On anarchy

Source: BrainyQuote.com https://shareasimage.com/i/92cad8ff
Source: BrainyQuote.com https://shareasimage.com/i/92cad8ff

Anarchy the very word is enough to provoke visions of riots, of pillage of plunder. Oddly the word itself originally meant something else entirely. It meant simply that there was no ruler. Hence Schmidt’s quote that the internet has no rulers.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word comes from the Greek anarkhia, from anarkhos, from an- ‘without’ + arkhos ‘chief, ruler’. In other words there was no rule by a single person, a monarchy, (Greek mono meaning one), or rule by a small number an oligarchy. (Oligos = few.) Whether these few were based on (assumed) excellence, the aristocrat. Or on money, the plutocrat, or competence the meritocract. Or indeed a theocracy, where rule is by god(s), or at least their human appointees. It also means that there is no rule by the demos, the people, i.e. a democracy. In other words the term anarchy was originally free of any assumed judgment of what such a state would be like.

This is clearly not the case now as this definition from Merriam-Webster shows. It goes from a simple statement to two polar opposite definitions based on the presumed consequences of that statement.

  • : absence of government
  • : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
  • : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

To paraphrase:

  • There is no government: this is hell.
  • There is no government: this is heaven.

Me I am with the original Greek, well at least in regard to Internet anarchy:)

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