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Is Anarchism possible?
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History suggests that in practice all Anarchist societies will fail

History has seen a number of small-scale (along with some large-scale) experiments in anarcho-communism. However, these utopias inevitably disintegrate under internal and external pressures.
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Anarchy has been practiced for centuries. However, it was just used as a tool to gain freedom. The American War for Independence resulted in the country becoming a different government system. The French Revolution made the government more liberal and democratic. Anarchist societies rarely lasted long at all. One that still stands today, Freetown Christiania, has become a tourist spot for observing “hippies”.

The Argument

Anarchism is not a viable movement in modern society. Historically, all but a few anarchist societies have rapidly fallen because of internal struggle and external pressure. With such radical ideas, it is easy to understand why such a system is not feasible for large groups–or even smaller groups–in our current society. The first issue with anarchism is that it lacks a single set of principles. There are many different forms and types of anarchism, which makes it hard for people to unify under a single collective set of ideas. Differences between using violence or promoting nonviolence are especially striking, as well as the degree to which government should be involved in a society. The nebulous concepts that “define” anarchism make it particularly difficult to advocate or support. Anarchism also faces a great deal of pressure externally. In much of the world today and in recent history, capitalism has domineered most societies and nations. As anarchism and capitalism directly oppose each other, it is easy to imagine why anarchism and anarchist societies face much external pressure. Even anarchist societies that have been historically considered successful such as Revolutionary Catalonia were defeated by external parties. Another issue–which is most likely the smallest barrier to success for anarchism–is that anarchism has a very poor contemporary reputation (in Western society, at least). Anarchists and anarchism in general are perceived as violent and dangerous. The philosophy is marked by chaos and general disorder. This makes it understandably undesirable to the general populace.

Counter arguments

Although most anarchist societies have quickly failed historically, this does not rule out the potential for success entirely. There was a point in history where all democracies had failed, and now it is the norm in Western civilization. Although history is a good indicator of future success, it is by no means definitive. Especially in these rapidly changing times and with the growth of technology, there is no telling of what is possible. With modern day attempts at anarchism or nations that follow pseudo-anarchist principles being relatively successful (i.e. Rojava or the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement), perhaps a true anarchist society will soon be realized. It’s good to acknowledge their efforts. They could grow into an anarchy community like past ones. Or they could very well redefine what it means to be an anarchist community. Definitions change all the time. Even though there are no true anarchies today, it’s safe to say that the definition of anarchy could change over time. In the past, anarchies existed as a communal rebellion that was often militaristic.[1] Now, most of the anarchist movements implement hierarchy and individualism. Regardless, the goal is still the same. The groups want to cause change.



-Contemporary debates about systems of political organisation should be informed by historical evidence.


[P1] History has proven that anarchist societies don’t succeed in the long run. [P2] Modern anarchist communities don’t follow the idea of true anarchy.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] History does not define the success of current anarchist societies. [Rejecting P2] Modern anarchist societies could redefine what anarchy means.


This page was last edited on Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 16:18 UTC