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Anarchism - Ed's journal
sobrique
sobrique
Anarchism
Those of you who don't play EVE will have very little interest in alliance politics. They're quite interesting, but only when you have context. That's not what I'm posting about though.
One thing that EVE does, is provide a playground - a sort of sandbox, where people can make of it what they choose. That's part of why I still play. In the recent times (18 months or so) I've been in an Alliance called Star Fraction.

Star Fraction is a roleplay alliance, and it draws somewhat from a book - called 'The Star Fraction' oddly enough.

But not in the way you see in most homages, where you have a bunch of people in EVERY damn game called some variant of Aragorn, Arag0rn 4ragorn, Aragron, Aragon etc. (Point of note - it is good for your karma to victimize anyone who's blatantly ripped off another character).

But Star Fraction is a bit more complicated - it's not really pilfering from the storyline of the book, as much as the ideology.
If I use the word 'Anarchy' then in most people, your mind will immediately leap to the perjorative definition - chaos following the collapse of a state.
So we tend to stray into Anarchism instead. Anarchism is the political philosophy of an anarchic society - one which consider 'the state' to be unnecessary, harmful or otherwise undesirable.

It doesn't preclude 'structure'. It doesn't say 'no organisations', 'no leaders' it just says - no _mandatory_ leader. No 'state' - it just makes you personally responsible for your choices. You choose to be a member of a group, multiple groups, or no groups. You choose to align with people - temporarily for a common goal. It makes no specific moral judgement, nor underlying principle - it just observes that laws and morals are only as strong as your ability to enforce them.
The key principle is that you do not get to abdicate _any_ responsiblity for your choice - you just get to make them, as you see fit. If you see something you don't like and you think is wrong, then you go and change it. Find a group of like minds - as many as you need - and assert your moral authority as you see fit. Or don't, and accept the status quo, but don't for a moment assume it's because there's 'nothing you can do about it'.

It's a sort of interesting notion. I'm never quite sure how it would pan out in the 'real world' - it takes a certain specific set of starting conditions to work out, and the primary one is that individuals must be able to hold power equal to the state - including armaments.

But at the same time, I don't actually think it's all that bad a way to live - don't assume there are 'self evident truths' or 'unassailable rights' - decide what you believe, and stand up for it. Try to convince the world that you are right, by whatever means you see fit. Leave the 'law' to one side as one of the potential consequences for your choices, but don't assume 'justice' is an immutable monolith. Assisted suicide is one that's recently cropped up - you need to think about the legal implications, but many people feel that it's ok (ISTR there was a survey and there was a majority who were supportive of it, subject to proper scrutiny, but I can't be bothered to find some supporting evidence) - in the right circumstances - despite being against the letter of the law.

It strikes me as a simple and yet pragmatic philosophy - choose as you see fit, and be prepared to pay the price for your choice.
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Comments
chess From: chess Date: February 16th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
A major problem with such systems: most of the time you actually end up paying for _other people's_ choices, not for _your_ choice.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 16th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you mean in the sense of enforcing your will as you see fit? So if I decided I should own all of Coventry, and got together a cadre who agreed, then there would be collateral damage?
Yes, that's so. I think though, that's not so very different - right now, we're paying the price for government fiscal policy, foreign policy and whatnot.
queex From: queex Date: February 16th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most discussions of anarchism, feudalism, Randian Objectivism and other junk ideologies make the implicit assumption that everyone is in a position to make those choices and accept those responsibilities. The reason why the history of politics has been a pell-mell run away from that kind of approach is obvious when it's pointed out- in the real world almost no-one would get those choices. They would be abused and exploited by the very few who did- and if they tried to enact change they would most likely be killed.

The exponents of philosophies of that kind naturally include themselves in the group of 'haves', forgetting that almost everyone (and probably them) will be in the 'have-nots'.

Power gets concentrated into the hands of the few who can enforce their will through strength, guile or persuasion. Once they're at the top of the heap, they wish to stay that way so they institute a 'state' to protect their interests. Little by little control of this apparatus is prised away from the privileged, and eventually you end up more or less where we are now.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 16th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, yes. Anarchism is sort of based around the notion that everyone has both right and obligation to choose what they stand for. Even if that is to accept that they can't be bothered, and will just do what someone else says.

At the moment, it seems that most would prefer to complain about the flaws in the current status quo, than actually do something about it.

Thing is, I'm not so very sure that the two lines of thought are incompatible - assume that the government is a cadre formed to protect interests, who will enact laws to protect those interests, and use the various control mechanisms to enforce them.

To my mind the distinction comes when you start to question the right to authority - just because someone is in power already, doesn't make them right. Nor does it make them wrong necessarily either. It's open to us all to accept the responsiblity too - we have the government we do, because we haven't done anything about it.
It's just when you start to assume they're right _because_ they're the government that you start to end up in a mess.
Why should we accept the rule of David Cameron as and when he takes power? Because we believe in what he says? Because we think he's the less bad of the better demagogues? Or because we're afraid of the consequences of civil disobedience?
jorune From: jorune Date: February 16th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've thought that EVE was set out as more of a feudal system. The pod pilots are the remote nobility who have all the power and use and abuse the masses as they wish.

That aside are the notions of right and obligation solely found in Anarchism? Perhaps they are old fashioned civic responsibility or maybe enduring cultural themes of the American heartland. Consider Norman Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms picture. Each of the images plays incorporates themes of rights and obligations. If you value Freedom of Speech then speak up but also be prepared to listen to others.

I think queex hit on a key point about information and the ability to choose. Orthodox economics proposes the ideal of the rational economic man who always makes sensible choices which can be mathematically modelled. Behavioural economics shows us this is not how the world works and that man is irrational and filled with biases that impact his decision making. Even when you think you are being rational you are often subject to irrational thought patterns.

The idea that progress will deliver a world of perfectly rational beings making logical and predictable choices through the power of science and civilisation is a delusion found on thousands of forums. Fukuyama's liberal democracy is not the end point of the human story, nor is it Scandinavian social democracy or Chinese corporatism. You can find plenty of sceptics within each of these model societies.

What is currently interesting about your point on Anarchism is the need for individual oversight of the state. The left/centre left was ecstatic about the incoming Obama administration. A year later we see that the most dynamic and effective political force in America is the Tea party movement which for a brief while rated higher than Republicans or Democrats in national opinion polls. There are doing all the things you note, questioning authority, demanding change, becoming organised. Meanwhile the liberals of the US continue to be less effective. Would you describe the tea party movement as anarchists? They describe themselves as conservatives.

Now consider the current situation in Greece. 25% of the economy is untaxed. If it was taxed it would yield £15 billion, enough to solve the deficit and prevent the austerity measures that the public fears. Why is there is chronic tax evasion in Greece in this first place? People speak of the 'Octopus' the power of a state controlled by a few powerful families that gets all the best jobs, contracts and opportunities. They don't want their tax money going to the govt because they fear it will not be spent wisely, it will be more food for the octopus. The cultural reaction of the Greeks has been to strike and wait to get paid off by the state with more money and more jobs for the strikers and their families. Perhaps what is needed is a group of Anarchist Accountants who will track down the missing funds.

Returning to EVE, deep space is one of the those locations where the choice of anarchism could well be relevant. I think the Gurps setting of Transhuman Space covers this well. Social Democracy, corporatism, etc are models which focus on communities in a fixed geography. Anarchism suits a people who are constantly on the move, small groups of radicals holed in asteroids, clusters of independent souls making a new home on the frontier of the solar system.
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