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Author Topic: How to run an Anarchy  (Read 15824 times)
myrkul
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June 22, 2011, 08:07:09 PM
 #1

There have been numerous threads discussing several aspects of this, And they've all been lively discussions.

This being a gathering place for political viewpoints ranging from various stripes of anarchy, to full-on statists, I felt a unified discussion of the means and methods of keeping a society running without government might be well-received, or at least well-trafficked.

I'll start, with a concept Near and dear to the Anarchist heart: The Non-Aggression or Zero-Aggression Principle (We can't even agree on a name!)

For convenience, I'll simply refer to it as the NAP.

The NAP states that, as L. Neil Smith puts it, "No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation." I agree, but would add the threat of force to that. You don't need to pull a trigger to coerce someone. Edit: I would like to point out here that I also include property in this. so, a full NAP would read, IMO, thus:"No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force or threat of force against another human being or their property, nor to delegate its initiation."

Now, not everyone has to follow this principle for a society to be functional, just most people. Note that it specifies 'initiate'. This means that once you have initiated force (or threat of force) against someone, you are fair game for them, or someone else acting in their defense, to use force against, in defense.

Now, here I will differ from some anarchists, in that I do not support the use of retaliatory force, either. I see no need to inflict harm upon others who have harmed you in the past. What is done is done, and there is no turning back the clock. All that can be done is restitution.

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June 22, 2011, 08:14:29 PM
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How to run an Anarchy

My apologies if this sounds a little ignorant, but isn't the core foundation of anarchy that this question is never addressed ?

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June 22, 2011, 08:20:04 PM
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My apologies if this sounds a little ignorant, but isn't the core foundation of anarchy that this question is never addressed ?
think you hit the nail on the head, wonder if it hits back
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June 22, 2011, 08:23:41 PM
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How to run an Anarchy

My apologies if this sounds a little ignorant, but isn't the core foundation of anarchy that this question is never addressed ?

The title is a bit of a joke. Nobody 'runs' an Anarchy, but we (Anarchists and Libertarians) do have a tendency to debate, often in circles, about how keeping such a society running smoothly would be achieved.

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June 22, 2011, 08:30:15 PM
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Apologies in advance if these questions sound naive - I've not read any literature about anarchy.

That being said, how would such a society handle a) organized crime, and b) non-violent criminals (thieves, hackers)? To put it simply: who will help me if someone wants to beat me up or rob me of my possessions; and who will avenge me if I'm killed?
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June 22, 2011, 08:41:21 PM
 #6

Apologies in advance if these questions sound naive - I've not read any literature about anarchy.

That being said, how would such a society handle a) organized crime, and b) non-violent criminals (thieves, hackers)? To put it simply: who will help me if someone wants to beat me up or rob me of my possessions; and who will avenge me if I'm killed?

The same way we do today, except more efficiently. To be specific, today we pay ONE company (the government) for all those services. Under anarchy that market would be feeded by many competitive forces rather than just one.


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June 22, 2011, 08:45:16 PM
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feeded by many competitive forces rather than just one.

So essentially you're saying that there still is something like a police. Would it consist of volunteers or would they get paid? If it's the latter, who would pay them and what would happen to people who don't pay them (would there also be a tax system)? And in both cases, who makes sure that what they do is "right" (in the sense of being morally acceptable by all people, or at least a great majority)?
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June 22, 2011, 09:08:53 PM
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Apologies in advance if these questions sound naive - I've not read any literature about anarchy.

That being said, how would such a society handle a) organized crime, and b) non-violent criminals (thieves, hackers)? To put it simply: who will help me if someone wants to beat me up or rob me of my possessions; and who will avenge me if I'm killed?

You're exactly the type of person I wanted to read this: Someone who knows nothing about Anarchy, but is curious.

To answer your questions, First, What does Organized Crime primarily profit from? Not murder, or the other violence, That's used to protect their turf from other Gangs. Their main profit streams come from providing prohibited materials or services. Gambling, Drugs, Prostitution, and at one time Alcohol. Without the laws prohibiting these things, the 'legitimate' dealers, with lower costs due to the fact that they don't have to shoot people to do business, would drive them either out of business, or at least out of the killing business - it would do what decades of FBI attention could not: Drive the Mafiosos straight.

Non-violent crime is a less clear-cut area. It's hard to shoot a hacker to prevent him from stealing your bank balance, and once he has it, it's pretty hard to find him. In this instance, and other monetary-only loss situations, is where insurance steps in. The insurance agency recompenses you for your loss, and then it is in their best interest to track down and claim restitution from the thief. They have better access to the resources required to do so, anyway.

Another option is to hire a security firm. They will defend you or your property for you, and usually accept liability for your losses in the event they fail. Like the insurance agency, the security firm then has it in their best interest to find the thief and claim restitution.

A third option, but by no means the final, is to defend yourself. With no firearms laws, Every criminal will know that the house he is breaking into may be defended by an armed homeowner. I am sure there are options I have missed, and the Market will provide, but this should be enough to answer your questions.

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June 22, 2011, 09:23:40 PM
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The same way we do today, except more efficiently.
I keep hearing this but nowhere am I told why it would be more efficient. Competing companies COULD be more efficient, but there's no guarantee.
I recently saw a government monopoly being broken up, and the end result is a rather large "meh". The prices are about the same, the service is about the same (but slightly better), and the salaries for employees in the new de-monopolized shops are about the same (but slightly lower). There are more shops though. This goes for cities. No idea how things are in the countryside.
That monopoly was probably run as efficient as it could be by anyone, private or state. A bit more waste now if you look at it from a resources perspective.
Still, I don't buy this "the government does everything poorly" argument that keeps popping up here. Perhaps you just have a shitty government. Then fix it. You have the tools. No revolution needed.

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June 22, 2011, 09:32:04 PM
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Hm, that solves some of the problems, but I'm still having trouble to imagine such a system running without problems.

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the fact that they don't have to shoot people to do business, would drive them either out of business, or at least out of the killing business - it would do what decades of FBI attention could not: Drive the Mafiosos straight.

This sounds a bit too optimistic for me. While I do see how anarchy could eliminate a subset of the problems associated with organized crime, I'm pretty sure the fact that criminals with sufficient power would have little or nothing to fear in such a system would make things worse. If I had no conscience, and no strong retribution to fear, but had some power - i.e. lead an organized criminal group or possess weapons or whatever - I could and probably would use my power for blackmail, kidnapping, forcing people to pay protection money, and so on. All of these are very profitable (see e.g. Sicily - no offense to any Italians. Weak police, weak retribution, allows them to run all that profitable stuff I have described. In most cases they do not even need to be violent or "agressive", people fear them and that is enough.)

About the second point you made, I agree that insurance and third-party protection provides some degree of security - but in this case we have the same trust issue that we have with governments today, dont we? We've gotta trust some people to take care of our posessions, or of our security. Now if they are a) incompetent or b) malicious we've got a problem. There not being a central authority to punish them, and us probably being less powerful than they are, there's not much we can do about this. At least in todays system - which has its fair share of incompetent and malicious insurance companies - it is possible to sue them (with some little chance for success)....

The only way I could see out of these problems is some kind of democratic organization which ensures peaceful conduct (provided that it operates according to a rule system that all people (or a great majority) agree with). This is not something that current political systems implement (I cant see true democracy in modern states, and people certainly dont agree with 100% of the rules), but to my current understanding anarchy strictly opposes such an organization, which could potentially make it even more unstable and even more unjust and unfair than the current system...

Am I wrong? If yes, how could anarchy solve these problems without retributive force?
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June 22, 2011, 09:34:08 PM
 #11

The prices are about the same, the service is about the same (but slightly better), and the salaries for employees in the new de-monopolized shops are about the same (but slightly lower). There are more shops though. This goes for cities. No idea how things are in the countryside.

So what you're saying here is that removal of the Gov. monopoly resulted in more choices, and better service without increasing the price?

Sounds like more efficiently, to me.

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June 22, 2011, 09:37:53 PM
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@Grant

The same way we do today, except more efficiently.
I keep hearing this but nowhere am I told why it would be more efficient. Competing companies COULD be more efficient, but there's no guarantee.
I recently saw a government monopoly being broken up, and the end result is a rather large "meh". The prices are about the same, the service is about the same (but slightly better), and the salaries for employees in the new de-monopolized shops are about the same (but slightly lower). There are more shops though. This goes for cities. No idea how things are in the countryside.
That monopoly was probably run as efficient as it could be by anyone, private or state. A bit more waste now if you look at it from a resources perspective.
Still, I don't buy this "the government does everything poorly" argument that keeps popping up here. Perhaps you just have a shitty government. Then fix it. You have the tools. No revolution needed.

I might be wrong, but I think the main line of argument here is that in the case of government owned companies, there does not need to be an incentive to improve (and to be the best), but in a competitive environment there obviously is. I'm not saying this is a generalizable rule, but I think it applies in a lot of cases. Look at what happened to Communist states - it was a good idea, but in the end, the economy went downhill and the products sucked in comparison to western products (at least for sowiet states, in one of which I happened to grow up. the reason this does not happen in china is that there is essentially a free market despite the communist politics)

@myrkul

I did understand the NAP, and I totally agree - it's pretty cool. But since the world doesn't only consist of holy people, how can we make sure that society abides by this rule, and does not fall apart? What do we do about the provable percentage of criminals or sadists or psychopaths in every larger community?
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June 22, 2011, 09:50:28 PM
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So essentially you're saying that there still is something like a police. Would it consist of volunteers or would they get paid? If it's the latter, who would pay them and what would happen to people who don't pay them (would there also be a tax system)? And in both cases, who makes sure that what they do is "right" (in the sense of being morally acceptable by all people, or at least a great majority)?

There is no tax, there is just servicing fees or donations, since there is no monopoly (or government).

Yes whichever people find interest for could function, for-profit, nonprofit (donantion financed) or even volunteers. (let the freemarket decide).

Who makes sure what they do is right ? Their customers, or lack of their customers. IMO there is no "morally acceptable behavior" (this is a gangmentality our governments like to falsely promote), however there is one principle that both anarchists as well as old traditions agree on “Don't do unto others what you don't want them to do unto you” and this is the primary principle the police is supposed to defend. But this can extend...

As i imagine a freemarket anarchy system, you could have areas that subscribe to one police-contractor and with it you have some "moral rules", for example, a typical family friendly area would have lower speed limits on its roads, laws against using drugs in public (drugs include alcohol and tobacco). So that particular area has "laws" that best satisfy their consumer demands.
At same time a few blocks from this area you may have a young adults area, where for example speed limits would be greatly increased, and noice levels during nights tolerated, as well as using drugs in public would also be tolerated (to some degree).
And i could list countless other examples of land ares for each particular group. You get the picture, the police job would simply be to defend those "rules of the land you're on". Think of it as a country within a country, or to put it in a more imaginable perspective, in todays world on the street you are allowed to carry large bags right ? Try walk into a mall with a large bag, their private security will ask you to put that bag in a locker (because they have "rules" in that mall that forbid you to carry a bag inside a store due to risk of fraud).

Now onto your other question, what happens to people who don't pay ? Land owners have an interest in keeping their land protected so even if you don't pay, if you are in a city-centre the landowner where you trespass protects you (because otherwise inside of a city centre he/she would have a hardtime finding tenants to rent if it was unprotected). Where you are not protected could be at your home if you happen to own/rent land at a cheap area that does not cover police protection.

That's very briefly my take on those issues.

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June 22, 2011, 09:51:10 PM
 #14

The prices are about the same, the service is about the same (but slightly better), and the salaries for employees in the new de-monopolized shops are about the same (but slightly lower). There are more shops though. This goes for cities. No idea how things are in the countryside.
So what you're saying here is that removal of the Gov. monopoly resulted in more choices, and better service without increasing the price?
Sounds like more efficiently, to me.

Where did you get that? I said it didn't change much. Almost nothing changed in fact. Service was the same, choices was the same, price was the same. I now have to walk 100 steps less to buy stuff, because I live in a city. Some more shops in the cities, probably fewer in the countryside although I don't know this for a fact.

Is the fact that they lowered the salaries what you call "more efficient"?

So no, not more efficiently. Not less either probably. Big benefit for the advertising companies, who got a whole new set of customers.

I didn't oppose the removal of this monopoly as I think the government has better things to do than to sell this kind of stuff, but the magical handwaving of "it'll be more efficient" is rather misleading.

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June 22, 2011, 09:55:47 PM
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Hm, that solves some of the problems, but I'm still having trouble to imagine such a system running without problems.

Quote
the fact that they don't have to shoot people to do business, would drive them either out of business, or at least out of the killing business - it would do what decades of FBI attention could not: Drive the Mafiosos straight.

This sounds a bit too optimistic for me. While I do see how anarchy could eliminate a subset of the problems associated with organized crime, I'm pretty sure the fact that criminals with sufficient power would have little or nothing to fear in such a system would make things worse. If I had no conscience, and no strong retribution to fear, but had some power - i.e. lead an organized criminal group or possess weapons or whatever - I could and probably would use my power for blackmail, kidnapping, forcing people to pay protection money, and so on. All of these are very profitable (see e.g. Sicily - no offense to any Italians. Weak police, weak retribution, allows them to run all that profitable stuff I have described. In most cases they do not even need to be violent or "aggressive", people fear them and that is enough.)

I'll admit it is optimistic. And yes, Kidnapping, "protection" schemes, and to a MUCH lesser extent, Blackmail would still be marginally profitable to an organization with guns and the willingness to use them. However, It would be more profitable to offer actual protection, if for no other reason than you won't have to pay your 'soldiers' so much to risk getting shot walking into the stores to 'Impress them with your protection abilities' (Think about the cities where the Mob is big. Now think about the cities where gun control is big. How many of those are the same?)

About the second point you made, I agree that insurance and third-party protection provides some degree of security - but in this case we have the same trust issue that we have with governments today, dont we? We've gotta trust some people to take care of our posessions, or of our security. Now if they are a) incompetent or b) malicious we've got a problem. There not being a central authority to punish them, and us probably being less powerful than they are, there's not much we can do about this. At least in todays system - which has its fair share of incompetent and malicious insurance companies - it is possible to sue them (with some little chance for success)....

There wouldn't be only one insurance agency. Incompetency and maliciousness would reap their rewards without any authority to punish them, as they'd quickly go out of business. You could still bring restitution claims against insurance agencies, but it would be handled slightly differently, through Arbitration or Mediation, depending on your contract with them.

The only way I could see out of these problems is some kind of democratic organization which ensures peaceful conduct (provided that it operates according to a rule system that all people (or a great majority) agree with). This is not something that current political systems implement (I cant see true democracy in modern states, and people certainly dont agree with 100% of the rules), but to my current understanding anarchy strictly opposes such an organization, which could potentially make it even more unstable and even more unjust and unfair than the current system...

Am I wrong? If yes, how could anarchy solve these problems without retributive force?

There already is such an organization, and it operates 100% within the bounds of the NAP, without using retributive force. This organization is called the Market.

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June 22, 2011, 10:05:31 PM
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@myrkul

I did understand the NAP, and I totally agree - it's pretty cool. But since the world doesn't only consist of holy people, how can we make sure that society abides by this rule, and does not fall apart? What do we do about the provable percentage of criminals or sadists or psychopaths in every larger community?

Well, for one, stop electing them. Wink

I kid, but only partly. First, I have to ask you one thing: Do you believe that this percentage is greater or less than 50%?

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June 22, 2011, 10:08:46 PM
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feeded by many competitive forces rather than just one.

So essentially you're saying that there still is something like a police. Would it consist of volunteers or would they get paid? If it's the latter, who would pay them and what would happen to people who don't pay them

A bit of both, actually.  Most Americans are not aware that this is how it already works in 'commonwealth' states, such as my home state of Kentucky.  There are the taxpayer funded police forces, the county sherrif's offices and the state troopers' office, which are paid for with county and state taxes respectively.  But there are also the police forces that are paid by private enterprise and a 'reserve' contingent of the county sherrif's deputy corps that is largely a volunteer force, much like a volunteer fire department.  Granted, there is much division of labor in these police forces, volunteers never patrol for example.  The privately funded police force is usually overseen, (or perhaps "regulated" would be a better term, since as a matter of law and fact, they are militias) by the county Constable's office.  To use my own city as an example, there is the Sherrif's office, which is the police force that most people are aware of and the most visable, but there are also two independent Constables.  Now, the two county constables are elected positions, but they are not taxpayer funded positions.  So, in effect, those positions are two governmentally recognized private police forces in each county.  The actual constable isn't usually even a state licenced police officer, but the owner of the business that manages the private police.  It works, more or less, like a temp agency does for unskilled labor, but for certified police that take contract jobs.  Have you ever seen a cop hanging out inside a bank lobby?  In the US, these cops are usually off-duty sherriff's deputies looking for a bit of part time work, and the bank can contract for a cop to suit up and literally hang out all day, but they cannot (normally) contract with the cop directly due both to anti-corruption rules and police union rules.  Instead, the bank contracts for the cop's time via the county constable's office.  If you look up the history of the work "constable", the concept of a for-hire roughneck with state recognized police powers comes from olde Brittanica.  So this isn't even a new idea for former colonies of the British Empire. 

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June 22, 2011, 10:13:00 PM
 #18

Where did you get that? I said it didn't change much. Almost nothing changed in fact. Service was the same, choices was the same, price was the same. I now have to walk 100 steps less to buy stuff, because I live in a city. Some more shops in the cities, probably fewer in the countryside although I don't know this for a fact.

Is the fact that they lowered the salaries what you call "more efficient"?

So no, not more efficiently. Not less either probably. Big benefit for the advertising companies, who got a whole new set of customers.

I didn't oppose the removal of this monopoly as I think the government has better things to do than to sell this kind of stuff, but the magical handwaving of "it'll be more efficient" is rather misleading.

You have more options, store-wise, to choose from. If one store raises it's prices, you can choose another. You yourself said the service was a little better and the prices the same. That they are able to do this while paying the workers less is the definition of more efficient. Now all that is left for the market to work. It's not an overnight process, Things will take a few months, or possibly even years, but eventually you will see a noticeable difference.

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June 22, 2011, 10:18:29 PM
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The same way we do today, except more efficiently.
I keep hearing this but nowhere am I told why it would be more efficient. Competing companies COULD be more efficient, but there's no guarantee.

Yes there is, if one company makes too great of a profit it will attract people to startup business in that sector which will lead prices to go down. Except for if that sector was given monoplistic advantages through corruption, subsidized in a way that favours one actor. This was the case when in my country telecom got privatized, the former national telecom provider ended up owing ALL cables and GSM centrals, all their competition could do was to rent those lines from them, they couldnt compete because the monopoly was not removed (building new lines and GSM centrals is EXTREMELY capital intensive). And that's why i did not experience any difference in prices after they got privatized. But...

I'll give you one specific example where it evidently shows the difference on a model where there is no such corruption in place:

Average slot machine payback ratio in Las Vegas ~95% (competition for gamers is hard in vegas thats why they only get away with 5%)
Average slot machine payback ratio in Norway: ~75-80% (here my wonderful state gets away with over 4 times what vegas does, how ? This is even BELOW the EU requirment, EU requires by law that slot machines have a payback ratio of 80% but since Norway is its own country it acts as the monopolist, they can decide whatever they want)

And, in April this year my wonderful government (who has monopoly on ALL land based and internet based games in my country) decided that it's ILLEGAL to gamble online, and also illegal for me to PAY with my CC to places that offer gambling if their gambling machines aren't provided by "Norsk Tipping" (which is my states national gambling org). What this means is, if i want to take my girlfriend for a trip to vegas i MUST choose a hotel that does not offer gambling or else my bank will decline the transaction (this means i have to stay at more expensive hotels).

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June 23, 2011, 01:45:48 AM
 #20

Now, here I will differ from some anarchists, in that I do not support the use of retaliatory force, either. I see no need to inflict harm upon others who have harmed you in the past. What is done is done, and there is no turning back the clock. All that can be done is restitution.

Do you support prison abolition?
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