By definition, anarchy is a state of disorder. This state is created by either the absence of authority or its non-recognition by elements within the general public. To some, it is a political ideal that rejects the idea of a societal hierarchy. It allows individuals to pursue an absolute level of freedom that would not be obtainable others.
To others, the process of anarchy creates a state of nihilism. Instead of creating order in society, there is a feeling that disorder, mayhem, and turmoil are desired.
Although it is often listed as a form of governing, anarchy is more a form of self-government than a formalized ruling structure. As such, there are certain pros and cons of this type of structure which are worth evaluating.
List of the Pros of Anarchy
1. It adds creativity to the problem-solving process.
Anarchy depends upon individuals to resolve their problems and differences. Some solutions can be discovered in ways that formal governments may not be able to complete. Imagine a world where the United States and North Korea could cut through all the rhetoric about who has the bigger button to deal with the core issues that each country faces. That would prevent a lot of the tension and worry that people experience every time they turn on the news.
2. It eliminates the negative elements of society that binds people together.
People tend to bind themselves into relationships because they share a common disgust. Wouldn’t it be better to form relationships based on common principles and ideals? Anarchy, at its core, allows individuals to create their own path in life, based on their own perspectives, experiences, and tolerance levels. Instead of coming together because people hate something, people come together because they are passionate about their future.
3. It encourages discussion and cooperation to find common ground.
Anarchy encourages every opinion to be shared. Get enough people together to shout down an opinion and the majority rules the day. How is that any different than any other form of governing? Republicans wouldn’t even hold hearings for Merrick Garland after he was nominated. They used obstructionism to get their point across. There are other ways to do this as well that do not necessarily involve violence.
4. It looks for ways to find enjoyment in a world that seems to have none.
Take a look around you right now. Take a look at your own heart. Are you truly happy right now? Are your neighbors happy? Or are you trying to make your way through the world, day-by-day, hoping to catch glimpses of wonder while waiting for a miracle? From the perspective of anarchy, you get to choose happiness. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world is doing. You pursue what you need. You get to make yourself a top priority.
5. It rejects elements of guilt or shame that are tied to definitions of morality that cannot be obtained.
Guilt and shame are two mechanisms that hold people back from their full potential. You could add fear to that list as well. Governments create a fear of imprisonment to prevent you from committing certain acts. Religions create a fear of eternal condemnation to generate compliance with certain spiritual facets. These negative elements are then tied to individual morality. If you accept these fears, then you can be moral, but that morality is defined by others. Anarchy suggests you control your own definition of morality.
6. It respects the complexity of the world at the individual level.
Anarchy is not against individuals. It is against the artificial suppression of the individual within a society that says such suppression is acceptable. There is a complexity to the human existence that is beautiful beyond words. That beauty deserves respect. The only respect it gains in a world dominated by hierarchal structures is based on its usefulness in generating profits for businesses and governments.
7. It allows for individual privacy.
When you start doing business with a company today, you are forced to provide tons of personal information to create an account. They want to know your birthday. They want to know how much money you make. You’ll hand over your address, the names of your children, your phone number, and other personal information… for what? To buy something that you don’t really need? Anarchy eliminates this issue completely. You are entitled to your personal privacy. If someone attempts to invade it, then you can do something about it.
List of the Cons of Anarchy
1. It creates followers, just like any other form of societal control.
Many people like the idea of anarchy. It puts stars in their eyes because they see a future world where they can be themselves. Then what do they do? They start following the people that they think are the best anarchists. They begin to emulate these people, even idolize them, in an attempt to replicate their success into their own personal success. Anarchy isn’t about the creation of clones or followers. It is about discovering what your personal purpose for life should entail.
2. It prevents people from leaving abusive relationships.
Some anarchists do use violence to get their point across. That violence should not be targeted at an individual. True anarchy is about throwing off the structures of hierarchy which place some people in a privileged spot and others in a place of disadvantage. Putting someone else down to raise yourself up is not ethical. Breaking a window to let your voice be heard is much different that cracking someone over the head with a baseball bat.
3. It is often confused as a form of socialism.
For those who do not practice anarchy, the processes involved are often incorrectly compared to socialism. When people think of socialism today, they tend to go to the extreme examples of it that were implemented by Communist regimes. Anarchy is not Communism. It rejects the hierarchal structures of Communism, just as it rejects those structures in a democracy. What drives anarchy is a self-fulfilling desire to put something together that works for you on a personal level without the interference of someone delegating that to you.
4. It is supported by individuals who have different definitions of what anarchy is.
Anarchy is a lot like the modern Christian church. There are many different groups who think they have found the one true definition of this structure. They fail to respect that anarchy is defined by each individual. There is nothing wrong with a group of like-minded individuals coming together. It is when those groups attempt to enforce their definition of anarchy on everyone else that trouble begins. Far too many people pursuing anarchy become part of structures that they once fought against without recognizing what has happened to them.
5. It requires real-world experience to make it functional.
There is a certain idealism that can be found within the world of anarchy. You can read books by philosophers who have advocated for the personal freedoms that anarchy encourages. You can even become a philosopher yourself. The trouble is that one must be driven by their own motivations for this structure to work. You are not told what to do or how to be. That means there is more openness within the creativity allowed for individuals and some people just can’t handle it. That’s why functionality is dictated by experienced instead of idealism.
6. It can create isolation.
You can make plenty of friends while practicing the tenets of anarchy. You can also find yourself in a world where you are very much alone. There are plenty of good intentions to be found when pursuing the principles of anarchy. There can be a lot of positivity. For someone not so tolerant about differing ideas, however, the processes of anarchy can lead to high levels of isolation.
7. It can be overly ambitious.
At the end of the day, a structure based on anarchy tends to be inefficient and overly ambitious. Because no one is required to be on the same page when dealing with societal issues, the top priority becomes more about meeting personal needs than group, community, or national needs. An elimination of hierarchy structures can make large communities vulnerable because there is no true representative that can act on the behalf of others.
8. It is often romanticized.
Anarchy is about the struggle to survive. It is about fighting for oneself and supporting loved ones. That requires creativity, grit, and passion. The idealism of anarchy is very different than its reality. When people discover this, they often flee from the idealism because they don’t want to put in the work to make things happen. Hierarchy wins because it gains compliance through bribery.
These anarchy pros and cons provide a glimpse into what society would be like if all hierarchal structures were eliminated from it. There would certainly be a higher level of personal freedom that individuals could obtain. There would also be the risk of greater harm happening to those who find themselves in disadvantaged positions.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.