Anarchist FAQ/What is Anarchism?/2.3
A good place to start to answer this question might be The Cathedral and the Bazaar, a treatise by Eric S. Raymond, who considered theories of software engineering in terms of two fundamentally different development styles - the hierarchical and secretive model of Bill Gates' proprietary Microsoft which he dubbed the 'cathedral' model used by most of the commercial design organizations, and contrasted that with the apparently chaotic approach of Linus Torvalds during the development of Linux, in which the source was freely available and anyone could participate - which Raymond compared with the activities of an open market, or bazaar where people organize themselves.
There are essentially two sorts of authority:
- Hierarchical or 'religious' authority led by a ubiquitous monotheistic god who appoints a single mortal monarch /royal family/ king / pope a few cardinals or nobles selected by the monarch, several priests or knights trained and selected by the nobles but authorized by the monarch, a majority of followers who either do as they are told or are liable to be punished.
- Sapient or 'wisdom' authority, in which people specialise and refine their skills, combine their experience and accept that there is a limitation to their superior knowledge.
Unfortunately, most of us are intellectually lazy, and tend to defer to 'experts' who then establish universities and protect themselves from criticism in the so-called ivory towers of a hierarchy! For wise experts like every one else tend to laziness and hate having their pet theories mauled by challenges that are difficult to meet.
We humans were, for much of our history, hunters and gatherers. Then hunters and gatherers specialized, with the gatherers turning to agriculture and settlements, whilst the hunters and herdsmen continued the traditional seasonal migration and exploration lifestyle. Much human history is about wars and invasions in which the trained hunters turned their attention to the rich agriculturalists, whom they 'hunted' killed and finally 'herded' by fear of torture or death, the very same technique used to entrap wild animals.
Religion placed a cloak of respectability over the brutality of warfare, and also trained the followers to obey orders, and to react to common threats, which is why heresy and apostasy was, and in some societies, still is commonly a capital offense punishable by death. However, religion also includes moral and cultural aspects which regulate normal civilized behaviour, as well as the conduct of participants on the battlefield or during war time.
Globalization is mainly a European phenomenon following the discovery of the New World, for societies in Asia and China were tightly regulated, and had little opportunity for exploration, whilst in Africa and the Americas, there was enough space for everyone and so tribes and communities were common, whilst kingdoms and empires were relatively rare.
It may be significant that the age of the enlightenment which followed the colonization and exploitation of the New World in the 18th and 18th centuries allowed 'outrageous' 'heretical' and 'disgusting' intellectual and philosophical ideas & thoughts to be developed which had a dramatic impact in moral and social reform. The most significant reforms were the French Revolution, and Les droits d'Homme and the American Constitution which followed shortly afterwards.
Reformers aspired towards governmental consolidation, centralisation and primacy of the nation-state, and perversely, greater rights for common people. There was also a strong attempt to supplant the authority of aristocracy and established churches in social and political life, forces that reformers considered to be reactionary, oppressive and superstitious.The Enlightenment also focused on natural rights, the social contract and checks and balances to power. It opened up peoples eyes to knowledge, and saw the birth of the scientific method.
In the 20th century, warfare became industrialized and highly efficient killing machines and fearful weapons emerged. In in reaction to a global conflict, the United Nations was formed and in 1948 issued The Universal Declaration of Human Rights without which modern anarchic ideas could not have taken root.
Like every other human society, despite its philosophy of equality, anarchist leaders emerged, and the movement was colonized by opportunists intent on punishing what they saw as 'evil'. Anarchy has thus come to mean anyone who uses force against 'regular authorities'.