Box 70, Item 2: Draft and cutting of The irrefutability of anarchism


Box 70, Item 2: Draft and cutting of The irrefutability of anarchism


Typescript of draft, corrections with whiteout and handwritten emendations, undated, with cutting (photocopy) of published version, Routley R and Routley V (1982) 'The irrefutability of anarchism', Social alternatives, 2(3): 23-29.


Cutting redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions. Unnumbered paper from collection, item number assigned by library staff.



The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 70, Item 2


This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.


For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.


[25] leaves. [3.01 MB]




n/a - not numbered in manuscript finding aid




The State is like God:


anarchist is like the atheist in disbelief and non~ecognition of what is
commonly assumed, mostly as a matter of faith, to be needed.

The parallel,

drawn by Bakunin, has its weaknesses as well as its strengths.


the atheist believes that God does not exist, the anarchist does not believe
that there are no states:
none are legitimate.

on the contrary, there are all too many, though

The important parallel is as to arguments.


agnostic does not believe that the arguments for the existence of God succeed,
and so adopts a "neutral" stance; similarly the State-agnostic does not believe
that the arguments for the State work, and likewise tries to adopt a fencesitting position.

Soundly based atheism goes further than agnosticism, not

only faulting the arguments for, but taking it for granted that there are
arguments, or at least solid considerations, against.

So it is with soundly

based anarchism, which can both fault arguments for the State

and produce

a case against the State.

A more obvious comparison, appreciated from Reformation on and again
emphasised by Bakunin; is that of State and Church.

This institutional

comparison enables several relevant features of the State to be emphasised;
for example, how, as the Church used to, the State assigns to itself many
very extensive powers, such as a monopoly on the production and control of
the main medium of exchange, currency, and an ultimate monopoly an
organised violence, all other internal security arrangements being eventually
answerable to its police and military; how it is of the same category as
business organisations such as multinationals, which now to some extent
threaten it but by and large collaborate with it; how, as again the Church
used to, it has nominal support of most of its "subjects", though many of
them are little better than Sunday believers, and an increasing number have
come to see the State as in many respects evil and inevitably corrupt, but
as a necessary evil.
Whether the State is inevitably evil or not, it is unnecessary, so it will
be argued, in a way parallelling the famous Five Ways of Aquinas designed to prove
that God exists.

Since the State is unnecessary, as well as



typically at least evil in many of its practices and undesirable in other
respects, it should be superseded.
social arrangements.

And it can be succeeded, by alternative





The core of the argument is simple and persuasive: everything in the

collective interest accomplished by the State can equally be accomplished by
alternative arrangements such as voluntary cooperation, the remainder of State
activity being dispensed with.

The argument is not a straight substitution

argument, for it is not as if a rational person would want to have everything
accomplished by the State replicated by alternative arrangements.

There is much

the State does or supports that is at best rather indifferent, e.g. sponsorship
of pomp and ceremony and of junkets by VIPs; and a great deal of typical State
activity is positively evil and not in the collective interest, e.g. graft,
corruption, brutality, maintenance of inequitable distribution of wealth, land
and other resources, and encouragement or protection of polluting or
environmentally destructive industries (e.g. without state sponsorship we should
not be well embarked on a nuclear ·. future, without state assistance and
subsidization Australia would not be burdened with its extensive forestdestructive pine planting and woodchip projects).
The modern State has however many other functions than repressive or
damaging ones, functions of community welfare or of otherwise beneficial kind.
This does not upset the replacement argument for anarchism.

The argument, implicit

in the works of the classical anarchists, goes like this:- The functions of
the State can be divided into two types, those that are in the collective interest
and generally beneficial such as community welfare and organisational functions,
and those that are not (but are, presumably, in the interests of some of the
powerful groups the State tends to serve).
But as regards functions of the first type, the generally beneficial functions
which are in the collective interest, no coercion is required.

For why should

people have to be coerced into carrying out functions which are in their
collective interest?

Such functions can be performed, and performed better,

without the coercion which is the hallmark of of the State, and without the
accompanying tendency of the State to pervert such functions to the maintenance
of privilege and inequality of power, and to remove power from those it "serves".
The detailed argument that such functions can be performed takes a case by case
form, considering each function in turn.
In each case the function is carried
out through alternative arrangements, such as voluntary cooperation by the
people directly concerned, which replace State arrangements.

Consider, for

example, the operation of mutual aid or self help medical services or building
programs, or self ma~aged welfare, housing or environment services, or community
access communications (e.g. radio), most of which are presently either starved
of infrastructure or hindered by the State.

Such beneficial services would in

general be reorganised so that all the relevant infrastructure became communally


held, and those wishing to arrange or use the service would manage the
operation themselves, taking the operation into their own hands instead of
being the passive recipients of favours meted out to them by professionals
and powerful agencies.

Coercion is unnecessary because, in more communal

types of anarchism, the basic infrastructure and many resources (other than
individual labour) are already held by the community, so there is no need to
apply coercion to individuals to extract these resources needed for community
welfare projects, as there is in the situation where wealth and resources are
privatised and coercion is required to wrest resources from unwilling private
As for the second type of functions, those which are not in the
collective interest, coercion will normally he required for the performance of
those functions, and is thus an essential part of the State's operation.


those functions are better dispensed with, since they are not in the collective

In this way, while the good part of the State's operation is

retained and improved upon, the bad part - especially the evils of brutality,
corruption and other abuses invariably associated with the coercive apparatus is detached.
State services that are _concerned with order, in the general sense, may
be similarly removed or replaced.

These services, which include reduction of

violence to persons and redress for such violence, quarantine services,
securitt.y, orderly operation of traffic, and so on, have often been said to
make for especial difficulties for anarchism, or even to refute it.
do not.


Firstly, disputes can be settled and offences dealt with directly by

communities themselves without intervention by the State.

Secondly, a great

many of these problems are created or enhanced by the State, e.g. violence
of which the State is the main purveyor and which is often the outcome of
the State's propping up of gross inequalities. A community which seriously
limits (or dispenses with) the institution of private property and removes
grossinequalitiesin the distribution of wealth thereby removes the need for
many "welfare" services and the basis for a great many offences involving
violence: virtually all those involving violence to private property and
many of those involving personal violence.

Such a left-leaning anarchism is

also quite invulnerable 'to further familiar, but ludicrous, arguments for the
State, such as those from the fairer distribution of land, property and wealth
that is alleged to be achieved by State enforcement of redistribution.

As all

too many people are aware, a major function of the State is to maintain and
police inequitable distribution.
This then is the main classical argument for anarchism.
The argument has

however been challenged, both by historical

and more recent objections, which are designed to show that people cannot
act in their collective interest without coercion.



The main arguments designed to rebut the replacement argument for

anarchism and to buttress the State status quo, are based on variants of the
Prisoners' Dilemma, to the effect that there are important cases where
individuals will not agree or cooperate to provide themselves with (or to
maintain) collective goods without coercion, such as only the State can
In such "dilemma" situations each individual will hope to gain
advantage, without contributing (or exercising restraint), from others'
contributions (or restraint), by freeloading on others (or profiting from
others' restraint).

The claim is that only the State with its backing

of force can resolve such situations: anarchistic replacement cannot succeed.
A basic ingredient of a considerable variety of arguments of this type,
including Hobbes' and Hume's arguments for the State, the "Tragedy of the
Commons" argument, and recent economic arguments for State intervention to
secure collective goods, is the single Prisoners' Dilemma game with just two


Two prisoners, 1 and 2, taken to be accomplices in a crime, have

been separately imprisoned.

A State representative makes the following offers

separately to each: if the prisoner confesses and becomes a State's witness while
his or her accomplice remains silent, he or she will be released at once while
the accomplice gets 8 years.

It so happens that if both prisoners remain

silent the State has only enough evidence to impose a 1 year sentence.
if both confess they would each receive 4 years.


The "game" can be summarised

in the following "payoff" matrix:Prisoner 1


S (ilence)


-1, -1

-8, 0

Prisoner 2



-4, -4

The game is not intended to present a moral dilemma, that each can only go free
at the cost of the others' freedom, but the following dilemma:- It is in
each prisoner's private interest to choose strategy C no matter what the other
does: strategy C is, in the jargon, each players' "dominant" strategy (and also
in fact a minimax strategy).

For if 2, for example, remains silent, then 1 goes

free by confessing, while if 2 confesses, then 1 halves his or her sentence by

But if both prisoners choose their dominant strategy they obtain

an inferior outcome to that which wou:ld have resulted by what is tendentiously
called "cooperating", by their both remaining silent ..




It is bizarre that a dilemma

alleged to show the necessity of the State - which is supposed to intervene,
forcibly if required, to ensure that the prisoners "cooperate" to obtain an
Of course
optimal outcome - should be set up by the State's own operative.
the State's presence in arranging (or accentuating) some such dilemma.sis
inessential, as is much else from the example.

But some features of the

prisoner's relations are essential, in particular the separability assumption
that the prisoners are isolated, and so have no opportunity to communicate
or really cooperate.

Similarly, in the more general argument, a privatisation

assumption is smuggled in in the way the dilemma is formulated, that we are
dealing with self contained individuals who, like the prisoners, act only in
their own narrowly construed private interests and whose interests -are opposed.
The applicability of the dilemma to the human condition is accordingly
seriously limited. 7
A cursory aside is often added to the Prisoners' Dilemma to the effect
that the segregation of the prisoners makes no real difference.

It is claimed

that even if the prisoners could meet and discuss and even agreed to cooperate,
that would make no difference, since neither could trust (the sincerity) of
the other (Abrams, p. 193), 'neither has an incentive to keep the agreement'

(Taylor, p. 5).

Experimental and historical evidence indicates that this is

very often not so - and in a more cooperative social setting than the currently
encouraged privatisation

of life, the extent of cooperation and trust would
undoubtedly be much higher. 8 The argument has to depend crucially then on
substantially mistaken assumptions about human propensities in various settings,
e.g. that purely egoistic interests are always pursued, backed up by a large
measure of scepticism about the reliability of other people (but if people
were that
- unreliable and devious , many State arrangements involved in
providing public goods would not succeed either).

That such assumptions

are operating can be seen by elaborating the situation; e.g., to bring out the
first,suppose the priso~ers have a common bond, e.g., they are friends or they
are political prisoners with a shared social commitment, or they are neighbours
and face a future in the same community; to bring out the philosophical

involved, suppose the prisoner with a tarnished record offers the

other security against default, and so on.
The question of the character of human interests and preferences

and the

extent of their determination by the social context in which they occur is
fundamental to the whole question of social and economic arrangements, and
also accordingly to arguments for the State on the basis of human propensities.
A major assumption underlying prevailing (non-Marxist) economics and associated
political theory, is that the interests and preferences, as summed up in a
preference ranking or utility function, of each human that is taken to count


is an independent parameter, which depends neither on the preference rankings
of others nor on the social context in which that human _operates.

While the

individuals and firms of mainstream economic theory do, by definition, satisfy
the independence requirements, and while there is very substantial cultural
pressure on consumers to conform (through. advertising, education, popular
media), very many humans do not conform, and the extent of cultural pressure
towards privatisation itself belies the naturalness of this independence.
And having sufficiently many interest-interdependent people in a . small community
(which is not thoroughly impoverished) is normally enough, given their social
influence, to avoid or resolve, by cooperation, the types of Prisoners'
Dilennna situations that appear to count in favour of the State-. 9


for .the State has to show - what never has been shown·- is that there are
outstanding Dilemma situations, which are relevant and important, and also
damaging if unresolved, and that they are resolvable by State intervention,
and only so (optimally) resolved. Finally it has to be shown that in the
course of so resolving these Dilemma situations, worse situations than those
that are resolved are not thereby induced.

These complex conditions cannot

be satisfied, of they can be satisfied at all, in a way that is not question
begging. For several of the conditions are value dependent (e.g. what is
important, damaging, optional, worse) and involve considerations about which
reasonable parties can differ.

The selection of Dilemmas itself provides an

example of such: after all there are many such Dilemmas (e.g. as to environmental degradation, of overexploitation, of family violence or feuds) which
are considered beyond the sphere of the State or not worthy of State attention.
There are now grounds for concluding that the conditions cannot be
satisfied at all.

For many of the arguments using Prisoners' Dilennna games,

Hobbes' and Hume's arguments for the State and Hardin's "Tragedy of the
Commons" for instance, turn out when properly formalised to consist not just
of a single game but of a sequence of · such games, to be more adequately
represented by what is called a superg~e.

But in many such sequential

Prisoners' Dilemma games, rational "cooperation" can occur, even assuming
. h pure 1 y egoistic
. interests.
, lO For wh at sequentia
. 1
separa t e d payers

games permit that isolated games exclude, is players' actions may be
dependent upon past performance of other players.

This dependence effectively

removes one extremely unrealistic self-containment assumption from Dilemma
situations, that individuals act in totally isolated ways, not learning from
past social interaction.

In such supergames then, no intervention is required.


Undoubtedly some Dilemmas are resolved by "intervention", e.g. by allowing
the prisoners to get in touch so that they find they are neighbours or that
they can really cooperate.

Equally important, and equally independent of the

State, is the matter of breaking down the adversary, or game, situation so
the prisoners do not act as competitors but are prepared to cooperate. 11
Informational input may also. be important, e.g. news that each prisone_r has
J_to agreements
a good record of adherin~h or if not is prepared to stake collateral, etc. Nor
is force or threat of force required as an incentive to guarantee optimal
strategies : a range of other inducements and incentives
they be required in recalcitrant cases), and
gifts, deprivation, social pressure, etc.

is known (should

is used even by the State, e.g.

But at no stage is the State

required to make these arrangements: much as some real Prisoners' Dilemmas
are resolved by work of Amnesty International, so voluntary organisations
can be formed to detect and deal with Prisoners' Dilemma situations where they
are not already catered for.

And in fact communal and cooperative organisation

did resolve Prisoners' Dilemma-type situations historically, for example in
the case of the Commons.
In sum, here also replacement works.

There are no important Dilemma

situations, it seems, where the State is essential.

The State has been thought

to be essential because of certain influential false dichotomies; for example,
that all behaviour that is not egoistic is altruistic (but altruistic behaviour
is uncommon, and "irrational"), that the only way of allocating goods, apart
from profit-directed markets - which tend to deal abysmally with collective
goods - is through State control. 1 2 But it is quite evident that there are
other methods of allocation, both economic (e.g. exchange, through traditional
markets, based on supply costs) and social (e.g. by cooperatives, clubs).
Lastly, introduction of the State to resolve some Dilemma situations
13 ·
h as very extensive
e ff ects, -many
o f t h em negative,
soth at t h e gains
ma d e,
any, in so resolving Dilemma

1· f

situations, appear to be substantially outweighed

by the costs involved.

For there are the many evil aspects of the typical State

to put in the balance.

As regards Dilemma situations, entry of the State with

its authority showing may not help but may worsen some situations, and more
important, new Dilemmas may be initiated by State activity, as i ri the cas e of the
prisone rs,br differently with the State as a further player (since the State .
may engage in whaling, have access to a commons, etc.).
also to further arguments against the State.

These points lead




The solution

by the State to problems of social organisation repeats or generates in more
dangerous form the very problems introduction of the State was designed to
solve, including new Dilemmas.

Suppose, for instance, the secular State ·really

were introduced in order to solve Prisoners' Dilemmas - introduced as opposed
to inherited from the religious State and the Church, and maintained to prop
up privilege and foster objectives that are not in its communities' interests then the array of States generates new Prisoners' Dilemmas, which there is no
Super-State to resolve by coercion.

Suppose, as the myth has it, the State

really were introduced in _the interest of order and stability and to curb
violence; then the arrays of States resulting more than negates these advantages,
with instability, disorder and violence on a grander scale than before the
emergence of modern secular States. 14



Having ceded a monopoly on power to

the State, in order to resolve some dilemmas, some of them arising from an
inequitable distribution of power, what controls or balances the power of the

A Super-State.

And its power?

There is a

vicious infinite regress

if the reply to the question "What controls the controller?" is "a further
The only promising way of avoiding this problem - other routes
lead (even more) directly to totalitarianism - is by having the first of these
controllers, the State, answer back to those in whose interests it is allegedly
established, those of the society or group of communities it controls.
implies democratic methods of some kind.


Others go further: 'democracy [is]

the only known means to achieve this control, the only known device by which
we can try to protect ourselves against the misuse of political power'.
In this event, control has mostly failed.

Democracy is extremely attenuated,

even in those states that claim to practice it.

The exercise of power in modern

"democratid' states - much increased power reaching deep into peoples' lives,
power which has passed to certain political elites and is directed at the
attainment of such objectives as economic growth and material "progress" - is
often channelled through 'non-elected authority' and 'is not democratic in the
traditional meaning of the term' 17 In any case, indirect democratic and other
institutional checks are tenuous in as much as

they depend ultimately on the

toleration of those who have direct control of the forces of the State.
Experience seems to show that such toleration will only be shown so long as
democratic procedures deliver results that are not too disagreeable, that are
broadly in accord with what those who control the coercive power are prepared


to accept.

(Toleration of such a tamed democracy then brings benefits to

those who hold power, especially the cover of legitimation).
checks which operate only insofar as a


But institutional

acceptable to the powerholders

is not seriously challenged, and which depend ultimately upon the toleration
of those "checked~' are not really checks at all.
The problem of controlling the power of the State, and preventing
the State once established from usurping further power and exceeding its
mandate, is only satisfactorily solved by not ceding power to the State in the
first place.

The best way of avoiding the evils of accumulated power is the

anarchist way, of blocking its accumulation.


responsible for actions deliberately undertaken.

A person is

This premiss can be derived,

if need be, from the notion of a person as a moral agent.

Taking · responsibility

for one's actions implies, among other things, making the final decision about
what to do on eac~A occasion oneself, not acting simply on direction from outside,but
determining how to act, what ought to be done, oneself; not handing that decision
over to someone or something else.

It implies, that is, moral autonomy.

Autonomy in turn implies, what responsibility requires, freedom.

For the

autonomous being, endorsing its own decisions and principles ~ is not subject
to the will of another.
another so directs.

Even if it does what another directs, it is not because

In being free, not of constraints (both physical and

self-determined), but of the constraints and will of others, an autonomous
being is morally free.
A necessary feature of the State is authority over those in its territory
(under its de facto jurisdiction), the right to rule and impose its will upon

Such authority backed by force is incompatible with moral autonomy and

with freedom.

An autonomous being, though it may act in accordance with some

imperatives of the State, those it independently endorses, is bound to reject
such (a claim to) authority, and therewith the State.

In sum, being a person,

as also being autonomous and being free, implies rejecting the authority
of the State, and so not acknowledging the State; that is, each condition on
personhood implies, i f t he argument is sound , anarchism. 18
It is possible to combine autonomy with an extremely attenuated "State",
one based on on-going unanimous direct democracy.

But such a "State", with no

independent authority, is not really a state, since any participant can dissolve
it at any time, and so constitutes no threat to anarchism o

On the contrary,

such direct democratic methods are part of the very stuff of anarchistic




The replacement

argument enables construction of a model · of a society functioning without the
State, of a practically possible Stateless world; which shows that the State
is not necessary.

But it can always be claimed - even if the claim can seldom

or ever be made good - that the modelling leaves out some crucial feature of
real world circumstances, rendering it inapplicable.

The gap may be closed by

appeal to the independently valuable argument from experience, that at various
times and places anarchism has been tested and has worked.

Examples of such

Stateless organisation suffice to show that crucial real world features have
not been omitted.
There are many examples of nonindustrialised societies which were, or are,
anarchistic, there is the rich experience of the Spanish collectives,
there is much localised experience of self-management and small-scale anarchistic
arrangements within the State structure. 20

The arguments

outlined, predominantly theoretical, inform the practical, revealing the
options open for anarchism, courses of action in superannuating the State
and for transition to a stateless Society, and so on.

For example, spontaneous

anarchism - according to which organisation is unnecessary and social arrangements will arise spontaneously, and will be ushered in during the revolution
without any prior organisation-is a position which is not viable and could
not endure, because it makes none of the requisite replacements upon which
durable supersession of the State depends.

The sort of anarchist society

which these theoretical arguments delineate will certainly be organised, but the
organisation will not be compulsory, and will eschew authoritarian measures
(and, by the overshoot argument, will reject transition by any strengthening
of the centralised State), relying heavily on voluntary cooperation and direct

The society which emerges will be much as Bakunin and Kropotkin

sometimes pictured it.

It will be based on smaller-scale decentralised

connnunities, for otherwise such arrangements as connnunity replacement of
State welfare arrangements, control of their environment, removal of
Prisoners' Dilennnas, and participatory democracy, will work less satisfactorily.
Connnunities will be federated and control will be bottom-up, not merely by
representation and subject to a downward system of command.

Within each

connnunity there will not be great discrepancies in the distribution of wealth
and property, and no highly concentrated economic property and power.
community wilt be a rather equalitarian group, sharing in much that is
cennnunally owned or not owned at all.

A ·


While theoretical arguments help outline the general shape of social and
also economic arrangements they do not determine them completely, they offer
no detailed blueprint.

Accordingly what emerges is not a particular form of

anarchism, for instance anarchist communism, but a more experimental and
pluralistic anarchism, such as was instituted in the Spanish collectives.

The main strategy, emerging.

from the First Way, is that of replacement: transition to a new anarchist
social order proceeds by replacement or aooption of the more satisfactory State
organisations and structures by organisations and structures of a more
anarchistic cast, and by removal or phasing out of remaining no longer
necessary or unsatisfactory State arrangements.
Replacement and supersession suggest a biological model, of such change
and succession as occurs where one forest type succeeds another; and such
a model is in turn very suggestive.

To make the model more definite, and

to give it some local colour, consider forest succession where a sub-tropical
rainforest replaces a eucalypt forest, as analogous to the case where anarchism
replaces a Statist society.

There is certainly a marked change in structure,

typically from a tall forest with a fairly open canopy to a more compact
closed forest with more layers of vegetation, much more local diversity and
a richer variety of life forms, especially floral forms.

A forest is not

merely a set of trees, but trees in structura J arrangement and interdependence,
not merely on one another but on other life forms such as pollinating insects,
seed-carrying birds and animals, and so on; and the changes in structure
include changes in microclimate, in soil moisture levels and humus and
bacterial content.
The change of forest type may be by evolution, by hastened or induced
evolution, or by catastrophe (revolution) as when a eucalypt forest is
clearfelled and artificially succeeded by planted rainforest.


there is a spectrum of practices and replacement strategies between evolutionary
and revolutionary, and various different revolutionary strategies; and the
standard evolutionary-revolutionary contrast presents a false dichotomy.)
Even reliance on predominantly evolutionary methods, which tend to be
very slow by human time scale~ may require some (management) practices, else
evolution towards rainforest will not begin or continue.

For example, seeds

for rainforest species may not be available if adjoining areas have been
stripped of suitable seed trees, e.g. by clearing or eucalypt conversion,
in which case it will be necessary to introduce seeds (of anarchist ideas,
methods, arrangements, etc.).

And rainforest evolution may not be able to

continue because the area is burnt occasionally, e.g. by State officers, in
which case protection against fire will be required: for with burning
(suppression) regimes rainforest seedlings are killed and eucalypt dominance

Furthermore, evolution can be hastened or induced by intro-

ducing seeds, or planting rainforest trees in poorly seeded areas (i.e.
setting up alternative social arrangements) under the eucalypt overstorey,
or even by some careful culling of eucalypts. But even without culling there
will be much for anarchist management to do.
As the rainforest cover begins to grow up through the eucalypt forest,
the forest begins to change structurally.

Younger eucalypt poles die, and

their replacement by eucalypts is generally precluded owing to low light
intensities near the forest floor (in something the same way conditions for
capitalist entrepreneurs to flourish are excluded in an emerging anarchist

Gradually, as the rainforest grows, only scattered giant eucalypts

emerge through the canopy, and in time these fall to the forest floor, to
rot and not to be replaced - unless the climax rainforest is subject to
catastrophe, such as fire or cyclone.
Catastrophic methods, such as clearfalling the eucalypt forest, replanting
with rainforest, protecting the new forest, and removing eucalyptus regrowth,
are much more problematic.

To be applied they require either a large workforce

or much mechanical power (so it is with violent revolutions which require
a large support basis not available in advanced capitalist and state socialist
countries, or else access to means of perpetrating violence comparable to
that of the State).

There are often similar requirements for success;

otherwise the area may be choked by rapidly growing weeds or the rainforest
plants may be suppressed by eucalypt seedlings and a pioneer eucalypt stage

Moreover, a eucalypt overstorey sometimes affords good conditions

for rainforest growth, e.g. plant protection from excessive sun, occasional
frosts, and drying winds, better moisture retention conditions,and so on.
(_Similarly anarchist organisations can sometimes use the environment afforded
by the State to get started.) But under some conditions, such as excessive
interference (as happens to alternative arrangements in highly repressive
States where local conditions also commonly favour revolutionary succession),
there may be little or no alternative t o clearfelling practices.

But just as

clearfelling the eucalypt forest can create favourable conditions for weeds,
so violent revolutions can only too easily create the conditions for a new
(State) elite, controlling the concentrated power generated for the overthrow
of the older regime.



How to apply the model is

not difficult to see in broad outline, and many of the further details
have been filled out by work that can be described as indicating how
allegiance can be shifted in practice from where we mostly are to
alternative social arrangements and life-styles built on self-management
and mutual aid.~

The seeds of anarchism should be broadcast or planted,

anarchist (nonStatist) arrangements instituted or strengthened, and efforts
made to replace or modify vulnerable Statist arrangements, e.g. by
democratization of present institutions and development of nonStatist
and noncapitalist . alternatives.

Some of the practices are familiar:

anarchist groups, clubs, pamphlets, broadcasts, newsletters, etc.; (anarchist)
cooperatives, exchanges, neighbourhood groups, rural communities, etc.
are slightly less familiar:


avoidance of State influence by arrangements

beyond State reach such as costless (or alternative currency) interchanges
of goods and services, action directed at removing decision-making from
State departments, such as forest services, and into citizen hands, and
ultimately, to decentralized local communities.

In this sort of way

worthwhile State arrangements can be replaced, and power can be progressively
transferred from the State, and returned to the community and to people
more directly involved.


Bakunin on Anarchy (edited S. Dolgoff), Allen & Unwin, London, 1973,
especially p. 139.

Much else in this paper, e.g. the distinction

between the State and Society, also derives from Bakunin.

That is, proper elaboration of this argument takes each facet of
generally beneficial state activity~ there is only a
(relative:1-y small) finite number to consider - and shows how it
can be replaced in one way or another.
course uniquely determined.

Replacement is not of

Lines such replacements can tfke are

indicated in much anarchist (and self-management) literature,
consider especially but not uncritically, P. Kropotkin, Mutual Aid.
New York University Press, 1972, and also his Fields, Factories and
Workshops, second edition, Nelson, London, 1913, and The Conquest
of Bread, Chapman and Hall, London, 1913.


On these points see, e.g. Kropotkin_'s Revolutionary Pamphlets (edited
S. Baldwin), Dover Publications, New York, 1970, p. 206 ff.; also
P.J. Proudhon, Confessions of a Revolutionary.

For recent discussion

of, and practical examples of, replacements for arbitration and law
court procedures (but for right-leaning anarchism), see C.D. Stone,
'Some reflections on arbitrating our way to anarchy', Anarchism, (reprint of
Nomos _ XIx),New York University Press, 1978, pp. 213-4.

Arguments of this typ.e are sometimes said to represent 'the strongest
case that can be made for the desirability of the State' (M. Taylor,
Anarchy and Cooperation, Wiley, London, 1976, p. 9).

To cover all

arguments of the type, and to avoid repetition of the phrase 'variants
of' and disputes as to whether certain arguments such as those of
Hume and of Olson involve Prisoners' Dilemma situations, 'Prisoner's
Dilemma' is used in a wide sense to include not merely single n-person
Prisoners' Dilemma games, but for example, games where the payoffs are
not merely egoistic (as with both Hobbes and Hume) and where such
games are iterated.

As the bracketed clauses in the text indicate,

there are two types of case, not sharply separated and both of
the same logical form - those where people do not contribute to
supply themselves with, or with "optimum" quantities of, a
"collective good" (e.g. security, order, sewage), and those where
people do not restrain themselves to maintain, or maintain "optimum"
quantities of, some already available "collective good" (e.g. commons,


unpolluted streams, whales, wilderness).

That received arguments

of all these types involves Prisoners' Dilemma situations (in the
wide sense) is argued, in effect, in Taylor, op. cit. and elsewhere.
An easier introduction to the material covered by Taylor, which also

surveys other important literature, is given in the final chapter
of R. Abrams, Foundations of Political Analysis, Columbia University
Press, New York, 1980.

An important matter the two player game does not illustrate is the relevance

of population size in the arguments for the State.

But size is not

decisive (see, e.g., Taylor, chapter 2), and the issue can be avoided
(or relocated) by organisation into

smaller communities.

The figures

given in the matrix are illustrative only; for inequalities which
suffice for a Dilemma situation, see Taylor, p. 5.

It is similarly bizarre that there should be outcomes that the State
alone is said to be able to arrange, but not mere social cooperation,
when the State is (as on many theories) the result or reflection of
social cooperation.


This important point is much elaborated in V. and R. Routley, 'Social
Theories, Self Management, and

Environmental Problems' in

Environmental Philosophy (edited D. Mannison and others), RSSS,
Australian National University, 1980.

As a result of G. Hardin's "Travesty of the Commons", historical evidence
has been assembled which reveals how far Hardin's "Commons" diverges
from historic commons; see, in particular, A. Roberts, The SelfManaging Environment, Allison & · Busby, London, 1979, chapter 10,
but also Routley, op. cit., p. 285 and pp. 329-332.

Similar points

apply as regards many other Dilemma situations.
'In the experimental studies of the prisoner's dilemma game
approximately half of the participants choose a cooperative strategy
even when they know for certain that the other player will cooperate'.
Abrams, op. cit., p. 308.



the discus$ion in Taylor, op. cit., p. 93.


10. This important result is established in Taylor, op. cit., for a number of
critical cases, though not generally; see, e.g. p. 32 but especially
chapter 5.
11. Such moves have proved valuable in reducing the State's role in legal
prosecution, and in eliminating courtroom procedures, including
cases where the State is one of the "adversaries".
12. Both the false dichotomies cited are commonplace, not to say rife,
in modern economic and political theorising.

Both are to be

found in Abram's final chapter, for example, and the first (with an
attempt to plaster over the gap with a definition)

in Taylor.

For a

further criticism of such false dichotomies, see Routley, op.cit.,pp.250 ff.
13. For instance, a certain social escapism: one escapes

one's social roles

and is enabled to concentrate on private affairs or just to laze.
Or so it may appear: for in reality anyone who works, works long and
often alienated hours to pay for this apparent escapism and to cover
the high costs of frequently inadequate State activity.
14. The argument, to be found in Bakunin, is elaborated a little in Taylor, op.
cit., chapter 7.

A related argument, also in Bakunin, is from the way

in which emergence of the State compromises and even closes off
nonstate solutions to problems of social organisation in adjoining
15. The question is in effect Plato's question, and the regress is reminiscent
of his Third Man argument.
16. K.R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. II.

Fourth edition

(revised), Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1962, p. 129 and p. 127.
The ~vershoot) problem is, according to Popper 'the most fundamental
problem of all politics: the control of the controller, of the
dangerous accumulation of power represented in the State•, 'upon which'
Marxists never had 'any well-considered view' (p. 129).
17. V. Lauber, 'Ecology, politics and liberal democracy', Government and
Opposition 13 (1978)., 199-217: seep. 209 and p. 21l.
18. The argument, outlined by Bakunin, is much elaborated in R.P. Wolff,
In Defense of Anarchism, Harper & Row, New York., 1970.

No argument

is however without assumptions, which are open to dispute.
argument, for example,is disputed by G. Wall, 'Philosophical
anarchism revised' Nomos XIX, op. cit., p. 273 ff.


19. Documented in The Anarchist Collectives (edited S. Dolgoff), Free Life Editions,
New York, 1974.
20. As B. Martin boldly asserts, 'The advantages of _self-management and
alternative lifestyles are many and significant.

And these

alternatives are entirely feasible: there is plenty of evidence and
experience to support

their superiority over the present way society

The obstacles to self-management and alternative life

styles are powerful vested interests and institutional resistance to
change', Changing the Cogs, Friends of the Earth, Canberra, 1979,
p. 6.
21. As sketched in some of the material already cited, for example, Routley,
p. 284 ff.

Richard Routley lives and works. in the NSW forest.

He is sponsored

in pursuit of his research interests - in arguments and theories especially by the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (a
state-supported and state-supporting institution, holding 20,000 shares in the
uranium industry).

His main published work is in metaphysics and alternative

logics and in forestry and environmental philosophy.
preparation of this article by Val Routley.

He was helped in

The following has been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
Cutting (photocopy) Routley R and Routley V (1982) 'The irrefutability of anarchism', Social
alternatives, 2(3): 23-29. (7 leaves)



Richard Routley, “Box 70, Item 2: Draft and cutting of The irrefutability of anarchism,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed December 10, 2023,

Output Formats