Anarchy means “no rulers”. By definition, a ruler is a person exercising government or political dominance. There are basically three interpretations of anarchy in use today: individualistic, collectivistic, and nihilistic.
An individualist interprets “no rulers” to mean no political rulers, however they accept that people can rule over themselves and their property. This interpretation is associated with market anarchists and anarcho-capitalists.
The implication of “no rulers” for individualists is that the individual rules over themselves and their property. Rule here means the exclusive claim to control one’s body and the effects of that body, which includes property. It is from this exclusivity that the non-aggression principle is derived. To initiate the use or threat of violence is a negation of this exclusive claim, and thus defence against such aggression is warranted.
A collectivist interprets “no rulers” to mean no political rulers, however they accept that people can rule over themselves, just not their property. This interpretation is associated with anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists.
The implication of “no rulers” for collectivists is that the individual rules over themselves but not their property. They have an exclusive claim to control their body, but not the effects of their body. Without an exclusive claim to property, people are justified in treating the property of others as if it were their own. If everyone agrees to this then there is no problem, however if an individualist who adheres to the non-aggression principle attempts to defend against such treatment, they will find the principle turned against them, for they will be the aggressor and the property violator the only one with the justification to use or threaten violence.
A nihilist interprets “no rulers” to mean exactly what it says, they accept no rulers, not even of an individual ruling themselves. This interpretation is believed to be the actual meaning of anarchy by people working for or supportive of government.
The implication of “no rulers” for nihilists is that the individual has no exclusive claims at all. The initiation or threat of violence is irrelevant. People who work for or support government, who believe this to be the true meaning of anarchy, are in fact the ones inflicting nihilistic anarchism on everyone else due to their tacit support for aggression. This is a paradox, a contradiction in terms. As contradictions do not exist in reality, only in the minds of people who do not think clearly, it is evident that anyone who works for or supports the infliction of nihilistic anarchism is psychologically damaged.
While the individualist’s and nihilist’s position is consistent (in the sense that individualism applies “no rulers” definitionally and nihilism applies it regardless of definition), the collectivist’s position is not (they take the definitional approach to political rule and the nihilist approach to property).
Why have they not applied logic consistently to either embrace individualism or nihilism? At least with the individualist a collectivist would be afforded some respect. With a nihilist they would be afforded none. The fact that collectivism persists today suggests that the psychological damage suffered by nihilists is also present in collectivists.
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