The biggest problem with proselytizing about anarchy is that so many people insist that it’s simply impossible. Of course, this assertion comes from a combination of ignorance and years of government indoctrination, but I’ve been unable to combat it in the past. So I’m undertaking a series of case studies to prove that not only can anarchy work, but that it has worked.
The first anarchistic society I’ll be sharing here is one near to me both philosophically and geographically: the Yurok Tribe of Northern California. While not what I’d call an anarchist utopia, they had no governing body of any sort before the Europeans arrived and invaded their territory. The following entails pretty much the bulk of their “legal system”-
- All rights, claims, possessions, and privileges are individual and personal, and all wrongs are against individuals. There is no offense against the community, no duty owing it, no right or power of any sort inhering in it.
- There is no punishment, because a political state or social unit that might punish does not exist, and because punishment by any individual would constitute a new offense which might be morally justified but would expose to a new and unweakend liability. An act of revenge therefore causes two liabilities to lie where one lay before.
- Every possession and privilege, and every injury and offense, can be exactly valued in terms of property.
- There is no distinction between material and nonmaterial ownership, right, or damage, nor between property rights in persons and in things.
- Every invasion of privilege or property must be exactly compensated.
- Intent or ignorance, malice or negligence, are never a factor. The fact and amount of damage are alone considered. The psychological attitude is as if intent were always involved.
- Directness or indirectness of cause of damage is not considered, except in so far as a direct cause has precedence over an indirect one. If the agent who is directly responsible can not satisfactorily be made amenable, liability automatically attaches to the next agent or instrument in the chain of causality, and so on indefinitely.
- Settlement of compensation due is arrived at by negotiation of the parties interested or their representatives, and by them alone.
- When compensation has been agreed upon and accepted for a claim, this claim is irrevocably and totally extinguished. Even the harboring of a sentiment of injury is thereafter improper, and if such sentiment can be indirectly connected with the commission of an injury, it establishes a valid counter-liability. The known cherishing of resentment will even be alleged as prima facie evidence of responsibility in case an an injury of indeterminable personal agency is suffered.
- Sex, age, nationality, or record of previous wrongs or damage inflicted or suffered do not in any way modify or diminish liability.
- Property either possesses a value fixed by custom, or can be valued by consideration of payments made for it in previous changes of ownership. Persons possess valuations that differ, and the valuation of the same nonmaterial property or privilege varies, according to the rating of the person owning it. The rating of persons depends partly upon the amount of property which they possess, partly upon the values which have previously passed in transfers or compensations concerning themselves or their ancestors.