The common notion of ’anarchy’ is the breakdown in law and order. People imagine a state of anarchy to be one of riots, rapes, arson – a general free for all where the weak get trampled by the vicious. It is interesting that the mass media and education has been able to successfully instill these preconceptions in people’s minds. The average person is neither a saint nor an angel, they probably are not rapacious looters and thugs, but that is what people think of their neighbors apparently!
Anarchy is a state where central government does not exist. At the same time the enforcing arms of government – the army and the police do not exist. This is not so hard to imagine. If you go trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan or Tibet you will notice that most of the country is actually free of police, government officials etc. Are these people killing each other? No.
In Thailand on many of the small islands such as Koh Phayam and even on many beaches in Koh Phangan such as Haad Yao and Thong Nai Pan Yai there is 1 policeman at most. He is hardly, if ever seen. I have lived in Thailand for several years and the only bit of law enforcement I have seen a Thai policeman do is to collect a ’fine’ that was probably never handed in.
The truth is that real communities have their own customs, traditions and moral standards and they are able to enforce these standards without outside interference. This is particularly true of small communities. It thus seems apparent that the modern apparatus of government and enforcement is really a function of the urban milieu. Moreover, as inequalities mount between the haves and have-nots the only way to protect the property and wealth of the rich is through government and law. Proudhon said ’property is theft’, and he was right when one man owns everything and the rest are starving. Somewhere in history that one man or his forefathers has stolen the land from the forefathers of those now in penury around him.
It is something to think about.