Fellow atheist anarchist here. I agree that there’s a sense in which the two (non)beliefs fit very well together.
I’ll start out by explaining in exactly what sense I’m an anarchist: I’m an anarchist in that I believe there should be no rulers, no archons. This doesn’t remove the possibility of leaders, voluntarily followed. But in my view, it certainly excludes the state.
The parallels between organised religion, and the state (the primary target of most anarchists) are striking. To the best of our knowledge these two ancient institutions arose hand-in-hand. It’s not hard to imagine how the one reinforced the other. To quote from another post I made recently:
I think it went something like this: The state emerged, it seems, at the same time as organised religion. The two patterns reenforced each other. The state got started thanks to a rich availability of superstitious and easily manipulated subjects—“Pay tribute or the crops will fail!”, that kind of thing.
The state has been with us ever since. It’s taken different forms but the central idea that it’s right and proper to have an entity that aggressively seizes a large area of land, and then excercises a monopoly there on the use of violence and ultimate decision making authority, has never been seriously called into question. Statism, like religion, is an ancient throwback that we’ve been stuck with simply because it’s what people know, and people are afraid of what they don’t know. We haven’t yet experienced the cataclysm(s) that will remove it from our lives.
Even though we’re suckers for tradition, these days we’re far more skeptical than when the state got its start. If a critical mass ever becomes convinced that we’d be better off without it, I don’t believe that the conditions—extreme and widespread credulity—necessary for the emergence of the state would occur again.
Unfortunately—from my perspective—most of the atheists I’ve been in contact with still believe that the institution of the state is beneficial and necessary (even though they will point out that many, if not all, of its concrete manifestations fall short of this ideal). I’m confident that over time this belief, passed on by tradition just like religion, will be subject to increasing scrutiny, and will eventually be overturned.
Posted: November 8th 2012
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