Talk:Anarchism

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Vote in Draft[edit]

I created a new version of the ideology list, replacing the eye searing version with one that is concise and straightfoward. You can vote on the draft talk page. –Tuxer (talk) 21:11, 18 August 2020 (UTC)

@Tuxer Given the number of drafts for this page, would you mind linking to yours in this thread? ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 03:18, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
Actually it's Ravens' draft which he finally opened to editing to everyone.–Tuxer (talk) 08:50, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
"Finally"? It was open for a long time. https://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=Draft:Anarchism&action=historyGodless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 09:33, 19 August 2020 (UTC)

Wrong[edit]

The Zapatistas have lasted for 30 odd years and are doing remarkably well, and while they'd balk at being called anarchists, they still operate on anarchist principles: ie participatory democracy with horizontal organization. Catalonia actually DOUBLED food production and industrial output during the Spanish Revolution, and only buckled under the weight of sustained military pressure after YEARS of fighting. Oxyaena Harass 04:42, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

Hell, Wikipedia has an entire list of active anarchist communities. Either way this section is an active strawman of anarchism, and is demonstrably false. Anarchists advocate for decentralization and confederalization, we don't advocate for mass society like our critics paint as us doing. The strawmans presented in this section are neatly refuted by this Thought Slime video, and by this document by Sam Dolgoff. Oxyaena Harass 06:27, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

Large-scale galaxy brain argument[edit]

The argument that large scale is a problem is hilarious as it would render representative democracy, capital-L Liberalism and social democracy impossible. After all, concerns with popular sovereignity, civil liberties or seeking to eliminate inequality is impossible unless you can form a close intimate friendship with all single 7 billion individuals on earth. I am going to delete that part. Tuxer (talk) 21:52, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

No? The point is that factions and hierarchies are inevitable, not that Democracy means you are friends with everyone. Core (yak) 23:17, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
I think this seems like a substantial pragmatic critique. I would support re-adding the section. Serene (talk) 23:26, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Actually, not as much was removed as I though. It could perhaps be more explicit about the essence of the issue, but I would support re-adding Dunbar's number. I also think the section could use a citation for the claim that the overwhelming majority of anarchist experiments have collapsed back into hierarchy. Assuming it is overwhelming, evidence shouldn't be too hard to find. Serene (talk) 23:30, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
There's to much to be had about when too much decentralization is harmful but the argument being made is one based on the cliché that anarchy is a form of chaos with no coordination and cooperation, a "rugged individualism" where everyone goes their own way. Now to be fair, practically all existing models for anarchism would suffer crippling problems of supply chains and logistics but those strong arguments are never invoked when it comes to anarchism, only clichés. By the way, the numbers argument can also be used against democracy which makes it suspicious considering that democracy is clearly not a pipe-dream. 00:49, 3 April 2021 (UTC)Tuxer (talk)
Dunbar's Number is not about how big "society" can be, it's about how big "our circle of friends" can be. It's relatively easy to form a society made up of nothing but friends who all know who is competent at what and who's a braggart and who is a jagoff, but once you go beyond this number, well, not everyone is friends with everyone else, and conflict resolution is no longer a trivial affair.
Society doesn't require everyone to be friends with everyone else, it just requires everyone to get along with minimal amounts of strife, and we've historically accomplished this through various institutions such as knights and barons, the police force, the military, the mafia (yes, really!), and so forth. You provide a security force a portion of your income, and they provide protection and a dispute resolution system. The monopoly on violence, whatever you want to call it. But these solutions have, on the large scale, always had some sort of hierarchy. Universally, with little exception, this devolved in feudalism and nobility. Nobles were not just a European phenomena, they were in virtually every civilization from Japan and Africa to the Americas. The idea behind Democracy is that while there's still a police force that reports to a Chief who reports to Da Mayor, this hierarchical structure is circular; the Ruler is elected by the public at large, and therefore is not the top rung. Obviously this isn't quite how it works, but it's quite rare to find someone who will tell you that an Absolute Monarchy is a better system than a Representative Republic.
Anarchism, however, relies on the assumption that we can minimize this strife without forming any hierarchical structures in the first place. It's a nice thought and all, but in practice, well, there's not much evidence for it beyond the niche communities.Core (yak) 01:30, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
As for Anarchism success/failure, wikipedia has a list of Anarchist societiesWikipedia, note that most of them collapsed in a matter of months, let alone an entire generation, and of the ones that are still ongoing, most of them are Anarchist organizations that are still a subset of likeminded individuals existing within a larger, hierarchical society rather than their own independent polities. A few aren't even Anarchist to begin with; rather, they have Anarchist sympathies. It may sound like arguing over the definitions in the dictionary, but the distinctions are important. The Zapatistas, for instance, are semi-autonomous within Mexico, and while on the surface they have a Libertarian-Socialist ideology, they themselves outright defy any political classification, and they still have leaders and lieutenants; there is still a hierarchy, even if the hierarchy is flatter and more fluid than the rest of Mexico.
Personally, I do believe that hierarchies should be as flat as possible, with as much social mobility between hierarchies and SES and so forth as possible, but that does not mean I think that they can be made completely flat. I also do support the idea of "workers owning the means of production". Do you know what another term for "worker that owns their own business" is? Small Business Owner. The Mom'n'Pop Shops. Just because I think we should work in a Capitalist framework does not mean I don't also have a seething hatred of unregulated monopolies. Core (yak) 02:05, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
The largest society that I know of that called themselves "anarchist" is the anarcho-syndicalism of the Confederación Nacional del TrabajoWikipedia in Catalonia etc. However, from my reading, anarcho-syndicalism has some degree of structure and hierarchy (at least in practice) and seems to mix both the labor movement and Marxism in its philosophy. From my viewpoint, any area organized more on a small scale communal level (ie, most anarchist societies today) will probably find it difficult to do any sort of large scale infrastructure, transportation, trading and commerce, and defense (without some serious regression, eg bartering instead of currency). Dispute resolution is another thing that (MHO) gets pussyfooted around without great answers in anarchist communities as far as I can see (I mean, the default animal behavior for dispute resolution is violent conflict; as we see around the world, humans aren't much different in that regard, and it would be naive to think otherwise). If one actually adds the structure to manage scale and disputes, it would seem strange to continue to insist that it is "anarchist", at least to me. PanGalacticGargleBlaster (talk) 02:14, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
(EC)I suppose the rejoinder is "leaders are elected by the community so they are okay," but that leads to another problem with anarchism-hairsplitting over what hierarchy actually is.-Flandres (talk) 02:16, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
@CorruptUser I think part of that was directed at me. Your WP link was a bit broken, but I think I found what you were talking about. I linked to it in the relevant section, feel free to revert if you think it is unnecessary. Serene (talk) 03:10, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
Setting aside time frame, I've noticed most Anarchist societies in practice tend to overstretch themselves. Now, I don't have an anarchist society in a petri dish I can study under semi-controlled conditions. However, I would strongly suspect if I did, I'd find that a severely decentralized social structure has issues forming a stable bloc the size of say... Texas. It might however be able to form a stable bloc the size of say... Rode Island. Whether or not hierarchies are inevitable is irrelevant to some degree, as we can safely say that the social structures proposed by anarchism, while they have some success in small regions, do have issues with massive landmasses. Again, we don't really have that many anarchist societies to study under semi-controlled conditions, which kind of sucks to be honest. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 03:59, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
That is an issue with judging a model which usually seeks to come to power in a armed revolution. Since it only comes to the fore in very troubled circumstances (when you could get support for a revolution), you can't really paint a secure picture of "what the average day in a happy/healthy anarchist society" even looks like.-Flandres (talk) 04:06, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
That would be my point with the "semi-controlled conditions", i.e. not in a war zone. We can speculate to some degree what such an anarchist society would look like based on what data we have, but that's all it is, speculation. National governments aren't exactly going to be keen to hand over land for experiments in social structures, etc, etc. So we aren't given the ability to gather conditions on anarchist states under favorable conditions. That being said, what data we currently do have indicates lateral organization has problems with large scale administration. This isn't insurmountable, (one obvious solution would be to have lots of small administrative structures rather than simply one or a handful), but it is a problem to be considered. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 13:29, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I see this as sort of a game theoretic question. Even if you could form a series of small administrative structures, this might be an inherently unstable situation. If a hierarchical society can organize better and manage more people, then it threatens the power to coerce smaller administrative structures and force them into the hierarchy. For anarchism to be stable in the long term, it not only has to give rise to administrative structures, it also has be to be able to compete with hierarchical societies of a comparable size and squash spontaneously emerging hierarchies. I see no justification for assuming that hierarchical societies would not form spontaneously, especially given that they obviously did so already at least once in history, and the fact that hierarchical societies have taken control over pretty much the entire world is prima facie evidence that they are able to exert disproportionate coercive force. My suspicion is that hierarchical society is a Nash equilibrium, even if in principle it would be better on average to eliminate all hierarchy. Obviously, as you say, this is largely speculation, but I don't think it is any more speculative than the claims made by anarchists. To add to this, I'm also concerned that problematic hierarchy would emerge even in the absence of advantageous effects. A community wherein a majority share some characteristic which a minority lacks threatens to produce prejudicial attitudes toward the minority which culminate in the establishment of hierarchy, along the lines of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, etc. It would be impossible to establish a community without some such characteristic, and it isn't clear to me that there is anything inherent to anarchism that would prevent or dissuade the development of such prejudices. Serene (talk) 14:02, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

So you would have to first make the world a "federation of very small communes," and then make sure every member of the federation remains a commune.-Flandres (talk)
@Serene I was arguing that there flaws in anarchist thought, not that it would work per se. @Flandres Or a landmass or region. But basically yes, that's the general idea. (Keep in mind that that's one proposed solution and itself may have unforeseen flaws, etc,etc,etc.) To both of you, I feel like you haven't quite grasped my stance on anarchist thought. I'm neutral, as I believe more hard data is needed to say one way or the other whether an anarchist society would be able to maintain its existence in the long run. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 16:52, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
Actually, I was trying to express agreement with that, and then add some of my own observations. In particular, I was saying if a state emerged in a area surrounded by anarchistic communes, it would have an advantage it might be tempted to abuse. Of course all of this is hypothetical and given that anarchists are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things I think it will always remain hypothetical.-Flandres (talk) 16:56, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
@GrammarCommie I don't mean to try to make you defend a position you don't endorse. I think we're approaching largely the same issue, just from different angles. I do agree that limited data is an issue, and I admit that the stance I outlined above is fairly speculative. One thing I wish I had more knowledge of is how the favorability faced by past anarchist experiments compares to that faced by societies that experienced long-term success. I can hardly dispute taking a neutral position.
@CorruptUser Your new version looks better than the old one; the problem is more immediately clear. Your Guardian source isn't a link, though, and I can't figure out why. Serene (talk) 21:46, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
Yeah that is weird, it won't link for some reason Core (yak) 21:54, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
I figured it out, it wanted it to have an https:// at the start. Serene (talk) 21:59, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

Anarchist Library[edit]

I'm not sure if these are quality citation, they read more like Hagiographies rather than actual Academic studies, but I don't want an edit war. How much of this article, and which, should be linked to The Anarchist Library? Core (yak) 21:19, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

Well, we can at least link to them in discussion of what anarchists think of themselves. I can cite Fox News if I am describing the views of a politician who writes op/eds there.-Flandres (talk) 21:27, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
That's pretty much my stance on them as well. For all the various splinter groups of The Judean People's Front Anarchism, sure, it's useful. Core (yak) 21:31, 3 April 2021 (UTC)

Dunbar's Number[edit]

the 'monkeysphere' article doesn't understand what dunbar's number is, which makes sense since it's just a comedy article. dunbar's number is just a proposed number to describe the number of stable, mutual relationships people can maintain without effort. it does not mean you can't see other people as human. you can objectively and verifiably see strangers as human beings--Menace (talk) 19:56, 4 April 2021 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Dunbar's number is more of a theoretical number rather than something that has been experimentally verified. Plus, I think many Fire Emblem fans would disagree with you if you said that you can't see a 151st person as anything more than just another creature. Plutocow (talk) 20:36, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
Dunbar's number was first put forward in 1992 in this paper, and is based on extrapolation of data indicating a correlation between brain size and social network size among primates. Dunbar has continued to research this, and other research has linked social group size to more specific structures in the brain. It might not be any quantum mechanics, but this is the kind of research that is limited by ethical constraints: you can't just force people into social groups of particular sizes and see what happens. Given that the correlation holds for other primates, there is reason to think that it will hold for humans. The issue is not that it is physically impossible to see more than 150 people as human beings, the issue is that there are limits on how many relationships of a certain character you can maintain, which has implications for the long-term stability of a non-hierarchical social order. In a community where 95% of people are, say, evangelical Christians, it's easier to pin problems on the sinful minority group if the community has 1500 or 15000 people than if it had 15 or 150, because in a small enough community, everybody can form relationships that are close enough for it to be difficult to persecute people for prejudicial reasons. The larger communities are thus at greater risk of devolving into hierarchy. In a way, while with a lot of people you can still see strangers as people, it nevertheless becomes easier to demonize and dehumanize them, especially if they belong to a group with salient "Other" features. Serene (talk) 22:36, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
It's much more than that. 150 people are able to see everyone else as the close-knit group, and are willing to share and so forth. If you receive a call from your sister saying she's stuck at the airport, you'll drive over to pick her up, but if you receive a call from a random number and they say they need a lift, you are hanging the phone up. If your friend needs $500 to post bail you are probably going to help him out, but you would never simply walk into a jail and post bail for people you've never met. When a stranger claims to need something, you are more likely to be suspicious; for all you know they are a grifter or sponger. Core (yak) 22:51, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
@CorruptUser "but you would never simply walk into a jail and post bail for people you've never met." That absolute shouldn't be there. While it's unlikely, it's still possible. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 22:55, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
I'm quite sure those people are so few and far between that they would have an insufficient impact on how society itself can be structured. What is the "best" social system for humans depends on what humans are; if at some point our phones and twitter accounts became sentient enough that it'd be impossible to commit crimes (I actually half-heartedly believe this is what social media will do to us in the near future), police and courts might become obsolete and we could potentially be Anarchist. Or something else. Until then, well, we work with humans as we have them now. Heck, the systems we have now might not have been possible millenia ago; the reason for Feudalism's near-ubiquitous state wasn't because of a giant conspiracy, but because when food was limited, the tribe that gave extra food/resources to a small group of professional soldier-rulers at the expense of having slightly weaker peasants was able to steamroll over the tribe entirely made up of slightly less malnourished peasants. We no longer live in the world where food is limited, and everyone can be fed enough to grow to their full potential height, strength, mental fortitude, etc, and so nobility is obsolete. Core (yak) 00:15, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
Again, those absolutes. We're talking populations here Cory, meaning we should favor odds over absolutes. I'm sorry for pressing this point, but it's sort of a hangup for me since any population makeup will have outliers. Hell, even in a socialist, anarchist, or communist (the end stage version) society these problems would still exist. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 15:43, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
You are technically correct, which is the best kind of correct. Point is these outliers are outliers, and yes, society has to account for outliers such as "murderers", "terrorists" or "juggalos", they aren't going to make up the bulk of your day to day interactions. A society made up entirely of Mr Rogers is probably going to have different needs for laws and rules than a society made up entirely of Gordon Gekkos. We could try to turn the Gekkos into Rogers, but if you've ever been in public, you can be convinced that literally 3% of people are irredeemable rat-bastards who if given any advantage, no matter what the circumstances, will try to screw you over. Those people can not be fixed, and will always exist in any system you create. CorSock (talk) 16:00, 5 April 2021 (UTC)

Mostly cleaned up[edit]

Alright, I think I cleaned up the bulk of the problems in the article. It's no longer a puff-piece, and now shows some of the warts of the movement in general. There's always more that can be done, of course. Thoughts? CorSock (talk) 17:15, 9 April 2021 (UTC)

@SockPup Seems good, though I think the AnCap section should highlight the differences between AnCaps and the majority of anarchist factions a bit more. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 17:30, 9 April 2021 (UTC)
It's a significant improvement on the previous version. Minor style quibble re. mid-sentence capitalisation of Anarchist(s), Anarchism, and other ideologies: I wouldn't, it isn't common in print, and needs to be consistent throughout.
As for the ancap section, this line from the dedicated article probably deserves recycling: Ancaps have proven to be one of the greatest tools for anarchist unity in living memory, as more or less every single major anarchist group and tendency stands united in despising them.
It's not my work and I can't vouch for its accuracy, but it's always got a laugh when ancaps have come up in conversation. Helena Bonham Carter (talk) 20:21, 9 April 2021 (UTC)
Very impressed with the improvements. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 20:43, 9 April 2021 (UTC)