The role of the state

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Mon Oct 19 06:34:13 PDT 1998

It seems to me that gatherers and hunters had property in the sense that they had rules about the relationships between people and their means of production, but these property rules were not private property rights. There was communal property.

Charles Brown

>>> Brett Knowlton <brettk at> 10/16 7:44 PM >>>
I don't understand this idea that anarchism is somehow utopian, especially sense it is virtually impossible to define exactly what anarchism represents. Anarchists have a lot of similar beliefs and ideas, but I'm not aware of a common vision of a bright future that they all share. Perhaps some proposed versions of anarchist societies have had some utopian aspects, but I don't see why this applies to anarchists generally.

I really like Chomsky's take on anarchism. He answers that anarchists try to identify and abolish unjustified authoritarian structures, whether economic, political, or whatever. This is a simple guiding principle which can be used to compare two societies and to measure, in a rough sense, which one is better. It is also a good practical guide since it suggests ways to move society towards a more anarchistic, i.e. less authoritarian and more free, state.

BTW, most (if not all) anarchists are opposed to property rights, and for good reason. Property rights bestow arbitrary authority to owners over the non-owners. As for their necessity, humans societies existed long before property rights. Property rights simply didn't exist in hunter-gatherer societies.

Granted, society is much different now - but it isn't clear to me what developments have made property a necessity for human society to function. And examples abound of how property rights lead to exploitation and immiseration of a majority of the population. The burden of proof falls on those who support property rights to justify that support.


At 02:26 PM 10/16/98 -0700, you wrote:
>>Aren't anarchists just unwashed libertarians. That is, anarchists and
>>libertarians have the same view of the state, they just wear different
>>uniforms in other areas, like personal wealth accumulation.
>I don't think so. Libertarians of the Rand ilk have the utopian belief that
>everyone will respect private property rights if we got rid of the state's
>coercion (avoiding the Hobbesian war of each against all). On the other
>hand, the anarchists of the left wing have the utopian belief that property
>rights (private or otherwise) aren't necessary. The libertarians believe
>that greed is good (to quote Gordon Gekko in the flick WALL STREET) but
>believe that people will rationally stop being greedy when it comes to
>respecting the rights of others. Anarchists believe that greed is bad and
>that everyone will just stop being greedy.
>Probably no-one lives up to the stereotypes described above. The pure
>libertarians have been corrupted by Milton Friedmaniac common sense, while
>the pure anarchists have been corrupted by the socialists.
>Jim Devine jdevine at &

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