Guest Post: The Natural Law Of Civil Society

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Free Radical

This is the most recent post in an ongoing series, most recently "The Metaphysics of Freedom"

The Natural Law of Civil Society

The best interpreter of the law is custom. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Individuals do not always, if ever, exercise their freedoms so as to promote order in everyone’s lives. On the contrary, in seeking order in their own lives, individuals tend to impinge upon the lives of at least some others, if only because, in their efforts to cooper-ate with one party – i.e., to exchange one or another good or service to their mutual advantage – they inadvertently compete with another party, in which case one or the other must accordingly lose. But insofar as this process of exchange promotes the division of labor, resulting in the provision of a wider variety of goods and services that in turn improves individuals’ lot in life, the gains far exceed the losses. For how else could the human species have advanced at all, much less to a stage that was inconceivable little more than a century, or even mere decades, ago? How else could it have harnessed electricity, for example – or invented the locomotive, the telegraph, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, the computer, the cell phone, email, the World Wide Web, etc. – if not but through this cooperative, if inevitably competitive, process?

When individuals eschew cooperation, however, and instead aggress against one an-other in order to improve their lot in life – i.e., when they initiate the use of force – then the social enterprise is thereby thwarted, prompting society to develop the means to minimize aggression, to adjudicate the disputes that arise as a result thereof, and to provide restitution for those aggressed against in such a way that society as a whole is preserved. Society develops a system of law, in other words, and traditionally this system has been known as customary or common law – i.e., law that is “developed through decisions of courts and similar tribunals … rather than through legislative statutes or executive action.” And of fundamental importance in the development of such law is that it is based on reciprocity:

Reciprocities are the basic source both of the recognition of duty to obey law and of law enforcement in a customary law system. That is, individuals must “ex-change” recognition of certain behavioral rules for their mutual benefit.

In noting that such exchange is fundamental to both money and law, it should be no surprise, then, that

… the origin, formation, and ultimate process of all social institutions … is essentially the same as the spontaneous order Adam Smith described for markets. Mar-kets coordinate interactions, as does customary law. Both develop as they do be-cause the actions they are intended to coordinate are performed more effectively under one system or process than another. The more effective institutional arrangement replaces the less effective one.

Like customary money, in other words, customary law evolves over time, as the members of society come to agreement through a process of trial and error to determine which laws best promote their mutual wellbeing. As such, legal reciprocity is part of a seamless process of cooperative interaction that is “marketable” precisely as monetary reciprocity is. For both are products of the aforementioned spontaneity – i.e., “the emergence of various kinds of social order from a combination of self-interested individuals” – that naturally arises from such reciprocation. Thus is law natural to man, and thus do customary money and customary law form the core of man’s morality, the social enter-prise unfolding through the application of this twofold ethic of reciprocity. 

As the application can vary, however, from proper to perverse – i.e., from logical re-straint to pathological intervention – we examine the implications thereof in my next submission: “Positively Wrong: Positivism, That Is.”



Bruce L. Benson, The Enterprise of Law, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1990, p. 12.
ii  Ibid., p. 15.

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Jerry Maguire's picture

Put another way, "customary money", or precious metals, is in harmony with natural law; fiat money is in conflict with it.

And I'll anticipate the next installment by saying that "positivism" is precisely the denial of natural law, so that a positivist will renounce a precious metals standard for money.

A government that denies natural law will not recognize any inherent or moral limits on itself and is a danger to its subjects and others.  The most important indicator of a government's denial of natural law is its position on whether there is a natural standard for money, or no standard whatever other than the government's own will, or "policy".


Azannoth's picture

The denial of the natural law is in everything, people instead of learing about Nature try to control it and mold it into their image, we are encouraged to ignore our natural instincts and induldge in our animalistic desires of sex, food and comfort without knowing or careing about the outcome.

We are corrupted from the younges age with religion, patriotism, consumptionism and not every1 is strong enough to resist and fight the corruption

TDoS's picture

Let's not kid ourselves. Money itself, is a violation of natural law. Everything we call advancement is only so when viewed through a prism that neglects to see all of the slavery and violence on which it stands.  Over the last seven thousand years, any group of people who resisted the enclosure of a hierarchical-capital system, were slaughtered.

If we measure our advancement as a species in gadgetry, we can only call it advancement by ignoring the mountains we have demolished, the oceans we have acidified and filled with trash, and the human, plant, and animal souls we have quashed under our boots to achieve.

We forget so quickly what brings us life -- the Earth we are so eager to bury under heaps of tossed out inventions.


dark pools of soros's picture

a few shamwows can clean up the gulf spill

goldsaver's picture

Yet, you suffer from the typical malady of the naive idealist. You assume that man, in its natural state, without hierarchical societies or violent conformity lived in an idyllic world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Man, at its most basic, is a violent creature. When organized in the most basic societal forms, the basic tribe, it lives under a system of violent servitude. The strongest warrior is the tribal chief, the wounded or sick warrior is discarded or killed. The strongest tribes held control of water and food sources, the weakest died.

You assume that the less advanced man did not destroy mountains. But the Egyptians open quarried stones to create the pyramids. The Mayan culture disappeared due to deforestation and overpopulation. The native American nations followed the buffalo in order to survive and slaughtered other nations for sport.

Today we have more trees than in the days of the mayflower. We have extended life expectancy by decades. We have cured childhood diseases that used to decimate a large percentage of infants. We have practically eliminated most human conditions that led to misery and extinction. Do those conditions still exist? Yes. Usually in less "advanced" societies. You don't see starving children with flies all over their faces in western societies. But they are common fare in Africa or North Korea.

I have traveled thru former communist nations and parts of the middle east. You have not seen contamination as its found in those nations. We complain about parts per million of GMO particles in our water, while in Central America you have to remove the feces and boil your water before drinking it. Spend a day in a border city like El Paso. You can stand in the parking lot of UTEP and look at the suburbs of Juarez. Take a good look and then turn around and look at the quality of life in El Paso.

Money is the reward for innovation and achievement. The wealthiest the nation, the cleaner the environment, the healthier the population, the freer the individual.

trav7777's picture

Also, ruminate on why all of the land mammals in the Americas larger than the bison are extinct.  The peace loving nature harmonizers hunted them to it.

Then, ruminate on the untold numbers slaughtered by the Wrights in their invention of the airplane, Edison in his lightbulb, Intel in their microprocessor, Bell Labs in the transistor...etc.  Oh wait, nobody was slaughtered.

Bearster's picture

+1 ding ding ding!

Even the author of this post, trying to defend free markets, unintentionally equates "losing" when someone takes your property by force to "losing" when a competitor takes your customer.

But the latter case is not a case of "taking".  You cannot assume, as a matter of course, customer loyalty forever.  Each purchase transaction is a voluntary exchange.  The business who the customer did not choose is not "losing" in the same sense as the property owner who is robbed by the thief.

TDoS's picture

That misinformation about the Pleistocene overkill was debunked ages ago.

Yes, no one dies because of industry or ever has.  No one in Asia lives in a landfill picking apart your discarded electronics.  No one in the middle east has ever been killed for oil to run your airplanes and cars.  And of course, we don't care about the suffering of factory farmed animals or the children who stitch shoes together in a factory in Dhaka. 

Oh regional Indian's picture

Trav, for a seemingly intelligent person, your view is very uni-polar.

People did not.have not dies because of all those inventions?

Are you kidding yourself? People have been dying precisely because of them since the day they were invented.

Think about it. Our current, invented reality is a violent one. And has tons of collatreral damage.


Sean7k's picture

And you lie faster than an indian brave can ride a horse. You prove the worst examples, but fail to provide excellent examples of native populations, such as aboriginies, brazilian indian groups, the Inca's or the Mongols that depended on tribal power structures that revered their environments, were excellent in foreign diplomacy, and did not coerce their populations to provide for a priviledged class.

The Egyptians and Mayans had more in common with typical monarchial governments which typically destroyed environments. Please give one example where indians slaughtered other nations for sport. Especially in light of the travesties perpetrated by Andrew Jackson for the purpose of attaining cheap land and resources. Study the Spanish American war as well.

How would we know if we have more trees now then in the days of the Mayflower? I don't remember any indian inventory systems in place at the time. Did you go back in a time machine?

As for contamination, many places in America have water that is chemically poisoned in ways that would make feces an improvement. How's that flouride working for you? Our children have the faces of obesity and diabetes as we are force fed agricultural poisons and refined foods that destroy our organs. As for life spans, the Greeks and Romans often lived into their seventies and eighties. Indo- european groups live into their 100's. 

For all our wealth, we are neither the healthiest nation or the one with the best standard of living. We aren't even in the top ten. We can't even educate our people.

There are many excellent things about America, but your diatribe is complete propaganda.

TDoS's picture

Well said.  People will take any biased tidbit of information and grow it into a mantra if doing so allows them to continue in their race for the status quo, unobstructed by moral qualms or conscientious objections.

LowProfile's picture

Please give one example where indians slaughtered other nations for sport.

Define "sport", sport.

TDoS's picture

Egyptians and Mayans are not examples of non-civilized, stateless peoples.  They are examples of the modern, hierarchical, civilized norm.  

More trees than before the Mayflower, but less biodiversity.  The tress you are referring too are saplings of very few, limited species, which are grown for a handful of years before being cut down for industry.  Ancient forests, and thus the biomes they contained, are wiped out.  If you are suggesting that a grid pattern of Douglas Firs is just as good, you are a fool.

We have eliminated human conditions that lead to misery? Perhaps in the first world, but only by supplanting our misery on the peoples of central and south America, Africa, and Asia, while simultaneously becoming addicted to a dwindling energy source.  Nice try though.

Further, I am in no way advocating communism.  Your counter argument is a patchwork of loose facts and statistics that really have nothing to do with anything other than a soundbite attempt to defend the status quo.

If you want to defend statism and capital interaction, at least be honest about it and say that you don't care about the environment.  Just come out and say that you don't care about the suffering of those who grow your food (or who are your food,) those who make your clothes, and those who do all the heavy lifting so you can live a misery free life of comfort.  Just be honest.

AnAnonymous's picture

Yet, you suffer from the typical malady of the naive idealist.


Propaganda has grown extremelly sad as propagandists no longer waste time on thinking of good, credible propaganda. And renewed. More than anything, renewed. Because the whole comment spreads old, overused propaganda.

Money is the reward for innovation and achievement. The wealthiest the nation, the cleaner the environment, the healthier the population, the freer the individual.

Extortion of the weak works. Farming the poor works. Performing them well is an achievement, finding new ways of is innovation and money comes as a reward.

That is the main achievement by the US: becoming the greatest extorter of the weak, the  greatest farmer of poors in the human history.

Do these two activities lead to the quoted advantages? Extorters are wealthy, they live in the best places, they can afford better healthcare and they are freer as they are free of their own extortion schemes.


 We have practically eliminated most human conditions that led to misery and extinction. Do those conditions still exist?

Of course these conditions always exist and can but exist. Extorters live off extorted. They need extorted to thrive. Extortion is a status that can not be extended. It can not become universal. Extortion only exists to the extend extorted are  put into play.

And extortion allows to get out of misery and definitively better the standard of life.


Always the same song.


Condensed propaganda; everybody is equal etc... Funny how when it comes to misdeeds, propagandists love to see people equal. They are equal in crimes.

So tribal indians killed people for sports. In what quantity? Not big though. Tribal warfare was only sustainable in the way it did not kill many people. Nothing to do with the current state of wars. The sports attitude survive in Europe until WWI (this in spite of already hitting a casualty rate higher than tribal indian warfare)

US citizens joining the US army for the lolz, for the sports, for enjoying an opportunity to kill people free of charge are a sizeable number. They do it because Iraqis are easy and wont bring much danger to them. And they do it in a magnitude that goes beyond what was performed by the Indians.

But the propaganda wants people to be equal. There is no longer a sense of measure. So we end with that the Indians killed for sports. The casualties rate by the Indians was so high it was obscene and good riddance with them and their system.

We no longer killed for sports. That is the way. The first denial. Without the denial,  we have to focuse how many people are killed for the lolz, if higher or lower etc...  Wonder if people getting killed by dozens over a year is equal to people being killed by hundreds or thousands over a year. Not good for propaganda.



Pollution: the pollution has been exported.





benburnyanki's picture

You are a god damn Jew Mafia EHM Economic Hit Man c*cksuker mate! Read EHM you two faced forked tongue beatch of Big Money as you make IMF loans to Indians in S.A. that bankrupts them so you can take over their land. Fuk U EHM.

Your type flickers at 30 frames a second which is all day on Fox News TV which uses 30 frames a second which is a harmonic of the brains 10 cycles per second frequency. You *ssh*le NSA pukes use this TV hypnotism to bullshit us to thinking its allright to fuck up the air in China so we can have an iPhone to impress our Jew Mafia Dona Pig Gringo Bitches so they will let us sleep with them one night a week when they are not doing their girlfriends the other 6 nights.

OK madam et madomiselles, et homes, please be so kindly as to realize we so f**ked its not funny. You better realize the banking Jew Mafia branch (not to be confused with their Jew Mafia Branches in Hollywood, Wall Street (Madoff was one), FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, DHS, EPA, FDA, FCC, and Treasury, Bush's Cabinet Mafia, Banana Republic Obama Jamma Cabinet Mafia and all the others really run America.

Mayer Lansky Jew Mob Boss ran america, not the Sicialian Mafia folks.

All the crazy b**ches that had babies in a world run by the Mafia are Mafia Dona Pigs who only care about what goes in and what comes out of their little fat *sses.

Having babies around Mafia like smokin' cigarettes in gunpowder factory!

Now repeat after me: this is my rifle this is my gun, this one's fer mafia, this one's for c*nt.

Ben Burnyankee say: "We wacked Jesus & JFK for Bank Bustin' and walked, and have a 40 foot container of Gringo Bar-B-Q sauce"

Read Best Bank Book "None Dare Call It Conspiracy":

See NSA and CIA drug dealin' in USA:

RockyRacoon's picture

A two week wonder on ZH.  Sure wish you'd crawl back under your rock.

Andy Lewis's picture

Fuck off and die, Nazi filth.

trav7777's picture

Go live in a fuckin cave then.

Stop posting about the horrors of the gadget society on a computer on the internet.

TDoS's picture

But if I wrote about the horrors of industrial society on a cave wall, you wouldn't get to see them.

Oh regional Indian's picture

TDoS, you feel like a long lost brother.

Welcome to ZH (have not seen you around before).


TDoS's picture

Been a long time reader, only started posting a few months ago, and very infrequently.  Thanks for the welcome, though I feel a bit like I'm in the wilderness.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Ah TDos, understandably. But what you are saying is resonant and true and an important perspective to add to the mix here.
Look forward to more frequent contributions/interactions.


Terminus C's picture

ORI... There are many on this site who suffer from tunnel vision.  They do not understand their society, how it functions, and what the true cost of our high tech lifestyle really is.  Does this mean I want to live in a cave... no, but it also doesn't mean I need to live in denial of what is really going on here.

Some people just don't want to be aware, which is kind of ironic considering the nature of this site.


jplotinus's picture

Well said.  Glory be, to the highest and, on earth, peace and goodwill to all.

New_Meat's picture


"If we measure our advancement as a species in gadgetry, we can only call it advancement... blah blah blah"

Yep, nice posting using your computer.  Chrichton had it a lot closer, e.g.:

- Ned

TDoS's picture

Well if we want to be accurate, then it should be noted that I am posting from my girlfriend's computer, but that doesn't matter.

What does matter is your attempt to find flaw with me, not with my argument, which is typical of those who are called to answer for their crimes.  Attack the accuser.  In fact, every revolutionary who has ever called for a reexamination of the status quo, has typically been met by slanderous attacks as being either a hypocrite or an extremist, depending on how well he or she was able to adhere to their philosophy.

So if I were to call into question animal cruelty, you would attack me and not my message unless I had first become vegan, eliminated leather and wool from my wardrobe, removed the tires from my bicycle and refused to use asphalt roads -- as both are galvanized with bone charcoal.  And if I had done all of these things and more, cleansing my life of anything built from this cruelty I detested, then I would be an extremist to you; rigid and unbending, unwilling to compromise, you would call me a nut, and ignore me thus.

Everything I have said above is true, but it is a truth you don't want to hear. Just admit it.  Be honest with yourself.

Free Radical's picture

"And I'll anticipate the next installment by saying that "positivism" is precisely the denial of natural law, so that a positivist will renounce a precious metals standard for money."

You would be right about that, JM, though the denial doesn't stop there, as hope to make abundantly clear in subsequent posts.

Jerry Maguire's picture

Tragic, though, the way the world of ideas filters down to infect everything else, when those ideas are pernicious.  They don't seem so pernicious in the abstract; at first blush there's nothing wrong with toying with the ideas of positivism. 

But those ideas take hold of people.  In fact I was just noticing that in many of the responses to my original comment, people were strongly disagreeing with each other on many points, but they all seem to take a positivist viewpoint, the same way everyone seems to:  up to the point of their own pet issue, whether it's native peoples or rich v. poor or whatnot, when all of a sudden "justice" seems to be the claim. 

It is when we quiet down, when we stop trying to impose our wills and let reality inform our conduct rather than trying to make reality bend to our conduct - which it never will -  that we find that otherwise elusive peace and prosperity.  "Thy will be done." is a line almost every shool child knows, but in adulthood it gains depth and begins to look profound. 

There's a character in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" - Costello - played by Jack Nicholson.  In case any member of the audience had any doubt about who or what he represents, the script actually places the line "Non Serviam" in his mouth.

But the interesting line I'm thinking of is when he says this:  "I don't want to be a product of my environment; I want my environment to be a product of me."

Do we get to make the world the way we want it, or is the world made according to the will of another, such that we must conform ourselves to that will in order for the world to function harmoniously?  This is such a central question of our lives, individually and collectively. 

We affect the world around us for good or for ill.  Conforming ourselves to reality is not the surrender of the will; it is the assent of the will to what is.  It is a good thing, the only thing that will restore.  Restoration.  That is my hope for 2011.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Azannoth's picture

Good article.


Humans always go from the assumption that they know everything and cannot better their understanding of their soroundings, instead they take what they know and apply it as a model to the environment, changing or destroying it just to fit their point of view.


Nobody makes the difference bettween a President whos IQ is 120 from a President whos IQ might be 95.

From the school up we're told that everybody is equal and everybody would perform equaly given the same base parameters, that is obviously untrue.

Despite 200 years of scientific progress a large percentage of people still belive in religion and literal interpretaion of religious text, this even more so in the Islamic world than Christian.

There is no logic in the human society as the humans have only 'recently' developed higher brain functions on a geological scale, the human race if it survives another 100,000 years might be sufficiently intelligent to become fully self aware(what we have today are animals that react to external stimuli and are capable of relating them to a physical Self without understanding what or why nor bothering to ask)

Dapper Dan's picture

I have always thought it is odd that no one has ever tried to sue for disabilities (get some kind of government subsidy) for lower IQ,  after all it is a disadvantage and why not make every body equal?

I had 4 spelling errors on this post, thank you Tyler for adding spell check!!



Azannoth's picture

I would not be surprised if they gave a 'benefit' for stupidity and a fine for being smart, actually it's already here we call it the progresive tax system

New_Meat's picture

and the "earned" income tax credit that Iris shills on the radio.

dark pools of soros's picture

'another 100,000 years'


what were 'humans' doing 90,000 years ago? 

trav7777's picture

living like modern-day africans?

AnAnonymous's picture

This guy is a failed banker or economist. Or he may be a successful one.

Who knows?

He spreads the same propaganda as them.


But insofar as this process of exchange promotes the division of labor, resulting in the provision of a wider variety of goods and services that in turn improves individuals’ lot in life, the gains far exceed the losses. For how else could the human species have advanced at all, much less to a stage that was inconceivable little more than a century, or even mere decades, ago?


Key to get a positive balance sheet: dont account for the losses, just write in the gains.

Works wonder. Never fails.

The human species? Get back to reality: some in the human species do enjoy the benefits. There has been no global benefit that could encompass the human species as a whole.

So US way of thinking, the US accounts for whole humanity.

The only question is why when bankers do rely on the same kind of propaganda, they are vilified.

Bankers are the human species and what they have done come to the benefit of the human species.

dark pools of soros's picture

no - bankers are vampire squids and robots

sharkbait's picture

You're kidding right? Or maybe stunningly myopic.  There are lot's of things that are global benefits to the human species.

I am sure this kind of vapid rhetoric impresses some of your friends but it won't sway many minds. 

trav7777's picture

we're immunizing those africans with the flies on their faces, and sending them food to keep their squalid lives going, aren't we?  So what do you mean no global benefit?

Equality in cognition isn't a global thing

Terminus C's picture

It is fair to assume that foreign aid is beneficial to these societies.  While I am not nostalgic for the past, assuming that shipping food to areas that are starving only looks like help on the surface.

First one must consider why they are starving, in the case of Ethiopia in the 1980's, all of the productive farm land was used to grow cash crops owned in plantation format by foreign companies.  Local farmers were forced onto more and more marginal land and when there was any climactic trouble (aka drought) the country was quickly sent into famine.

We "come to the rescue" and ship them our cheap industrially farmed grains which then quickly overun any local production (because local farmers could not compete for the prices we could afford to sell at) and then put the rest of the farmers out of business.

This is but one example of how "the benefits" of modern industrialized society have not been felt around the world.

AnAnonymous's picture

we're immunizing those africans with the flies on their faces, and sending them food to keep their squalid lives going, aren't we?  So what do you mean no global benefit?


We need people to live in those places. If they do not live there, others would fill the places and it would be much harder to deal with them as we deal with those Africans with the flies on their faces.

Why is the West so scared about the Chinese advancing in Africa? Because they could be bad to the negroes in Africa?

No, people are scared about the Chinese advancing in Africa because they might become the ones to talk to in order to get an access to the resources needed there. And dealing with the Chinese will be another story.


There is no global benefit. What is done is purely directly towards our self interest. A slaver who fed his slaves on the sea voyage, who cleaned them before selling on the market, brought no global benefit.

But that is the normal reaction of extorters. They like to depict themselves as acting in the benefit of the extorted, never theirs.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Mar-kets? Why did he hyphenate mar-kets?

And this?

"the gains far exceed the losses."

I'll go the opposite on that. We have to start taking a meta(yes, overused but appropriate) view of things financial.

I'll say that our collectivism has been skewed by money. With the introduction of funny money (1970), the skew was complete. And it has not "ad-van-ced" the hu-man race but actually ret-arded it.

Other than that, the point of the article is obvious.


simone's picture

What a cute article.

blunderdog's picture

Blah blah blah.

Yeah, sure, you can really distinguish in a meaningful way between "force" and "coercion" and "voluntary interaction."  You can see all the nice clear bright lines.

Well maybe only if you're a theoretical libertarian you can, I guess, but no one who isn't a true-believer has such acute perceptions. 

That's how that tends to play out.

Best of luck to the logic gamers who are going to solve all our problems.

AnAnonymous's picture

Libertarianism and the associated are the new tales that US kiddos are eager of spreading.


Situation is simple: the US has been robbing a lot. And has been extremely successful at it, so much that robbing rate is unlikely to be expanded.

Time now is for a new story to explain how robbing is bad, even though the US is based on theft.

Sean7k's picture

In a country ruled by Unified Commercial Code law and Liability law- natural law is an anachronism. Quaint, but superceded so that tyranny may bloom and find fruition in the machinations of central bankers.

As long as Executive orders are spit out like dollar bills, the legislative representation of the citizen by Congress is mere lip service to our origins. As long as the SCOTUS continues to function as the fox in the henhouse the barriers have been breached and the barbankers are at the gates. 

Liberty is left to be hidden in the hopes and dreams of true patriots- patriots that have yet to decide or declare. Merry Xmas all, patriots one and all.

Milestones's picture

Excellent post!! Right on the button.    Milestones

Gully Foyle's picture

"Individuals do not always, if ever, exercise their freedoms so as to promote order in everyone’s lives."


Why that seems to be flat out wrong. Here are a couple of examples. (By the way when people mention Anarchy have they never heard of Bakunin? Emma Goldman? Kropotkin? or Lysander Spooner? Fuck people Anarchism trumps Libertarianism regarding Freedoms)

This is a list of anarchist communities, past and present.

Throughout history, anarchists have been involved in a wide variety of communities. While there are only a few instances of large scale "anarchies" that have come about from explicitly anarchist revolutions, there are examples of societies functioning according to various anarchist principles.


Freetown Christiania (1971–present) This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2007)

One of the two main entrances to Freetown Christiania.

Christiania was founded in 1971, when a group of hippie squatters occupied an abandoned military barracks in Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the more influential people involved was Jacob Ludvigsen, who published an anarchist newspaper which widely proclaimed the establishment of the free town. The people of Christiania developed their own set of rules—independent of the Danish government—which include the prohibition of cars, stealing, guns, bulletproof vests and hard drugs. Cameras are not allowed, and locals will wave their hands and shout "No photo!" if they see a picture being taken. Famous for its main drag, known as "Pusher Street" as hash was sold openly from permanent stands until 2004. Such commerce is controversial, but cannot be removed without complete community consensus. For years the legal status of the region was in limbo, as the Danish government attempted, without success, to remove the squatters.

The neighborhood is accessible only through two main entrances, and cars are not allowed. Danish authorities have repeatedly removed the large stones blocking the entrance, which have been replaced each time by residents. The authorities claim that the area must be accessible for safety concerns, but the residents suspect that it will instead be used by the police. The town negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defense ministry, the legal owners of the location, in 1995, resulting in resident taxation. The future of the area remains in doubt, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal.

The inhabitants fight back with humour and persistence—for instance, when authorities in 2002 demanded that the hash trade be made less visible, the stands were covered in military camouflage nets. On January 4, 2004, the stands were finally demolished by the owners themselves (without stopping the hash trade as such, which continued on a person-to-person basis) as a way of persuading the government to allow the Free Town to continue to exist. Before they were demolished, the National Museum of Denmark was able to obtain one of the more colourful stands, and now includes it as part of an exhibit.


Argentina (2001–2002)

After the collapse of the Argentine economy, coupled with riots and finally the fall of the government in the last days of 2001, the social and economic organization of Argentina underwent major changes. Argentina was once a shining example of free market reforms and structural adjustment programs ("the IMF's best pupil"). However, after the economy crashed, the IMF responded by demanding that more social programs (health care, schools, etc) be cut, and more things be privatized. Massive popular rebellion erupted.

Out of the uprisings came many popular organs of self-management and direct democracy. Worker occupations of factories and popular assemblies have both been seen functioning in Argentina, and both are the kind of action endorsed by anarchists: the first is a case of direct action and the latter a case of direct democracy. Approximately 250+ "recovered" factories (fábricas recuperadas) are now self-managed and collectively owned by workers. Over 10,000 people work in factories with little or no management or hierarchy. In the large majority of them, pay is completely egalitarian; generally no professional managers are employed, or managers are collectively controlled in the other cases. Decisions are made by all workers, in general assembly type structures. These co-operatives have organized themselves into networks. Solidarity and support from external groups, such as neighborhood assemblies and unemployed (piquetero) groups, have often been important for the survival of these factories. Unemployed workers elsewhere have also organized takeovers of plots of vacant land, and taken them back for housing and growing food.

A survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gathered to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that were not working. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community.[18] In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (Author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take, about these events.

Popular assemblies gradually died out as the economy began to recover. However, activism has continued. The piqueteros and unemployed worker movements have become organized and often adopted a radical left-wing ideology. Some middle-class Argentinians, especially in Buenos Aires, now regard piqueteros as violent and disruptive, due to the continuous road blocks and massive demonstrations they stage in the capital.

[edit] Abahlali baseMjondolo: South Africa (2005–present)

Abahlali baseMjondolo is a movement of shack dwellers and is active in 36 shack settlements in Durban, Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. It has instituted popular democratic rule in all settlements where the movement is dominant. The movement has refused electoral politics in favour of decentralised popular people's power.

All major decisions are taken in open assemblies and all elected positions are for one year-terms and people can be recalled. People elected to official positions are not elected to represent those who voted for them but rather to ensure that there is democratic decision making on all issues related to their portfolio. The movement faces constant violent and unlawful police harassment.

The film 'The Take' was screened in one of the most famous Abahlali baseMjondolo communities, Kennedy Road, in 2005. Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis were present.

The Paris Commune (French: La Commune de Paris, IPA: [la k?myn d? pa?i]) was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 (more formally, from March 28) to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution. Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune contributed to the break between those two political groups.

In a formal sense, the Paris Commune simply acted as the local authority, the city council (in French, the "commune"), which exercised power in Paris for two months in the spring of 1871. However, the conditions in which it formed, its controversial decrees, and its violent end make its tenure one of the more important political episodes of the time.


Oh regional Indian's picture

Awesome stuff Gully. I'd love to get a peek at your library.

Seer's picture

"Fuck people Anarchism trumps Libertarianism regarding Freedoms"

As a higher "order" of things, yes... but, there's actually two primary anarchist camps: socialist, and libertarian.  Both of these camps share the desire to be divested of centralized power; how this is achieved and maintained is the issue (devil is always in the details).  It's all a catch-22 in that the beauty of anarchism is that it eschews power, but without some sort of coordination it's a bit difficult to throw off the existing power that chains us.

I'd add Murray Bookchin here, his Libertarian Municipalism ( - NOTE: this Wiki enrty is false in proclaiming that Bookchin broke away from anarchism, he did not), which is basically based on anarchism.