The ultimate form of hierarchy is incarceration: when one group of people keeps another group of people confined in a small area and tells them what to do. Incarceration is the biggest threat to freedom. Anarchists oppose incarceration. Anarchism is a movement that is trying to create a world of autonomous communities, non-hierarchical organizations, and free individuals. Anarchists oppose hierarchy in all human relationships and interactions, including the hierarchies that exist outside the government in corporations, businesses, non-profit organizations, religious institutions, families, and contracts.
The scientific case for anarchism: hierarchy is bad for your health if you are not at the top of the hierarchy.(1) Those at the top of a hierarchy live longer than those at the bottom. People who live in the United States and other places that are controlled by hierarchies such as governments, police, and prisons have health problems caused by hierarchy. The natural state of humans and animals is not incarceration, it is freedom. Humans and animals evolved to be free.
Law is not the same thing as ethics. Law is not ethics and ethics is not law. Law is the use of force by a group of people who physically dominate most other people in a certain territory. Ethics is knowing the difference between right and wrong, and choosing to do what is right. Ethics is a discussion about right and wrong.
Words such as crime, criminal, law, illegal, and legal are used to control everyone, to stop social change, and to control protests about political, social, and economic issues. When we think about something or talk about something we should try to determine if it is right or wrong, we should not try to determine if it is legal or illegal.
We should think about the situation we are in to determine what we should do instead of doing what a government, law, organization, or someone else tells us to do. Each person's situation is different from other people's situations so your answer is the best answer about what to do in your situation. Nobody knows more about your situation than you do.
The constant threat of police brutality, prison, jail, traffic stops, tickets, fines, searches, and questioning everywhere you go outweighs any good thing that the government gives us such as Social Security, welfare, food, or healthcare. There are other ways that we can get what we need like sharing our resources.
Most of the time the government’s punishment for a crime is worse than the crime that was committed. People are being sentenced to many years in prison for minor crimes such as shoplifting and selling illegal drugs.(2) Some people have been given long prison sentences because of a mistake they made while driving a car that resulted in a person’s death. The incarceration rate is the percentage of the population that is currently incarcerated. The United States has the second highest incarceration rate in the world after Seychelles.(3) Around 25% of the world’s prisoners are in American prisons but the United States has only 5% of the world’s population.(4) Police and prisons are unable to stop crime because crime rates are still high after decades of policing, mass incarceration, and very long sentences.(5)
Police have too much power. Police influence the outcome of elections by supporting candidates that will give them what they want like more funding, more weapons, less accountability, and more jails. In many places the local government is basically run by the police.
Police, prosecutors, and judges have the power to destroy a person’s life and get away with it. They destroy people’s lives everyday. They decide who goes to prison and who doesn’t. In a courtroom juries and defendants have the least power and police, prosecutors, and judges have the most power. Many juries are manipulated into convicting the defendant. The government decides who can be on a jury and the government chooses people who are most likely to convict the defendant. It is the government that chooses who gets a letter in the mail asking them to be on a jury.
The claim that if you don’t break the law then the police won’t arrest you is not true. Police and prisons are corrupt, dishonest institutions. Many people are in prison for crimes they did not do because police lied and prosecutors lied.(6) Police coerce people into confessing to crimes they did not do.(7) Police are allowed to lie to suspects during an investigation. The interrogation methods that police use on suspects are abusive.(8) Sometimes police plant false evidence at the scene of a crime to convict a certain person even if they didn’t commit the crime.(9) Some police departments have a quota that requires cops to make a minimum number of arrests and write a minimum number of tickets within a certain period of time.(10) If a cop does less than the minimum number of arrests and tickets then they might lose their job. Prosecutors have quotas that require them to get a minimum number of convictions within a certain period of time.(11) Quotas increase the number of people who are in prison for crimes they did not do and the number of people who are in prison for minor crimes. Some people are in prison for doing things they thought were legal. Many laws are vague and can be interpreted in more than one way. A law that is vague is often used by prosecutors to incarcerate people for a wide range of different things.
Courts give harsh sentences to the poor and light sentences to the rich.(12) When a rich person and a poor person are convicted of the same type of crime the poor person gets a harsher sentence. Many people are in prison because they could not afford a lawyer who could properly defend them in court, they got a public defender that did little for them.(13) Rich people who are charged with a crime avoid prison a lot of the time because they can afford a good lawyer. Police target the poor. Poor neighborhoods have a larger police presence than rich neighborhoods. Most victims of police brutality are poor.(14) The more police there are in an area, the more police brutality there is.
The federal government and local governments have acquired billions of dollars by letting police take money and property from people through traffic tickets, fines, and seizure of cash and property during a search of someone’s car or home.(15) Police sell the property they stole to make a profit. Police can legally steal money and property from someone who isn’t charged with a crime. During the past 15 years police have stolen millions of dollars in cash during traffic stops from people who weren’t charged with a crime.(16) Most of the time when police take money or property they don’t give it back.(17)
Police suppress movements and protests against the current system. There is large, intimidating police presence at many protests. Police come to protests even though they were not invited. Police arrest activists and protesters.(18) People in the United States have been put in prison because of political activities they did that didn’t break the law such as organizing protests, joining a radical group, or advocating revolution.(19) Sometimes police assault protesters. Police gather information about activists.(20) Police may allow a permitted, peaceful protest to happen but they don’t allow illegal forms of protest because sometimes illegal methods are faster and more effective at achieving the goals of the movement. Movements and protests could achieve their goals if police did not exist. By suppressing movements and protests police are maintaining the inequality, oppression, and environmental destruction caused by the current system. We did not choose the current system that is government, prisons, and capitalism. We were born into it. Police are forcing us to live in the system that we were born into. This is one reason why the world should not have any police or prisons.
Incarceration is done by governments and corporations so they can make money. Prison companies build and maintain prisons so they can profit from incarceration. Investors make money from incarceration through buying and selling stock in prison companies. Many people with retirement funds are invested in prison companies and they don’t know it.(21) The more people that are incarcerated, the more money investors and corporations make. Corporations and investors profit from prison labor. Inmates are forced to work and they are paid less than $1 an hour to make products and do other work for corporations.(22) Some inmates who refuse to work are put in solitary confinement and are not allowed to have visitors.(23) The 13th Amendment allows prisons to force inmates to work.(24) No one should be forced to work, for any reason.
Incarceration is wrong. Torture is common in prisons and jails.(25) Prison guards abuse inmates. Incarceration causes permanent psychological damage.(26) Many people in prisons and jails commit suicide.(27) Being locked in a room against your will is terrifying. The fear of being incarcerated again is a lifelong fear for people who have been incarcerated in the past. Incarceration steals years from people’s lives that they will never get back. Part of anarchism is prison abolition, which is a movement that is trying eliminate all prisons. One way to prevent incarceration in the future is to stop people from becoming a cop because police incarcerate people.
Police destroy people’s lives by posting their name and face on the news for everyone to see. This information stays on the internet for decades after the person was arrested and makes it hard for them to get a job and make friends. Police make public the name and face of people they arrest before they have been convicted of a crime.
Some people say that police, judges, and prosecutors aren’t responsible for what they do because they were doing their job or following orders. That’s not true. They aren’t robots. They have free will. They chose their job. They are fully responsible for everything they do and they should be held accountable for everything they do.
No one should be a cop. Police interact with people in a way that is not normal. Police demand that you do what they say and if you don’t do what they say then they attack you and arrest you. Most people don’t attack you or arrest you if you don’t do what they say.
Police are different from the way they are depicted on television. Many shows and movies glorify police and make it look like police are better than they really are. Shows and movies do not accurately depict police. Incidents of corruption, brutality, and dishonesty are not part of many fictional portrayals of police. Stockholm syndrome is a mental state in which a person who is incarcerated or held captive in some other way shows obedience and positive feelings towards their captors.(28) We are held captive by police and the government even when we are not incarcerated. Most people who like police, prisons, and government have a mild form of Stockholm syndrome. The positive depiction of police in shows and movies contributes to Stockholm syndrome. Many prison inmates develop Stockholm syndrome and show obedience and positive feelings towards prison guards.
Power allows people to hurt others and get away with it. Hierarchy is wrong because it gives one person the power to control other people. People at the top of a hierarchy abuse and exploit the people at the bottom of a hierarchy. All hierarchies are corrupt. Power corrupts. Total power leads to total corruption.(29) The more power someone has, the more corrupt they are. People who want to control others are attracted to government jobs. Positions of power such as police officer, prosecutor, judge, and prison guard attract people who want to control others.
A government’s power comes from its ability to kill, injure, arrest, and incarcerate people. Governments kill people everyday. During the 20th century around 260 million people were killed by their own government because of their race, ethnicity, religion, political views, or some other reason.(30) Many of them died in prisons and concentration camps. Some people were killed because they participated in a protest or rebellion against their government. Part of that 260 million are deaths by starvation caused by government policies that they knew would lead to starvation. The governments that killed the most people in their own territory were Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China, the British empire, and the French empire. During the 20th century around 35 million people were killed by the government of a foreign country during a war.(31) In the United States police kill around 1,000 people each year.(32) A person in the United States is 58 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist.(33) The reason governments kill so many people is that they can get away with it. It is rare for people who are running a government to be punished for what they do. The Nuremberg trial of German leaders after World War 2 was a rare event. There should not be any governments in the world.
Conspiracy theories about secret societies trying to rule the world are wrong. The world is not ruled by secret societies operating behind closed doors like the Freemasons or Illuminati. The conspiracy to rule the world is right out in the open for all to see. Police, judges, prosecutors, and prisons are the conspiracy that is trying to rule the world.
All forms of incarceration should be abolished. These are the various forms of incarceration:
Jails and prisons.
Detention centers for immigrants.
Concentration camps and internment camps.
Involuntary commitment: keeping someone in a psychiatric facility, hospital, or nursing home against their will.
The incarceration of animals in cages, zoos, farms, aquariums, and laboratories. No animal wants to be incarcerated.
The percentage of the human population and the animal population that is incarcerated has gone up during the past 300 years. The incarceration rate for humans and animals has risen a lot since the 1700s because of the construction of prisons, jails, zoos, and laboratories. A human or animal alive today is much more likely to be incarcerated than a human or animal that was alive in the past. Industrialization made it easy to build large numbers of prisons. For most of history there was no incarceration and people had good lives and communities functioned well. The first humans were born around 200,000 years ago.(34) The first prison was built around 3,000 years ago.(35)
We need alternatives to incarceration. In a community everyone should enforce the rules instead of letting one group of people like the police enforce the rules. When one group of people enforces the rules they become more powerful than everyone else and they use their power to hurt people. Communities and individuals have many different options to deal with wrongdoing that don’t involve incarceration such as restorative justice, fines, confiscation of property, the death penalty, and expulsion from the community. Restorative justice is a process where the victims and the offenders reach an agreement that satisfies both sides, that involves the community and dialogue between victims and offenders. Victims take an active role, not a passive role like they do in today’s courtrooms. Offenders take responsibility for what they did and try to repair the damage they caused. To learn about alternatives to incarceration go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternatives_to_incarceration
In political conflicts most of the time people only get half of what they want so fight for anarchism and prison abolition because if we don’t then we won’t get anything resembling a free world, we will end up with a rising incarceration rate and more police on the street. To win a political conflict we need to demand everything we want and never compromise or surrender.
Capitalism is wrong because capitalism contains hierarchies such as:
Bosses who try to control their employees.
Corporate executives who control large companies.
Businesses that decide both the price of products and employee’s wages.
Employers that decide who gets hired and who does not.
Employers that decide when an employee’s job ends.
Landlords who demand that tenants pay high rent.
Wealthy investors who decide what gets invested in and what does not.
Rich people who use their money to influence government policy.
Capitalism creates inequality and divides society into classes such as rich and poor. Capitalism causes crime because inequality causes the poor to kill and steal so they can survive. Many poor, unemployed people are in prison because they stole money, food, or property, or sold illegal drugs, so they could survive. If we abolished capitalism and inequality then the crime rate would fall. When the rich steal from the poor it is called business. When the poor steal from the rich it is called crime. Governments protect the rich and oppress the poor. Most governments protect corporations and capitalism. Governments enforce the inequality caused by capitalism. To enforce inequality governments have a police force that suppresses protests against inequality. We need an economy that is based on the rule: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. People who cannot work such as children, seniors, and people with disabilities, should be given money, food, water, shelter, and healthcare. Everyone who is homeless should be given a home. Every worker should be paid a decent wage that is not lower than $15 an hour. Nobody should have to work more than 35 hours a week to keep their job.
Anarchism is good for the environment. Hierarchies such as government and capitalism are polluting the environment, using too much natural resources, causing climate change, and causing mass extinction.(36) Governments use a lot of natural resources to fight wars, build prisons, enforce the law, and fuel military vehicles and police vehicles. Corporations use a lot of natural resources to create the products they sell. Most of the pollution is done by governments, corporations, and individuals who are forced by capitalism to buy products made by corporations. Most of the consumption of natural resources today is forced on us by corporations. Oil companies are forcing us to use fossil fuels, which causes climate change and pollution, when we could be using another type of fuel that doesn’t hurt the environment.(37)
We need bodily integrity, the idea that people have a right to control their own bodies. Police violate people’s bodily integrity. Incarceration takes away people’s bodily integrity. Abortion is bodily integrity. Women should be allowed to have an abortion at any time, for any reason, without having to pay for it. Humans and animals should not have scientific experiments done on them without their consent or be forced to take medication or have surgery without their consent.
An imaginary community is a community that is imagined by people who think they are part of the same group even though most of them have never met. The United States is an imaginary community. Empires, nation-states, and countries are imaginary communities. Local communities are real communities. In a real community most people have met each other. A real community is a place where there is face to face interaction between most people.
To be a movement that changes things anarchism must be a global movement that is active in every part of the world. We need a world of autonomous local communities where each community decides the rules for that community. Neighborhoods, towns, villages, and tribes are local communities that should be fully autonomous. Cities are too big to be local communities. Each neighborhood in a city should be autonomous. Empires, nation-states, and countries should be abolished because they take autonomy away from local communities. In an empire, nation-state, or country, local communities are controlled by a government in a faraway capital. Local communities that are part of an empire, nation-state, or country have very little autonomy.
To defend themselves local communities can form a temporary alliance. Alliances made for defense should be temporary and voluntary so they don’t turn into a country or empire. Local communities should be allowed to leave an alliance at any time, without permission.
Borders should be abolished because borders have divided humanity into these separate, imaginary communities called countries. Borders restrict the movement of people. Governments use borders to control people. Governments decide who can and cannot cross borders. Borders are a way for governments to control people and incarcerate people by locking up immigrants who did not break any laws except for crossing a border without permission. Borders are a way for corporations, governments, and investors to make money. Corporations and governments profit from borders because they build and maintain detention centers for immigrants and they build walls and fences along borders.(38) Investors make money from borders through buying and selling stock in companies that build detention centers, border walls, and fences. Many immigrants die while trying to cross borders.(39) Borders are bad for the environment because the walls and fences along borders make it hard for animals to migrate across borders so they can find water and food.(40) Borders increase the risk of an animal going extinct. The natural flow of water is disrupted by border walls, which can contribute to flooding and drought. We need a world without borders, nation-states, countries, and empires.
Governments use war to control people. Governments decide when they go to war and who they go to war with. The decision to go to war is made by a small group of people within the government. Most people have no say in the decision to go to war even though they are affected by war. During war governments use a divide and conquer strategy to make people in different countries fight each other. Governments have divided humanity into separate countries. Governments and war are preventing humanity from being united. War between people in different countries prevents us from creating a global alliance of protesters that could overthrow governments around the world. Governments exaggerate foreign threats and use the threat of attack by foreigners to justify the existence of the government. War is a way for corporations and investors to make money. Corporations profit from war because they build weapons and sell them to the government.(41) Investors make money from war through buying and selling stock in companies that build weapons. Militaries should be abolished because governments use the military to control people. If the police are unable to suppress a rebellion then governments use the military to suppress a rebellion. The National Guard has killed protesters in the past.(42) Militaries are a big threat to humanity because militaries have nuclear weapons and other powerful weapons that can kill large numbers of people. Around half the people who die in wars are civilians.(43) No one should join the military.
Pacifism is wrong. We need the right to defend ourselves and the right to bear arms. Everyone over age 18 should be allowed to have a gun. Diversity of tactics is when a movement uses both legal tactics such as peaceful protest and illegal tactics such as violence and property destruction. We should use a diversity of tactics. Power comes from the use of force. Police are powerful because they use force everywhere, everyday. For a movement to be powerful it must use force. Logical arguments are necessary but they don’t win battles by themselves. Another tactic is a general strike in which millions of people stop working until their demands have been met. General strikes can help a movement achieve its goals faster.
For more information about anarchism and to see what anarchists are doing today go to:
Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics https://abolitionjournal.org/
Anarchism in Action https://www.facebook.com/Anarchism-in-Action-page-178232368936645/
Anarchist Black Cross http://www.abcf.net/
Anarchist News http://anarchistnews.org/
Anarchy Now https://www.facebook.com/Anarchy-Now-252244961571491/
Art of Anarchy https://www.facebook.com/TheArtOfAnarchy/
Black Rose Anarchist Federation http://www.blackrosefed.org/
Center for a Stateless Society https://c4ss.org/
Critical Resistance http://criticalresistance.org/
Green Anarchy / Anarcho-Primitivism https://www.facebook.com/GreenAnarchy.AnarchoPrimitivism/
Industrial Workers of the World http://www.iww.org/
Infoshop News http://news.infoshop.org/
It’s Going Down https://itsgoingdown.org/
One way to meet anarchists in your location is to go to local meetings and events of Anarchist Black Cross, Black Rose Anarchist Federation, CrimethInc, or Industrial Workers of the World.
Anonymously written in 2017. Post this all over the internet. This writing can be copied, posted, distributed, and translated without permission from the author.
Sources of information: