More for my benefit than yours I'd first like to take a little hike through the hinterland of what has come before, and attempt to wind in the skein of a common thread, much like Theseus in the labyrinth of the Minotaur.
Okay, so that was pretentious - at any rate, I promise to be brief.
Our illustrious, site-owning compatriate Carleas
kicked things off by highlighting the persistance and productivity of governed societies, plus a quick 101 guide to the efficiency of a system which allows people to perfect and 'sell' their own specialised skills, contrasted against a society of anarchic jacks of all trades - everyone self-sufficient, however poorly - along with the massive redundancies in that society's skill-pool this mistrustful investment in individual 'independnce' would incur. Carleas
basically stressed the benefits of co-operation, or at least the benefits of constructing networks of dependable mutual exploitation, over a romantic, rustic individualism.
In return, OG
, everyone's favourite primate from our sister-site ILO first attempted to clear away some of the chaff from our apparently 'outmoded' definition of anarchy - softening the classic 'choas-and-disorder' Melnibonean meaning into a more fluffy version, in which members of a self-declared 'anarchic' society, by sweeping all traces of the rules under which they neverless live, beneath the throw-rug of self-delusion, allow themselves to believe they are somehow 'free' of them. (No, I didn't fully grasp that one either).
Anyway - then, with customary flair OG
pulled off the literary equivalent of a 180° tyre-swing by asserting that no such creature as government exists, and what we have in reality are scaled-up versions of the 'friendly' skills and commodity bartering systems of old - hierarchies arising spontaneously and organically within anarchic states, without the need for the artificial contrivances and paraphernalia of elections and politic structure.
In short, he says that governence is an illusion, unattainable in any perfect form, and as such only pursued by fools, and that an acceptance of our true 'anarchic' statehood is a more practical, realistic POV. Bless him.
Okay, finished. My turn now.
There are a few things wrong about assuming a social system can be scaled up without distortion - a system which works well in a community of a few hundred people may not work so well when applied to a society of a few million. There are reasons for this. Reasons perhaps most succinctly outlined by game theory.
You may be familliar with game theory in its most well known form of prisoner's dilemma - two suspects, held incommunicado in separate interrogation rooms, deciding whether or not to implicate the other - mutual co-operation
(sponsored by a faith in the good faith of the other) leading to freedom for both
This is however, only the tip of the iceberg.
When applied to larger groupings of people, game theory - an attempt to outline the variables affecting co-operation, betrayal and recidivism; punishment and forgiveness and analysing the stability of different individual social strategies within a non-homogenous behavioural community - shows that unfortunately OG's assertion of a scalable 'gentlemen's agreement' system becoming a 'natural/anarchic' government, to be unrealistic.
There is a numerical limit, beyond which a group begins to factionate and schism. For humans, this number would seem to be around 150-200 people. This is extrapolated from brain capacity - of the neocortex, in comparison with average group/brain-size ratios in our fellow primates (Dunbar).
I do not claim it to be especially accurate purely from scientific grounds - rather I draw more confidence from historical observations of military units - the Roman century for example - why hundreds not thousands..? And more modern army units - the largest grouping being (before the command structure splinters into a complex hierarchy) the 'company' - consisting of a max. 250 men, composed from platoons. Also the observance of primitive communities - for example the Australian Walbiri and the Ammassalik of Greenland - all possessing an average of 148.4 people in their villages. (Maybe the 0.4 had a boating accident or something). Also observe the more modern 'primitives' - such as the Amish and the Hutterites. Their leaders observe that "keeping communities below 150 keeps management efficient - beyond that people become strangers to one another". ("The tipping point" - pg. 178)
anarchic government of gentlemen/gentlewomen does not scale up.
The basis of any co-operation is trust
. And trust is not based on friendship so much as predictability
. A predictable enemy - the devil you know - is easier to live with than a complete unknown. Anyone that went around trusting everyone on sight willy-nilly, would soon get burned.
And this is where an archy, with a convoluted judiciary system, wins out in the "large population co-operation between strangers" front. By routinely limiting the extremes of behaviour - rape, theft and murder for example - ritualising interactions between people and most importantly being seen to punish prohibitively
those who trespass, they provide a proxy for prediction between erstwhile strangers and hence a basis for trust between those interacting with each other for the first time.
The function of a law, a rule or a moral is not
to erradicate totally the behaviour against which it proscribes but rather to reduce the probability that the majority of that society faces of ever becoming a victim of that particular behaviour to such a low degree that it becomes more reasonable, from a cost/benefit basis, on the part of any given individual member of that society to forgo taking prohibitive precautions against such an occurence in their day to day lives.
What I want to express, but perhaps have not done so well enough is to highlight that as a member of a 'lawful', archic society I do not need to become expert in say some defensive/offensive discipline - such as fencing or shooting or a martial art - because the penalties I will incur in terms of the time invested and risk of injury involved in their pursuit are no longer outweighed by a reduction in the risk of injury and death from - I don't know - a duel for example, or a mugging.
In being a member of a society where such an option exists - ie. paying through taxation for a judiciary system and accepting the governmental veto on my expressing dissatisfaction through direct violence against another person or persons - I incur less
penalty than would be entailed by having to aquire the skills and equipment necessary to maintain a reasonable degree of protection within an anarchic society without such an externalized system.
In short, as Carleas
said, an 'archy fosters co-operation in ways anarchies cannot. It also frees us all from having to become Jean Claude Van Damme in our spare time.
More free time coupled with less violent disruption = more work. Well, more something
On another tack - that of alpha personas - although OG
is right about the natural arisal of leaders, he is forgetting duration
. With an anarchy leadership is faddish - a leader lasts only for as long as there is no other serious contender, or he retains the imagination of his group (think literally highschool popularity contests and playground bullies) the anarchist leader may be king for a day or king for a year - he has no way of knowing - producing 'slash and burn' crowd-pleaser strategies which though may ensure the alpha's continued leadership, will not necessarily benefit the group long term.
Even if the anarchic equivalent of a totalitarian despot arises and rules for his or her entire lifespan - that is still a very finite spell - not even the three-score and ten is guarrenteed - which though may be a long time in politics is a short time for anything else. The cathedral in my home town for example, took 400 years to complete back in the day. Anything is possible I suppose but I would bet most of this month's salary that the social attention-span of an anarchic body-politic would veto such an endevor.
However, with an 'archy', a leader - once come to power - usually has a certain period of power guarrenteed
by an established social dictate - be it a lifetime or a four to eight year span, perhaps even a multi-generational lineage or at least an itterated political-party presence - which allows him or her to put, realistically, into effect plans which though not paying off in the short term, pay off big in the future.
ie. Anarchic leadership is short-sighted, and any autopoietic hierarchies thrown up, are mayfly in lifespan, subject to whim.
All of which puts me in the position of performing my own version of OG's
180° tyre swing in saying that rather than being 'unrealistic and ivory-towered', the pursuit of government, of archy, however flawed and cruel it may be or become, is the only realistic reaction to a species that cannot keep its collective legs together and the burgeoning populace this inevitably produces.
Let me repeat, a romantic adherence to the vice of anarchy, however soft or hard, applied now, to a population as big as the one present would only condemn humankind to the old cycles of growth and mutual culling at a hugely accelerated rate.
But then, romance has ever been cowled in blood.Ps. Okay, so I lied about being brief.