I recently commented on two MyT posts (not entirely flippantly) suggesting that anarchy offered a solution to many of of our present woes and that a Libertarian is not an anarchist. At which point, to my mind, it gets very complicated. As an anarchist believes that all government should be abolished [SOED], this seems to be a very Libertarian view. It’s just that I can’t imagine a libertarian society living comfortably alongside an anarchic one and visa-versa. In theory the anarchists society should not seek to influence the libertarian society, but I can’t see a libertarian society reciprocating with a policy of non-interference. So I thought that I had better refresh my own thoughts on what anarchy and anarchism implied (other than the sinister terrorist with a bomb).
I was pleasantly surprised to come across The Resilience Science web-log. This site is operated by Garry Peterson, a professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University in Sweden. It was started in early 2005 by Garry Peterson and Marco Janssen to promote interest in resilience in social ecological systems. My attention was caught by review of the latest book by Political scientist James C. Scott. In previous books James Scott has made a case for not seeing things like a state and now, in Two Cheers for Anarchism, he makes the case for seeing things like an anarchist.
Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy, the book is an engaging, high-spirited, and often very funny defence of an anarchist way of seeing–one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions.
Through a wide-ranging series of memorable anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges us to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself.
Beginning with what Scott calls “the law of anarchist calisthenics,” an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation.
Far from a dogmatic manifesto, Two Cheers for Anarchism celebrates the anarchist confidence in the inventiveness and judgement of people who are free to exercise their creative and moral capacities.
My initial thought was to suggest the greatest enemy of anarchy is The State but I think that I would be wrong. I suggest that the greatest enemy of anarchy a mistrust of anyone claiming to be altruistic. In large societies this makes anarchy impossible and should any small group be perceived as being anarchic, an enemy of The State. An ism, even altruism, is only a friend of The State when it is controlled by The State.