Anarchy: More or Less Government?

By Will Schnack

Evolution of Consent

Compared to monarchy, is democracy more or less government? It seems to depend on who is asked. Some will suggest that democracy is less government than monarchy is, because people have the ability to participate directly in the governing process. Others, however, will point to bureaucratization and suggest that democracy is most certainly more government than monarchy is.

The same can be said of anarchy.

Anarchy, of course, is a word often confused for chaos, while actually referring to no rulers. No rulers, of course, is not the same thing as “no rules.” No rulers refers to a situation in which existing human rules are not applied by a ruling party, but by way of agreement.

The natural world requires that an anarchy, if it is to exist in an industrialized world, will require greater amounts of organization than a democracy would, in much the same way that a democracy required greater amounts of organization than monarchy did. Does greater organization amount to greater degrees of government? Well, again, it depends who you ask. Most anarchists will tell you that it does not, but some idealists might suggest that it does.

Actually-existing democracies (oligarchical republics and parliaments) represent the interests of a contemporary upper class that had prior been the middle class of Medieval society. The unity of this ex-middle, now upper class— which was larger in number than the monarchy and aristocracy that they limited or displaced—, organized around concepts of “Right,” organized their might. And because we are in a world in which might makes right, they prevailed. Might makes right, but right makes might.

Likewise, anarchy—a society in which there is no class of rulers: no royalty, politicians, bosses, landlords, usurers, etc.— can only be brought about by the unity and organization of the lower class, larger in number still. Such an anarchy will necessarily entail more organization and more group process. It may even have more rules than both a monarchy and a democracy. But, unlike a monarchy in which the ruler is a single individual, and a democracy in which the ruler is a majority, an anarchy lacks rulers. Is this more or less government? You be the judge.

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