Two steps to anarchy

posted by
December 27, 2010
People v. State
by John Kindley  
Posted in Commentary

"Anarchy, etymologically, means leaderlessness. Anarchism supposes that 'leaderlessness' rather than the Hobbesian dominance of a leading power is the fundamental condition of peace and justice. It therefore entails in the political context the distribution and balance of power, as well as the rejection of authority." [editor's note: I understand anarchy to entail "rulerlessness," not "leaderlessness." There's a difference - TLK] (12/26/10)  


  • The problem is that, as soon as you designate a human as a "leader," that human will start ruling.

    I'm a person, not a dog or a sheep: I neither need nor want "leaders."

  • Rocky,

    I agree that DESIGNATING "leaders" tends to turn them into "rulers."

    But there are leaders who are not rulers.

    You're a musician. How many times have you found yourself jamming with a pickup group, no set list or anything, and one person — maybe you! — tends to be the one to just break out into a next song and the rest of the guys get after it?

    That guy, at that moment, is leading. He's not ruling — the other guys could just look at him like he's an idiot, or they could all simultaneously choose different songs and try to get them going. But they like the way he's going (probably because he has a good ear for where things ought to be heading), so they go with him.

  • I rewrote this post more times than it probably deserved. I think I chose "leaderlessness" over "rulerlessness" for a couple reasons. One is that in checking up on the etymology of the word I got a kick out of discovering the word "anarch," which means "leader of leaderlessness." I certainly think there are such people and I admire them. I also think there are other kinds of leaders we may be inspired to follow or emulate of our own free will, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The second reason I chose "leaderlessness" rather than "rulerlessness" is that I was specifically considering power and the balance of power (i.e. actual physical coercive power). A group of conspirators by virtue of banding together will ordinarily take the "lead" in the power department over individuals just peacefully minding their own business, and that in itself is a problem. That "lead" in the power department threatens to put them in the position of being able to assume "rule" over the individuals minding their own business, but the problem starts with their "lead" in power. "Rule" seemed logically to come second. I was trying to say a mouthful in this one post,, and the resulting level of abstraction probably made it less clear than it could have been..

  • Garrett

    This is a very interesting take on "leaderlessness" as I myself, once was "lead" to the river where I drank the water of individual freedom. So without those "leaders of leaderlessness" I may never have found this river and certainly might not have drank from it so quickly. But thanks to those guys I dove in head first and have become somewhat of a leader of the leaderless too.

    Great post/website, thanks.

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