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Tim, in AnarchY, you replaced the historical definition of the term with a propaganda definition that has no value. The propaganda definition is inaccurate since anarcho-syndicalists "opposes cultural, economic, and political institutions equally, often failing to distinguish between them" and so fall in the category of destroyers of society in the definition. The definition describes two groups, and then lumps anarcho-syndicalists with "anarcho"-capitalists in the wrong group. Further, I made no mention of government in my definition, because it's irrelevant. Anarcho-syndicalists aim to demolish government by not acknowledging it. To claim that "anarcho"-capitalists have equal claim to the term Anarchy as anarcho-syndicalists is a gross distortion of history. The latter have existed for more than a hundred years. The former about two or three decades. I do not think you understand Anarchism. Are you an anarchist or otherwise student of the movement? -- RichardKulisz?
I didn't add the part about anarcho-syndicalism, someone else did. Maybe it should be deleted.

The history of anarchism is something that can be addressed in a subsection. Which group has "historical priority" is non-essential when describing what anarchy is.

The concept should be addressed logically, with a genus-differentia definition. Anarchy is a social system (genus) that differs from all other social systems in that in advocates the absence of government (differentia). Then we take the genus anarchy as we just defined it, and look at different types of anarchy. I do not think genus-differentia definitions count as propaganda.


The problem isn't in the format of the definition but in its substance.

Anarchism is not limited to politics or rejection of government. As a system, it is the absence of all hierarchy everywhere. The limitation of 'hierarchy' to political hierarchies is completely artificial and not supported by anarchists. In fact, it is easily disprovable since 'politics' is merely distribution of power and the existence of power structures in other areas of society is self-evident. Politics is inseparable from the rest of society.

Anarchism is a methodology not an ideology. Anarchism is a way of acting, a means to an end, and not the end itself. Insofar as 'anarchy' exists at all, it must be derived from anarchism. Most anarchists do not have a specific vision in mind so if one wants an honest description of what anarchists work towards then one must look at what they're actually doing. To figure out the destination anarchists wish to reach, look where they're going and not the distination which some tiny minority of people who may or may not be anarchists claim they're trying to reach. Anarchism is a movement defined by people at the bottom, not a hallucinatory vision dreamed up by "leaders" at the top. If you think this is "diffuse" then that's just too bad.

And by anarchists I mean anarcho-syndicalists whose belief in anarchism is genuine as evidenced by their having fought and died in revolutionary wars in order to bring about anarchy (whereas anarcho-capitalists have not). Saying that the history of anarchism is irrelevant is as naive as saying that the history of Marxism is irrelevant. Do you propose that a good definition of Marxism can be given by capitalists or Stalinists? To believe that an ideology can be fairly described by its enemies or propagandists who merely seek to exploit it is hopelessly naive. -- RichardKulisz

Richard, I'd be very curious to learn about the differences and, if any, the similarities between anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-capitalism. I know very little about these theories. I wish you would explain the facts about what the theories state, in as unbiased a fashion as possible, on AnarchY (or perhaps AnarchIsm?). Why not just make the necessary changes? I'd be very curious to see the results! -- LarrySanger

I already made the changes and Tim unmade them on the basis that they're "diffuse" and not what he expects them to be. And now he's added more propaganda. What does an individual incident (the shooting of some US President) have to do with the day to day actions of anarchists? Where's the mention of Direct Action? Where's the explanation of how anarchists use the general strike and sabotage? And what the heck does murder have to do with famous anarchists (why is it in the same paragraph)? It seems to me that Tim aims to divide anarchism into two sides; nutso bombers and capitalist extremists. If this is indeed the case then Tim falls into the "enemy of anarchism and propagandist exploiter" category and should refrain from trying to define the term, let alone suppressing other people's definitions of it. The failure to list Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin and Noam Chomsky as famous anachists and the inclusion of an absolute nobody like Leon Czolgosz (whose own mother said was too stupid to be an anarchist) tells me that Tim isn't familiar enough with anarchism to impose his views of it on anyone else. And since every political ideology has resulted in the murder of at least one leader of an opposing ideology, Czolgosz shooting McKinley? means nothing. The murders of anarchist leaders at the hands of capitalists more than compensate. Focusing on an aberration is a common propaganda technique.

Anarchism is a rejection of all hierarchy and authority. "Anarcho"-capitalism is a special case rejection of governmental authority in favour of capitalist authority. "Anarcho"-capitalists refuse to acknowledge that capitalist authority exists, that it is arbitrary, unjust and should be dismantled. It isn't possible to honestly describe "anarcho"-capitalist arguments and viewpoints without pointing out how baseless and oversimplistic they are. For example, a common argument among capitalists (and "anarcho"-capitalists are just capitalists who pretend to care about liberty) is to represent the free market as an auction where labour power is sold to buyers. Of course, it isn't because such an auction leaves the impression that the labour market is a seller's market when in fact it is a buyer's market. The best way to describe anarcho-capitalism is probably as a religion -- just state what they believe and nothing more. And if I described Christianity, I would describe it as a group fantasy dynamic to counter feelings of powerlessness, self-hatred and wishes for self-annihilation all caused by traumatic child abuse. This wouldn't go over very well with most people. -- RichardKulisz

The miscategorization of anarcho-syndicalism was my fault. Since it looks like it's the main form of anarchism, I figured it deserved mention, but wasn't sure which heading to put it under thanks to the mention of cultural institutions. At the time I wasn't thinking of institutions as organizations for whatever reason. Bleah...easy to catch, at least. -- JoshuaGrosse

Of the two categories, you chose the least offensive one. The second category of 'people who oppose all social order' (implied by "which supports social order" instead of "'the social order") obviously refers to bombers only. The problem is that both categories are extremely offensive and propagandistic distortions. -- RichardKulisz

It seems to me Jimbo has shown a way around this dispute, although Richard and Tim may disagree. At least Jimbo has illustrated the general direction that we should move in when we have these sorts of disputes. The aim is to describe the theories in such a way as cannot be objected to by their proponents or their opponents--by attributing the very descriptions of the theories to their proponents and then explaining what the differences and conflicts between competing theories are (rather than ignoring the fact that there is a conflict, or engaging the conflicts on the page itself). It seems to me this is something that anyone here can do with a little practice. Might be good for you, too. :-) -- LarrySanger

There's just a couple problems in recognizing AnarchoCapitalism as a form of Anarchism. 1) Anti-capitalist anarchists were there first so including capitalists only serves to confuse matters. 2) AnarchoCapitalism is limited geographically to the very right wing countries. 3) Capitalism is authoritarian since private property is an inherently authoritarian concept (to deny that the owner gets to dictate to everyone else or that this is a form of authority is blatant destruction of the English language), so AnarchoCapitalism is a contradiction in terms. 4) It's not clear that AnarchoCapitalism is a serious political ideology instead of mere political maneuvering. So I find equal time given to AnarchoCapitalism to be a bit irritating. -- RichardKulisz

''While I disagree with you about the status of things here, the point I have been making to TimShell I will make to you as well. This article, the short article on the term 'Anarchy' can simply serve as description of how the term is used. It may be a shame that things have gotten confused, but rather than ignore the confusion, I attempted to describe it so that a newcomer to the term will better understand. The point may not be to give each side equal treatment, but merely to educate newcomers that the term is actively used in two different ways.'' --JimboWales

I'll answer briefly, weakly, and vaguely. (1) Matters are already long since "confused" (and it's not that confusing); you can't change that. (2) Er, so what? (3) Suffice it to say this requires more argument. (4) This seems very implausible, given that there are many serious people who identify themselves as anarcho-capitalists. I understand your irritation, but I also think you're going to have to live with it. If you really care so much about how political views are represented on Wikipedia, wouldn't your energies be better spent elaborating anarcho-syndicalism fairly--which would include anarcho-syndicalism's response to anarcho-capitalism? -- LarrySanger

I'll answer briefly. (2) is a response to your observation on (1); matters are not confused everywhere and it behooves us not to confuse them further. (3) Property is control over how others use an object and right-libertarians argue for absolute property rights with total control over how others use an object. If people do not recognize this as authoritarian then the point requires more argument than belongs in an encyclopedia entry. (4) You're right, that was a mistake. I was speaking from personal experience only. (5) I am well-rebuked. :) -- RichardKulisz

In case anyone really doesn't know what anarcho-capitalism is supposed to be about, have a look at [this article]. See the final paragraph for how the author treats the problem Richard raises.

Why don't we treat the matter the same way - reserve libertarianism for the right, and anarchism for the left? AnarchY would have a note at the bottom saying "sometimes used in a broader sense to include AnarchoCapitalism, which blah blah" but would otherwise treat traditional forms, and libertarianism would have a note sating "formerly used in a broader sense to include AnarchoSyndicalism?, which blah blah" but would otherwise treat what have become standard forms. It seems to me this is the simplest way to disentangle the two philosophies. -- JoshuaGrosse

I think it is inaccurate to say that libertarianism is 'right' and anarchism is 'left'. I know, anyway, that most libertarians would balk vehemently at the label 'right'. These are people who want to legalize marijuana, pornography and gay marriage, who want to end registration for the draft, and permit free immigration and emigration from all countries. The opposite positions are all traditionally associated with the right (at least in the U.S.).

Why is it that I can use terms so universally recognized everywhere except wiki, where they are instantly balked at? Right and left have nothing to do with anything so specific as moral majority or degree of government control. The former refers to a desire for equality of rights, the latter for equality of condition. Or at the very least, they will every time I use them. :)

I didn't realize that those terms were universally recognized or used in that way. Are they? I mean, exceptions of all kinds immediately pop to mind.

If the right wing is supposed to be for equality of rights, then why do they tend to seek strong laws to restrict the use of drugs used by lower classes (marijuana) while not seeking to restrict the use of drugs used by the upper classes (wine)? What about equality of rights for homosexuals to marry?

If that's the way that the classification is supposed to work, then we have to say that Republicans are more liberal than libertarians, because libertarians favor equality of rights for homosexual marriage! Sounds strange to me! I think that in this particular case, the *left* has the idea of equality of rights.

Ok, so I didn't go all the way to the end of the spectrum. The very farthest right would be a system of plain and simple inequality, like despotism and aristocracy. As you go to the left, equality of rights gets added, then of opportunity, and then of condition. The idea is that inequities are ironed out as you go left.

I think this is a reasonably standard version of the political spectrum. It does a good job lining up with other criteria, for instance, stance on capitalism (which leads to inequality of condition, so goes on the right). The libertarian party actually uses this latter axis on its page, so it obviously doesn't reject that dichotomy, at least. It just for whatever reason doesn't refer to it as the left-right political spectrum, probably because they don't want to be equated with conservativism. -- JoshuaGrosse

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Last edited February 15, 2001 3:56 am by LarrySanger (diff)