Voluntary law flows from the ancient truth that society cannot be organized without the use of domination, fraud and coercion, unless each member follows their own code.  Conversely, it is the quality of each person following their own code that makes an anarchy (in the sense of a self -organized society) exist as a recognizable social entity possessing organization.  A pure anarchy may be very highly organized, and may be much more highly organized than an authoritarian society.  Anarchies, while punishing hypocrisy and allowing for self-defense, exclude the exercise of compulsory authority of one person over another.  In the limiting, ideal case, self-rule is anarchy’s only organizing motive force.  If any organizing force other than self-rule is at work, the society is not an anarchy in the purest sense.

By “only motive force,” I mean that there is no compulsion of any person or group on another, using coercive or fraudulent levers, requiring that a law be followed.  When each person is participating knowingly and voluntarily, each in a sense is following her own internal law.  Whether or not the internal laws of different people happen to be the same, or are written down somewhere: justification for enforcement every law flows only from its self-adoption.  All law is in a sense internal, but in self-organizing societies, no law exists except those which each person decides to follow, without threats or fear of punishment.

There is endless confusion about consequences and fear in self-organizing societies.  In authoritarian societies, there are consequences and fear associated with failing to follow the law willed by some imposed authority.  In self-organizing societies, there are consequences and fear associated with two things: (1) failing to follow one’s personal honor code or “law”, or (2) adopting a personal honor code that people in all available support networks view as abominable.  In the first case, one who fails to follow their own law cannot be trusted, and thus will not find it possible to enter into trust-based relationships upon which society depends.  In the second case, the person adopting a law that all condemn is not untrustworthy per se, but will be shunned as one that holds to contemptible or dangerous views.  However, such pressures arise naturally from the population as a whole, and not by the will or whim of an individual or collective entity.

Coercion is willed by identifiable entities.  Fraud is likewise willed.  Self-organizing societies eliminate coercion and fraud in the adoption and application of law, but not natural pressures to behave sociably.  Naturally occurring, non-coerced and truthfully-based  shunning does NOT amount to coercion.  Shunning cannot be considered coercion, because a duty to serve or transact with another cannot be imposed on any free person, without violating basic notions of self-sovereignty.  In other words, it would be illogical to consider shunning to be coercive, per se.  A person who voluntarily decides to shun another is not free, if shunning is forbidden.  However, shunning that occurs as a result of fraudulent disparagement of the person shunned, or as a result of threats of force against those who would otherwise not choose to shun, is certainly a form of coercion.

Thus, the essential organizing principle in self-organizing societies is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the the law.”  If “what thou wilt” includes initiation of aggression or fraud, however, imperfections in order arise.  Well-ordered anarchies need something in addition to self-rule, sometimes called reciprocity or love.  It has been recognized since ancient times that social order depends on reciprocity, which has two principle aspects or “prongs”:  esteem by members of the society of a higher, non-subjective morality, insofar as consistent with treating others as you would like to be treated in similar circumstances.  These same two principles, or some recognizable variation on them, underlie every well-ordered anarchy.

For further discussion of intertwined anarchies and how self-organized societies can become states based on adopting different moral principles, read on at http://jakespake.blogspot.com/2015/08/self-organizing-society-and-states.html.

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Photo Credit to Kasi Metcalfe


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