Submitted by ziq in Anarchism (edited )

In response to this (sarcastic) comment:

And informed by this earlier statement by the same user:

A hierarchy is an artificial construct that depends on the principle of authority.

Authority is the socially-enforced rule that the ruler in a hierarchical relationship gives commands and the subordinate obeys under threat of (legitimized) violence.

Authority is a violent act. It has nothing to do with the act of rendering aid to a child; feeding them or preventing them from falling into a pool and drowning.

A parent-child relationship needn't be a hierarchy unless you construct it as such.

If I offered my boss a meal, or saved them from drowning, I wouldn't be exercising authority over them. That action doesn't create a hierarchy.

But just by being my boss, they are constantly exercising authority over me and I'm constantly their subordinate. I am ruled by them. I am constrained by the boss-worker hierarchy.

Authority is a deliberate social construct that divides people into either rulers or obeyers; using violence and the notion of "morality" to maintain this coercive system. Talking back to your boss, refusing their authority: That's a big 'moral' no no. Society uses that to uphold the oppressive dynamic and to keep you controlled and obedient.

"Voluntary" hierarchies? They're merely an excuse for perpetrating structural violence that is legitimized by appealing to authority.

That is the opposite of anarchy; it's archy.

Parenting is only hierarchical when parents choose to force their authority on their child.

An anarchist parent uses child-rearing methods that treat the child as an autonomous individual and not as a subordinate to their authoritarian demands.

Anarchist parents see themselves as caretakers, not authorities, and legitimizing parental authority with the excuse of "justifiable hierarchy" is a scapegoat. It's not justified. Using violent coercion to control children is not anarchy.

"Justifiable hierarchy" is a fundemental misunderstanding of anarchy that needs to be thrown out before it further dillutes our (really very easily defined) objectives.

We tend to overthink things and that leads to mountains of round-about revisionist theory that only detracts from anarchy and leaves people confused about what even our most basic objectives are.

Every oppressive political ideology considers the hierarchies they enable to be justifiable. Anarchists know better.

Anarchy is, was and always will be the outright rejection of hierarchy.

When you compromise and make excuses to construct hierarchies; what you're practicing is no longer anarchy.



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ergdj5 wrote

What about temporary leadership/authority, let's say a film director

Just a minor point there- some of the best scenes in movies are done by the actors outside of any script. This is another case of 'listen to the authority on the subject, but they are not an authority over you', e.g. listen to the architect but he isn't one to order you.


ziq OP wrote

The director needn't be any more of an authority than anyone else working on a film.

Ideally it would be an equal collaboration between various artists and technicians.

The idea of a director enforcing their 'vision' on everyone else involved in the production doesn't need to be taken for granted.

The others should have a voice regarding their part in the process and anyone that refuses them that voice is an authoritarian.

Directing a scene is one task among many. A director has a role to play. How the role is played isn't written in stone.

Who says there even needs to be one director? Some directors are great at giving direction to actors while others are better with the technical or visual aspects.

Why not 3 directors? 6 directors? Maybe even abandon the 'director' role altogether and try to replace it with something more equitable and collaborative.

There's no reason a film can't be created with a horizontal process.

But film is already a big collaboration between hundreds of people. If someone really wanted their singular vision to be the only thing that ended up on the screen, they'd have to be the only person involved in the production. Write it, shoot it, score it, edit it themselves and act out all the parts.


Brick wrote (edited )

The "against all unjustified hierarchies" definition of anarchy is a fallacy. It could just as easily apply to any political group, for instance:

Monarchists: "hierarchy is justified by divine right, royal blood, hereditary titles, the size of your armies, the bounty your ships can plunder."

Republicans: "hierarchy is justified by the so-called 'consent' of the governed, borders, nationality."

Ancaps: "hierarchy is justified by 'voluntary' (ha) choice, property ownership, ability to earn wealth."

Fascists: "hierarchy is justified by racial purity, nationality, military might."

So how are anarchists different from all these believers in 'justified hierarchy'? It's simple: We reject all attempts to justify hierarchies.

We oppose being ruled altogether, we don't simply request less rulers be placed over us.

Anarchy is a total lack of any hierarchy, rulers, or authority. We see all these things as unjustified.

If you decide some hierarchy is justified, you've stopped being an anarchist and are using the descriptor in bad faith.


ziq OP wrote (edited )

Raddle is a website that, like all websites, exists on a vertical system that operates along the same lines as private property.

As long as one person is required to 'own' the domain and pay for server usage, and be held accountable legally for said ownership; it's not able to be truly horizontal.

But since we're anarchists, we still go out of our way to make raddle as flat and collaborative as technically possible; implementing moderation transparency, foss sourcecode, admin & mod accountability, elections, and even a form of direct democracy - which goes against my best instincts because it allows anonymous people to vote against anarchy.

But in the end it's still a website operating on a vertical platform. It's not attempting to be some kind of model communist society and it shouldn't be expected to function as anything other than a modern zine or infoshop.

Like any zine that exists under capitalism; the publisher has to pay for licensing and rent and distribution and so on.

People that expect raddle to be some kind of utopian commune or a living mural to their ideology are misguided. It's just a discussion forum.

There's no real authority here. Sure there's a publisher, editors, writers and readers. But everyone can come and go as they please or make their own postmill instance.

As the publisher, I have no actual authority over anyone here. I'm not your boss or your ruler.

Websites are certainly hierarchies because they are owned by people who can pull the plug if they decide to, but it's not a particularly oppressive hierarchy since you're not forced to read the site the way you're forced to work or go to school.

Others would use the term "horizontal hierarchy", which if it's horizontal it isn't a hierarchy, what's your opinion on that term?

I think it's entirely useless, the same way a cherry pie with no cherries in it is.


ziq OP wrote (edited )

The hierarchy of me being able to pull the plug on the site isn't justified at all. But we exist under a capitalist system and the only anarchist way to deal with that is to create tools that can mirror all of raddle's content to other servers, or otherwise decentralize the content. Then hope the owners of those servers don't pull the plug.

Right now a few trusted people have access to the database backups, so they could restore the site in the event of my death if they chose to.


PerfectSociety wrote

What about temporary leadership/authority,

A couple things:


The slash doesn't belong there. Leadership and Authority aren't the same things. Our Pre-Neolithic Immediate-Return Hunter-Gatherers had leaders, but did not have authority/hierarchy.

let's say a film director, it's generally their vision that is followed. Would that make it a hierarchy or just a group of people freely associating under the vision of the director?

Depends on whether others who partake in making the film have chosen (outside of a hierarchical context) to go with the director's vision or not.

From what you wrote, I believe you wouldn't call it a hierarchy because it's freely associating but then what do you call the structure itself?

A free association.


ziq OP wrote

Yes. Forcing authority on anyone is best avoided. So avoid it. Being embarassed by their tantrum isn't justification to use force.

..Or don't avoid it but be aware that you're manifesting archy; not anarchy.


ziq OP wrote

We don't live in a perfect world.

Anarchists living in industrial capitalist nation states are forced to make decisions like that everyday. Every time we go to work or walk down a street we're subjecting ourselves to archy.

In a perfect world we wouldn't need to deny a child anything. In a perfect world a child wouldn't feel the need to manipulate you into buying a lump of plastic.

We don't live in a perfect world.

Just strive to do your best to avoid creating more archy.


ziq OP wrote

I still see no reason you need to force the kid to come with you. Just say you're not buying it, walk away and they'll follow. If they cry, they cry. No law against crying.


ziq OP wrote (edited )

I wasn't trying to suggest leaving the building without the child. In my experience (with nephews tho and not living in a police state like the US) if you say you're leaving, they follow. But this post was never meant to be parenting advice and I kinda wish I had never got into this pointless rhetorical question comment chain.

All I wanted to do was talk about the definition of anarchy. In practice, living anarchy isn't always doable because of personal danger. Anarchy is the ideal but compromises always happen when we try to survive in a screwed up world.


notmy_realname wrote (edited )

This may be a dumb, or at least uniformed, question, but can you explain what you mean by hierarchy? I don't think I understand what people mean when they say they are against all hierarchy. I'm going to pose a hypothetical which may seem like a trick question, but after trying for a while to think of a hypothetical which doesn't seem like a trick question, this is the best I came up with. Hopefully it can clarify for me what people mean when they say they are against all hierarchy.

Let's say there is a group of people on an island, Group A, living together in a way they all find agreeable. Group B wants to invade the island and take all the bananas from the island, and agrees to work together to do so. Group A is against this idea, and agrees to fight against Group B. For both Groups A and B, can you explain whether they are acting in support of a hierarchy, and why or why not?

My reason for giving this hypothetical is that I think in this situation both sides would see their own interests as being "anti-hierarchy", in that they are both attempting to quash the other side's rule over the bananas, but both sides obviously can't be right, so I'd like to know how someone who has obviously thought more about what hierarchy means thinks about a situation like this.


ziq OP wrote

So group B don't live on the island and are invading it to steal group A's food (and kill them if they get in their way)?

Then group B are invaders, aggressors. Group A need the bananas to survive. Defending their home and their survival is self defense.

Group B are trying to implement a hierarchy where they can invade other people's home and take their food by force. They will colonize and kill and probably enslave the islanders. B are pro-hierarchy for sure. A are just defending themselves from invasion.


RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

I think many here are a little confused. There is hierarchy in raising a child, but the hierarchy between child and parent is considerably different from that of the one imposed by the State.

While the adult holds a position of leadership/authority, granting him/her the ability to make many decisions regarding the upbringing of their child, it's not the same kind of hierarchy as the State or as Corporations, where you have situations like Jeff Bezos, who has enough money that he could give $50,000 dollars to every one homeless person in American (which is estimated at 553,742) give 100,000 students a full ride to Harvard, covering four years of tuition, room, board, textbooks, and everything else, buy the entire gross national product of Iceland for a year, fund every US National Park for ten years, give every Amazon worker a $20,000 bonus, end world hunger, and after doing all that, he'd be left with $3.5 billion dollars, making him not only significantly richer than most people, he's sufficiently richer than a lot of other billionaires.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos's workers are barely scraping by on minimum wage, with many on some form of government assistance, pooping in bags and peeing in bottles in a desperate effort to keep up with the punishing pace set by their employers, and many are virtually homeless, due to being unable to cover rent or travel. There was an article in the UK Independent talking about how many of their Scotland workers are camping in tents in the woods near the warehouses, because they don't have the money to travel to and from work.

This kind of hierarchy is far different from the parent-child kind. In our world, if the parent lived in absolute luxury, sleeping in a massive mansion with god-only-knows-how-many rooms and bathrooms, eating gold leaf and wagyu beef every night for dinner, while their child spends their days and nights sleeping in in an uninsulated closet and finds food by digging through garbage cans, we would call that neglect and the child would be taken away and given to parents who aren't colossal assholes.

Then again, my vision of an anarchic society, is that there isn't one massive society that's identical across the board, but many different kinds with a wide variety of beliefs and customs, or in other words, tribal-band style living. The tribes would form loose Iroquois Confederation-style alliances, but will mostly do their own thing. The children in these societies would be raised in a communal fashion where while the child knows who their mom and dad is, they are also cared for by the other adults in the tribe, because again, all evidence points towards humans being wired for tribal-band style living.

Sorry everybody. I swear I had no intention of making this post so damn long. A spigot was turned and I wound up having more to say than I thought.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

Then again, my vision of an anarchic society, is that there isn't one massive society that's identical across the board, but many different kinds with a wide variety of beliefs and customs, or in other words, tribal-band style living. The tribes would form loose Iroquois Confederation-style alliances, but will mostly do their own thing.

My thinking has been trending towards anarchist ideas. But I wonder if these individual tribal-bands will be at a higher risk than broader hierarchical corrupt society towards all forms of bigotry and related abuses?

You could have NiceLittle Village but then down the road is BurnTheGaysTown and further up is HangLatinosVille and across the river signs for "Welcome to FemaleGenitalMutilationBurg". We know there are cases of small, primitive tribal groups with surprisingly nice social structures. But savagery exists in small independent groups too.

How do you guard against that in a non-hierarchical way?


ziq OP wrote (edited )


There's so much wrong with that word.


Stopping fascists from killing people doesn't create a hierarchy. They're the ones building the hierarchy (where being gay renders you subhuman), you're the one breaking the hierarchy and restoring equality and anarchy.


RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

If you'd studied any decent anthropology, you'd know that most indigenous people managed to take care of each other and live quite comfortably without a massive state-imposed hierarchy. In fact, the State as we know it, with its size, hierarchies, and massive inequalities, didn't really come into being until about 10,000 years ago, but Homo sapiens have existed for at least 100,000 years. So somehow for 90,000 years, we managed to live relatively peaceful lives without a State.

Somehow we managed to regulate ourselves and take care of our own and we'd manage to do so again. Despite all the doom and gloom on the news, extensive evidence says that humans are inherently wired for altruism; we want to be good and take care of each other. Studies with babies and toddlers have proven that it's a trait that kicks in fairly early.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

I'm saying that without an evil hierarchy connecting communities, any individual community can be suborned by bad ideas and the other anarchist communities have voluntarily given up the right to intercede.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

But these indigenous people often had sexist practices and other forms of intolerance. And there was tribal warfare long before modern states existed.

We didn't have mass slaughter until the State existed. So it's probably fair to argue that pre-State independent groups were better. But that doesn't take us far enough to argue that pre-State independent groups were good.


RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

And that's a bad thing how? So long as the actions of a community don't spill over and affect other communities, I fail to see how not interceding is a bad thing. Once it does spill over and affect other communities, then they have the right to deal with it, but again, any alliances will be loose ones. Most of the indigenous societies enjoyed less warfare and with women being roughly on equal footing with the men in the group.

I have a feeling you're one of those types who believe that humans are inherently brutish and cruel, but truth doesn't bear that out. Despite all the wargle-bargle about how people will riot in the face of a disaster, the truth is only a small percentage of bad seeds riot. The rest of the population band together and do what they can to help each other get through the situation. And often the population manages to organize themselves, decide who does what, and what needs to be done, without a lot of help from the State and without needing to brutally enforce their rule.

Again, for all the Survival of the Fittest talk, humans are inherently wired for altruism and empathy. And really, in the long run, altruism wins out. Yeah, looting and pillaging gets you plenty in the short-term, but the person who utilizes that strategy, pretty much can never relax their grip on power; if they show a moment of weakness, their people/enemies will take advantage of it.

Since mortality is the fact of the human condition (a person will get sick, hurt, and old, regardless of how strong they may be), eventually they will be in a position of vulnerability, needing the help of others. And there is a basic rule: piss off enough people and eventually some of them will come looking for you. Again, how many people would be willing to stick out their necks to help this asshole when things get rough for him.

If we must use the Survival of Fittest logic, if a style of living/beliefs work for a community, then the community will survive/prosper. If said beliefs are in fact terrible ones, then the community will collapse with the survivors probably opting to join other communities.

In any case, basic knowledge of nature is that diversity is strength. Having many different ways of living works better than our current One-Size-Fits-All standard which has only managed to keep going as long as it has because until recently, there were always new lands to expand to with new resources to exploit. The problem is now, Industrial Civilization has effectively expanded to every corner of the globe; there are no more new lands to exploit. It's keeping itself going by cannibalizing other Capitalist nations, but there's an obvious flaw in that strategy.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

In Africa there are small, independent, communal tribal groups still performing female genital mutilation. Are you making the argument that allowing that to continue is better than intervening?

I understand that altruism is innate and many communal groups have lots of morally desirable behavior. But I strongly suspect that, for example, the patriarchy that permeates modern society didn't arise from nothing when the first hierarchies were formed. It was a continuation of patriarchy that already existed. There are plenty of well-known examples of primitive low technology communities without sexism, but there are plenty more - the majority, as far as I understand it - where it was prevalent. And it was prevalent despite countless thousands of years of freedom from large scale hierarchy like we have today.


RedEmmaSpeaks wrote (edited )

I'm curious as well. After all, Vietnam and the current War on Terror prove how easy it is to defeat an ideology via military violence. FGM is terrible, but I fail to see how intervention, sweeping in, guns blazing, and taking over, would solve it. I suppose he could mean nonviolent solutions like spreading education, but I doubt it. Usually when people use the word "intervention," they are almost invariably referring to military solutions.

Though the simplest and best answer is edmund has no basic knowledge of anthropology or tribal society like at all.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

I'm not sure. I don't want to fall into the military-industrial trap of "invade, that will fix everything" or even just the general political trap of "just do something, the important thing is to have the appearance of trying to solve the problem".

But "ignore it, and hope the problem will resolve itself" has not worked for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years - how old is the practice? So I see no evidence that non-intervention will ever solve the problem.


edmund_the_destroyer wrote

As I wrote to BigGeorge, I'll repeat here. I'm not sure what kind of intervention is appropriate. But I think if non-intervention and allowing the existing society to evolve on its own was going to fix the problem, it would have happened centuries ago.

Even spreading educational material is a far cry from anarchist non-intervention. Isn't it?


RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

It is a horrible practice, but at the same time, no one can police the whole world and it's a foolish thing to try; it amplifies problems, not solves them. About the only intervention I would suggest is spreading educational materials and providing a haven to anyone fleeing said abuses. Any other, like I said, would only exacerbate the problem and the people who would be in the most danger in that situation, are women and children because those are the most vulnerable populations in any conflict.

Like I said, I focused my concerns primarily on military options because most of the time, when people talk about intervention, unless they're talking about a drug-addicted relative, they mean some kind of military effort.