[lbo-talk] Wacko/Sherman (was Re: Brit general says . . . .)

J. Tyler unended at sbcglobal.net
Sun May 6 11:39:00 PDT 2007

Tayssir John Gabbour wrote:

> Then maybe the anarchist FAQ you linked to should be clarified. It claims:
> "Some argue that as long as an association is voluntary, whether
> it has an hierarchical structure is irrelevant. Anarchists
> disagree."
> <http://www.spunk.org/texts/intro/faq/sp001547/secA2.html#seca28>
> It explained hierarchy:
> "Control in a hierarchy is maintained by coercion, that is, by the
> threat of negative sanctions of one kind or another: physical,
> economic, psychological, social, etc. Such control, including the
> repression of dissent and rebellion, therefore necessitates
> centralisation: a set of power relations in which the greatest
> control is exercised by the few at the top (particularly the head
> of the organisation), while those in the middle ranks have much
> less control and the many at the bottom have virtually none.
> "Since domination, coercion, and centralisation are essential
> features of authoritarianism, and as those features are embodied
> in hierarchies, all hierarchical institutions are
> authoritarian. Moreover, for anarchists, any organisation marked
> by hierarchy, centralism and authoritarianism is state-like, or
> "statist." And as anarchists oppose both the state and
> authoritarian relations, anyone who does not seek to dismantle all
> forms of hierarchy cannot be called an anarchist."

But hierarchy is not equivalent to authority. The FAQ defines hierarchy as "a pyramidally-structured organisation composed of a series of grades, ranks, or offices of increasing power, prestige, and (usually) remuneration." In a hierarchy, it is not a person's expertise that gives him authority but his rank, or the slot he fills in this free-standing, artificial structure. Anarchists view sheer rank within any hierarchy as illegitimate. (A person's rank may or may not correspond in some way to his expertise, but his rank alone is never entitled to deference.) This does not prohibit a principled anarchist from accepting a doctor's "authority" as to the best course of action with respect to his illness due to the doctor's learned expertise. In other words, my following a doctor's "orders" would not violate the anarchist principle of opposing illegitimate authority. The same would apply to a person who has studied mechanical engineering and thus may be entitled to legitimate deference with respect to the construction of a bridge.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list