Patrick Meier: Resilience in Anarchy? Anarchy vs. Panarchy?

Politics
Patrick Meier
Patrick Meier

Resilience = Anarchism = Resilience?

Resilience is often defined as the capacity for self-organization, which in essence is cooperation without hierarchy. In turn, such cooperation implies mutuality; reciprocation, mutual dependence. This is what the French politician, philo-sopher, economist and socialist “Pierre-Joseph Proudhon had in mind when he first used the term ‘anarchism,’ namely, mutuality, or cooperation without hierarchy or state rule” (1).

As renowned Yale Professor James Scott explains in his latest bookTwo Cheers for Anarchism, “Forms of informal cooperation, coordination, and action that embody mutuality without hierarchy are the quotidian experience of most people.” To be sure, “most villages and neighborhoods function precisely be-cause of the informal, transient networks of coordination that do not require formal organization, let alone hierarchy. In other words, the experience of anar-chistic mutuality is ubiquitous.”

The existence, power and reach of the nation-state over the centuries may have undermined the self-organizing capacity (and hence resilience) of individuals and small communities. Indeed, “so many functions that were once accomplished by mutuality among equals and informal coordination are now state organized or state supervised.” In other words, “the state, arguably, destroys the natural initiative and responsibility that arise from voluntary cooperation.”

This is goes to the heart what James Scott argues in his new book, which he does  in a very compelling manner. Says Scott: “I am suggesting that two centuries of a strong state and liberal economies may have socialized us so that we have largely lost the habits of mutuality and are in danger now of becoming precisely the dangerous predators that Hobbes thought populated the state of nature. Leviathan may have given birth to its own justification.” And yet, we also see a very different picture of reality, one in which solidarity thrives and mutual-aid remains the norm: we see this reality surface over & over during major disasters—a reality facilitated by mobile technology and social media networks.

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Phi Beta Iota:  Panarchy is the term used today to define collaborative relationships without violence or hierarchy, but this post forced us to look anarchy up, and indeed, the common conception of anarchy is as lawless violence is one that has been framed by the critics of anarchy, not the early anarchists themselves.  Today’s anarchists, witness those seeking to undermine Occupy, do believe in violence and bringing down the state by any means, and that is where we — Phi Beta Iota — firmly align ourselves with Panarchy and Peer 2 Peer (P2P).  We can replace the state — we cannot kill the state or we kill ourselves in the process..

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