Back to the Village
There’s been a lot of discussion lately concerning the need for abandonment of coercive, governmental systems. Yet, the one thing that hasn’t been talked about much at all, is that if such an advancement were achieved, what would we replace the old systems with? Anarchy doesn’t represent a complete lack of societal order, as many people assume, but simply a different kind than we’re accustomed to, one that is based upon absolute equality of power, volunteerism, and mutual consensus, rather than a hierarchical system maintained by force. So, what exactly would such an Anarchistic society look like? How would it work? And what sort of situation needs to exist to make it a tenable prospect at all? Well, let’s take a look and find out.
First, one needs to understand that true Anarchy can not survive in all environments and situations. Just like any system of organization, its practicality depends upon the existence of certain fundamental factors which must be met. The following is a list of the conditions which must exist for an Anarchy to thrive.
After a great deal of thought on the subject, it has occurred to me that the perfect environment required for an Anarchy to flourish is the model of a small village. The reason for this is that the larger and more varied a social group becomes, the more difficult it is to maintain any sort of unity or cohesion. When such unity begins to naturally fall apart, the answer arrived at by most societies, is to initiate force as a means of creating an artificial harmony. On the other side of the coin, smaller communities, such as villages, are far more likely to maintain a natural, voluntary order due to the limited diversity and greater personal familiarity caused by smaller numbers.
While most Anarchists agree that a diversity of opinion and belief are positive things (myself included), the reality of the village model requires that the community in question be relatively similar in the goals they desire for their community. The reason for this is simple: if Anarchy is to be a reality, then 100% consensus is required for every community-affecting decision, and if you have too diverse a mix of political opinions (such as Anarchists and Imperialists living side-by-side) a unified consensus will never be achieved. It would be like an animal with two heads. It would never know which way to go. This is one of the reasons why the Anarchistic community must remain small (I would estimate a need for less than 50 people). It’s because the more people you gather together, the more likely that diversity of goals and opinions will become so great as to render complete consensus an impossibility. And without such a consensus, the community would be doomed to degenerate into a republic similar to the United States, in which the majority rules and the minority is rendered nearly voiceless.
In modern-day America, we see the result that a large population has on the voting process nearly every day. We see statistics listed on the news, telling us that a particular law or ordinance was passed by a majority vote of 70%, 60%, or sometimes even as little as 51%. And while this kind of fast-and-loose attitude is the only thing that seems to work in a population as large and diverse as the United States, it’s by no means perfect, because it means that laws are being passed every day which large segments of the population neither desire nor approve of. For you see, when the majority rules, the minority invariably suffers, thus creating a society in which some groups are very happy and other groups are very dissatisfied. This is the opposite of the Anarchistic ideal in which every individual has equal power, with none being raised higher than another.
The same principle of keeping things on a small-scale applies to personal identification issues. The larger a population becomes, the more likely it is that a business owner will be unable to identify his customers by face and personal reputation alone. This inability to verify who you’re dealing with makes the creation of artificial, third-party identification methods the natural solution that most societies arrive at. Yet, the smaller a community is, the more likely that businesses will have no trouble at all knowing their customers by face and reputation alone, thereby negating the otherwise fundamental need for third-party identity services. After all, if a business owner is able to recognize nearly every person whom walks through his door, then little plastic ID cards become obsolete. So, once again, the model of the small village comes to our rescue in regards to our desires as free individuals.
Another reason for keeping a community on a small scale is the significant reduction of crime and other harmful behaviors. One will notice upon studying social structures that the larger a city becomes, the more likely it is to have widespread criminal behavior, while the smaller a community is, the less likely. One of the core reasons for this is the anonymity that life in a large city affords a person. They are able to commit crimes without fear of being easily recognized, able to hide with confidence of blending-in, and able to transgress with far less guilt due to their victims being strangers. But if you put that same individual within the small village model, he would be far more easily recognized even if disguised, much less able to hide unnoticed, and would incur far more guilt upon his conscience due to his victims being people he knows quite well. So, not only would the small-scale Anarchistic village be far more naturally peaceful, it would also be an environment in which the need for organized, coercive law enforcement would be practically non-existent. Since even if a criminal element did arise, it would be on a very small scale and easily manageable by the community’s inhabitants.
What these various elements would produce is a small village possessing a natural order and harmony. Coercion and force would be unnecessary, leaving such a gathering of equal individuals to live their lives in peaceful satisfaction. Many of the emotional and psychological issues brought on by enormous, uncaring collectives would also be eliminated, as even a bachelor living by himself would be surrounded by a surrogate family at all times in such a small village environment. As the village grows in size over time, the natural solution would be to encourage a section of the population to split-off and begin their own separate communal project, thereby maintaining the need for a small social group.
The nature of such a free village would not need to be a primitive, forest-dwelling affair, although it certainly could be if its population desired. It could have rudimentary technologies such as solar power collection, electricity, and indoor plumbing. The only real limit lies in the ingenuity of its inhabitants--how smart they are, and how clever they are in overcoming the hurdles of a relatively isolated communal structure.
If such a societal order were adopted by the world at large, wars as we know them would cease to exist, for there would be no massive, uniform armies to maintain them. Only small conflicts might arise from time to time, just as they always have in man’s history, but the horrendous atrocities of the modern, large-scale empires would be a thing of the past. The continent-spanning collectives we see today, would be transformed into a patchwork of small, independent villages, with few loyalties or ties outside their own community.
The simple fact of the matter is that the more people you toss into a social group, the more unlikely it is that any sort of natural order will sustain itself, and this causes man to resort to the use of force to create such order artificially. While small communities such as villages achieve harmony with very little effort at all, thereby negating the need for force. It’s an ideal solution for the Anarchist’s needs. Now all that needs to be done is for a village of this type to be founded, and for it to be a visible success to the world at large. For then, others will follow, until more and more people “drop-out” of the coercive collectives, opting instead to form villages of extended families from their like-minded friends. This would then bring about the next step in our social evolution and help negate many of the pitfalls experienced by the modern world.
Jonas Micah is a 26 year old writer who spends entirely too much time working in Broadband Technical Support. But hey, that's what you do when the scribbles don't pay the bills, right? He is a highschool drop-out, an Army wash-out, and a fool who strives to be less foolish with each passing day.
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