Principles of Panarchism Reply

I’ve generally found this 40-page page pamphlet by Adam Knott to be a helpful tool when introducing anarchist ideas to “civilians.” It’s available in PDF form here. One libertarian once told me it was the purest form of anarchism yet devised, and I tend to agree. The following quote where the author compares voluntary anarchist communities with the separation of church and state invokes a helpful analogy.

Even freedom should not be obligatory for all but only optional, and each should have only as much liberty as he wants and is willing to handle, with more being optional, if and when he is ready for it. Tolerance is required towards statists and authoritarians provided they are tolerant enough toward free people, other statists, and other authoritarians (a notion that may seem contradictory, but isn’t). The example of religious liberty makes this clear: tolerance for the liberal religions, the traditional religions, and the strict fundamentalist religions, as long as they respect the religious liberty of non-members with different religious or non-religious preferences. Radical liberties, rights, or restrictions, to be entirely optional within exterritorial and autonomous communities of volunteers. We have to stop inventing nightmares for others and forcing these upon them. We would no longer need to do so in self-defense, once we were free to follow our own path undisturbed by others.

Also, it’s helpful to be familiar with historical prototypes that were found in real-world civilizations and were similar to what is being described above (even if they were often emerged in state-systems and certainly had a wide range of limitations) such as the autonomous Greek cities, medieval kingdoms, traditional Chinese villages with their individual folk-ancestral traditions, or the Ottoman millet system, as well as systems of thought outside the formal anarchist traditions but were based on similar ideas (for example, Gandhi’s vision of an India based on decentralized village-based systems of production). Too many anarchists limit their thinking to Spain or Iceland or the writings of Murray Bookchin or Murray Rothbard.

It could be argued that modern technology and economics make such arrangements less feasible. Of course, there is no guarantee there will not be a technological or economic collapse. But it could also be argued that such arrangements are actually more feasible given modern transportation systems with competing political systems being no different than competing churches,  universities, restaurants,  or shopping centers.

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