Archive | Question

Modern Medicine

Jordan asks:

“I’ve always thought that a money less, classless, stateless society would be peaceful and overall better for the human condition, even if it takes a thousand years to accomplish. However, I had a kidney transplant some years ago and so I have to take immuno-suppressant medications to live. How can I truly be an anarchist if I have to rely on prescription drugs?”

 

I don’t think there’s any conflict between a “moneyless, classless, stateless, society” and life saving medication. Healthcare is a human right and so there is nothing at odds between Anarchy and receiving health care.

I think there is often a misconception that an Anarchist society would have to be primitive. While a lot of industry is destructive and problematic, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would all have to be destroyed. It could be done in a new way or drastically scaled back to sustainable levels. As a society, we would need to prioritize where to put limited resources in a way that is sustainable. I’d imagine we would stop production of many things, but I think healthcare in particular would be an aspect that people would want to prioritize. So immuno-suppressants could still exist in an Anarchist society.

Just because capitalism invented something, doesn’t mean it can’t exist in the Anarchist society. They didn’t destroy all the buildings and inventions when people overthrew Monarchical rule. Capitalism has done enough harm, we might as well benefit from it’s (non-destructive) innovations and put them to better use.

And at this point, almost everyone relies on the capitalist system for something (food, shelter, healthcare, etc). But we don’t have to let that stop us from creating a new world.

I imagine Anarchist society would be supportive of all people and the community would provide everyone with the care they need to thrive. 🙂

Fire Departments

Lois asks:

“If there was a fire, would anarchists call the fire department?”

Yes. I can’t think of any reason why an Anarchist wouldn’t call the fire department.

Fire Departments are actually a good service that exist solely to help people and communities. They save people, put out fires, and stop fires from spreading. It’s a social service that everyone benefits from.

In an anarchist society, there would probably be a volunteer firefighter system, or maybe even fire departments in larger cities. It makes sense for there to be specially trained people to deal with fires.

The police are completely different and will be discussed in a future post.

 

Alternate answer from A.K. Applegate:

Absolutely! Unless we’re the ones who started it, of course.

When it comes to matters of life and death, insisting on some sort of authenticity by refusing to enlist the state’s help would be foolish. Consider yourself lucky to live under a state that at least gives away some crumbs in the form of public services as your compensation for submitting to their exploitation.

That aside, a fire department is an extension of the principle of solidarity, but for a social organization as large as a city. Since time immemorial, neighbors have always helped each other out in emergencies, including fires. I see no reason why a stateless society wouldn’t have them. Anarchists are not opposed to organized civilization (well, anarcho-primitivists are, but that’s another question), and fire departments are necessary for organized civilization. And really, fire departments are probably one of the easier problems to solve in a stateless society. They would work basically the same as they do now, except instead of being funded via coercive taxation, the needs of the firefighters, like the needs of all workers, would be provided via a system of free distribution. People would choose jobs that interest them, and some people are interested in being firefighters.

But I think this question gets at a matter a lot of people are concerned about when it comes to anarchism. People need social services that governments usually provide, like roads and fire departments. But it’s only because of an arbitrary distinction that is a result of capitalist ideology that we look at the state-provided social services as being any different than market-provided social services. We need roads and fire departments, but we also need food, shelter, healthcare, and energy. There’s no reason to conceptually split these goods into goods that the state provides and goods that the market provides; they’re just goods. And as anarchists, we want all goods to be provided free to all. Civilization, in order to function, needs many state employees just as it needs many private sector employees, but it needs neither the state nor capitalism to provide these employees. Every worker (and “worker” includes the unemployed and the retired) is a part of society, we all provide something that society needs in order to operate. We need firefighters to fight the fires just like we need people to pick the crops, care for the children, scrub the toilets, heal the sick, wash the clothes, build the houses. These are all things that we, as humans, are intrinsically motivated to provide for ourselves, and therefore each other, because these things can often only be acquired through collective action and the division of labor. We want to live well, and care for one another. What we don’t need (nor should we want) are states or the capitalist class employing coercive systems like private property and taxation to get in the way, and insert themselves needlessly into the equation so they can run the system for their benefit at the expense of everyone else.

 

Can you be an anarchist and a patriot?

Alex asks:

“Can you be an anarchist and a patriot? Like in the sense of you love your country or home and you would do anything for it but having the absence of government?”

 

To be an anarchist, you cannot be a patriot as you may know it. I hesitate to even call it patriotism. Your love and pride of your community/geographical area and the extent to which you act upon that love/pride should be something you are careful with. If you consider yourself a patriot, I think you should ask yourself  (at least) these questions:

  • As a patriot, are you hoping to further your community’s interests/goals? If so, what are these interests/goals?
  • Does your patriotic agenda infringe on the rights of other individuals or communities?
  • Does it restrict their access to social goods or natural resources based on their own association with the subject of your patriotism?
  • Does it align you with the state, the ruling class, or other oppressive entities which seek to maintain and benefit from the state and inequitable societal conditions?

For example, the USA uses the military to push forth its own agenda. However, widespread imperialism and violence in the name of profit is always at the expense of others. The victims of such an agenda likely have more in common with the working class men and women sent to war than those who have sent them and those sent to war rarely see the ‘profits’ of these wars.They are encouraged to participate, anyway, as their patriotic duty. This is an example where patriotism is a form of social control, used to manufacture loyalty to a nation state while the furthering of their agenda encroaches on the rights of others.

To anarchists, maintaining freedom of association (the right to leave or join groups freely) is important. In the ideal world, multitudes of communities, including political ones would exist. And indisputably, patriotism is political. The hope is that no group or individual will infringe on the rights of others or their access to resources in the name of patriotism.

If your patriotism leads to you defending privileges/interests associated with you and your compatriots but your pride and love denies access or rights to strangers for no other reason than their lack of association, you would be in conflict with anarchist ideals- at least in conflict with those of the communal anarchist.