I am always trying to find ways to reformulate issues so they are available to everyone, or at least simpler than usual. I think I can do so fairly easily in the case of Anarchism. At least, whether I succeed or fail, I think this entry will prove of some usefulness in talking about Anarchism.
First, consider what Anarchism is about, fundamentally. Anarchism is the rejection of hierarchies. Every institution in our society is a hierarchy, or was founded on hierarchical principles. A hierarchy can be defined most succinctly as a set of dominance/submission relations between human beings, through which orders are given and obeyed. Whatever the structure of the hierarchy (and there are as many kinds of hierarchies as there are kinds of egalitarian structures), those relations are always there.
To illustrate what this means, take the example of a workplace. There are owners, managers, and employees, with all sorts of levels. There are clearly defined dominance/submission relations between owners and managers, and between managers and employees, the former giving orders and the latter obeying orders. Of course, depending on the size of the hierarchy, there may be a few, some, or many people who both give orders and obey orders, from different relations.
This is not to say that there cannot be cooperation within a hierarchy, but a hierarchy is not cooperative by nature. You can say that you follow the law willfully (thus introducing some “cooperation”), but there’s no consent involved; there’s no possibility of consent because there’s no viable alternative. So any “cooperation” on that aspect is purely artificial. Real consensual cooperation can generally only exist between equals.
Hierarchies do not act. Hierarchies are relations, unlike a person or a machine or anything else that can act. For example, statists routinely argue that without government we can’t do anything, that governments are needed to build roads, stop criminals, and so on. This is patently false: all societies, whether statist or not, have done these things. But most importantly, it is individuals who do these things, not hierarchies. You don’t need a government to build a road, you need engineers and road builders, and raw materials. A “government” is just a set of relations between some people who want to rule (and their constant in-fighting) and the rest of us who are their subjects.
So to claim that hierarchies are necessary to accomplish anything is logical nonsense. It’s like saying that people need to love each other to have sex. Love is a relation, not an actor, so it can’t possibly be a requirement to any action.
The role of a hierarchy is fundamentally to attack individual values and subvert them for the sake of institutional values. That’s all a hierarchy does that an egalitarian system cannot. Why would you support any system that subverts your values? That’s self-destructive insanity. It’s all about treating people as a means to an end, as objects to be used and manipulated. This is pure, unchecked evil.
Egalitarian systems can reproduce the same actions that a hierarchy performs, but without attacking people’s values. If people think a road is a good idea, they’ll finance it and bring it to fruition, and if they don’t, they won’t. No ethical principle can oblige people to materially support an action they don’t morally support. This is merely tyranny, the kind of dull, bureaucratic tyranny to which monarchies and democracies have habituated us.
The weird thing is that we already know Anarchism works at all levels, we don’t like being subjects, we already know that most hierarchies that are gone from our society didn’t work precisely because they were hierarchies, and we already know that equality is demonstrably good. For people to still worship them, hierarchies must be magical. Why hang on to this stupid worship? Only people who have never cooperated with anyone, or have never had any friends, and have bought into the psychological egoism bullshit, would believe that you need to treat people as means to an end in order to accomplish a society.
These hierarchies are ego structures. I call them ego structures because they are made of games conditions, of attempts to satisfy one’s ego by becoming the superior. These ego structures are held together by the mortar of “I’m just following orders,” superiority complexes, competition, and hatred of the structure’s victims through “personal responsibility.” Sick structures breed sick people. These ego structures are themselves unguided and unchecked, moved by purely automatic processes (maximization of profit, maximization of power, maximization of control, keeping people in their place, or even dumb self-perpetuation). Like evolution, they are the result of an ongoing process of mindless, unintelligent design, and so they are evil and bloody.
One argument which I like to use now is to ask people why they believe in some hierarchies and not others. As it happens, very few people in the Western world still believes in slavery, or monarchy. Many people don’t believe in sexism, racism, capitalism, or organized religion. This is especially relevant insofar as it is usually the fact that they are hierarchical (i.e. the fact that some order and others obey, that only some people get to have their say) which is most reprehensible about them. How is it that people can lack belief in these, but not in the other ones that currently exist?
This is all that hierarchies are: the fact that some are rulers and some are subjects, that some are superior and some are inferior, that some are authorities and some are objects of authority. Why would anyone believe that this is worthy of any consideration? Who can believe that this accomplishes anything?
Christians worship hierarchies because they don’t believe the individual alone can have morals, that morality must come from some external source. Conservatives (and moderate liberals) worship hierarchies because they believe humans are fundamentally evil. Neo-liberalists and NWOers worship hierarchies because they enforce economic imperatives. Libertarians and Objectivists worship hierarchies because they believe that hierarchies are a natural result of the free market and that hierarchies are natural. Marxists worship hierarchies because they think people can’t be free without being properly indoctrinated.
All these excuses have been repeated again and again, and debunked again and again, including on this blog. So there’s really no reason to repeat them.
Statists, I issue you a challenge. Prove to me that your hierarchy worship is justified. Prove to me logically, using logical argumentation and, when possible, backed by empirical data, that nothing can get done unless you treat people like cattle. Otherwise, admit that your ideology is nonsense. It is nothing but ego games given total control over human beings.