From the March 2006 Idaho Observer:

Positive Anarchy

by Hari Heath


When the word "anarchy" is mentioned, most of us envision mayhem in the streets; societal collapse; roving bands of bikers marauding the citizenry and no government to protect us. We have been conditioned to perceive anarchy this way. Such a scenario is among the definitions of anarchy: "Absence of government; state of society where there is no law or supreme power; lawlessness or political disorder."

Those who hold the reins of political power prefer that we think this way. If we think that the absence of government will result in lawless mayhem, they stay empowered. So the corporate, government, media collective frequently reinforces the programming—life without them would be terrifying.

But like most things in the inverted reality we live in, it’s not exactly true. In fact, we could be doing much better without most of government. There is another side to "anarchy," a positive anarchy which we can explore, but first: Is the present state of "government" a quasi-anarchy?

A contradiction in conduct

The founding of our nation was based on principles that have ceased to be operational. The unalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator are no longer the concern of government. Neither is establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty. This is evidenced by ample examples of governmental conduct, at home and abroad.

Contrasting the contents of government’s operational rule book, the Constitution, with the vast expanse of what pretends to be government, we see mostly lawlessness and political disorder. The present "government" is certainly not without its laws and a political system to create even more laws, but having exceeded their lawful authority, they are, in reality, lawless—a quasi-anarchy.

The hordes of agencies which currently surround us produce swarms of officers, which are sent hither to harass our people and eat out our substance. In many cases, roving bands of marauding bikers would be more welcome. They are at least honest about their intentions. The bikers will eventually move on, but government bureaucrats plan to make looting the public a career—with a retirement plan.

Ultimately, government is a force, emanating from the barrel of a gun. There are less oppressive options commonly used before the guns come out, but when government deems it necessary, the guns will come out. The primary policy of today’s government is to exert coercion and obtain compliance. Consent of the governed?

Consent of the governed

Consent of the governed is alive and well. The problem is how we are governed and what they do to obtain our consent. Most often, we are deemed to have consented when we fail to object to how they govern. When we fill out the form, accept the benefit or otherwise subscribe to their mandates, we have "consented" to be governed.

Like a problem child, government refuses to listen and is constantly seeking the next level of misdeeds that it can get away with. And like a negligent parent, we allow our child to get away with murder—literally.

When will it stop? Does government plan to have less agencies, "laws" or authority? Government is ever-growing and history says it will continue to do so until its oppression foments a revolution and we return to a state of complete anarchy.

Positive anarchy

The first impression in your mind at the mention of "anarchy" is likely to be images of mayhem and violence. There is a positive side to anarchy that our cursory minds probably haven’t considered. Imagine a society, living peacefully, in a voluntary, cooperative association, where each individual is free to pursue his dreams, impeded only by their respectful responsibility towards each other’s pursuits and dreams. Does that fit the programming that your mind associates with "anarchy?"

Those who fear anarchy the most—government and its corporate comrades—and have the most to lose—their livelihoods and all the power they can usurp—have programmed the fear of anarchy in the public’s mind. What are the definitions of the other side of anarchy that governments fear?


"At its best it pertains to a society made orderly by good manners rather than law."

"A political theory, which would dispense with all laws, founding all authority on the individual conscience."

"A theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principle mode of organized society."


"The theory that all forms of government interfere unjustly with individual liberty and should be replaced by the voluntary association of cooperative groups."

"Political theory that all forms of government and governmental restraint are morally wrong and must be abolished if absolute individual and social liberty is to be achieved."

"A doctrine urging the abolition of government or governmental restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty."

Is this the anarchy that we have all come to know and fear? Is there anything wrong with the absence of coercive government, voluntary association of cooperative groups and absolute individual and social liberty? A bit utopian perhaps, but the principles deserve more consideration and, wherever possible, implementation. This is what our "government" fears.

Our nation’s founders envisioned and intended to form a limited government; a near anarchy with minimal coercive powers and a maximum of individual and social liberty. But we have not kept it. Our problem-child government is now getting away with murder and countless other felonies—with all the immunity and impunity that our spoiled brat has come to expect and demand.

Voluntary society

Leaving aside any discussion of how we might properly discipline our problem child and send him back to his room (the Constitution) until he agrees to reform his conduct and abide by the rules of the house (our nation), we have important questions for which we must find answers:

Is American humanity ready for a voluntary society with absolute individual and social liberty? Is our primary fault yielding our personal responsibility and power to government? Would most people be responsible if there were no government to be irresponsible for them? Do Americans have the intellectual gravity, moral foundations and intestinal fortitude to make it on their own—in the absence of coercive government?

There are two anarchies. The question of which one will prevail depends on what kind of people we are and what we will endeavor to become. On the one hand, is the belief correct that human nature at its base level is rapine, murderous and looting? Or, are most people basically decent, and left to their own resources, will they build a better world for themselves, their neighbors and their posterity?

We need not define anarchy—it will define us, by whether we continue with a lawless, coercive government or create a voluntary society of individual and social liberty.

A brief history of anarchy

Anarchy is not merely a description of an occasional human condition. Anarchism was a movement that began to emerge, with varying degrees and forms, along with communism, socialism, capitalism and the other "isms" as the reign of monarchies began to fade into human history. Columbia Encyclopedia (1963) briefly describes the history of anarchism:

"Theory that equality and justice are to be sought through the abolition of the state and the substitution of free arrangements between functional and territorial groups. Capitalism and private property, considered limitations on the freedom of the personality, would be abolished. Necessary production would be carried on by decentralized, freely associating groups. Anarchism differs from SOCIALISM in considering the state an intrinsic evil. Zeno of Citium, founder of Stoic philosophy, is regarded as the forefather of anarchism. It is important to distinguish the philosophic and literary school of anarchism from that which has a political tendency and even a program. The philosophy of modern political anarchism was outlined in the 18th and 19th centuries by William Godwin, P. J. Proudhon, and others. Bakunin attempted to orient the First International towards anarchism, but was defeated by Marx. Bakunin gave modern anarchism a collectivist and violent tone that has persisted despite the revisionary efforts of Kropotkin and Leo Tolstoy. Political anarchism in Russia was suppressed by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. Anarchism’s only real mass following was in Latin countries, where its doctrines were often combined with those of SYNDICALISM, especially in Spain. In the United States early anarchists such as Josiah Warren were associated with cooperatives and utopian colonies. Violent doctrines were introduced from Europe and, after the Haymarket riot in Chicago in 1886 and the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, a Law was passed forbidding anarchists from entering the country. The execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927 attests to the fear of anarchism in America. As an organized movement anarchism is well-nigh dead, but it retains importance as a philosophical attitude and a political tendency."

Human beings have attempted to organize many different kinds of political systems. There is a tendency among a few people to entice and coerce people to yield their personal power and authority to various schemes of collective government. If left to follow their course long enough, most end up debased and subverted into some manner of oppressive regime by usurpation. Humanity then suffers the evils of such abuse until such evils become insufferable and, by force, the people terminate such coercive collectives.

Worth a try?

Positive anarchy, with a policy prohibiting the existence of any coercive collective, could be humanity’s answer for future self-government. It may not be a perfect system, and we may not be ready to assume the personal responsibility intrinsically associated with liberty, but at least it deserves a try. As Mae West said, "whenever I am confronted with the choice between two evils, I like to choose the one I haven’t tried yet."

The evil we have is a government showing us no limits to the horrors that it will perpetuate in the name of government. Government is a force, ultimately emanating from the barrel of a gun. Government IS a terrorist organization!

Positive anarchy offers "good manners rather than law, founding all authority on the individual conscience; the absence of all direct or coercive government and the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principle mode of organized society." Its fundamental principle is "that all forms of government and governmental restraint are morally wrong and must be abolished if absolute individual and social liberty is to be achieved."

The evil of positive anarchy is that WE may not be ready to live in freedom and responsibility.

Are you ready for anarchy?

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