Box 17, Item 1005: Draft chapters of Towards green anakism: eucratic political investigations


Box 17, Item 1005: Draft chapters of Towards green anakism: eucratic political investigations


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Lake George - Floor - Pile 8






































a minor marginaZi-s^J p/iiZo-yop/^r writing in



Richard Sylvan,
Za^ At^nri^f/i c^nfary.

Green anarchism is not merely an intellectually attractive intersection of anarchism with

genuine environmentalism; it is also a rational imperative. Modem states are not merely without
justification; they are a major force driving and facilitating degradation and destruction of global
environments, to points of no return for many natural species and environments, and even
seriously threatening future human viability. Anarchism would, with full justification, remove

these major problem sources.
Green anarchism derives from anarchism coloured by a deeper environmentalism.
Anarchism itself is said to be essentially a modem ideology, arising after, and in opposition to,
the modem state. Though there may be significant anticipations of anarchism in earlier
philosophy, and though there are many worthwhile examples of early anarchistic societies, the
main intellectual work begins only in the late eighteenth century (with the eruption of the French
Revolution). Since then there have been waves of anarchistic output of varying strength, the

most recent initiated in Paris again in 1968^(immediately following a series of academic texts

pronouncing that anarchism was dead)L
In important respects this received picture, ever so lightly sketched, is misleading.

Anarchist ideas were already advanced in those similar ancient ideologies, Taoism and
Stoicism,** in opposition to ancient empires. Lao Tzu, shadowy founder of Taoism, was not
merely a trenchant critic of the Empire, but advocated a society in which the ruler, the Prince,
disappeared into a do-nothing exemplary and merely legendary figure. What Taoism asserted is

virtually tantamount to Thoreau's small but crucial anarchist amendment to Jefferson, that the
best government is the one that does not govern at all. In a similar vein, "Zeno, the founder of
Stoicism, advocated a society without government. Laws should be abolished[!], since virtue

and morality would only be achieved in liberty'.2 That common ancient tradition, spanning
East and West, though often submerged, has never been lost. The Taoist tradition persisted (if

often in degenerate form) in China, and heavily influenced west Asian adaptations of

Buddhism. Stoicism survived, as (often degenerate) internal critic, for the duration of the
western Roman Empire, and was directly incorporated into early Christianity. Although anti­

authoritarian features were subsequently suppressed in the Stoic-Christian tradition, elements
survived even in the increasingly authoritarian climate of that religion, and the positive ideas
have resurfaced again and again in religious freer-thinkers.

For details see Marshall pxi. Amusingly anarchism in Australia has more recently also been


Taoism and Stoicism can almost be seen as variants upon one another, back to the very names. It is
tempting to conjecture that they may have both arisen from a proto-Toi-ism.
Lehner, H of I, p.71. On Taoism as anarchist, see Clark, ch7, Marchall, ch4, and UT.



The term * anarchism' was however introduced into English in a highly perjorative sense,
signifying disorder, chaos, lawlessness and the likeA It is regularly displayed in this negative

connotation, in politically unstable times in England, long before much theoretical work on
anarchism began (nonetheless there were tracts, like that of Winstanley). As a result, the term
'anarchy' got away to a very bad start in English. It was used, from the early 16th century
onwards, to mean confusion, disorder, lawlessness, licence, and absence or nonrecognition of

authority. Similarly for most of its cognates 'anarch', 'anarchal', 'anarchial', 'anarchic',
'anarchical', 'anarchially', 'anarchism', 'anarchist' and 'anarchize', (see OED entries).

'Anarchism' itself had also acquired its re/evanf modem sense of 'the principles and practice of
anarchy or anarchists', namely 'the Doctrine Position or Art of those that teach anarchy; also the
being itself of people without a Prince or Ruler' by 1656 (in Blount GZo^^gr). As a political
theory anarchism is standardly said, however, to have emerged much later (and there are stock,

'inconsistent' presentations: a state without a state, government without government, theory
without doctrine, order without order, etc.)
It is the interaction between popular longer-standing usage and later serious ideological

use that helps account for the astonishing folkloric history of the term aKarc/n-yTK. It also

reflects one facet of the pervading amateurism of anarchism, its lack of industrious research.
Consider what certain encyclopaedias say, beginning with one that is not so much wrong as

Historically the word "anarchist", which derives from the Greek an
arc/io-y, meaning "no government", appears first to have been used
pejoratively to indicate one who denies all law and wishes to promote
chaos. It was used in this sense against the Levelers during the English
Civil War and during the French Revolution by most parties in criticizing
those who stood to the left of them along the political spectrum. The first
use of the world as an approbatory description of a positive philosophy
appears to have been by Pierre Joseph Proudhon when, in his
(W%<3/ Af property?, Paris, 1840), he described himself
as an anarchist because he believed that political organization based on
authority should be replaced by social and economic organisation based on
voluntary contractual agreement (Woodcock p. 111).

According to a rival encyclopaedia, however,
The word "anarchy" describing a stateless society was used[?J for the first
time by Louis Armand de Labortan in his
(1703), describing the Indians living in a society
without state, laws, prisons, priests, private property, in short "in
anarchy" (Lehning p.71).
A glance at the OED, such as we took above, along with a comparison of the stories,

reveals the falsity of many of these interesting contentions. Much historical detail remains to be
sorted out satisfactorily. Though there are many histories of anarchism, until very recently a

The pejorative sense was not contrived or imposed following some significant political incident,
such as the pivotal Chicago events of 1886, which is what Jp^ies 86 implies. No doubt, however,
following the Chicago events, stigmatisation and denigration of anarchism, and its automatically
assumed association with violence and disorder, were deliberately orchestrated and propagated in USA.
Such an outcome contributed further to development of an already established anti-anarchist


reasonably satisfactory one had yet to be written. Fortunately that has now changed (during the
drafting of this text). Conveniently we are now absolved from lamenting the absence of such
work and likewise from attempting more historical detail.^ For Marshall's massive text,
has now appeared, it can be deferred to (by no means always
uncritically) on many historical issues and for mad detail, to which it affords fine access. The

concentrate on systematic and theoretical matters.
Most of the seminal and interesting work on anarchism has come from outside

present text can now

universities and standard intellectual circles, and often from political amateurs. Academics have
contributed histories, surveys and (usually not so sympathetic) criticisms, but, with a very few
exceptions, little original thought. $ For typically they are ideologically stuck with the state, be
it a pathetically minimal one. Intellectuals are so inured to the state that they are inclined to such
pronouncements as that the idea of abolishing the state entirely must strike us as utopian .6
Yes, as eutopian. 'Most political philosophers in the past few generations have been unable to
escape what the psychoanalysts might call a "state fixation". Even those those temper and
reason caused them to distrust a nationalist philosophy could not deal with the state except as a
rigid entity. They wished it large or small, isolated or cosmopolitan, but in any case a rounded

unit which had to be taken as it was and maintained as such in any reconstruction of...

society'7 It is easy to speculate on reasons for this, connected with academics being part of the
expensive state scene. While anarchism has vanished from the mainstream academic scene, it is
again becoming visible, if hardly prominent, in alternative (especially green) scenes and in

work of disaffected academics associated with them.
A surprising amount of the adventurous anarchist literature now appears, like the earlier
utopian literature, in fiction, especially science fiction (and so, under prevailing division of

labour, tends to become a subject for literary criticism, not political philosophy). But the ideas
and plans appear there in quite insufficient detail. There, moreover, it can easily be dismissed
as fantasy, as unrealistic, not a serious and proper contribution to political dialectic.
The entire range of political discussion concerns whether there should be
marginally more government intervention, or marginally less; marginally
more public expenditure on welfare services is marginally less. Nobody
[much] challenges the whole system, still less the existence of the state
itself. The state's own socialisation processes see to that (Luard p.52).
While virtually all political discussion undoubtedly traffics in such marginalia, powerful and
warranted challenges there certainly have been:
It is plain that on general principles of law and reason ... the Constitution
is no contract; that it binds nobody, and never did bind anybody; and that
all those who pretend to act by its authority, are really acting without any
legitimate authority at all: that, on general principles of law and reason,


In contrast thus to James 186 who reiterates the familiar lament.
Even the very occasional (here deliberately unspecified) exceptions are exceedingly cautious.
Miller p.182.
Mitrany p.98.


they are mere usurpers, and that everyone ... has the right... to treat them
as such.s
Given the United States is not contractually legitimated, what other state is? None appears to

have superior credentials! None is rationally legitimated, so it will be argued in detail. The
State in general and in abstract is not justified.

So, whether it can be exploited for

environmental and social purposes or not, its use is not justified.
Environmentalism is still more modem than anarchism. Though it has ancient roots, and
though the movement grew substantially in the 19th century, fusing there with an earlier

romantic movement, environmentalism is an archetypically 20th century ideology. The more
widely diffused green movement is essentially a contemporary phenomena, no doubt the most
distinctive new political force of the late 20th century (the feminism movement is older).

Green anarchism draws together elements from environmentalism and anarchism. While

it can be seen as continuous with environmentally sensitive later 19th century social anarchism
(of Morris, Kroprotkin, and others), environmental problems now appear in a new light and
take on a new urgency. For we are now confronted by what is not inaccurately referred to as
the envzronmenfa/ crAyZy, combining the cumulative efforts of rapid human population growth,
rapid concomitant growth of vast industrial and human pollution threatening and undermining

biological life support systems, rapid depletion of habitats species and nonrenewable resources,
and very extensive and worsening environmental deterioration.

In the present parlous environmental predicament those concerned to take some requisite
action, active environmentalists, have two opposently diametrically opposed courses open;9
* Supporting, and working through, strengthened states to try to avert the crisis. Central to
'most environmental justifications of [expanded] state power", according to social

is the argument that people will not voluntarily r&yfram themselves from
doing those things of which the environmental crisis is the aggregate
effect. They will not voluntarily refrain from hunting whales and other
species threatened with extinction, from having "too many children"", from
discharging untreated wastes into rivers and lakes, and so on (Taylor pp
1-2, quoted in Grofman p.108).
As in collective action theory (advanced typically by individualists), it is concluded (invalidly as

will be seen) that state power is required to compel restraint and to undertake compulsory

* Working outside states in more direct efforts to avert elements of the crisis. The alternative,
that is, is to abandon the state. Here lies the main chance, and the only genuine long term

alternative for a deep, as opposed to merely reformist, environmentalism. For under state

regimes, more and more of remaining environments are degraded or destroyed, in the march of



Spooner (M? Treason) pp 27-8. The omitted phrase asserts that everyone has not only the right but
is wtoraZZy
to treat them thus. But here Spooner goes further than data seems to warrant,
converting supererogation to obligation. (The phrase following the quotation echoes Miller p.38).
These choices are differently presented and explained in SM, a main intellectual ancestor of the
present work. The approaches complement one another.


state growth and economic progress. In fact, there are several reasons for the extra-state anti­
state course. There are serious limits to what states can accomplish, especially in international
issues in the interstrices of states, but also as regards individual environmentally-hostile action.
Moreover, even when it appears that states can a^t, or contribute, there are sharp limits to what
they are prepared to do or attempt. States of course explain their tardiness or reluctance to
move in various ways: prior higher commitments (e.g. endless economic ones such as creating
jobs, containing inflation, etc.), the need for balance (with a constituency after unparaxeded of
any environmental crisis, or wanting, like comments operating with anarchist discount rates, to

party now), etc.
Concerned environmentalists should take both courses: use the state and exploit state
power where opportunities offer (without thereby endorsing the state and its standard
practices), but also, more important, they should work outside states and against states. For

mam co/ifn&Mfmg coarse o/The



o/?^rafmg fa worsen if. Given this (no doubt jaundiced) sfa^-mfrz'car^ thesis, surely it is

hypocritical also to work through them and use them. Not at all; for states acquire and hold,
have expropriated to themselves, considerable social wealth, which arguably should be directed
to social concerns, including environmental amelioration. However, while states may properly

be used so long as they persist, still ultimately halting the new ubiquitous environmental rot,
salvaging or conserving some of what remain of viable environments, will involve, if it can be
done, dissolution of states. There are powerful environmental reasons for trying to terminate


the present era of states.
States are ineluctably committed to economic growth, of almost any sort; indeed they are

main proponents of such growth. This commitment, certainly highly conspicuous, is not
merely accidental, and is bound to impact negatively on environments. Australia, for example,

needs a growth rate (in GDP) of at least 3% just to provide employment for its school-leavers,

more to cater for immigrants, more to allow for some politically acceptable redistribution, more

to meet rising aspirations. More, more, more .... States cannot step off the growth treadmill.
That growth in turn requires, to deliver essential exports, expanded raids on resources and
biological capital (if not that held by the state, that of other states). These exercises in tum
inevitably mean, given present technologies and cost structures, pollution in many dismaying

forms and environmental degradation.^ So growth implies environmental degradation.
Therefore, with contemporary states degradation is inevitable. Such states are inevitably

environmental vandals, n


A prominent recent attempt to block this sort of argument features
economic growth subject to con train ts of environmental sustainability. While such constrained
economic growth is a feasible (and old) idea, contemporary states, given their commitments, cannot
and cannot afford to deliver it. A recent example concerns Australian production of greenhouse gases,
where Australia cannot, officials now say, meet the costs involved in attaining expected reduction
targets. Sustainable development itself is critically examined in
The kind of practical necessity operating here will concern us in later chapters. Logically there could
be benign "states"; but these would be far removed from contemporary state arrangements.


There is exceedingly little evidence that social and environmental prospects will ever

improve under the contemporary regime of states; instead much evidence to contrary has
accumulated. "... Reliance on the state or a global superstate for change will lead to a

continuation of many of the patterns of domination that the state has done so much to develop
and reinforce in the past"

the anarchist strategy of change "from below" ... [and "from

above" is] much more promising'. Indeed the claim is made that The anarchist vision ... of a

fusion between a universal confederation and organic societal forms of a communal character

lies at the very centre of the on/y hopeful prospect for the future world order'. 12
Some of the pressures to continued exponential growth, and their environmental and
social consequences, themselves positively feeding back to fuel demands for more growth, are

colourfully observed in the following passage:
One of the most widely pursued common goals of recent times has been
economic growth, which is generally regarded as the most important
ambition of states. These pressures to high rate of growth not only
endanger the world's resources but do not even procure the material
satisfactions they are intended to provide. For the effect of competition is
that high rates of growth can be achieved only by high rates of investment
designed to secure higher productivity. This secures equivalent
production with more equipment but less labour. Thus more and more
people are displaced from their jobs who cannot necessarily find
alternative employment in service industries or elsewhere. All over the
Western world, in shipbuilding, in steel, in motor manufacture, in textiles,
in fishing, in agriculture and other industries, employment rapidly
declines. So the total number of those unemployed increases in all
industrial countries and remains high even in those where a relatively high
rate of growth is being achieved. And the very fact of high
unemployment, by reducing total demand, lowers the level of investment
and growth for the future. Periods of growth become shorter and those of
recession become longer. The relatively simple devices for stimulating
growth in earlier times - lower interest rates, budgetary deficits, fiscal
expansion and public works — are either not attempted through fear of
inflation, or if attempted do not achieve their effect. Despite persistent
recession inflation remains strong, partly because of excessive increases in
income obtained by those still at work, partly because of the large sections
of the economy which are in public hands and are unaffected by antiinflationary measures. Modern industrial societies, therefore, in
appearance so advanced, are yet characterised by the bizarre spectacle of
large sections of the population being without work, while ever higher
levels of investment are undertaken to reduce employment still further in
the future, so ensuring that the benefits of high growth are enjoyed by
fewer and fewer people (Laurd p.147).
A main dynamic involved can be summarised: Both the State and those major

corporations which set much of its agenda aim to increase productivity (for reasons of profit,
profile, firm or party growth and survival, etc.). But productivity increase characteristically

sheds labour. Restoration of employment requires growth. Hence one heavy pressure to

growth: sustaining employment.
That pressure is, furthermore, one of many. Another derives from internal dynamics of
corporations and bureaucracies. Like the state and capitalism, they all must, as Marx argued,

Clark, also quoting Falk from 'Anarchism of world order* in FVo/noj, p.160).


grow or die. There are many reasons for the growth imperative, both broad ideological and

business specific.^ For satisfactory survival, satisfaction of its executives and employees, its
stock holders, and so on, a modem corporation has to grow. Cpntr^l here are such matters as

laws of profit decline otherwise, and more general principles of organisational aging and

If any serious ecological conclusion is to be drawn from
Vol I, it
is from Marx's compelling demonstration that the very law of life of
capitalist competition, of the fully developed market economy, is based on
the maxim, "grow or die". Translated into ecological terms, this clearly
means that a fully developed market economy must unrelentingly exploit
nature to a point ... that is literally regressive geologically and
biologically. Capitalism, in effect, is not only polluting the world on a
historically unprecedented scale; it is simplifying all the ecosystems of the
planet, turning soil into sand, the oceans into lifeless sewers, indeed,
threatening the very integrity of our sources of atmospheric oxygen. If
one were to follow the logic of this tendency to its very end, capitalist—
and hierarchical— society are utterly incompatible with a viable biosphere.
What limits the ecological validity of Marx's view is obviously not his
revelation of capitalism's "law of life" but rather the "progressive" role he
imparts to capitalism's "success" in supposedly achieving the technical
domination of nature. This Janus-faced aspect of Marx's writings is what
throw them into conflict with an authentic ecological sensibility. Gorz, by
contrast, sides-steps exacfZy what we must learn in the contradictory
position of Marx, namely, that the very technical achievements of
capitalism, fat^ from a-y-MmzZafing "ecological necessities as technical
restraints", are governed by a "law of life" that technologically lacks any
TES p.293)
form of "restraint'
Prevailing political arrangements 'no longer offer us a hopeful prospect of resolving the

vast social and ecological crises which now confront humanity ... these systems, with their
deep commitment to such values as industrialism, high technology, centralism, urbanization
and the state, have been instrumental in creating the social atomization and ecological imbalance
which are at the core of these crises' (Clark pp. 141-2). Indeed these systems are bound to

exacerbate the problems. While these statements should by now be motherhood statements,

they are not. Hope springs eternal: more naive environmentalists regularly appeal to a state that
sometimes makes appropriate responsive noises and puts out appealing propaganda, but
meanwhile is thoroughly committed to economic growth of environmentally damaging forms.

The normal dynamic of th^ "advanced" state is extremely environmentally hazardous.
Centralised states support environmentally and socially damaging methods of production, in

order to benefit from the surplus and exploitable technology thereby produced - which are

important for purposes of state, in particular for spending to remain in power (job generation,

pork barrelling, subsidization of large business), for positional enrichment of the bureaucracy,
and for development of the forces of coercion, propaganda and authority which matter both for
internal social objectives and in order to remain militarily competitive in the region and spheres

of influence. Details of the dynamic at work have become familiar from socio-environmental
studies of state operation. For example, technologies that facilitate centralized authoritarian


The broad and ancient ideological reasons are investigated elsewhere, e.g. MSS.

control are favoured (such as nuclear power, which also supplies material for nuclear
weapons). Such technologies serve the interests of state actors and those who benefit

particularly therefrom, namely economically dominant social strata. This dynamic, which does
not require any arms race, only kinds of inter-state competition, encourages ever-increasing
productivity, entailing high consumption of resources, high output of pollution, substantial

environmental degeneration and destru( tion, and so on. Active aware environmentalists have,
in the end, little choice but to attempt to ;abotage this dynamic. 14
Opposition to anarchism from gi een directions, and especially from green infiltrators,
often derives from the assumption that under anarchism all environmental regulation would

lapse, that it would be an open-go, fret -for-all for anti-environmental forces—the very ones
that are already running rampant over the Earth, and perhaps others besides. It needs to be

stressed that this opposition rests on a misconception of what green anarchism ^is all about.
With a caring anarchism there may be a complete

of the usually conceived situations of

states and stateless societies, as regards environment regulation and social support. It should

not have escaped notice that often states are the prime enemies of environmental regulation,
improved environment practices, and the like. Even when there is very extensive community

support for regulation, the state acts to block it, and aids and abets damaging practices! A
central reason for this is that the state typically reflects a rather narrow range of vested interests,
increasingJhese days those of dominant business, not community interests except very

secondarily. Contrary then to received conceptions, the state is frequently not a means to, but
an obstacle to, satisfactory regulation. Satisfactory green regulation can occur, can only occur,
without the modern state.
It will be argued that not only are there no intellectual or theoretical problems in
dispensing with the state, but fuller there are no serious losses in disposing of it. There is no
case for the state, and no need for it. But it is worse than that: it is predominantly bad in its

impacts. Accordingly, it ought not to be in place. The practical upshot is that that we should

endeavour to remove it. Among the incidental practical difficulties arising as a result, are that
for complex societies there is a need for some structure to replace the state (not a intractable
theoretical problem any longer). As well there is a need for a strategy to displace the state.
That is where radical environmentalism enters again.
A thoroughgoing environmentalism accordingly forces a significant type of anarchism, a
social non-capitalist anarchism. The basic reason it forces anarchism is that the state, a prime
anarchist enemy, not only fails to supply or retain environmental goods, but is frequently

actively involved in their degradation or removal. The state is a major facilitator and powerful

source of environmental degradation and destruction.
Genuine greenness further substantially constrains the directions anarchism can take, the
variety of admissible anarchisms. It serves to eliminate as a serious option total reliance on


This argument is adapted from A. Carter, Towards a green political theory*. While Carter's way out
is not endorsed, his elaboration of the dynamic is, more or less.


market methods, as proposed for instance under anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism. While

excessive reHance upon capitalist markets is rejected, primarily because of heavy externalities,
more traditional markets are given a rather free role. The problems with market-capitalism is
not so much markets, except as distorted in a capitalist setting, but capitalism.^ Capitalism,
both in theory and as normally practised, is a major enemy of environmentalism, and a main
source of environmental problems. Capitalism also encourages, what conspicuous capitalists
conspicuously exhibit, environmentally unacceptable lifestyles. Greenness also sharply
constrains meta-politics. For example, it counts heavily against standard game-theoretic

approaches of analytic political philosophy, because these entirely discount environmental
effects (except as reflected through human actors' self interests).
This work concentrates upon the anarchist components of green anarchism (the green part

is attempted in a companion text on green ideology). It is primarily a theoretical work; it

concentrates upon what is sometimes usefully called "theoretical anarchism". Because the work

does focus on anarchism, little will be said about present green politics (and what thin
associated theory there is), because that generally involves politics within conventional state
Where this differs from past anarchism is not only its environmental depth, but in the
level of detail of arguments, criticism, and organisational structure. The latter especially,jwhere


a; thin and threadbare historical anarchism is particularly weak. It is not enough to gesture

towards some federation of communities. Details of organisations at each level need to be
provided, for a more convincing story. Most of the disappointingly slight contemporary

academic literature on anarchism will not be addressed or, if it is, criticised in much detail. Life
is too short for that sort of indulgence. However much will have been criticised obliquely or in

passing; and enough critical detail is supplied for direct critiques to be produced (as exercises
by energetic readers).
While there is mMc/z scope for theoretical improvement of anarchism, there is little room

for reinventing anarchism. There is a long and distinguished Hne of amateur anarchist thought
form virtually every significant idea that will be
which contains in seminal (if

developed herein. Thus, like most of the academic literature^this text is not particularly original.
Unlike much of that literature it does not pretend to be. Virtually everything in this book has
been said before, if not in anarchist theory then elsewhere; scarcely anything is original. But it
has never been put together quite like this before. Moreover, some of it needed and needs

saying again, with a little new information and arguments a bit differently ordered. But no
means all is repeated. Where something, perhaps important for the dialectic, is said at least as
well I can reiterate it, I simply cross-refer. That has the effect of making the work visibly less

contained (self-containment is ^bmething of an illusion), but it saves on labour and materials.
For other purposes too, repetition, despite its extravagance, may be important. Significant


On the deliberately neglected, or papered over, major differences between marketism and capitalism,

ideas and books often get neglected, because for instance they were not published at the right

times, in the right places, by the right authors; they did not get duly circulated, and so forth. I
judge the time at least is more propitious for green anarchism than it has been, perhaps ever
As well, there are many things that this book, which is pitched in a theoretical,
rationalistic way, does not aim or attempt to do. It does not attempt to supply much

background, historical or other information, a lot of which is easily found in better equipped
libraries. Relevant background can all be tracked, however, through references in work

referred to in this book. 16 It does not attempt a full account of substitutes for important current
institutions and arrangements such as those connected with property, markets, law, and so on;

nor does it offer, what is warranted, a sustained critique of prevailing arrangements, for which
opposite substitutes are sought and indicated. Fortunately again, some of the critique, if not
positive detail of substitutes, has been well accomplished in other texts. 17 What is attempted is

however a scholarly and systematic work (though, as indicated, a far from exhaustive work),
on theoretical anarchism. Accordingly the book is littered with notes, some of which merely

cite references, but many of which elaborate points in the text, especially details hat lead off in
different directions from the thrust of the text.
I should like to thank Frances Redrup for processing reams of inelegant scribble, from
which this text grew, and to acknowledge the continuing support the Australian National

University gave during slow production. I want to thank Debbie Trew for proofing the
typescript (no straightforward business) and organizing a bibliography. I should record my
gratitude to Bob Goodin for a continuing supply of background books, and to him and to the

publishers and editor of Anarc/iAyf



for encouraging me to work upon anarkism again.

A major recent source, for history of Northern Hemispheric anarchism, is, as observed, Marshall,
While Marshall concentrates, no doubt correctly upon Northern
hemispheric activity, and within that heavily upon Anglo-American work, there is room for a
supplementary production taking due account of anarchism elsewhere, Australia for one example.
Although an anarchist club was formed in Melbourne only a century ago (and then upon an American
model), an extraordinarily sustained period of "original anarchism" (coupled often with "original (or
primitive) affluence") flourished in Australia before European settlement two centuries ago, with
more than 500 centuries perhaps more than 10000 centuries, of continuous Aboriginal anarchist
Much of the story of post-settlement Australian anarchism (which included remarkable Queensland
activity and a Paraguayan expedition organised by Lane, as well as extensive Victorian agitation) is
recounted by James, in a series of local publication, add Burgmann and by Souter. The story of
Australian Aboriginal anarchism has yet to be told. The story for the rest of the Southern
Hemisphere, both before and after European conquests and political imposition, remains to be
satisfactorily told.
Thus, for instance, Carter on property, Bumheim on bureaurcracy, othe^on democracy.



and of green subforms

1. Initial explanation: fud and dilute forms, and corollaries.
Anarchism is the theory, principles or practice of anarchy. As practised by engaged

anarchists, who are naturally adherents, authors or promotors of anarchy, it includes the

assertion of anarchy and rejection of nonanarchy, i.e. rejection of archy. Anarchy itself, in its
norma/ political form, applies to societies or communities, territories or countries. It is,

according to the dictionaries, the following sort of condition or state: lack of coercive
government, absence of a political state, want of authoritarian political heads or leaders,
institutions or organisations. Politically there are evidently fhr^
aa^ar/(y, ca^rciaa, and normally comprehending both, the political .yraf^.i The anchoring

notion of anarchy has recently been extended beyond political arrangements to apply to other
institutional forms such as the Church, Science, and Law, to mean alternative forms lacking
authoritarian structure and coercive methods. Thus appear, under transference, such varieties as

epistemological anarchism and philosophical anarchism, instead of po/zfzcn/ anarchism upon
which this text focuses. However the far-reaching analogies should not lost sight of; they
matter. Anarchism is to political authority, as atheism is to religious authority, and rather as

scepticism is to scientific authority.
Although the conditions specified for anarchy are normally taken as conjoined, it is

possible to construe them disjointly, yielding what could be called

anarchisms. One

diluted form which has obtained a little exposure is a /zzzzz^J anarchism appropriately opposed to
the state but prepared to endorse carefully-controlled coercive authorities.^ A differently diluted

form is a

anarchism which is opposed to all prevailing states, because of some serious

but in principle removable defect or other of each and every one of these states, but is not
opposed to the very idea of an ideal state, or to a new wonderful order of states; that is it is, not,
so to say, a principled anarchism. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain whether historic

anarchists are j?rznczp/^r/ anarchists or merely de facto ones. There are limits to how far
definitional dilution should be allowed to proceed: a theory (such as libertarianism) postulating a
minimal coercive centralised state presumably exceeds acceptable diluted bounds, as n^key

element is retained. Within such bounds, we shall operate both with full and dilute forms,
accounting all anarchism (in a bro^d sense, qualifying as need be). Routes to full anarchism

may well lead through dilute forms. Indeed these offer main paths towards anarchism proper.


These three key elements are duly signposted in many, though not all, serious on anarchism.



It is evident that anarchy, and therewith anarchism, can be better characterised, negatively,
through what it rejects,
namely to sharpen the characterisation, centralised coercive
forms, than in assertive formulation obtained through awkward locutions like 'absence' 'lack'
'want'. The simpler negative formulation (supplying the
of anarchy), rejection of

archy, makes it immediately evident that much of what vulgarly pass for meaning conditions
upon or essential features of anarchism are not.
Firstly, a variety of political arrangements and organisation, including


government, are entirely compatible with anarchy. It is enough for these arrangements not to
include anarchy-violating features such as authoritarian or coercive elements. For example, a
government without such elements, a government nonetheless in the dictionary sense of

'administration of public affairs', satisfies the principle of anarchy, and so is anarchistic. Such

an anarchistic government can include normal components of organisation, regulation and

control, so long as they conform to the principle. Certainly a territory without government,

since therefore lacking an archist government, is anarchistic. But the popular converse fails.
An anarchistic system may well, like several societies substantially destroyed by European

conquest, have a small smooth-running public administration, free of authoritarian elements.
Thus it would have a government, but not an authoritarian government. No doubt it would also
in a predominant modem, but narrow, use of 'government'. The term
'government', which is variably determinable, vacillates in particular between

* administration of public affairs (including control, regulation,

what it once

meant) and its important and now dominant restriction, the enarchistically unacceptable
* authoritative administration of public affairs (i.e. that exercising authority, and
characteristically backed by coercion).
Much confusion concerning anarchism has resulted through failure to separate the wider and
narrower determinates^ It may well be true that, as dictionaries assert, an anarchist would
'oppose all existing systems of government'; but this is not a matter of meaning, it is contingent
upon the character of prevailing state systems.

Nor therefore are prevailing political forms everywhere so far removed from anarchistic
alternatives: they may even overlap them. Make the following kind of thought-experiment

concerning the government and operation of some modem freer, less violent, more peaceful

society: the coercive and authoritarian elements are blacked out (both operational components
and what they typically operate upon). For instance, there is a strike of relevant groups, judges

and accused, police and criminals, prison warders and prisoners, etc. (perhaps because the

broad society had reduced the opportunities for crime and accordingly threatened their contra­

operative livelihoods). What may well happen, what we shall imagine happening, is that
governmental affairs simply keep running for some time. Things work well enough. Partial
examples of just this sort of phenomenon are not uncommon, as when police forces go slow or
strike. For example, when traffic police stop work traffic keeps on going, much as before. It
may be irrelevantly objected that such anarchistic periods are mere interludes, presupposing
surrounding authoritarian structures (somewhat as anarchistic end-states of marxism are
premissed on preceding super-productive authoritarian states). Such thought experiments were

designed to remove a different intellectual blockage: the common assumption that anarchism is
utterly remote from the political practice of complex modem states and impossible to realise at

As a theory, anarchism tends to advance a stronger theme than the progressive particular
claims that anarchistic systems are possible, realisable, and sometimes realised. After all, these
arrangements may be realisable—as more than an interlude—only in restricted or anomalous
circumstances (e.g. a few people on an isolated tropical island). The stronger theme, linked
with the anarchist principle, is that there is no need at all for authoritarian or coercive regulation.
So rejection can succeed universally. Universal anarchism encounters many problems which do

not trouble less ambitious parfict/Zar anarchisms, such as those to be advanced here. For
example, how to rectify especially degenerate or evil societies? An attempt is sometimes made
to render all anarchism universal, through the connecting thesis that for anarchism to succeed

anywhere it must succeed everywhere (else be destroyed by ruthless, expansionist or greedy
states, or similar). Fortunately the fallacious connecting thesis, though popular with critics, is

Although anarchism proper does exclude certain kinds of government, coercive and
authoritarian forms, it does not automatically include, certainly not as a matter of semantics,
specific positive kinds. Anarchism is not necessarily "a theory of government based on the free

agreement of individuals rather than on submission to law and authority", despite what
dictionaries assert (incompatibly incidentally with their definitions of 'anarchy'). Such positive

accounts of anarchism, as offering a certain theory of government, both try to convert a
particular variety, individualistic anarchism, into the more general object, and try to import a

certain motivation for, or differently explanation of, or justification of, anarchism into the very
essence of the object (this is the general fallacy of verificationism in operation). Anarchism, or

at least its assertion, may well be regularly motivated by ideals of free arrangements, not
imposed by narrow or incompetent authoritarian forces, but motivation is one thing, meaning

another, verification a third.

Not only is the assumption that anarchism is incompatible with government, wellregulated government, mistaken. So also therefore are the assumptions that anarchism is

incompatible with organisation, with regulation, with a positive noncoercive "law", with order.

So mistaken therefore are the widespread assumptions that anarchism entails disorganisation,

disorder, confusion, lawlessness, chaos. Yet all these negative associations have been
incorporated into degenerate popular meanings of anarchism. It is similar with related
assumptions that anarchism implies violence, paramilitary activity, or terrorism. A popular

picture of the anarchist, encouraged by authors like Conrad and Dostoevsky, is the excitable
fictional character with a bomb in his pocket (not a Tolstoy or a Thoreau).5 These too are

assumptions and pictures, with little basis either in semantics or in general anarchist theory or
practice, promulgated by an unsympathetic opposition generally comfortable in present poor to
appalling political systems or unaware of alternatives. With anarchy, as with many other
valuable terms, a concerted confusion or destruction effort has been made, part of an extensive

terminological vandalism in human intellectual affairs. Rather than reconciling ourselves to

sacrifice of the damaged term anorc/ug/n, let us salvage the term explicitly for the pristine notion,
and isolate the conventional associations under the term
anarchi-pm, shortened, if a
single term is sought, to
Most fictional anarchists of system-supportative authors
are degenarchists; but they are far from representative of anarchists. There are many anarchists

who are not terrorists, few who are; there are many who are not dangerous troublemakers bent
upon violently upsetting local settled order; increasingly there are many anarchists within
environmental and peace movements, many of them

anarchists. Gentler anarchisms tend

to be all of more pacific, more social and more rational than tougher or hardened anarchisms.
2. Rival, typically defective, definitions, and beyond.
Much of what is taken as typical or even characteristic of anarchism, especially popularly

and journalistically, consist of optional extras, not even typical of anarchism. They represent,
like what gets written into degenarchism, attempts at easy smearing or dismissal of anarchism,
for instance as an ideology unworthy of serious consideration. As regards violence, terrorism,
disorder, disorganisation, confusion, these sorts of point ought to be well enough known. But
they apply also to other more benign features widely taken to characterize anarchism, such as
attempts to tie anarchism variously to individualism, capitalism, voluntarism, primitivism,
spontaneity, or socialism. Thus such erroneous characterisations of anarchism as those of the

selection that follows:-



* One utterly appalling characterisation comes from a Russian DzcZzozzrzzy of PAz/o^op/zy. ^
"Azz^zrc/zz^zzz, a petty-bourgeois socio-political trend that is hostile to all
authority and the state, and counterposes the interests of petty private
ownership and small peasart economy to the progress of society based on
large-scale production"
* Another dismal, indeed wild, characterisation comes from an American political scientist, who
audaciously asserts that "anarchism ... is anti-political—that is, it does not really offer political
solutions" (p.l), rather "the primitive core of anarchism is not so very different from Christianity.

That is, it rests on the notion that man has a need, not just a preference, to love" While this is

wild, there are convergences and congruences between types of anarchism and early

* It is "a political doctrine based on the value of individual freedom"? While this is not wild, it
does erroneously convert what is a frequent powerful motive, and reason, for anarchism into part
of it, confusing motivation and justification with essence. For it is by no means an invariant
feature. A socialist or monastic community, placing no great emphasis upon or even
discouraging individuality, can be organised anarchistically.
* It is "a theory of government based on the free agreement of individuals rather than submission

to law and authority" (Concz-y^ Eng/zj/z Dzcfzozzazy). But it also asserts that the same %7z#rc/zz.yAy
"... are opposed to all forms of government". That inconsistent information should, as already
seen, be discounted. Furthermore, there may be no free agreement; an anarchistic situation can,

as already also seen, just happen. More likely, a sustained anarchism may emerge under
favourable historical opportunities, again without any sort of contract or general agreement; it is
then only
zf there were free agreement. Certainly, there would no longer be "submission to
authority", but there would likely be systems of rules, which people normally followed.

* The very short characterisation of rzzzrzrc/zMzzz (and rendition of zzzMrc/zz?^) as "no government"

is defective because of the elasticity, slippiness and determinability, of "government"? For
example, to increase documentation, according to one dictionary ((/zzzv^r^zz/ Ezz^/z^/z),

gove?7Z7?zenf means "... system of polity in a state; territory ruled by a governor ..." in which
case it incompatible with anarchism; but it also means "... control; administration of public
affairs" in which case it is certainly no? incompatible. Granted there have been attempts to
represent anarchism as if it entailed no organisation or administration at all (state-of-nature

arguments regular rely on this fallacy of false dichotomy), but it does not, and if it did there
would be a gap for a near-identical relative (a/za&yrz^ for instance) to All. One of the rather

better brief characterisations is the following: "a social philosophy that rejects authoritarian


Ed I. Frolov, 2nd revised ed, Progress, Moscow, 1989.
Apter p.3.
HI p.70.
For such proposals see e.g. Carter,Websters' Dictionary (?), Marshall p.3.

government and maintains that voluntary institutions are best suited to express man's natural
social tendencies'/ (Woodcock, Ency Phil, p.lll). While the first negative conjunct, which
n governmental' right, might rate a pass (though anarchism is not always a
philosophy, it is sometimes a practice), the second positive conjunct calls the whole account into
doubt. Many humans naturally thrive in authoritarian settings. Defective definitions of
anarchism abound, many regrettably supplied by high profile anarchists or well-regarded

commentators (whereupon they assume a certain air of authority, a bogus air). A few examples

will be considered, mostly drawn from a large list of similarly defective definitions included in
Clark, who is out to show that any definition which attempts to do justice to anarchism through
an essentialistic definition deploying one simple idea is bound to fail, abysmally, to

does not 'mean literally "without government'" contrary to Carter, for one. It does however

imply systems without governments of prevailing sorts, which is what she immediately
proceeds to: 'and the lowest common demominator of anarchist thought is the conviction that
existing forms of government are productive of wars, internal violence, repression and misery'

(p.14). Right on! Kropotkin, for another, defines 'anarchism' in terms of 'society ... without
government'. Like most of the brief definitions to be cited, this is neither necessary #)r
sufficient. For 'government' has to be narrowed to its coercive and authoritarian determinate,
and other archie arrangements also excluded. Many, Runkle for one, maintain that anarchism
'opposes authority in all its forms'; but elsewhere Runkle holds that its essence is individual
liberty'. Others, Goodman for one, suggest anarchism is defined in terms of decentralization,

still others, Bakunin for one, suggest characterisation in terms of 'organization from below
upwards, by means of federation'. Again this is neither necessary nor sufficient. It is not so
easy to And an adequate characterisation of anarchism. (I have found none in the literature,

despite some searching. That is

reason why a certain amount of work has gone into such


There is a tendency to leap from the inadequate to the excessive—a tendency exemplified

by Clark, who also cites Woodcock approvingly. Anarchism is first contracted to a rather
elaborate doctrine, or political theory, thereby excluding practice. Then requirements are

sharply inflated:

For a political theory to be called "anarchism" it must contain: 1) a view of an
ideal, non-coercive, non-authoritarian society; 2) a criticism of existing society
and its institutions, based on this anti-authoritarian ideal; 3) a view of human
nature that justifies the hope for significant progress towards the ideal; and 4) a
strategy for change, involving immediate institution of non-coercive, non­
authoritarian, and decentralist alternatives (p.127).

As Clark indicates, this "minimum" "definition" is an elaboration of another account, briefer and


See Clark p. 118ff. Clark's attack on essentialistic definitions is in the style of Wittgenstein.


better, that Woodcock also offers: 'historically, anarchism is a doctrine which passes a criticism
of existing society; a view of a desirable future society; and a means of passing from one to
another" (cf. p.120). There is nothing here about human nature, which anarchism need have no
particular views about, perhaps rejecting the notion altogether as part of archist propaganda or
similar, n There is nothing about the ideal society, or any commitment to one. Anarchists are
not seeking
societies; that is an illusory, Enlightenment goal, have transformed to get
another excessive condition of adequacy for anarchist societies. It would be quite enough to
achieve satisfactory societies. 12 Realistic anarchists may even come to appreciate that there are
no ideal societies, perhaps just various less unsatifactory and better justified societies than

virtually all of the extraordinarily narrow range of modem societies presently exhibited or on

offer. However Clark's discussion of "the ideal"" reveals that he does not really intend an ideal,
but only one or other of the plurality of societies meeting certain adequacy conditions. It
certainly does not intend a unique one,
ideal. 'Some adequate" or similar should substitute"
for 'an (the) ideal", and the definition should be duly pluralised.

Outside explications of anarchism which answer back to dictionary accounts, there are

various high redefinitions (e.g. Clark) and some weird redefinitions. One such weird
redefinition is that proferred by Taylor, who—rightly enough contrasting anarchism with the

presence of the state where there is a concentration of the means of deploying force—defines a
as where 'force is perfectly dispersed, not concentrated at all" (82 p.6). But
Taylor does advance from pure anarchy, of which there are no examples, to an illuminating
discussion of the exercise of concentrated force in societies.

In recognisably anarchistic societies there is but limited concentration of force (based on

physical inequalities), which 'is

/10c in use. There is no standing specialist group or

organisation or centralised system of groups...'

No doubt a /MZ/er anarchist f/t^ory has to accomplish much of what excessive
characterisations of anarchism,^ list, and more. Any reasonably full theory should
* include a critique of authoritarian and coercive features of present and past societies and their



The important matter of such "nature" is discussed later..
Presently we are very far removed from such societies, except for small communities mainly in rich
countries. States have done extremely poorly in this regard. There is not one satisfactory state in all of
Africa or the Americas. Even small European states that at least have avoided extensive poverty,
homelessness, and violence are in doubt because of
* virtually entire destruction of their natural environments
* reliance for wealth on impoverished Third World countries
* justified dissatisfaction of many of their inhabitants.
those of Woodcock and Clark p.120, p.126.

* outline features of noncoercive nonauthoritarian societies as alternatives to, and improvements

upon present dominant social arrangements, for some regions at least;
* suggest strategies for attempting to change from defective forms to improved alternatives.
Clarke also tries to insist, what we shall subsequently reject, that for a 'theory to called

"anarchism" it justifies the hope for significant progress towards the ideal' (p.127).
As well as theory, there is practice. (Clarke also goes astray in excluding anarchism as a
, "anarchism without doctrine", and so on.) The pracfice of anarchism, generously

construed, naturally includes the state of being in anarchist conditions, of living under
anarchism (though perhaps unaware of doing so). There is scope for
Many primitive societies thus qualify as anarchistic; they practice, or practiced,
anarchism though unaware (somewhat as wild animals practice hygiene, knowing
knowing ;%af). Further, no doubt now stretching 'practice' beyond its assumed anthropic

context, many animal communities practice anarchism, very successfully. Many attracted to
anarchism, an anarchism without name even, long for analogous pure practice, many practicing
environmentalists for instance. They hope that whatever it is will operate, perhaps even

materialize, without any heavy-duty theory, without excess or even any intellectualizing,
perhaps without even thought or much effort on their part. In contemporary circumstances they
would have to be extraordinary lucky; a paternal state with caring elements, such as safe jobs

and spoon-fed indoctrinal education for all citizens, does not relinquish its control voluntarily.
While definitions can be defective or otherwise unsatisfactory, in m^y ways, one thing
they are not is dogmatic (as suggested by Marshall, none too subtlely trying to evade critical
details in delimiting his massive study, p.3). Though insisting upon^themes definitions yield

upon substitution can be dogmatic, having or offering definitions is not. Significant criticism
of definitions is logically different, belonging to different categories.

As well as decking anarchism out with defective definitions, with all the scope for

argumental malpractice that affords, there is a coupled practice of boxing anarchism in, by
narrow and confining constraints, jf iZZ/czf/y ctrcMWMcri&ing

(Whereas definitions
characteristically yield necessary and sufficient, conditions, such circumscription concerns
necessary, or possibly sufficient conditions). Many of the restrictions imposed are, however,
quite inessential, and have rather the effect of excluding viable alternatives. Simple examples
waAmg, which is sometimes taken as having always to be case by case, and

elsewhere is seen as necessarily involving all parties, large assemblies, or even complete social

participation. None of this is essential, often the restrictions would prove undesirable.
Often the circumscription technique proceeds by presenting features of, or said to be of,

historic anarchism, then tacticly assuming that all anarchism must conform to those features.*4
That is one reason why definition and characterisation are important; so anarchism is not set in
riged past forms, unable to adapt to new circumstances and ideas.

Another example concerns the character of the anarchist revolution, onto which many

restrictions are loaded, often resulting in gratuitous puzzles, which are removed with the
impositions. For example, it is said that 'the revolution had to be a mass affair" (M p.94). But
nothing in anarchism, or its general development, requires this. (As a result the dilemma Miller

finds .p.99 ff., simply falls over.) A revolution could be carried out by an elite anarchist band,
or, in some states, through a single governor or president. Again, it said that the revolution is

bound to be authoritarian (which renders an anarchist revolution contradictory), violent, and so

on. This we have on authority from Engels: 'a revolution is certainly the most authoritarian
thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other by
means of rifles [etc.] authoritarian means, if such there be at all', to which Miller adds

approvingly that to say in power the party must rely on military means and 'terror of arms' (M
p.92). None of this is so. A revolution could lag rapid change through mass conversion; for

instance, there is a sign or appearance that is widely recognised, a new social movement which
spreads like "wild fire", etc.

3. Anarchism and the state.
While organisation and government are entirely compatible with anarchism, that most
conspicuous modem institution, the state, is not: it is the paradigmatic archist form. Nor are
ancient power formations such as the empire and the kingdom really compatible with
anarchism. A prime reason is their authoritarian character and their extensive use of coercion
and violence, but reasons als<4 includd^hein centralized organisation (such as power and
hierarchical structure). Let us focus upon the state, against which a major and often virulent
part of anarchistic political critique is directed; indeed such is the opposition to the state and its

features that anarchism is sometimes distinguished in that way, in terms of 'hostility to the state
... [which] should be abolished and replaced by a new form of social organisation' (thus Miller
p.5). But again these may be consequential, not characterising features of anarchism, which are

derived from characterising features together with a standard theoretical characterisation of
Under one such standard (though fairly strong^) characterisation, the state is a



This is a much favoured tactic with critics of anarchism. For many examples, some only Quoted in the
main text, see Miller.
Although strong, in certain respects the characterisation is not strong enough. A state must not only be
able to c/ai/n all these sorts of power, but sometimes to exercise them. Cf. Taylor's criticism of Weber's
definition of the state (p.5).


body ... it claims complete authority to define the rights of its subjects ....
Second, the state is a
body, in the sense that everyone bom into a given
society is forced to recognise obligations to the state that govern that society. Third,
the state is a
body: it claims a monopoly of force in its territorial area,
allowing no competitor to exist alongside it (Miller p.5).

It also normally claims other monopolies, such as on legal tender. It is virtually immediate,

So it is that anarchism is often epitomized as directed at the dissolution of, what is widely seen

then, that the state is a comprehensive

major political problem, the state. As to why it is such a problem, anarchist critiques of
the state, sketched below, will reveal. With anarchism implemented in a place there is then an
end there to any institution that is recognisably a state.

The subsequent argument for anarchism does not depend upon a strong characterisation of
.yfafe, such as that so far offered. Even fairly weak characterisations will serve. But inadequate

characterisations, such as the following, will not: 'a collective object with territorial boundaries

and political organisation throughout that territory". For that omits essential features of the
state, such as sovereignty, authority, coercive control; it describes a possible anarchist
society. 16 Arguments/or the state (which anarchism is normally concerned to fault) are
however sensitive to characterisation. Mostly these arguments reach little further than, justify
no more than, some sort of "minimal state"", very different from anything the Earth has had on

offer (e.g. a nice state guaranteeing basic rights rather than removing rights: but anarchism need
hardly oppose such arrangements). So it will matter just how ^<2^ is characterized. But this is
easier said than done:

is a ^k cluster ( muqti-criterial) notion, explications of which are

controversial and typically contested.i?

In seeking a satisfactory working characterisation, a useful starting point is the following
short definition: 'a collective item with territorial boundaries and political organisation exercising
sovereign power".is As anarchism can comfortably accommodate the first parts, political

organisation within a region, it is the last part, sovereign power (as spelt out, e.g., in Miller's
account) that is the problematic distinguishing factor. In a way, the term
ruling sui^ipreme, derived from la&Ctptein
which reflects the Greek

reigning or

it all, why anarchism is bound to oppose a state so empowered. Improved detailing will exhibit
a similar division between acceptable and unacceptable. A state, which comprises a




Virtually all the key political terms that we shall encounter have a disconcerting multiplicity of meanings:
so it is with state, sovereignty, democracy (422 senses in Naess p.30), ideology, and so on. Fortunately
these terms are dealt with^ elsewhere in this work.
For a useful attempt at a multi-criterial characterization,and discussion of controversies over
characterisations see Dun^eary "The state
(in Goodin & Pettit).
Reese, with 'item
substituted for 'entity
to evade reificative issues.


(their level of cohesion justifying a definite description), has domains

consisting of a
and of
who form an associated society. The territory of a state
consists of spatial regions, over which it normally exercises control. Subjects are generally
those humans who regularly reside in the territory (citizens form a
of subjects, singled
out by possession of certain duties and rights).

The state is not the only authoritarian body to be repudiated. Lesser authoritarian

organisation, such as those proposed under terms of functionalism (military barracks, prisons,
reform schools, etc.) are to be similarly repudiated. No doubt on occasion the ability to coerce
makes an institution more "effective", much as childrens learning of uninviting material is
sometimes rendered more effective by coercive means, e.g. heavy cannings, floggings. But

the repugnant means, and their common chase outw^eight the gains, if any, in effectiveness

Now, having thus arrived at regular anarchism, reputiating the state, we confess to the
evident, to the refinement of the notion of anarchy away from widespread common usage where
it functions primarily as a powerful directive away from disapproved anti-statist life. Given that

anarchism is thereby rendered (as in many dictionaries which of course reflect usage) a
contradictory notion, encompassing both disorder without the state and order alternative to the

state, some refinement and some diversion of disorder is no doubt desirable. The trouble with
this easy resolution is that the early uses of 'anarchism' in English operated precisely with the
corrupt drunk-and-disorderly side of the contradiction—disorder as contrasted with spendid

state order. That was what (in defiance of the original Greek meaning) 'anarchy' and

'anarchism' were introduced to mean (see OED citations from 16-17th C). Thus the early usage,
which persists, contradicts the refined and now regular usage. In technical presentations this
problem is easily sliced through, by coining a term to mean what anarchy as refined means
(anaRyri'2 and anacracy are such terms). Here however we shall simply persist with the

refinement of the prevailing term, and in the course of giving it etymological justification over
the early corrupt uses, further refine. 19 But the justification for refinement is not only


Tempting as it may be to switch, alternatively to new, freeing terminology, that temptation has here been
largely resisted. Anarchism is a term, and idea, worth retaining. Not that there is anything amiss with
new terminology: quite the contrary, provided that it is well-indroduced and pointful. In the course of
drafting this book, a variety of new terminology has been toyed with—including such nice terms as
(signifying non-domination)—because, as is regularly emphasized, anarchism is now such a turn­
off for most people. No doubt in more pdular versions (written by someone else), anarchism will
disappear from headings, displaced by new terminology with a hint of old such as ^ada^waacra^y, or, less
scrupulously, its place usurped by ^car-vacuous terms in high popular favour such as d^/nocracy. In this
less popular version, anarchism stays; but, in pa^t compensation, some pleasant absolute terms, and

senses, have been revised. They offer acceptable alternatives.

A more powerful consideration than negative connotations is perhaps this: The present text, though strictly



etymological. Do we need yet another term for lawlessness, or for disorder? Don't we rather
need a term to help break the false dichotomy between: the state or political disorder? As if there
are no further alternatives, like stateless order of various kinds? Or (as much ill-informed

literature suggests), no political theory without the state, merely untheorizable confusion?
4. A refined explication of anarchism.

derives from the ancient Greek


meaning: without a

chief or head, or without a top authority. Of course what the form derives from, though often

indicative, does not determine what it now means. (Anarchism was not, after an ancient

political theory, but is in fact, under familiar classifications, the most recent and novel of major
political ideologies.) However it M worth drawing out the etymological meaning, because it is
revealing. What it appears to exclude are political arrangements structured with a top element of
any of the following authoritarian sorts: a monarch, a prince, a ruler, a leader, a president, a
prime minister, and shifting from individual to group form, a party, a clique, a ruling elite, a
central power such as a state, etc.
There are, analysis reveals, two interacting foci: one, a top or centre, and two, control or
dominance flowing from this top by what are adjudged inadmissible means, authoritarian or

coercive means in particular. A chief both stands at the top of a power hierarchy and exercises
authoritarian control from there. Under this

anarchy entails

double foci

structure or organisation without inadmissible top-down or centralized means. Let us look at

the foci in turn, beginning with the more independent one, the top.
Topologically, wif/tonf % fop amounts to wzt/zoMt % cenfre, because by topological

transformations (roughly&^nJzKg and stretching as what rubber objects will permit) what is a
top transforms to a centre, and vice versa. Diagrams illustrate the transformations:

top (of tree,
semi lattice)



is so far removed from what normally enters under that denomination that different
terminology is warranted, terminology which then has the advantage of shaking off all those negative
associations of anarchy. The salient differences from run-of-the-mill anarchism will appear when preferred
forms are detailed subsequently.



from top

from sides

* peak

* peak

Given such transformations, which will be taken for granted, anarchism also excludes
arrangements structured with a controlling centre, such as a ruling central government. It
implies decentralization in a precise sense. It does not thereby also remove all structure: it

leaves intact a rich variety of structure including network arrangements with no centres (or with
multiple "centres"), federation structures or similar. Yet another example is afforded by lateral
structuring with central "centres" dispersed via function, as ilustrated;^


The skeleton or scaffolding of organisation is structure; it is the frame on which
organisation is hung, which organisation fills or fleshes out. The sense of


the underlying organic image, implies as much. According, for instance, to the Conci-ye
Dzcfiofiuiy, 'structure: manner in which a building or organism or other complete whole is

constructed, supporting framework or whole of the essential parts of something
itself is primarily, though not entirely, a matter of
of elements and parts, among which
order relations figure prominently, though not exclusively. That is, structure involves order, as
a critical component.
Remarkably, the same sort of

<y%n/c%r&y occur in a range of seemingly

diverse theoretical areas, not just social and political theory, to be displaced in each case by a

similar sort of problem-dissipating structure.
To illustrate, consider an order on a type (or set) of items Q given by one order relation R,


Insofar as there is a single centre, it is the bottom, the people. Major condinating issues are referred to
people, for instance through referenda. So there a will be a referenda organising office, but it will be
independent cooperative.

on item c in Q, i.e. R = Re- For example, where Q is a system of

where R may itself

worlds including your world the ordering R of worlds may depend on your world (and my
world could supply a different order). Differently, where Qis a system of values or valued
items, R may depend upon your values; and so on. As an orJer, R is at least transitive, and
perhaps either (if like <) reflexive or (if like <) symmetric, on its ranged The system <Q, R>

is a simple ordered structure, or ay%w%^. (The latter is the term now used in modal logic, where
such structures are the bases of models for the logic.) A
or top t of such a system is an
element such that all items of Q bear R to t but which does not itself bear R to any element of Q.

(The notion, that of -yMpreyniow, and likewise woxiwMw, may be similarly defined relative to

subsets or types within Q.22)
77^oreTH. There are order structures without tops.

Examples are provided by systems (often with much more structure) with no supremum. Here
is a simple 6 element example drawn from relevant logical theory.



„ = {=2,-l,-0, +0, +l,+2}

R - — is as shown by arrows.


T = {+0, +1, +2} is a frufh component


Topologically, several notions of prime political and philosophical cast are tantamount to

tops in order structures, including chiefs (top persons in power rankings) hierarchs, grand

leaders, centres, absolutes, and objective items.

Consider, a pertinent issue, the matter of

control or authority, where as in the next diagram all elements

to t.

trans^ity required of order.


There are various cases, depending upon conditions


A supremum t of R (in type T) is an (that) element (of T) such that all elements (of T) bear R to t but
which does not itself bear R to anything (in T).

Looked at from above t is centre of a network. In the diagram shown, it remains a structure, a

flattened hierarchy, when t and relations leading to it are deleted, under

so to say.

What this shows in a simple fashion is that there can be ordered structures without central
control (and ranging further there can be statelessness, absence of central control, anarchy

without "anarchy" or chaos, because there is order),


afford numerous examples. Order, including good order of a range of sorts, does not require
central controls, leaders, absolute rulers or arrangements, or similar. Order does not require
hierarchy, such hierarchy. 23
As immediate corollary is that inferences from anarchy (without a top or centre) to absence

of order

to disorder are fatally flawed. What lacks a top or centre may nonetheless enjy

satisfactory order. Structures induced in anarchic arrangements can be far from chaotic (and
may be modest and stable equivaien&s8i conditions).
It is worth alluding to a much wider philosophical sweep. Related order structural

considerations to those that tell against central states, absolute rulers, monarchs, patriarchs, top
authorities as required for satisfactory order, also count against <2^x9/%^ of other sorts, such as

absolute truth (there need be none, as the first diagram above indicates), absolute order (thus R


Part of what seems correct in Bookchin's vendetta against hierarchy can be captured in this way. More on
this subsequently.


itself is relative to c), and
of various sorts, such as objective fact (another supposed
absolute), objective value (supplied under an absolute order), and so on. On this broad sweep
the following sorts contrast sets emerged


maximizing rationalism


satisizing rationalism

Naturally, these simple structural considerations are only indicative, not decisive. For we

might find, as more and more constraints are imposed on structures, as account is taken of

actual conditions, that freedom contracts, that structural arrangements are forced towards
centralism or absolutism. While such forcing may now look, in the light of a little logic,
implausible, it requires further argument that it need not in general eventuate. The
be developed agam-yf
takes these lines: that there is ready design of
institutional arrangements for decentralised communities which does not lead back to a central

state. The state is organisationally otiose. Organisation is delivered anencephaletically.
For an added or infiltrated top or the centre to be troublesome, something anarchism need

bother removing or shun where it figures, it has to have an

role. Politically that

presumably means exercising power in some way. That is, the head (the head that is lacking in

%7i#rc%(?.y) is an operative head, not a mere figurehead. Anarchism need not exclude
princes, monarchs, emperors, or "governors", such as some countries now maintain. If the

people really like having such relics, royalty or "aristocracy", as is often said they do, then they

can presumably have them if they are prepared to afford them. Indeed this figurehead role is
just what is presumed for the prince under more plausible anarchist construals of Taoism.25

The ideal prince is a Taoist who takes no action, a sage who is rarely or never seen, whose
existence may merely be known to the populace or even simply rumoured (that is almost to say,

though Lao Tzu could not tactfully assert it, the ideal prince is a nonexistent inoperative sage).


For a fuller picture see Sylvan 93/4, chapter 10.


See Clark 84 p.165. Also UTD.

As indicated, the main features adduced are mirrored in logic, which can serve as a

structural guide. It is striking, as well as technically advantageous, that logical and political

predelictions converge. Mainstream irrelevant logics have algebraic structures with top

elements, Boolean algebras in the case of classical logics. By contrast relevant logics, which
now challenge the classical logical paradigm, do not. Their corresponding algebras, De Morgan
monoids and such like need include no top element. The top element, T, is directly responsible
for positive paradoxes, of the basic form A -* T (anything at all implies the True), of
mainstream logics, paradoxes infecting much theory which relevant logic avoids.^ The logical
structure shows that sub "centres" need not have such damaging effects; a plurality of local

"centres", regional nodes, induces no paradox.

The figurehead analogy also operates analogically, in logic. It does not matter if a semi­
lattice structure is extended to include a top element, so long as that addition provides only a

conservative extension. (If T is added to top a relevant lattice, it has in stronger logics to be
kept out of implication relations, else it will induce a non-conservative relevant extension with
theses like A -* T.) But otherwise, as an inoperative top-piece it is admissible.

Technical comparisons now reach much further than logic alone, as we leam more and
more about decentralised structures, about decentralised cerebral organisation, decentralised Al
and topless connectionism, and decentralised intelligent structure. Intelligent organisation

without top or central elements may abound both in nature, for instance in insect cerebral
organisation and in vertebrate brain structure, and in many future artificial intelligence
applications. Logic and computing technology demonstrate, what is widely appreciated outside
political theory, that topless is feasible.2? There is scope, and need, for twenty-first century

anarchism to be highly techno-logically sophisticated.
There is more to anarchism than political structure without an operative top, head or

centre, than a lateral structuring. That more, the residue of the rejection of archy, is more

difficult to characterize in a way non-prejudicial to types of anarchism. It is bound up with the
operation of the active top, with the confroZ for example it exercises, the potter it exerts, or the

like: non-prejudicially, it cannot operate
As to what are unacceptable
means, however there are different specifications. These many include—what can be
summarized, under a single rubric, as
—force, coercion, authoritarianism (and
what implies any of those, such as totalitarianism); and, much more controversial,

nonvoluntary, nonindividualistic, socialist and communist, means. As in dictionariess entries
for "anarchism", only coercive and authoritarian elements will be ruled unacceptable (for


See WR.


The subsequently preferred variety of anarchism, while not at all opposed to slates losing their heads, is
powerfully opposed to people literally loosing their heads (figuratively again, it may be alright).


A Gramsci, 'The intellectuals
and 'The modem prison
in gcZccfzony /row ?7zc Prz'yon
M?fc&ooRy (ed. Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith), International Publishers, New York, 1971.
D. Mannison and others (eds.), Environment?/ P/zz/oyopAy, Research School of Social Science,
Australian National University, 1980; referred to as EP.
D. Miller, Aaarc/zzym, J.M. Dent and Sons, London, 1984; referred to as M.
D. Mitrany, 7%c Ennctona/ 77zcory o/PoEr/cy, Martm Robertson, London, 1975.
A. Naess and associates, Democracy, /Jeo/ogy aaJ D/?/eciiviiy, Oslo University Press,
Norway, 1956.
R. and V. Routley, 'The irrefutability of anarchism
R. and V. Routley, 'Social theories, self-management and environmental problems
in EP;
referred to as SM.
R. Sylvan, and D. Bennett, 'On Utopias, Tao and Deep Ecology
D/ycayyzoa Papery in
EavzrozzmczzZaZ P/zz/oypp/zy, #19, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National
University, 1990.
R.P. Wolff, 7a De/ence o/Aaarc/zzym, Harper & Row, New York, 1970.

P. Nursey-Bray, an Aaaa/arcJ EzEZzagrap/zy a/Aaarc/zzym , Greenwood Press, 1992.

Cf Clark p.ll8ff. The general methodological issue of multiple determinates of key
political terms and their archist confinement is taken up in a later chapter.



^ A A' '< -'









o J*

,<^A<_ . )



/Xot^z &J> f A-w^

t^i^L to n



A jt?






, <^<!"// , cx^d







TL^i- c—











There are wany anarchist theories. For an anarchist theory is any laterally structured

theory which duly conforms to the anarchy principle, of rejecting political authority and
coercion. While received anarchist theories restrict anarchism to certain more specific forms (the

standard options of considered below), p/ara/ijtic anarchism does not; plural anarchism not only
admits the plurality, but takes advantage of it any may revel in it.
Not all of this variety, not all anarchisms in the sheaf of systems, are of equal merit.
Some forms are decidedly undesirable — like anarchisms expanding on the violent or chaotic

varieties of popular imagination — in much the way that the nasty states of modem history, that
anarchism opposes, are undesirable. Such undesirability may devolve from external rather than
internal political characters. Thus, for instance, regions committed to global power projection to
retain their privileged way of life (most unlikely under anarchistic arrangements) or committed to

transnational terrorist practices. While standard anarchisms have been located in the more
desirable, or even eutopian, end-range of anarchist systems, they by no means exhaust the

satisfactory forms or even the most promising forms (as explained in chapter 5). Indeed in
important respects the desirable range is significantly open for further elaboration of newer (and

greener) forms.
As varieties of anarchy may diverge, widely, so correspondingly do motivations and
justifications for various divergent forms. The motivations, for instance, range from entirely
theoretical (conceding to the warranted force of political scepticism) to practical (changing the
local world); from personal and perhaps selfish (getting the state off one's back, or out of one's
business and one's till) to other directed (eliminating a state oppressing its people) to

environmental (disestablishing another vandalistic state). Common motivations trace back to the

common character of anarchism: repulsion by, or opposition to, oppression, perhaps generalised

from the state to all analogous political and bureaucratic structures, or expanding on that again,
to all gross power relations. Indeed it is appealingly suggested that what anarchy is really all

about is gross power relations, their reduction and removal; state coercive and authoritarian

power are but paradigmatic of such power and domination relations. But while such opposition

to gross power does characterizer gentler anarchism, heavy power methods are acceptable to
tougher anarchisms; gentler anarchisms tend, so it will be argued, to be all of more pacific, more

liberal and more rational than tougher or hardened anarchism. There are other expansionary

liberal democratic motives for anarchism, further varying this theme: a yearning for removal of

constraints, and for more extensive freedom; or a desire for more extensive equality, which
would of course diminish those inequalities power delivers. Such motivations too have illicitly

worked their way into variant characterisations of anarchism.



While a popular image of anarchists remains that of hardened terrorists, exercising
authority over hostages using state-manufactured guns, many anarchists are joined by opposition
to all such naked authority or coercion. Indeed 'behind the anarchist attack on the state and other
coercive institutions, there has often stood a fundamental critique of the idea of authority itself
(M p.15). An important, though certainly not invariant, mofivafmg and

r^<?n for

anarchism derives from a more sweeping anti-authoritarianism: the theme that no person or
organisation can ever rightfully exercise authority of (political cast) over another. Picturesquely

it is the theme that no authority is justified, no one, state or other, has a right to push another
around. Too briefly it is sloganised to assert, no bosses, no leaders, or similar. Such general
opposition to the principle of authority has even been dubbed "philosophical anarchism". It is an
unfortunate choice of terminology given Feyerabend's different anarchistic challenge to much in
philosophical theory and practice.

But some further classification and labelling undoubtedly
helps. A
princZp/^J anarchism takes exception on principled, characteristically ethical,
grounds to objectionable authority or to coercion, that is to prime target elements undiluted

anarchism directly rejects.
But irrespective of type of anarchism intricated, much in anarchist theory, including a
fuller characterisation, turns upon the twin notions of anf/ion/y and coercion, what these terms
mean and cash out to, and why it is considered important to avoid damaging features of this
sort? Both authority and coercion fall into the general category of power relations, a category

that has rightly featured large not merely in anarchist theory but in social theory more
comprehensively. As Aristotelian definitions of 'authority and coercion , by gunus and
differentia, will be offered, an essential preliminary consists in pinning down the genus, power.

* Power gm/
reZevan? serfs.
Defective definitions of power, authority and coercion abound. Despite the importance of
the notions for political theory, not just for anarchism, it is rare to encounter satisfactory

formulations. A defective formulation from recent relevant anarchist theory defines power as
'the ability to compel compliance, either through the use of force or the threat of force (Wolff

p.4), a conspicuously high redefinition. Rather, a power reZofion is a relation where one of the
relata, that having the power, can normally get the other relata to do something (down to
entertaining a belief, considering an idea). Power is a can-do; it may not be exercised. But there
need be no compulsion or compelling compliance; nor need its exercise always succeed. Further

its exercise need not involve force or threat thereof; it may be effected by a range of other means.


By Wolff, and following him, Miler and others. Feyerabend's philosophical anarchism,
is sometimes better labelled
anarc/h-yiH, a type of nihilism.
But it stops short, excluding logical methods (irrationally scorned however) from variation^ .In fact
without a sharp—unavailable—distinction between logical and other (empirical or pwidivist)

methods, this methodological anarchism is incoherent.

on the one side, bribery, seduction, blackmail, and so on, and on the other, knowledge,

prowess, charisma, and so on. It is no secret that major problems in human social and political

affairs devolve upon power, its excessive or evil use, misuse, regulation and control. But by no

means all power, not even all political power, is bad. Distangling the undesirable, negative
forms is an essential exercise, often neglected.

After observing the failure of radical social theory to provide an adequate investigation of

power, Clark embarks on a critique of the "classical model"2
According to the received conception, power is depicted as a relation of domination
in which the powerful subject the powerless to control in order to exploit the latter.
In both classical Marxism and anarchism this exploitation is conceived as being
essentially economic. Thus, for Marx, "political power, properly so called, is
merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another (p.231).
It is evident that what we see here is an attempt to explain power through, and then reduce power
to, certain of its determinate forms: domination, then control, exploitation, oppression, and then
organised and economic forms of these. These determinates are all, though important, rather
special and rather negative, black forms of power. Power may be short-term, just for a day for

instance or once only (a creature requires power only for a short period, because of what it is,
because it loses power thereafter, because it has access to short-term drugs, magic, hypnosis,
contracts, etc.). Domination is a longer-term relation, a disposition, between recognised parties,
with a decided bias in favour of one party the power-holder; exploitation and oppression increase

that bias, in specifiable ways, control however removes it. Power may, furthermore, be applied

for positive and libertary, purposes, to help powerless to achieve something or other, to survive,
prosper, and so on.

Briefly, the

concerning power is not power itself, but certain of its forms, its

negative forms, and its excessive use. This last can be assimilated, by taking excess as a
negative form. The negative forms are, of course, though they can be independently specified,
the bad, or undesirable forms,
forms as was earlier said.3 These include, among other
forms, closed authority and coercion. They also include such overlapping forms as oppression,

exploitation, domination, and so on. Privilege goes with these latter forms; it is held by the
power-holders and their circle. It is held moreover exclusively by this circle; others, at the other

end of the power relation, the power-less, are excluded from its possession. That is, the domain
and range of a given power relation are exclusive: no one is both an exploiter and exploited

(though of course someone, a husband day labourer for example, may be both exploited in his
labour and domineering over his wife).


A critique, p.231 ff. too quickly petering out in an inconclusive, discussion of Foucault on power,
where power turns into what is not, something mystical and all-pervasive.
In these respects, power is like other notions, of green political significance,
for one,
for another.


There are two separable kinds of undesirable power: excessive and malselective or illdirected. The two kinds are more or less replicated in other significant phenomena that have
been, like power, too sweepingly condemned: economic growth and material consumption. The
problematic concerning human consumption is not consumption itself, some level of which is

essential to human societies and indeed survival. The problems derive basically from excessive

consumption and from poorly selected consumption. Conspicuous consumption, insofar as it

delivers a negative form, derives from these: it is either excessive and wasteful or malselective or
a mix of these. But the kinds are distinctive. For example, a poor family that buys expensive
junk food may spend its limited income poorly, but its consumption may well not be excessive.
Similarly with power: the limited power an individual or group possesses, whether exercisable

for evil or not, may be better or worse directed.
In term of power and its gross exercise, much in more gentle anarchisms can be


synthesized, namely all that is otherwise packed into the rubric: unacceptable means. What is

unacceptable is gross exercise of power, including types of political power exploited by tougher

anarchisms, terrorist power, crude fire power from the barrels of guns, and so on. What
correspondingly gentler anarchisms oppose are all institutions and arrangements, not just the
state and those tied to it, that can exert gross power. The state mightly concentrates, and
centralizes, such power/ Even so the state is merely paradigmatic among undesirable and
excessive power structures — a power hungry one at that, since it looks for a surplus product in
power, along with a monopolistic position. But militia posts, torture shops, and pirate ships are

other more localized structures. Coercive and closed authoritarian arrangements (opposition to

which helps define anarchism) are distinctive marks of such grossness. Dilute anarchisms tone
down opposition certain types of power (typically authority); they admit exercise of power that

gentler anarchism would regard as gross.
From the problematicness and undesirability of excessive power, main objectives of

anarchism for ameliorative change flow: decentralisation, division and separation of powers.
Centralised powers are to be separated and decentralised; aggregated powers to be broken down
into functional components; and so on. Tougher anarchism proposes more, rival power play,

resisting and undermining power through power, to break down its excesses and reveal its
limitations, fighting fire with fire. One trouble with this tough and morally dubious strategy,
which can be spectacular, is that it easily overreaches, producing for instance inadmissible
coercion of others.


Not all state power is undesirable. Some of state regulation and redistribution, effected through
power is certainly desirable. The argument will be that these elements are completely outweighted
by the undesirable components of state power, and that they can be independently effected without

the state.

Gentler anarchism travels in the vanguard of the long retreat from barbarism in human
practices and institutions. In more enlightened parts of the world we have witnessed the

progressive removal of
physical punishment, such as: maiming, blinding, executing,
stoning, torturing, transporting, flogging, corporal punishing, starving, chaining, incarcerating,
imprisoning, infecting, ...and

extensions, such as: serious threats thereof and assistance

or encouragement of these practices elsewhere. Such enlightenment has not penetrated many

parts of the world to any extent, and has far to reach yet even in the most civilized regions.
TTyugh the gentler anarchist theme of curtailment of power, we can tap into several rich

connections. The excessive drive to power and strength, the "will to power", is a conspicuous
feature of modernity. Interestingly Nietzsche went so far as to claim that the will to power was
basic motive in human affairs. Fortunately such a socio-psychological claim, about
prevailing human nature and institutions, has little to substantiate it. But undoubtedly power

motivates much, much too much, in modernity; otherwise anarchism would lose much of its

more sweeping point. It was not always so; the quest for power at all costs, the flaunting of
power, was at least highly problematic (as drama revealed); it did not always gain the adulation it

now widely commands. It did not win respect from early anarchism, as manifested in Stoicism
and Taoism. It would not have won endorsement from Aristotelibnism; for power, of both
institutions and individuals, like so many other attributes, is evidently similarly constrained to a

While the rough bounds are evident enough for an instrumental object such as a vehicle, which
wastes fuel and becomes dangerous when excessively powered, but cannot perform its tasks if
underpowered, the bounds, especially ^e lower, may not be so conspicuous elsewhere (e.g.

with military hardware, intelligence reserves, etc.). Organisations and institutions, which
should be vehicles to serve social ends, enjoy once again a striking analogy with logical
systems. Logical systems, when excessively strong in the fashion of modem mainstream

systems, ensnarl users in a tangle of paradoxes and other troubles (for detailed discussion see

RLR, p.240 ff.). On the other hand, if they are excessively weak they fail to meet reasonable
conditions of adequacy, to afford satisfactory vehicles of inference and reasoning.
Two species of gross power feature particularly in the definitional elaboration of
anarchism: authority and coercion. While undesirable authority is characteristically tied into

excessive power, coercion is different, is often once-off, and is malselective power.


* Authority, and warranted repugnance of closed forms.
Authority is a type of power relation, a relation with the power or influence conferred or
supported by other features of one of the relata, the bearer of authority, namely character,
station, recognised control of coercive means, or the like.
itself is the abstract of the
relation : a has authority over or with respect to b. Authority is a proper subrelation of power.

For evidently many power relations — those exerted by bullies, bandits, etc — are not authority
relations, since the relation is not supported by suitable station. Again the following definition

of authority (upon which Wolff founds his philosophical defence of anarchism) is far too
narrow: "the right to command, and correlatively, the right to be obeyed" (p.4). Only some who
hold authority may be (conventionally) conceded a right to command, or more broadly, to
exercise their power. For evidently their power may be exercised in a variety of other ways than
through command structures, such as blockages, delays, vetoes, withholdings, and so on, and
on the other side, concessions, gifts, rewards, and so on.
There are many types of authority relations, many inadmissibly excluded under narrow
definitions, not all of which are objectionable, or objected to by anarchists. For an example of

an unobjectionable sort, consider the relation of a student to an authority in some field of

knowledge, who can in turn back up expert judgements by appeal to a further range of assessible
evidence. Such an authority might be called frampar^if (or open), because those with time and
some skill can proceed through the authority to assess claims made. Among
authorities are contemporary teachers, by contrast with old fashioned disciplinarians, and
advanced parents, who can back up their orders with satisfactory reasons. Contrasted with such
authorities are op&q%^ (or cZo<y^%f) authorities, who simply stand on their position or station,
such authority is objectionable in part because of its dogmatic character.^ Closely allied to

op^M^ authorities who can appeal to a conventional rule or
procedure (that is how things are done, have been done) without being able to or prepared to
opaque authorities are

step beyond some rule book. Rule-book authorities are commonplace in bureaucracies, which

often encourage such practice in lower level officials. In
opaqM^ authorities the
justificatory procedure stops a step further out; there is a set of rules, which has been enacted
(for reasons not open to, or bearing, examination) by a further substantially opaque authority.
Other authority relations are objectionable because of the way in which or the means by
which they are backed. Unobjectionable is the authority figure which is exemplary, where what
it exemplifies is in its tum satisfactory. Not so relations backed by coercive means, by violence

or threats of violence: Big-stick authority relations. Such relations are condemned on moral

The impression is widely promoted that science reliably furnishes examples of transparent
authorities, in the shape of experts. That impression is astray. Dominant Science frequently
functions as a substantially closed authority, rather as the universal Church did, standing on
received theory as gospel (for elaboration see DP, chapter 12).

grounds, for example by moral pacifists opposed to violence, who do not object to the carrot

methods such as sanctions, boycotts, civil disobedience, etc.
A diagram will summarise the position so far attained.




carrot <-











It will be evident that the objections to nonbenign authoritarian relations—to what in clear

cases may be presented as to

— can be of significantly different sorts. To more

opaque authority relations there are objections of enlightenment cast, that reason is lacking for
what an authority requires, proposes or asserts, as it was lacking in authoritarian religious and
political practice against which the Enlightenment was primarily targeted. (A significant strand

of anarchism, more theoretical anarchism, is a descendant: undisclosed reasons of State are not

adequate reasons.) To more coercive authority relations there are objections from non-violence
devotees. To
there may be a kind of liberal opposition, that the party subject to authority is

being denied, in one way or another, for unacceptable reasons, a certain freedom, namely
' autonomy. Naturally,

movements have been directed at breaking down authoritarian

power relations: masters over slaves, humans over animals, men over women, adults over
children, etc. States over citizens. A comprehensive civil liberties movement would merge with

anarchist movements.
Plainly then, these three convergences are linked to three interconnected forms of
opposition to authoritarianism: namely
* convergence of anarchism with an Enlightenment opposition to opaque authority, which

anarchism takes to include state authority. (A response will contend, as religious groups did
against Enlightenment charges, that State authority is justified, e.g. it represents the people's

will, or some similar fairy tale. But that is what is at issue.)
* convergence of anarchism with moral pacifism in opposition to violence and coercion as
unmitigated evils which should always be avoided. Of course only some forms of anarchism are

involved. Some anarchists are not averse at all to the exercise of heavy power relations, for
instance of violence or terror against others (no matter how this violates their free personal

space). But observe that such uses of power are not supported by recognised authority but

normally directed agnm-sf such authority; so they might be dubbed
* convergence of anarchism with forms of liberalism, deriving from solid commitment of

normal forms of anarchism, particularly individual varieties to personal liberty. Libertarian
ideals have served as a major motivation in historical anarchism. There is a vision of a free
society, a 'vision of a society in which social fetters are replaced by social bonds and labour is
freely undertaken'.6


There are of course other convergences as well, some of them much discussed, such as

with marxism. When opposition to authority is broadened to opposition to domination, no
doubt there are further convergences, with feminism, with deep environmentalism. A recent
convergence, of initial promise, is with ecofeminism, which ought to highly sympathetic to
environmentally sensitive anarchism. For both are opposed to domination in all its forms, to

downward control lines and power hierarchies.
There is an important argument against the state based on its authoritarian character. This
argument, to be found is Proudhon and in embryonic form in Rousseau, is developed and given
a Kantian tum in Wolff? What Proudhon portrayed as a conflict between the authority of the
state and freedom, Wolff represents as 'the conflict between authority and autonomy' (p.18). In
this conflict, where the state represents authority, autonomy takes precedence; anarchism is
consistent with the supreme virtue of authonomy, but archist doctrines supporting the state are
not, because of authoritarian character of the state. Because Wolffs argument has been subject

to much criticism which an improved formulation would shed, because too Wolffs formulation

leaves something to be desired (it is not sufficiently sharp or tight), the argument will be
revamped. A crucial difference is this: whereas Wolff asserts that 'all authority is equally
illegitimate', a judgement already rejected, it is now said that all

authority is illegitimate,

meaning thereby wtoraZ/y illegitimate, not 'having a binding moral force ?


Chomsky, in Guerin p.xii,
As to Proudhon see Ritter p.13, pp. 15-16. According to Rousseau such undesirable restrictive
features need not pertain for all forms of government; naturally they do not obtain for his favoured
arrangements. Wolff tries to repeat this sort of point, less than successfully for unanimous direct

Of course a state may proclaim, even legislate, that its authority is legitimate, and even have other
states do the same. But that will not achieve moral, a de jt/re, legitimacy. It is similar when the
state endeavours to enforce its authority; /noraf legitimacy is not thereby obtained. Nonetheless
these sorts of features go far towards explaining why people acknowledge, rarely questioning,
closed authorities like the state. There are other elements which enter into explaining this popular
sheepishness, such as: The force of tradition, that is the way things have always been done, the


Nor is all closed authority equally objectionable. The unquestionable directives of a

benevolent dictator (one whose authoritarian directives and regulations prove inductively to be

well directed) can be seen as less objectionable than those of a malevolent dictator. Similarly for
a dictatorial group, a junta, or a majority. That the dictator said so, or that the majority said so,

does not offer a reason rendering the state less than a closed authority.
A core theme, to be embroided and defended, is
W1. An autonomous person does not recognise a closed authority as legitimate.

W2. The state is a closed authority, of a certain
of course. Hence
WC1. An autonomous person does not recognise the state as legitimate.
The core theme depends crucially on the notion of aMfonowy, on characterising features of the
autonomous person. But before that task is addressed, observe that autonomy can be
eliminated. First, the rafiona/ person, or a little less satisfactorily, the

person, can

carry the argument instead, using for instance


A rational person is autonomous.

So results Wl' with 'rational' displacing 'autonomous',
W1'. A rational person does not recognise a closed authority as legitimate.
That premiss at once suggests a direct argument devoid of the circuit through persons (or

through agents). For what a rational, still more an enlightened, person does not recognise as

legitimate presumably is not, and certainly vice versa. In any case,

A closed authority is not legitimate.

Hence, by W2,
UC1. The state is not legitimate.
Since this conclusion is equivalent to
UC2. The concept of a legitimate state is null,
the result sharpens the tentative conclusion Wolff reaches: 'Hence, the concept of a


legitimate state would appear to be vacuous', to which he adds, thereby presuming other links

already made explicit, 'and philosophical anarchism would seem to be the only reasonable
political belief for an enlightened man' (p.19).
As observed, not too much hangs upon the notion of moral legitimacy deployed, thus far

following Wolffs lead, throughout.

Simple variations replace 'morally legitimate' or

'legitimate' by 'morally warranted', 'morally justified', 'justifiable', 'rightful' (the last, though a
trifle old-fashioned, captures what is intended well).

force of character of leaders; their occupation of official positions, which have heavy bureaucratic

These arguments permit of much other interesting variation. Wolff s original argument,

for instance, precedes from authority as The defining mark of the state', with authority
defectively explicated as 'the right to rule' (p.18). Evidently then the middle term, authority, can

drop out, and the argument can be formulated along the following lines:
VI. The state has the right to rule (without question, its citizens, more or less as it pleases).

An autonomous person rejects any (sweeping) right to rule.

VC1. An automonous person rejects the state.
Further variations may be obtained by amending the middle term, "right to rule without
question" (which effectively replaced "exercise of close authority") to reflect other features of the

state, for instance that it can simply tell its citizens what to do, that is has a right to coerce its
citizens, rights to institute state monopolies, and so on. Under some variations "autonomous

person" should be correspondingly replaced. For instance, if VI is specialized from a right to
command and control to the right to send citizens to war, then V2 may be adjusted to apply to the
person of conscience, of peace, or similar.
As Wolff seeks a grander conclusion than VC1, which might be merely taken to reveal that

there are but few autonomous actors about, he invokes a further premiss
V3. Autonomy is a (even the) primary obligation.
From there, it is an analytic shuffle to the more impressive conclusion

VC2. The state ought to be rejected.
The arguments are as vulnerable as their premisses. What gets especially contested in the
first argument is Wl, concerning the autonomous person. For all the surface reasonableness
and even open-door aspects of a more liberal state, W2 holds; it swings into effect as soon as the
going gets tough. As Dahl puts it, To obey the authority of the state ... means doing what the

do it'? While there
may be a little scope for light and reson as regards more flexible minor officials, that scope is
officials of the state tell you to do simply and soley



small; the wall of closed authority can be quickly encountered, particularly with judges and law

enforcement officers. If W2 did not hold the state would risk sliding into a voluntary

organisation, out of which citizens could opt. In the end citizens are expected to act in a variety
of ways (fill in form, take out licences, pay taxes, etc.) because the state tells them to, just

because, or else face punitive action.
The argument to Wl depends heavily on the meaning of gMfono/ny. Here is one way it can
be presented (following Dahl): An autonomous person is self determining. Such a person is not

under the direction or choices of another item. While the person may do what another tells him


See p.92..Dahl's reconstruction of Wolff effectively applies W2, using Wolffs definition of
HMf%<?r#y, to obtain VI. This produces a more complex, and defective, argument.


or her, she does not

she has been told to do it. Thus the autonomous person does not

conform to closed authorities, and does not acknowledge them or assign them recognition (more

recognition that is).
While autonomy is one thing, responsibility is quite another; still a critical reason for

arriving at autonomy intricates responsibility.
... so long as we recognise our responsibility for our actions, and
acknowledge the power to reason within us, we must acknowledge as well
the continuing obligation to make ourselves authors of such commands as
we may obey (Wolff p.17),
i.e. to make ourselves autonomous. A primary moral demand, central to the moral condition, is,

according to Kant and Wolff, to 'acknowledge responsibility and achieve autonomy whenever
and whenever possible" (p.17). Assuming responsibility in a life is by means the only reason
for striving for autonomy: achieving a certain personal freedom (within natural bounds) and
operating a life rationally are other crifica/ reasons. A main argument to V3 indicated by Wolff

does proceed from responsibility. It is simply that in order to take full responsibility (for one's
actions, choices, etc.), which one should, one has to be autonomous. So one should be

At least as important philosophically as the argument from W1 and W2 is that from Wl'
and W2. While the argument to Wl' may proceed through autonomy it may short-circuit it. The

philosophical argument for Wl' is well-known, having been repeatedly emphasized from
Socrates through to Russell: that a rational person does not accept anything for which there are

not independent investigatible reasons and evidence. The pronouncements of a closed authority
do not fall into this class.
By revamping the arguments especially that from autonomy as directed against

authority, many objections to Wolffs arguments are fairly autonomically voided. Firstly

(contrary to Dahl p.47), the arguments are not (any longer, if they ever were) arguments against

'authority of any kind". Not merely was Wolff concerned with the

authority of the

state; further as Dahl points out next page, the type of authority concerned is that of 'doing what
someone tells you to do

fo ^Zo if, that is a closed form. A rational person

can of course acknowledge an open authority who can offer reason and evidence for
prono^cements. For similar reasons, experts, guides and guardians, of open character, are not

excluded. Accordingly the arguments does not cut "too broad a swath""; while it properly cuts
out closed authorities like absolute rulers, states and similar, it does not mow down open

authorities. In like fashion, much of Miller's parallell criticism of philosophical anarchism is
voided. Things go astray (in Miller's chapter 2) from the very outset, from the slack formulation

of "the principle of authority"", which is chauvinistically formulated, 'no man can ever rightfully
exercise political authority over another, that is have a right to issue directions which the other

has an obligation to obey' (p.15), and which is then intended to apply to the relation of a state


and its officials to its citizens. The formulation has both to be expanded to include persons and
organisations as subjects of the relation, and sharply contracted to delimit the kinds of authority

and rights concerned. For the explanatory (that is) clause offered reaches far beyond (closed)
political authority; it would wrongly rule out contractual relations such as those of freely

arranged employment, parental relations, and so on.
The counterexamples Miller designs to Wolffs arguments also depend upon shifting

ground from closed authority like the state to more open arrangements, such as contracts an
autonomous person may have entered into freely. Plainly there will be a limited range of such

contracts that a rational person will enter into; long-term future bondage or slavery will not be
among them, and Miller's examples may border on the rationality dubious. In any case, in one,
an agent morally concerned to relieve poverty enters into authoritarian arrangements, imagined

unavoidable for successful action, in which it becomes obligatory for the agent to act under

authoritative instruction (p.28). Firstly, the authorities are not closed, they have to be pursuing
means directed to poverty relief, else an autonomous agent will not enter into such
Secondly, while contractual obligations, and therewith certain directives of
open authoritarian cast, may constitute reasons for action, the situation with the state is very

different. There is no contract, and no reasons of contract (also lacking are spotless reasons
justifying entering into such a contract).
Examples like Miller's arrangements and contracts can be inflated into stock flawed

arguments, from consent to the state. Unremarably, Dahl attempts to patch up again these well-

worn arguments, but in two mutually inconsistent ways. Second, he proposes that To opt for a
democratic state' is The most responsible way of exercising our moral autonomy', and
reasonable and rational as ways of maximizing our autonomy (p.49). Insofar as there are any
arguments for such wishful conclusions, they depend upon familiar fantasy-world assumptions
about the blackness of nonstate arrangements presumed to impact utterly unfavourably on

autonomy and the contrasting whiteness of democratic states. That those states are at best a
pretty dirty gray, Dahl's first more honest considerations suggest. There he asks, What is so
great about autonomy? 'Why not sacrifice some moral autonomy?' As 'unlimited autonomy is
impossible', why not settle for autonomy within reasonable state limits? (cf p.48). Compare:
why not sacrifice some resistance to homocide and settle for reasonable killing of humans for
reasons of state? The moral importance of autonomy Wolff has already explained nicely (pp 14-

17). Autonomy is a primary oM/ganon of rational persons, a constraint, not what Dahl converts
it utilitarian-fashion into, a supreme value, to be questioned then traded off against other values.
Because of its importance for rational practice the obligation should not be weakened; nor is

there good reason to do so. There appear no grounds for forfeiting autonomy to closed


Compare Wolffs discussion (on p.15) of relations with one's doctor.


authorities, such as the state. It is doubtful that there are even grounds for what Wolff allows,
forfeiture of some autonomy to one s doctor, hopefully no longer a closed authority, rather than
retaining autonomy and freely following the doctor's advice. Autonomy is not like freedom in
limitations; it can in principle always be exercised by a rational person. Submission to the state

is a gross forfeiture of that autonomy.
While an autonomous agent may place itself under guidance of leadership of another for

limited purposes, and may indeed enter into certain sorts of contracts, it will not surrender its

whole future life or extensive parts of it to a directorate that may well proceed in suboptimal,
subliminal or even irrational ways. Yet that latter is what expected acceptance of the state
implies. Accordingly an autonomous person cannot recognise the state; nor can a fully rational
one, as it is irrational to place oneself indefinitely under a closed authority.
It may be objected that it is unfair to treat Dahl, Miller and others in the preceding fashion,
which changes the dialectical playing field. They were attacking Wolff and his over-extended
arguments, not a refinement of Wolff which singles out the philosophical nasty elements in

authority, and accordingly destroys their counter-examples which operated at the rational open
end of authority relations. But that was not all that they were doing. They were using Wolff as
a vehicle to draw quite
conclusions about the unviability of principled anarchism (e.g.
Dahl p.50, Miller p.29), and accordingly should have taken account of simple revampings of

arguments like those of Wolff. Nor is this the only respect in which their practice is
methodologically unsound. A principle—like that of closed authority, that such authority is

legitimate—does not stand because someone's attack (e.g. Wolff s) against it is unsuccessful.

Yet this is Miller's methodological procedure against philosophical anarchism (p.26, p.29).
This is Popperian falsificationism gone rampant and badly astray. For Popper at least required
sustained and strenuous testing and adequate variation; not a few select and easy examples. But
of course a Popperian approach by archists is unsatisfactory; the onus of argument is the other
way around. An archist has to establish that political authority, such as that the
claims and

exercises, is rightful.
That Wolff intended to work with something like closed authority should have emerged
both from Wolffs emphasis on the place of 'grounds and sources' in legitimate authority (p.9),

and his flirtation with unanimous direct democracy. What Wolff is exercised about is not
compliance with a
authority or obedience where there are good or independent reasons
for it, but blind, or closed obedience: doing what you are told because you are told to do it (p.9).

(Yours not to reason why, yours but to do ....) While these points exonerate Wolff from some
overzealous criticisms, they immerse him in others, namely his attempt to combine authority
with autonomy under unanimous direct democracy. A major problem is that this combination,


so far as it is workable^, appeals not to the closed authority of the state, but to open
autonomous arrangements which do not conform to requirements of the state (as Dahl remarks
on p.48, the "authority" here is not the "authority" of his earlier definition'; and as Miller

observes on p.27, *it is ... arguable whether this state of affairs [under unaminous direct
democracy] involves the recognition of
Autonomy and freedom tell not merely against the exercise of opaque authority, but against

use of coercion. This connection affords the basis for a parallel argument to that against closed
authority, to the desirability of a sharp decline in deployment of coercive methods. But parallels
between coercion and closed authority do not proceed very far.
* Coercion, an impermissible activity.

Coercion is very different from exercise of authority. All four places, 1 to 4, in a cross­

classificatory matrix are regularly occu Died:





Place 1 is well occupied given the State, and is widely exemplified in not only state-citizen

relations, but also in authorized domination relations. Place 2 is illustrated in a range of

operations which the state often tries to repress such as banditry, piracy, protection rackets, but
also in a variety of interpersonal relations. Place 4, that clear indicator of unqualified anarchism,
is well exemplified through voluntary cooperation and mutual aid. Place 3, characteristic of
many work-place and educational situations, can be easily illustrated through advanced


Coercion, unlike authority, is action. That is why comparisons are with



authority; authority may sit, like power, unused, but coercion cannot. Like all action it is a
process, a state to state transition, but actively changing or maintaining state. It is a transitive

action relation having both a doer, a coercer, and done-tos, coerced, all normally creatures. The

transitions include a wide range of more determinate actions such as constraining, restraining,

securing, moving, pushing, pulling and so on; and thus coercion (the abstract) includes forcible
constraint and compulsion. An essential feature of coercion is that state transitions are effected

or attempted by coercers through force or genuine threats of force. No such force, no coercion.
NY- Defective definitions of coercion are liable particularly to neglect this feature. Thus e.g. Fridman


Wolff himself concludes it is not except under highly improbable conditions. Indeed the conditions
are more onerous those Wolff allows: required are humans who having consented do not change
their minds, etc.





_ _






<^___ .


p.xviii, according to whom being coerced is 'not being left alone'. Perhaps in one special sense,
but a person who chooses to have a constant companion is not being thereby coerced.
Pressuring someone to do something without attempts or threats to apply force is not coercion.

Similarly persuasion is not coercion; censuring, withholding support, applying peaceable
sanctions, are so on, are not. All this proves important in meeting objections to anarchist

methods. Coercion is not a success notion; a coercer may well not succeed in obtaining what
was sought through coercion. This will prove important in explaining why appeal to the state
does not automatically resolve political dilemmas.
To coerce is maintain or change states, normally of another creature, by implied force (i.e.
force or accepted threat thereof). The state transition or statis includes the full range of relevant
actions such as constraining, restraining, securing, moving, pushing, pulling aa so on, and thus
coercion (the abstract) includes forcible constraint and compulsion. Coercion, by contrast with


exercise of authority, entails potential use of force, force furthermore which will
characteristically tum into violence if resistance is attempted. Therein lies a main reason why
coercion is so objectionable; its intrication with force and immediate potential for violence. For
violence is generally undesirable.^. It follows therefrom that coercive arrangements are

generally undesirable and, devolving therefrom,
If social organisation can be
achieved without them, usually so much the better, certainly the more ethical. A main onus to
show that coercive arrangements, such as the state characteristically incorporates, are inevitable,
unavoidable or the like, thereupon falls upon archists.
'Since coercive power is self-defeating' and worse, a general theory of 'non-coercive
authority' is presented as a 'pressing problem of this stage of history'.13 Unfortunately, the
general theory has obtained but little development. But functionalism, in such forms as

demarchy (to be transformed below), has gained some elaboration, by some in the peace
movement. 14 Worse, Merrifield arrives at the "pressing problem" on the strength of the need for
Rt/M? of solution to the authority problem': thesources, methods, and ends of
authority (p.724). This "problem" is presumed by way of the following large (anarchist)
Authority is a requisite of all social life, since in its absence it is both psychologically
and physically impossible to coordinate human behaviours so that the ordinary social
processes can continue to operate and flourish (p.729).
The main claim is an important part of what is at issue between anarchists and archists and is at

best highly dubious. Moreover the reason offered in its support is false and should be rejected

(a range of counter models and counter examples have been indicated or will be). Furthermore,
Merrifield goes on (on the next page) to adduce information on organisations of a sort which

Sec wp in.
Merrifield p.724 alluding to the wording
Notably B. Martin

-sy-Mezn of

political functionalism.

serve to cast severe doubt upon his claim and its supporting reason. There are various
nongovernmental organisation (NGOs), and some intergovernmental organisation (IGOs),
rely upon voluntary, permissive or non-coercive motivations ... to accomplish
their functional purposes. ... They may explain, demonstrate, justify and
argue, but they cannot usually coerce. The role of functional NGO's is even
more pronounced. Lacking any coercive power, they must rely on the validity
and demonstrability (p.725).

Some of the organisation rely, or need rely, not at all on closed authority. Like the voluntary
support and participation basis, so too the organisational structure is voluntarily maintained.
There is no hard authority, and no conspicuous authority problem.
Coercion, in this respect authority, is also open to objection on rational grounds. Namely,
ways of controlling, governing, or getting rational creatures

coercive methods are not

to do things. Rationality—not the undesirability and demeanment of force not, or not just,
freedom—is the ground of this objection.

The analysis of coercion admits of immediate fruitful application to (internal) criticisms of
anarchism. In the first place, it has been argued that anarchism does not avoid coercion but

incorporates coercive elements—which would render it inconsistent (as normally characterised).
Further, because of these coercive elements anarchism is incompatible with liberty, thereby
multiplying inconsistency, as liberty constitutes one of its main goals. These alleged problems
derive from the reliance of anarchism on public censure, and like methods, to control social
behaviour. According to Ritter, for example, who makes much of the second problem^,

anarchists have the following goals:
an (admirable) commitment to liberty, and a heavy reliance on public censure.

But these goals are incompatible. For such a 'social scheme relies so much on coercive public
(p.10, also p.l). However, the argument to incompatibility is invalid; it makes an illicit

insertion of 'coercive

(as the quote above illustrates; in fact the prejudicial slipping in of

and 'coercion

occurs right through Ritter's discussions; see e.g. p.25 top and

bottom). The social scheme as described involves only public censure in a free setting; such

censure does not imply coercion, as no use of force need be involved or even contemplated.

Secondly, connectedly, there is a widely exploited false dichotomy between voluntary and
coerced activity, under which it supposed that all activity which is not purely voluntary is

coerced. To the contrary, the range of actions is more satisfactorily diagrammed as follows:


coerced activity

In a first chapter short-tided 'Liberty and pubiic censure', particularly on a muddled p.2.

,u„ ZL..

hard pressured


soft pressured





In most standard arguments for the state only the outer bounds are considered.^ But
noncoercive methods can include a wide range of influenced or pressured actions, which are less

than entirely free.
The interesting argument that Dahl draws from anarchism, directed against the state, turns
upon on the undesirability, indeed the intrinsic badness, of coercion. In essence (leaving out

support offered for the premiss as) the argument is as follows:
Pl. M? one Zs obZZg#R?6? to -report or o&ey a


P2. A// sfafes ore coercive.
P3. Coercion Zs intrin-nca/Zy bnJ.
P4. A society wit/iont a state is a yeasi&Ze aitemative to a society with a state.
This conclusion derives fiom these premisses ('assumptions' as he calls them) Dahl draws Ave
conclusions' (p.41). As these are not the most direct or pointed conclusions, let us sharpen the
Cl. AZZ states are necessariiy &aJ.
^rom P2 and P3 (equivalently recast as: all coercive items are intrinsically bad items), given that
intrinsicaZZy so implies necessariZy so. Dahl prefixes Cl by the conjunct, 'because all states are
necessarily coercive'. Not only does Cl not require that support; we do not have it (e.g. in P2).

While coercion may be taken as defining of the state, or an essential characteristic of it, as Dahl
does, however states are defined it is continently true that all of them are coercive.

C2 No one has an o&ZZgahon fo, Zs o&ZZgafed to, to support or obey any state.
From Pl and Cl. Again Dahl unnecessarily prefixes his analogue of C2 (as for Cl above).

Insofar as political obligation is obligation to the state,

C2'. 77iere Zs no poZZtZcaZ obZZgatZon;
political obligation lapses.
Conclusions Cl and C2 specialize, because democratic states are states, to democratic
states (that is effectively Dahl's fourth conclusion, p42). Dahl, like Wolff, senses a democratic
escape through unaminity procedures, and reaches towards a fifth conclusion, which we will

P5. Unanimity decision practices (can) escape coercion.

See for instance Taylor's presentation of game-theoretic arguments.


P6. Democracy can operate through unanimity procedures.

These procedures and democracy are presumed to apply to some society, community or

prac/zc&y (can) escape -yfafcF.
C52. Democracy can operate wif/zoaf any .sfafe.
This last conclusion is interesting because Dahl regularly assumes, as against anarchism, that

democracy must operate through the state, and that democracy is therefore in compatible with
anarchism. As conclusion C52 reveals, these assumptions are astray, on grounds Dahl himself
supplies (the inadequacy of these assumptions will be independently investigated subsequently).

It is worth noting that, irrespective of the merit of premisses P5 and P6 (e.g. because unanimity
wears off, because of the rareness of unanimity), the conclusions do not follow without other
lesser presumptions. For C52 the transitivity of opcrafc wifAoMf (doubtfully a universal linkage)
is presumed, and perhaps some modal shuffles as well. For derivation of C51 from P5 what is

presumed is that what escapes coercion escapes the state, which requires a strengthened P2

(already encountered), that states necessitate coercion (as well as a little of the logic of
Dahl's third conclusion, after detachment of (three) because-clauses, is
C3D. A//
PMg/tf a?

A minimal inference scheme enabling derivation of C3D from previously derived statements is

P3D. where an item is necessarily bad and there is a feasible (less bad) alternative to that item,
the bad item ought to be abolished.
Then C3D follow from (strengthened) P3D.

These are important arguments, both for principled anarchists and for archists, and Dahl
rightly invests detailed study to certain of the premisses, those he imagines he can dispose of,
most notably P2 concerning the coerciveness of states. It is not that other premisses and steps

are not highly controversial; they are. The very first, Pl, yields at least the stock debate as to
whether one is obliged to support or obey a bad law; for a state can be viewed as a structure of
laws. Instead of an argument for Pl, Dahl offers a thumbnail history of its status, a genetic
'^justification". Other justifications there are, rendered easier if P2 is strengthened (as it may be

without upsetting the arguments dependent upon it) by replacing 'bad' by 'evil' or 'immoral'.

Then initial support for strengthened Pl is that political obligation, likewise legal obligation, is a
type of obligation, justified by considerations of obligation generally, and accordinging
triumphed by ethical obligation. The detailed arguments for these themes gets down to
fundamentals, to the justification of obligations through values. Briefly, obligations obtain only

towards items which normally exhibit a sufficient level of positive value. An item like an evil


that condition. So no obligation obtains towards such a state.


To escape such an outcome, archists contend that certain states are not evil, for instance
Dahl will claim that 'a democratic state is not an evil state" (p.40). Anarchists will by contrast
assemble a great deal of evidence that democratic states, like others, are evil (see next chapter).

The immediate issue is, however, whether states are evil in principle, by virtue of their coercive

features. Now Dahl does not contest 'so elementary a proposition" as P2, the universal
coerciveness of states. 'Like any state, a democratic state would use coercion to enforce
democratically enacted laws ..." Accordingly, to make his escape, Dahl is bound to dispute P3,
and does; coercion is instrumentally justified as a means 'essential to a good purpose , a
democratic state (p.40).
* As to supposed (second-rate) justifiability of coercion.

A conionplace claim, which Dahl advances, is
DI. Even though coercion is intrinsically bad, its use is sometimes (reasonably) justified
Which times?, on which occasions? will turn out to be a critical issue. As against Dahl, it will be

contended that its use is never woraZZy justified. However in moral dilemma situations, where
all other feasible alternatives have been exhausted, its use can be given a "secondary"" secondrate justification. Such a secondary justification, in very limited circumstances, gives no succour
to the state, which depends upon and makes widespread use of much more coercion. That is,
DI itself does not justify the sfaR?'.? use of coercion.
The first argument Dahl offers is overtly dilemmatic. There is a 'recalcitrant wrongdoer ,


who simply will not refrain from doing serious harm to others. Despite the
best efforts of his associates, neither reason, argument, persuasion, public
opinion, nor the final sanction of social octricism dissuades him from doing
harm. His associates finally conclude that he will persist in harming others
unless he is forcibly restrained or threatened with severe harm (that is,
coerced) (p.44).
Why should that stop him, threats in particular (it does not deter young alienated men in
contemporary states)? With ali due respect^the gentle best efforts cited by no means exhaust

nocoercive methods available.
But let us grant not merely that there are situations where coercion occurs (plainly it is

presently a frequent occurrence), but that there are dilemmatic situations where a person may
have no alternative in preventing violence but to resort to coercion, for instance in preventing or
limiting assault upon another, in self-defence, and so on. In such circumstances, 'coercion
would be employed—either by the wrongdoers or by those who restrained them" (p.44).

Granted, it is employed. The issues however are whether it is morally permissible, and who
may be justified. Certainly the wrongdoers are not justified, and what they do is impermissible.

More controversially, what the restrainers do is also morally impermissible; even so their actions
may be justified. Given the fixes they were in, where all alternatives were forbidden, still what


they did may be situationally justified, as a satisfactory actions in the dilemmatic
circumstances.*7 Such situational justification is not what Dahl and other consequentialists are

seeking; they want coercion justified without impermissibility strings attached. There is no

reason, or need, to accede to their desires.
Such a reasonable, and practiced, approach to moral dilemmas (which Dahl himself
subsequently takes in his discussion of whether to always obey laws of a democratic state p.4950) here escapes notice. And Dahl introduces two difficulties he incorrectly presumes fatal to

'alternative position ... [that] violence and coercion are absolutely forbidden" (p.45). Firstly,
given that coercion is employed, 'the position in self-contradictory". Wrong. For that coercion
occurs, whether perpetrated by wrongdoers or by those trying to prevent wrongdoers, does no?
imply that coercion is morally permissible (i.e. p -f Pp). Nor does the impermissibility of

incompatibles imply self-contradiction, for the covering deontic functors cannot be deleted (i.e.
-Pp & -P-p is no contradiction; of course given, what gets rejected, -Pq -* -q, contradiction
would ensure). Also wrong, then, is what Dahl takes to emerge from such self-contradiction,
no 'guidance for the most elementary choices", said to be an 'indefensible" position (p.95). For

coupled with the story concerning moral dilemmas are suggested procedures for making choices
(often far from elementary choices) from within the dilemmas. Secondly, Dahl wrongly
supposes that so rendering
coercion absolute makes it 'a supreme value that eliminates
all other ends" including justice, freedom, etc. It does not. No hierarchy of principles (or
values), this or another, is adopted, which is one reason why dilemmas occur. As in ordinary

ethical practice, ^he principles stand, they are not simply prima

they are not ranked, there

are no 'trade-offs".
It may have become apparent, what requires only a little between-lines interpretation, that

Dahl is playing a rather familiar utilitarian game underneath the surface moral concern. Render
'the objection to coercion as a means ... not absolute but contingent on consequences". So
weaken absolutist prohibitions on coercion and violence that generous room can be made for an

institution which routinely practices them, and to which we can trade up with consequential
advantage. Given that coercion occurs without the state, indeed may be quite widespread in the
absence of the state, then there might be gains in installing a coercive imitation 'to restrict [!] and

regulate coercion". Moreover, if 'on balance the gains from creating a state are likely to exceed
the costs, then from a utilitarian perspective it would be reasonable to opt for a state" (p.45).
There are two critical gaps in this utilitarian state-pleading. Firstly, impressive evidence

for the conditional antecedent that the gains from the state exceed the costs has never been
assembled, but rather evidence points in the opposite direction (as we shall see in the next

This controversial story has been told before, that for coercion resembles that already related for
violence. The general theory of moral dilemmas (in MD) is applied to the issue of violence,
control of pacifism (in WP TV).

chapter), so detachment from the antecedent is not warranted. Secondly, the performance even

of better states in

coercion is utterly unimpressive; these states foo amplify coercive

practices, do not regulate basic cases, and so on. The state appears to

exacerbate the

levels, both in extent and intensity, of coercion, over the low levels genuine moral dilemmas

would yield. It is unnecessary to contend, however, as Dahl asserts anarchists
contend, "that
if states did not exist coercion would soon disappear or decline to a tolerable level' (p.45). That
judgement, which is not exactly an 'empirical' one, depends very much on the character of
alternative societies. An individualistic society might enjoy high levels of coercion owing to the
activities of its public-like protective agencies. By contrast, a well-organised society may be
afflicted with comparatively little coercive behaviour, rendering Dahl's uncompleted utilitarian

argument extremely difficult to complete, ever.
Interlarded with the dulcet utilitarian approach, under which they beneficent, ^states will

provide us with all those promised superior values many millions are still awaiting — freedom,
justice, equality, and so on — lies a more sinister argument; that to the gangster state. That evil
state is not so far removed, some may think, from many states that are presently recognised.

Without the strong state, the gangster state looms, so Dahl insinuates. So adopt the state, or
worse will eventuate. That sort of decision theory argument (itself unpleasantly coercive and out

of the same big stable as utilitarianism) depends on some (derived) principle such as choose a
least bad alternative, and accordingly fails unless another independent argument to the state

succeeds. For otherwise superior stateless choices remain on offer. Yet nothing more than the

po&H&iZi/y that a small gang of wrongdoers may pool resources, andwhat results may evolve

into a "gangster state" is floated (similarly for claim 2, p47, that some group wng/tf manage to
create a highly oppressive state, which is as true in many a state as in stateless conditions).
There is a complex evolutionary path, with many obstacles and hitches, from a small gang,
through growing rival gangs and protection rackets, to a single one, and thence to a state. It is

moreover a path that is rather easily blocked at early stages in an organised society, as simple
counter examples show (one such example, that of the Inuit, Dahl introduces on the very next

Apart from the inconclusive utilitarian considerations, Dahl offers a further page, under the
boldface heading 'On the Need for the State' (a strikingly minimal effort in a book of about 400
pages most of which are premised on the assumption that the state is a needed item). He
concedes, what seems to put a large dent in his bold claim, that preliterate societies, like those of
the Inuit, have subsisted, over long periods, without the state. But that is past history, the world

has advanced, the state is here, there, and everywhere. Granted it is; that does not show it is

needed. Many gadgets that are now produced are not needed. Consider Dahl s reasons why a
return to societies without states is 'if not impossible, highly undesirable (p.46). First, the
world is already too densely populated to provide much space for autonomy (p.46, less than a


page after the utilitarian promise of a satisfactory state maximizing 'freedom and justice';

similarly p.51 etc.) But there are many regions where autonomy could undoubtedly be increased
by expansionary or imperial states backing off (not merely in East Timor, on the West Bank,
etc., but in the lands of the Inuit, the Micronesians, etc.). Further, the denseness of human
population, hardly affords a reason. For one thing, the excessive human population is highly
concentrated; most parts of the Earth carry, by comparison, sparse populations. For another,
autonomy does not depend, so directly, on available space. 'Thirdly, virtually the entire globe is

now already occupied by states'. Similar points apply: for instance, such an accomplished fact
does not establish a need, or the impossibility of change. While not true 'throughout recorded
history', but a very modem phenomenon, it is no doubt recently confingenfZy true that 'small

autonomous groups of people have been extraordinarily vulnerable to conquest and absorption
by larger states', and that it is presently doubtful that 'states would permit any small,
independent group to exist anywhere [much] on earth'. Such present yizcfo political power
relations do not demonstrate a need, still less impossibility of alternative, still less undesirability

of changes. Consciousness change could come very rapidly, furthermore, with a welcome

change in popular attitudes in large democratic states to oppression of minorities elsewhere (in
Europe this seems to be happening). These points also serve to destroy Dahl's second reason,

that 'a multiplicity of interdependencies cannot be snapped apart without enormous costs that
few people would accept.' The break-up of states in Eastern Europe shows that substantial
changes can occur very rapidly; the costs involved were much higher than they should have been
because of the attitudes of states, not attitudes of their peoples by and large. In sum, then, all

Dahl has accumulated is evidence of the repressive grip of the present regime of states, rendering
local change pragmatically very difficult. Such evidence does nothing to establish a need for
states, nothing at all to establish the undesirability of stateless societies.

Accordingly the main assumptions fail with which Dahl claims support his 'conclusion that
if woM/J

&^ff^r fo fry fo cr^afg a mfz^/acfory jfafe f/ian f/y io ^xAff in a .soci^fy wif%OMf o sfaf^'

(p.47). As it happens, the failed assumptions also fail to support such a conclusion—without
suppressed material, of the utilitarian cast already criticised. All the assumptions would indicate,

werf they granted, is the practical undesirability of trying to set up small stateless associations in
a regime of states like mot prevailing today exc^pf that the states are satisfactory. But the

assumptions should be scuttled.

* Aggfnsf Jowfnaffon
Domination is an important type of power relation. It is a comprehensive relation:

persistent over a period, not simply once-off or occasional, pervasive, extending over a range of
action and behaviour. It offers confro/ in a spread of cases. In such cases, if the dominator
exercises control (e.g. adjusts the appropriate controls, pulls requisite levers) then the dominated

normally responds. A significant form of control within extended human affairs is that of


command or ability to command. Of course the creature commanded, the servant, the
domesticated animal, the subdued or subjugated person, has to be able to understand what is
commanded. But domination operates in significant spheres where such conditions for
commanding do not obtain: in particular, but not only, in the domination of nature, its parts and
elements, such as animals that do not understand commands, biota that do not recognise
manipulation, and so on.

Domination originated with (what the etymology of the term reflects) lord-subjects and

master-servant relations, which remain paradigmatic for this power relation. It was soon and
easily extended to cover owner-slave relations, where control was much more extensive, God­
human relations, human-working animal relations, and so on. It has long covered parent­

children and husband-wife relations, as well as certain class relations; and as classes have
changed with political restructuring, industralisation and the rise of cities, so have domination

relations. Those of higher classes or castes tend to dominate those of lower ranking, similarly

for those higher in new hierarchies. Domination of nature and its parts is a relatively recent

addition to the varieties of domination, since the acclaimed success of "the war against Nature"
(still going on last century) before which technological humans (lacked the considerable level of

power they have now acquired over natural systems.^
An aim of softening or removing forms of domination links social and environmental
objectiv&with anarchism. These aims are united in green social anarchism. Opposition to all
forms of domination,
is yet another extension of certain types of anarchism, perhaps

incompatible with other types of anarchism (e.g. communal anarchisms which assume that
affairs should be organised along strict patriarchal lines, which accordingly not altogether

coherently oppose social archy only to retain or even reinforce a tribal or familial archy). There
may by now be some confusion concerning the variety of extensions of anarchism encountered.

More exactly these "extensions" are subextensions, which isolate the principle of some type or

key feature of anarchism and generalize it.

generalisation of
principled subtype

with distinguishing principle.

Intellectual vandals have been at work on dondnahon also, stretching it from a relation from
ensembles of actors, the dominators, to whole structures, systems or institutions (what might be
called by partial analogy with the vandalism worked on
.sTrHctund domination). Stretched
dominators include the capitalist economy, market forces, the economy, the state, and so on.
Under the stretching, /to (structural) dondnadon is said to imply, what straightforwardly is right
enough, no subordination of the people to market forces, or even, what is impossible to avoid in a
sophisticated society, no influences on members through the operation of its economy.




Richard Sylvan, “Box 17, Item 1005: Draft chapters of Towards green anakism: eucratic political investigations,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed April 23, 2024,

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