work up to a certain community size, but it’s probably less than, say, fifty.  From then on one needs to have some structure to avoid anarchy turning into chaos.

Occam

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Agreed with Occam. Anarchy can work in small communities where everyone knows everyone else, where they can kick out the bad apples, and where there is some larger organization keeping the peace between that small community and the communities that surround it. Otherwise it’s a recipe for strife and bloodshed as smart, strong or charismatic people gather groups around themselves and set themselves up as strong men.

Small communities of like-minded individuals (basically, small cults) can work to support their infirm in some ways, however insofar as you are going to want anything like modern medicine, hospitals, ambulance services, not to mention telephones, electricity, a road system, and satellite communication, anarchy is just a nonstarter.

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Occam - 03 September 2007 05:16 PM

The first obstacle is the balance between short term self-interest and good of the society.  If the members all recognize that putting the other members of the society first is better for them in the long run, it can work.  If they are only interested in their own needs and desires, the society ceases to exist and it’s just a gaggle of competing individuals.

Explain how a self-interested society will collapse.

Second, what does the group do about anyone who is disabled and can’t continue to contribute or children if their parents die?  If everything is privatized each would have to pay for the services supplied.  So, are the disabled and the children allowed to starve and die?  If the community as a whole takes care of them, then government is already forming. 

Not necessarily. When you donate to a charity, does that set up a government?

If a house catches fire, why should the firemen put the fire out if the owner isn’t there to pay them?  If he paid in advance (insurance) who keeps track of all the payments for all the potential services?

it’s a choice the fireman’ll have to make. Maybe a contract of post-fire payment will be arranged. The station will keep track of payments.

I believe that anarchy can work up to a certain community size, but it’s probably less than, say, fifty.  From then on one needs to have some structure to avoid anarchy turning into chaos.

Occam

Please state your rationale.

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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dougsmith - 03 September 2007 05:34 PM

Agreed with Occam. Anarchy can work in small communities where everyone knows everyone else, where they can kick out the bad apples, and where there is some larger organization keeping the peace between that small community and the communities that surround it. Otherwise it’s a recipe for strife and bloodshed as smart, strong or charismatic people gather groups around themselves and set themselves up as strong men.

Small communities of like-minded individuals (basically, small cults) can work to support their infirm in some ways, however insofar as you are going to want anything like modern medicine, hospitals, ambulance services, not to mention telephones, electricity, a road system, and satellite communication, anarchy is just a nonstarter.

Again. Please state your rationale.

How is the state required in the development of technology, other then perhaps the protection of rights though copyrights and patents, which a court would still recognize in this community?

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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redmartian89 - 03 September 2007 05:40 PM

How is the state required in the development of technology, other then perhaps the protection of rights though copyrights and patents, which a court would still recognize in this community?

Courts, laws, centralized regulations, centralized enforcement of regulations and laws ...

Centralized systems of defense dramatically reduce the possibility of strife within the area ...

Centralized and uniform systems of finance, money, banking make possible entities large enough to build and support massive public works projects and private projects like telephony, highways, rails, water, sewage, gas, oil, electricity, mail, etc., etc.

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 03 September 2007 05:45 PM

Courts, laws, centralized regulations, centralized enforcement of regulations and laws ...

Centralized systems of defense dramatically reduce the possibility of strife within the area ...

Centralized and uniform systems of finance, money, banking make possible entities large enough to build and support massive public works projects and private projects like telephony, highways, rails, water, sewage, gas, oil, electricity, mail, etc., etc.

Again, assume in this community that police and courts are provided only by voluntary associations and dealings.

You have not explained how these are necessary to the production of technologies. Regulations and related forms of controls would not exist as there would be no state, only voluntary groups of people.

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Posted: 03 September 2007 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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You know, redmartin89, your request to “please state your rationale” are akin to asking one to prove the negative.  I’ll just state that there have been almost no anarchical societies set up that worked, and even those based on a religious order collapsed after only a short life.  If you are so certain it will work, I suggest you set one up, and when you have five hundred members and it’s been functioning for, say, ten years, come back and give us the evidence. 

I can’t be certain you’ll fail, but I’ll give you a $100 bet at 100 to 1 odds that your community will collapse very quickly.

Oh, and even buddhist and Tibetan monks have a government.


Occam

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Posted: 03 September 2007 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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redmartian89 - 03 September 2007 05:53 PM

Again, assume in this community that police and courts are provided only by voluntary associations and dealings.

How? “Voluntary associations and dealings” is a very vague conception of government. I can’t assume what I don’t understand.

redmartian89 - 03 September 2007 05:53 PM

You have not explained how these are necessary to the production of technologies. Regulations and related forms of controls would not exist as there would be no state, only voluntary groups of people.

Technology production nowadays depends on an intricate web of relationships between individuals and corporations. It depends on computing power and complex equipment. This equipment in turn depends on the network of electricity, communication, roads, rails, airplanes, etc.., not to mention sewage, water, etc.

If regulations didn’t exist, what would stop people from polluting their environment, just to take a single example? What would stop the guy making the plastic panels from dumping all his excess into the river?

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Posted: 03 September 2007 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I agree Doug’s and Occam’s opinions. While reading it, I was thinking on what Doug wrote: the financial needs in a modern society (think in the average equipment in a health facility) are hughe, so for the building of roads, hospitals, comm. centers and so on, the entire comunity involvement is needed, what makes a state. The big difference I see is that in such situation a more direct form of democracy is suitable (which is good), but the regulation is needed to improve cooperation. Again, the main diference is that everyone in this society would have the chance to be more involved in the development of such regulations.

Regarding the self interest societies, I’d say that self interest societies don’t collapse, if they are skilled enough and willing to care about the long term. Why?, well, I guess Nash’s bargains solutions gave us a couple of good clues.

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Posted: 03 September 2007 09:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Wish I had something insightful to add, but I can really just echo Doug and Occam here. A small communtiy ethnically and ideologically homogenous could perhaps exist as a commune of some sort, but only in isolation from the outside world. And I still think the level of specialkization involved in maintaining modern life is too great for such an isolated community, som it would have to do without much of what we take for granted. Could they really pay a trauma center and efficient ambulance service to sit around waiting for someone to need them? And if not, then they would have to do with a much lower quality, more inefficient system for such needs. Many services and economic interactions in the developed world would I think fall under this category of things a small community could not provide for itself. And once you scale up the society, I think such minimal ad hoc organization as the original post suggests becomes insufficient. Sure, I can’t prove it, but as Occam said it seems surprising that it would not have already developed and proven itself if it were truly an optimal form of social organization. But I’d be happy to see it tried and have my mind changed.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 12:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Well, you could start by looking at actual communes that have been founded. Anarchist Catalonia was pathetic, and could never hold its own against either the Stalinists or the fascists. The Israeli kibbutzes, regardless of which form of socialism they practiced, have been living on government subsidies since the 1970s. Oneida collapsed. The Amish have been stuck in the 17th century because any change would lead to sure schism and subsequently disintegration.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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As for anarcho-capitalism… it almost exists in a lot of Latin American countries, and almost existed in the robber baron era. The wealthy and powerful simply became the government, and wrote laws to protect their wealth and power.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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What you describe is not anarchism, it is free-market capitalism.  Anarchism requires the absence of private property and trade, as far as that is possible, and is absolutely antithetical to the privatization of public institutions.

Where did you get the idea that what you describe is anarchism?

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Posted: 04 September 2007 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Alon - 04 September 2007 12:14 AM

Anarchist Catalonia was pathetic.

another overly broad and generalized statement.

yeah, yeah, yeah. Sagan and Russell are “utterly worthless”, Chavez is closing down the opposition media and Morales is “shoving crap” down the throats of his people. Oh wait, thats based on a totally distorted Times article.

I see no sense in taking anything you seriously. i mean, there’s already alot of conjecturing based on predispositions, but you really take it to another level.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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redmartian89 - 03 September 2007 04:24 PM

All currently state operations (such as hospitals, fire stations, schools, roads, and utilities) would be totally privatized.

thats not any kind of anarchism I would support, mostly because the very concept of privatization is counter to anarchism.

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