Whether in government or a company, bureaucracy is the buzzkill at the creativity festival, the red tape glued to the soles of your combat boots. When efficiency wanes, and systems start to decay, there's a detour called anarchy—a route that leads to decentralization, responsibility, and grassroots action. Anarchy has gotten a bad rap, but as the wheels of traditional systems grow increasingly rusty, weighed down by their own inefficiencies, anarchy offers a form of societal WD-40—a way to keep the machine running smoothly without the grinding halt of bureaucratic decay.
What Anarchy Isn't
Contrary to popular belief, anarchy doesn't mean chaos or lawlessness. The misconception that anarchy is synonymous with chaos often stems from both historical and media portrayals. In movies, books, and news media, "anarchy" often becomes shorthand for social disorder and violence. Moreover, politicians and pundits have often employed the term pejoratively to suggest that any move away from centralized authority (them, naturally) would lead to societal collapse.
It's important to clarify what anarchy means: a state of society without government or a governing authority. The term originates from the Greek word "anarkhia," where "an-" means "without" and "-arkhia" means "ruler." Although, even there, some of the ancient Greeks used it in the way we're arguing against.
Anarchy is not a new idea. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, Leo Tolstoy, and Emma Goldman all advocated for its principles. Tolstoy proclaimed that government was inherently corrupt, and Emma Goldman declared that anarchy is "a movement of human liberation."
Net Neutrality – A Tale of Double Standards and Recent Developments
With control of the FCC switching back to Democrats under the Biden administration, there are new plans to reassert Net Neutrality. While this move is purportedly to prevent corporations from controlling the flow of information, it's worth noting the irony. Other arms of the government seem laser-focused on controlling speech on those very platforms. Leaked files and Twitter trails reveal a deeper hypocrisy: while politicians and bureaucrats may publicly rail against corporate influence, they aren't averse to dictating the narrative behind closed doors. The issue, it seems, isn't who controls the narrative, but that the control remains centralized in the corridors of power.
Martin Gurri and the New Public Trust
As Martin Gurri breaks down inThe Revolt of the Public, the rise of social media and digital platforms has corroded trust in government and corporate institutions and left a power vacuum—an ideal ground for anarchy to flourish.
It is important to note that Gurri does not endorse anarchy. He believes that traditional institutions are important for maintaining social order and protecting individual rights. However, he also acknowledges that the rise of social media and the internet has created a challenge for traditional institutions. He writes, "The internet and social media are changing the way we live and the way we think. They are also changing the way we organize ourselves and the way we challenge authority. The implications of these changes for the future of anarchy are still unfolding."
Practical Steps Toward Decentralization
Before diving into anarchy's practical steps, remember: Anarchy isn't about creating chaos but fostering organic, community-driven order. As Ludwig von Mises once said in his book Human Action, 'Society... always involves men acting in cooperation with other men in order to let all participants attain their own ends.'
That's part of what we're thinking about when we talk about people being "Not Greater or Less Than". (Its also a side benefit that our NGLT symbol looks like two sideways anarchy symbols.) We all have a role to play in a humanistic dance and our interactions make things better for each other.
In that light, here are some steps we can take to foster a more decentralized world:
Local Action: Empower grassroots initiatives like food banks and community gardens. No need for centralized approval.
Information Flow: Work on better communication through social media and open-source software to share knowledge in engaging ways.
Tech Tools: Leverage blockchain, encryption, and decentralized finance
Community Voice: Utilize consensus decision-making to ensure everyone has input.