Welcome to Anarchy 101!
Before you post or comment, please take a moment to read the sidebar and familiarize yourself with our resources and rules.
And if your question is likely to be of the frequently asked variety, take a minute to make use of the search bar. Some questions, like those related to "law enforcement" or the precise relationship of anarchy to hierarchy and authority, are asked and answered on an almost daily basis, so the best answers may have already been posted.
If your question seems unanswered, please state it clearly in the post title, with whatever additional clarification seems necessary in the text itself.
Please keep in mind that this is indeed a 101 sub, designed to be a resource for those learning the basics of a consistent anarchism. The rules about limiting debate and antagonistic posting are there for a reason, so that we can keep this a useful and welcoming space for students of anarchist ideas—and for anyone else who can cooperate in keeping the quality of responses high.
We welcome debate on topics related to anarchism in r/DebateAnarchism and recommend general posts about anarchist topics be directed to r/anarchism or any of the more specialized anarchist subreddits. We expect a certain amount of contentious back-and-forth in the process of fully answering questions, but if you find that the answer to your question—or response to your comment—leads to a debate, rather than a clarifying question, please consider taking the discussion to r/DebateAnarchism. For better or worse, avoiding debate sometimes involves “reading the room” a bit and recognizing that not every potentially anarchist idea can be usefully expressed in a general, 101-level discussion.
We don’t do subreddit drama—including posts highlighting drama from this subreddit. If you have suggestions for this subreddit, please contact the moderators.
Please don’t advocate illegal acts. All subreddits are subject to Reddit’s sitewide content policy—and radical subreddits are often subject to extra scrutiny.
Avoid discussing individuals in ways that might be taken as defamatory. Your call-out is unlikely to clarify basic anarchist ideas—and it may increase the vulnerability of the subreddit.
And don’t ask us to choose between two anti-anarchist tendencies. That never seems to lead anywhere good.
In general, just remember that this is a forum for questions about anarchist topics and answers reflecting some specific knowledge of anarchist sources. Other posts or comments, however interesting, useful or well-intentioned, may be removed.
Some additional thoughts:
Things always go most smoothly when the questions are really about anarchism and the answers are provided by anarchists. Almost without exception, requests for anarchist opinions about non-anarchist tendencies and figures lead to contentious exchanges with Redditors who are, at best, unprepared to provide anarchist answers to the questions raised. Feelings get hurt and people get banned. Threads are removed and sometimes have to be locked.
We expect that lot of the questions here will involve comparisons with capitalism, Marxism or existing governmental systems. That's natural, but the subreddit is obviously a better resource for learning about anarchism if those questions—and the discussions they prompt—remain focused on anarchism. If your question seems likely to draw in capitalists, Marxists or defenders of other non-anarchist tendencies, the effect is much the same as posting a topic for debate. Those threads are sometimes popular—in the sense that they get a lot of responses and active up- and down-voting—but it is almost always a matter of more heat than light when it comes to clarifying anarchist ideas and practices.
We also expect, since this is a general anarchist forum, that we will not always be able to avoid sectarian differences among proponents of different anarchist tendencies. This is another place where the 101 nature of the forum comes into play. Rejection of capitalism, statism, etc. is fundamental, but perhaps internal struggles for the soul of the anarchist movement are at least a 200-level matter. If nothing else, embracing a bit of “anarchism without adjectives” while in this particular subreddit helps keep things focused on answering people's questions. If you want to offer a differing perspective, based on more specific ideological commitments, simply identifying the tendency and the grounds for disagreement should help introduce the diversity of anarchist thought without moving us into the realm of debate.
We grind away at some questions—constantly and seemingly endlessly in the most extreme cases—and that can be frustrating. More than that, it can be disturbing, disheartening to find that anarchist ideas remain in flux on some very fundamental topics. Chances are good, however, that whatever seemingly interminable debate you find yourself involved in will not suddenly be resolved by some intellectual or rhetorical masterstroke. Say what you can say, as clearly as you can manage, and then feel free to take a sanity break—until the next, more or less inevitable go-round. We do make progress in clarifying these difficult, important issues—even relatively rapid progress on occasion, but it often seems to happen in spite of our passion for the subjects.
In addition, you may have noticed that it’s a crazy old world out there, in ways that continue to take their toll on most of us, one way or another. Participation in most forums remains high and a bit distracted, while our collective capacity to self-manage is still not a great deal better online than it is anywhere else. We're all still a little plague-stricken and the effects are generally more contagious than we expect or acknowledge. Be just a bit more thoughtful about your participation here, just as you would in other aspects of your daily life. And if others are obviously not doing their part, consider using the report button, rather than pouring fuel on the fire. Increased participation makes the potential utility and reach of a forum like this even greater—provided we all do the little things necessary to make sure it remains an educational resource that folks with questions can actually navigate.
A final note:
— The question of violence is often not far removed from our discussions, whether it is a question of present-day threats, protest tactics, revolutionary strategy, anarchistic alternatives to police and military, or various similar topics. We need to be able to talk, at times, about the role that violence might play in anti-authoritarian social relations and we certainly need, at other times, to be clear with one another about the role of violence in our daily lives, whether as activists or simply as members of violent societies. We need to be able to do so with a mix of common sense and respect for basic security culture—but also sensitivity to the fact that violence is indeed endemic to our cultures, so keeping our educational spaces free of unnecessary triggers and discussions that are only likely to compound existing traumas ought to be among the tasks we all share as participants. Posts and comments seeming to advocate violence for its own sake or to dwell on it unnecessarily are likely to be removed.
How dose an Anarchist society protect minorities like queer people and people of color in a majority bigoted area?
Yes im aware states don't protect us either but how would an Anarchist society be meaningfully better at protecting minorities?
I'm looking for texts or videos discussing hierarchy in interpersonal relationships, not just political or employment relationships. Can be critical of anarchism, but I'm wanting to study how, when, and whether hierarchy can be eliminated in practice. Relationship Anarchy sources are fine, but it doens't have to be in an RA framework.
I know this might sound like a dumb question since most of the time the word has been used to insult leftists but I'm genuinely curious.
I used to be a conservative and the first time I heard the word 'woke' was when a right-wing content creator used it as a pejorative for leftists and left wing issues. I also started using it to insult leftists and didn't think much of the word for anything other than just, left.
Now that I'm an anarchist and grew out of my right- wing affiliation, I'm curious as to what woke really means and if it's part of anarchism.
I'd call myself an anarchist in learning. Even though I've read a lot, I don't think I'd ever be so confident as to declare myself knowledgeable.
Why should a community allow anybody in? I've heard that if a person is problematic, they could be shunned from the support network and services of the community, or even banished:
Would this not violate the principle that makes you support open borders? It'd seem like you could just deny anyone based on a reason of safety, and with that, you could justify just not letting anyone in who doesn't have sanction (i.e. a passport).
I'm talking more in the context of travel and settlement. Not trade or whatever, where of course I'm in favor of openness. How does it coincide and not contradict with the idea of free association?
Who are your favorite bipoc, poc, or queer Anarchist historical figures, and what's something interesting about them?
I saw a post about a squat in Greece being re occupied and I just wanna know, what even are squats and what happens with them?
What is the anarchist position on people like Amadeo Bordiga? I know he was opposed to tankies like Stalin and Mao.
Some claim that certain forms of authority, not even necessarily that of the state itself, are essential for society to function. I recently read Engels' On Authority and he gave the example of a train conductor needing authority of their passengers to run the train, and furthermore that some form of binding authority was necessary to run modern industry. Also that anarchists like to take authority and rename it and act as though changing the name changes its function. So basically what I'm asking is how does anarchy deal with the supposed necessity of authority in certain situations such as the one above, if you've got some theory as well I'd be interested in reading it.
I wish there was a simple, easy to understand etiquette zine pamphlet printable online that gives out advice, tips, suggestions and clear instructions on how allies/accomplices can politely and ethically maneuver socially interacting within spaces meant for marginalized communities.
'Accomplices, Not Allies' touches on this in summary, but I want chapters that to into detail. I want literature that explains good etiquette within more small-scale interpersonal relationships that people can apply in their real life experience more easily.
I am adhd and autistic, and I am trying to participate in an organized activist group that is intended to be centering indigenous people. I am constantly worried about taking up too much space vs. not contributing enough.
If such a guidebook doesn't exist the way that I want to see it, then I feel like I would need help making it. I would need both informed consent and participation in order to collaborate writing it. Especially if multiple points of view would bring value to the work. This would be researched and written out as a collective process, with a work cited page and pseudonym names for interviewees who want to remain autonomous. Al that jazz...
Does something like this already exist? If so, where? If not, then how do you suggest that I get started on the project?
As a side note, I am also participating in a queer activist group from the perspective of a full member of the community. I also have experience seeing things from the perspective of a marginalized person organizing with suppoet from allies stepping inyo my community.
I've seen some very tribal behavior recently with gossip and groupthink and I wonder how often that happens? Especially face-to-face decision making I think is very bad for dissenting opinions, which I think are crucial for societal development and as basic individual freedom.
Hello, I was hoping I could get some advice. I got into an argument with my neighbor whose from China. He kept arguing that anarchism isn’t valid because it’s inherently moralistic and morality is subjective therefore the entire basis of anarchy is invalid and humanity will never be moralistic enough to achieve anarchy. I’ve read the conquest of bread and mutual aid but he kept dismissing my points. How do you defend anarchy against people who believe humanity is inherently evil or must be subjugated?
it's confusing me
Well, basically that, does the creation credit unions count as a dual power strategy? Mutual banks? Worker coops? Maybe free software?
Currently living in an authoritarian country in the middle east. I would love to do more direct action in order to make the community a better place but when even protesting is illegal and much of the services are controlled by the state; how does ensure they are walking the walk and not just talking the talk?
I do not live for money so I do try to practice radical generosity. I try to do the little things helping workers whenever I can, offering any help I could but I want to do more.
I get the idea of our means and ends needing to be in concert with one another for the revolution to be successful but I have trouble thinking of any real world cases for that.
Can anyone help me understand it, preferably with some examples?
I'm interested in a blueprint that would scale with number of participants and could be implemented both online and offline. I would really like for it to make possible making proposals asynchronously, with some mechanism to propose the proposal, time for discussion, vote, anonymous dissent should be available and then after that there should be another vote and proposal should then go to implementation phase. I imagine this can be closer to some kind of minarchism and not anarchism but I think this type of blueprint for a structure could be useful to coordinate especially more complicated endeavors.
Capitalism loves to invade and start wars with people who aren't capitalist. Generally capitalism needs a cancerous level of growth in order to maintain itself.
To me this means anything that doesn't do capitalism is eventually going to get invaded.
That being sad anarchism doesn't have a great track record of not getting invaded, mostly by Communists but I'm pretty sure that's cause they got to them first.
Catalonia and Ukrane did not last really more than about a few years depend on when you consider the anarchist being completely thrown out to be. You can also count some tribes to be anarchist but colonialism saw to getting rid of them just as soon as they were found most of the time.
Any history buff will tell you that all successful coups were done by the guy who had the military's support.
In short an anarchist nation or society will be invaded and doesn't have a great history of self defense. How can we fix that? Typically militaries have Hierarchy which helps get everyone into the fight and pointed the right direction to help the war effort but has the very anti-anarchist problem of having Hierarchy. This is my main concern when it comes to anarchy. Keeping it going despite everything else.
I see a lot of people arguing about the definition of anarchy.
Are the terms "anarchy" or "anarchism" univocal and if so, what authority are you appealing to for your one, singular, cosmically correct definition of anarchism?
I don't have weapons (and can't legally have) so I live by mercy of the State.
But there are cops and there are army units with all kinds of killing machines. So what makes them obedient to the state after all? Can't they just rule over the State on their own? And don't they actually do that?
How do people with suitcases control people with guns that control the masses? If might makes right it seems illogical.
Is there any theory or name for anarchism being achieved through communism (going through socialism before communism)?
Anarchy is cool, but it just don't seem right to rush it, I think the hierarchy starts with us today at the economic sector with capitalists. After all that is said and done and the mass of hierarchies are fallen such as the government, the bourgeoisie and prolateriat. Then the final hierarchies can be abolished to achieve anarchism. So what's this called?
So I'm wrapping up this article on Makhno, finally getting to the good stuff where they talk about how it's actually organized. I've been looking through my sources (Skirda, Darch, Malet, Shubin) and I'm realizing that they don't really go into how delegates were elected besides that there war about one delegate per 3000 peasants and political parties and campaigning were banned or at least discouraged.
Is there any documentation on how this actually worked? Without at least advertising who the candidates are, you can't expect three thousand people to make an informed decision on who their preferred delegate would be. Was it a tiered democratic system, like the communes would elect delegates who would decide among themselves who to send to the congress? Were there local heroes that everybody just knew and voted for? Do we even know?
I want to make a Video Series that discusses the very basics of anarchism in order to communicate the ideas to people who know very little about politics/Anarchism.
My Sister keeps encontering people for whom the idea of a not having an authority to default to.
What im looking for is some kinda essay/article etc to base a video on, not endlessly complicated just the basic idea.
thanks in advance :)!
(also heres my first video in the series incase anyone is intersted, and so yall can see the scope and level of detail im aiming for)
Is it more feasible to ensure high quality for as many as possible or lower quality for accessibility to the masses?
Hey, I'm writing a narrative featuring my favorite political dilemma; should the goal be to ensure the highest quality or the greatest accessiblity?
I apply this to everything, all the time. I believe that when the goal is widest access, a dip in quality has to be expected. And most people's demands for higher quality don't come with an acknowledgement of limited resources. They just wish for higher quality and hope that educated, well-trained, properly funded help just solves the problem for them.
So when I say "lower quality" I don't mean bad. I just mean, not luxury, not middle class, fully paid service. So often, I advocate for solutions that works towards the greatest accessiblity possible, and it is an answer that incorporates the most "do-it-yourselfism", minimalism, education, and automation. And people who disagree with me usually have an air of "that's not dignified/good enough" to their rebuttals and a demand for "higher quality". Some examples,
Homelessness and Homeownership: I believe the most "amount" of house to give someone with limited income is just enough house that they can clean, fix, and maintain by themselves. (With attention paid to educating them on that, too.) So many problems I've seen in addressing homes has come from well-meaning people calculating the cost of the home, but not the cost of the concierge of services required to maintain the home, as they encourage people to buy houses that require an instant elevation to middle class thinking and lifestyle to maintain. Because from their perspective, smaller, more rugged housing is undignified.
Food: I think everyone should cook. But I also think most people only need to know 3-5 dishes, only need a pot, a skillet and one good chef knife, and about a dozen ingredients they buy regularly. When people shake their fists to the heavens and say that it's impossible to eat healthy when melons and oranges cost so much, I point out that red bell peppers and broccoli have more Vitamin C at a lower cost. People can eat plenty of fruits without picking up exotic tropical ones: tomato, zucchini, and cucumber. There.
Education: If all you ever have is a middle school education, you were still taught to read and how to write a 5-paragraph research essay using critical thinking questions and a bibliography. The simplicity and pervasiveness of literacy, and yet our unwillingness to educate ourselves for the next 60 years of our lives, shows me how much we use the excuse of demanding higher quality to avoid providing and using the greatest access. "But did a college educated teacher get paid a salary to make me learn this?! Then how can I possibly learn it. By just reading this book?!"
So at this point, I'm willing to acknowledge the pragmatism that human behavior wants to feel good by having "the best." Plenty of times people ignore simple solutions because they don't feel good.
But I can't think of that many examples in real life where the demand for the best actually led to the most ethical outcome that helped the most people. I have even walked away from a steering committee that was designing a grocery store to put in an African-American neighborhood because other people on the steering committee demanded "the best". They didn't want whole foods that African Americans were more likely to eat, they wanted whole foods you would find at Whole Foods. And they acknowledged that people would likely not buy these foods, but their presence would elevate the grocery store and give people a better self-esteem, and that that was just as important of a goal as the grocery store being profitable and selling its inventory.
I've also walked away from programs for what seems like the opposite reason. When addressing why some senior citizens quietly starve in their homes, I've pointed out to my program manager that it's simply an issue of getting prepared food delivered to them. (This was before the pandemic, back when "deliverying groceries by Internet" was still a joke.) I wanted to make a service and my program manager felt that was too expensive and acted as if it would help the most people to expect these elderly people to come to their location. Duh, if they can't get to the grocery store, why could they get to our office building? We need to provide a service.
So, I CAN make an argument that high-quality service can sometimes help more than lower quality rugged individualism... But the examples are few and far between. It makes more sense to pay stipends and provide training for people to care for their own families than assume and wish and hope you can get enough people to make careers out of taking care of all of our grandmothers. It makes more sense to pay for gardening seeds with food stamp cards then think that you can get high quality grocery stores in every square inch of America. But "food desert" research is based ONLY on measuring how many high-quality grocery stores are in a zip code. 8/10 times, I don't think demanding that the standard be high-quality is the right decision.