Propositions for Discussion: The Scope of Anarchy

[Here is a rough outline for the second section of the “Propositions:]

The Scope of Anarchy

  1. To claim that anarchy is sufficient as an anarchist goal or ideal is not, of course, to claim that it is in some way all-sufficient.
  1. Most of our arguments about the definition of anarchy turn out to be, on closer inspection, arguments about its proper scope of application—and there are questions still to be answered.
  1. On the one hand, we have defenders of various archic systems—capitalism, nationalism, racial and gender-based hierarchies—attempting to identify their systems with anarchy, on the basis that the proper scope of anarchy does not include those spheres of human relations.
  1. On the other, we have proponents of various solutions to social problems insisting that their system is a necessarily prerequisite for anarchy.
  1. There is certainly room to disagree about the range of spheres to which anarchy is an applicable standard, in part because anarchists have attempted to apply it in so many contexts.
  1. There is also a range of social systems that may—or may not—really embody anarchistic ideas to an extent that their full realization might produce anarchy within the particular sphere to which they apply.
  1. Perhaps we have to acknowledge that while anarchy may be a partial solution to the widest variety of questions, it is not a compete answer to any of them.
  1. Let us take time to refine our definition of anarchy just a bit more and say explicitly that it is a form of human relations.
  1. We might then break our examination down into a consideration of inter-human relations and relations of humans with non-human nature.
  1. And just as we suggested that once we had eliminated all the hierarchical elements in social relations, something would remain, we should probably say that when we have set aside all the questions of archy or anarchy in those relations, there are plenty of other aspects to consider.
  1. Now, the anarchist intuition has generally been that anarchy is an ideal for all of the relations in the first category, while we may have different opinions regarding the second category.
  1. In order to clarify what is at stake in both cases, it will be helpful to review a bit of Proudhon’s thought and sketch the very broad application of the anarchic ideal to be found there.