Tuesday, September 30, 2014

About anarchy outreach

Not too long ago I went out to lunch with a long time friend and after catching up we talked about a little philosophy. He was interested in anarchist philosophy that I had been reading but had a lot of hesitation about the idea of a society without a government. This being my first time trying to convince someone of anarchy who wasn't already predisposed to the idea, I had a good deal of trouble and it ended up being slightly awkward. I approached it in a way of trying to clear away his objections to the idea of an anarchist society one by one, but got stuck on trying to convince him how defense would work in a free society. I got flustered and did not effectively explain how a free society could provide for defense.


After thinking about the approach I ended up taking, I would like to try a different tact in the future. Instead of trying to convince him directly that anarchy is the best system, I think I should have approached the problem by showing him, first of all, that governments currently do a bad job at providing defense and then that government will not improve. Going about it the way I did was sort of like trying to convince someone to take chemo-therapy without first showing them that, hey, they have cancer and also that the pills they think are helping are actually laced with arsenic. Trying to show that a free society would work based on my ideas and views runs directly counter to a free society’s lack of rulers and deciders. It is better to approach the problem by showing that the current system does not and cannot work, and then to state clearly how one possible solution could function when they ask for a solution and evidence.


  1. Listen to their concerns. Whether it is defense, the poor, education, or scientific research; I know I will never reach through to anyone unless I can first understand what their most pressing concerns are and show empathy with those goals.
  2. Show how governments ignore those concerns. I know that no one will ever be open to an idea of a free society if it requires them to give up on a cause that is very important to them. The idea of solving problems must be decoupled from the idea of government action.
  3. Offer free society solution examples and evidence. People are rational and want to see evidence and a cohesive theory for the alternative I am proposing. I see real world examples all around. Examples will help build their confidence in anarchist theory.
  4. Repeat. They will have a list of concerns of descending importance, so I will take the time to approach all of their concerns and questions, even if it means getting a second hot chocolate. I will listen and take to heart their criticisms in order to grow intellectually.


If you are an anarchist/an-cap/agorist/mutualist/… what concerns have you talked to others about and how did it go?

If you are a democrat/libertarian/republican/independent/green/socialist/communist/… what concerns come to your mind when you hear about having a society without a government?

5 comments:

  1. Hey, man. Thoughtful post. I like it.

    I think anarchism is interesting, but am only passingly familiar with the concepts. What would you recommend as some good philosophy to get into for someone looking to learn more about theories of anarchism?

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    1. So I was starting to look over things I had read in the past to come up with a list of links to send you to, and then I realized that doing so would mean that I would have ignored what I just wrote in this post.

      What have your read or heard about anarchy philosophy before? (So I don't waste your time linking you things you have read before)

      What would, in your opinion/ethics, be the ideal purpose or function for a government?

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  2. My opinions are largely unformed in this regard. I've read the wikipedia article. I've come into passing contact with anarchism through studying the Spanish civil war and the previous unrest in Barcelona (though a lot of this has to do with illegalism) and the various anarchist organizations involved there... I once met some anarchists from Baltimore who assured me that, if I were an anarchist, I would almost certainly be a collectivist. I recently read Ursula K. LeGuin's book The Disposessed that deals with an anarchist society in space.

    I also saw the Art of Not Being Governed in your blogroll and went over there for a look. I found it intriguing, if somewhat uneven. (Today's post, for instance, seemed absurdly propagandist for an article arguing against statism).

    Other than that, pretty much tabula rasa. Just looking for a starting point.

    Thanks!

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  3. I started writing out a reply and it ended up getting pretty long. I decided to make a blog post out of it in case someone else might find it useful.
    http://anarchydice.blogspot.com/2014/10/an-introduction-to-anarchy.html

    I actually don’t remember why I followed Art of Not Being Governed, that blog has not show up in my blogger reading list for a while. Reading some of the recent posts, I completely agree with you about them being uneven. At the very least, they are not very helpful to engage someone who doesn't already subscribe to anarchism.

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    1. Yeah, the post from the other day was structured very much as advice for arguing against a commonly-held straw-man statist, rather than convincing a proto-anarchist about the ills of statism.

      But at the same time, I found some very useful posts about what to bring/how to dress for a protest, which I found quite practical (though I've never been to one, so really have no actual measure.)

      Anyway, I'll check out that post.

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