Many Classic Anarchists maintain that “no rulers” should mean that the elimination of all hierarchy is an end goal. However, are all hierarchies bad?  What if a group of people entered into an agreement from which they could separate at any time?   What if the parties entered a contract that upon expiration either side could opt to not renew?   How could any of these agreements be unjust?   The answer should be that they are not.   It stands to reason then, that hierarchy is unimportant and a distraction from the real goal.   Justice is the real goal of a stateless society and voluntary association, trade, and cooperation are the tools of justice.   Voluntary submission to authority is valid and more important it is just, and in all honesty, no such thing as a voluntary state can exist.

The following definition is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Definition of hierarchy

It would seem the last three definitions fit the description from which most classic Anarchists work from.   Anarchists assert that Capitalism by its very definition creates hierarchies through private ownership of land.   So, not only do they seek to end the hierarchy of the state but also that which is brought about in capitalist economic systems, or so they say.   However, this particular view is antithetical to individual freedom.   As an individual, if I am offered 100 dollars to do work at another person’s house then I have voluntarily submitted myself to their authority.   I am now in a voluntary hierarchy (though it is only a two tiered one), and I may choose to not do the work I contracted for and as such will not get paid.   It is justice that I should be able to remove myself from this agreement without aggressive coercion being used to stop me.  It is also justice that I may choose to perform the service in exchange for wages and respectively unjust if a third party tries to stop me.   The third party is in effect attempting to regulate activity for reasons which it deems sufficient.   This is exactly what a government is comprised to do.  Regulate the actions and activities of others.

Thus, employment for wages is by choice.  I may also choose to start my own business should I dislike the employment available in my community.  Large cities are dotted with small self-employed business people.  From hot dog stands to insurance salesmen.  Hierarchies which are voluntary should then be considered just and therefore not open to abolition in a society which actually values individual freedom.

There are some classic Anarchists that do not perceive any issues with the forceful abolition of peaceful, voluntary hierarchies.   They often believe that a direct Democracy is not a state.   However, they do not deny that the majority will rule the minority in such societies.   Obviously, this flies in the face of the concept of “no rulers.”  It should also be said that people do not seek to end hierarchies just for the sake of ending them.  They believe that greater justice will be achieved by doing this.  However, joining a hierarchy which you may leave at any time results in no injustice.

If Anarchists thought Anarchism was unjust they would cease to be Anarchists.  They would then pursue what they believe would provide the most justice.  It is reasonable to assume that because of this the importance of obtaining justice in society is far more important than eliminating hierarchy.   If one were to reference my previous work, then you would find that attempts to implement “social justice” which prohibits nonviolent discrimination for example (the right to freely associate) or state-based counter discrimination such as affirmative action, using the state is not a counter injustice but a new injustice of its own.   An injustice which does not remedy the previous instances of discrimination of which it purports to counter.   It destroys the ability of people to freely associate or disassociate and maximize their personal preference.   Therefore, the destruction of all hierarchy indiscriminately is tantamount to the complete loss of freedom to individuals.   Realistically, some hierarchies must be left in place in the interest of greater justice to society.

It has been said that capitalism results in a hierarchy.   As has been pointed out in this post , a rational person cannot  wish to truly eradicate ALL hierarchies.   However, not all forms of Anarchism are created equal and those which wish to eradicate even voluntary hierarchical arrangements among others will result in subpar living conditions.   The attempts to monitor and regulate human activity to prevent hierarchy will most likely result in the formation of a new bureaucratic state.  These ideas are ultimately based upon concepts of social justice, though such a concept as social justice is obviously an imaginary fiction.   There is only one kind of justice and any attempt to say otherwise should be viewed as a wholesale fabrication in the interest of denying true justice.   Therefore, in light of this, individual freedom must prevail over the fascistic tendencies of identity politics and the enforcement of its Orwellian concepts such as “Social Justice”: the elimination of all hierarchies is obviously a stab at controlling individual association.

The view that eradicating voluntary hierarchy is unjust will always rest on the idea that they are voluntary and that it is unjust to prevent them by using aggressive force.   It logically follows then, that the implementation of aggressive physical coercion by a hierarchy is only of consequence because it indicates the existence of the state.  For that is what the state is, institutionalized violence used to maintain a hierarchy of authority within a society.  Should the state be removed then what follows cannot be an unjust hierarchy but instead a hierarchy which is indicative of the voluntary kind.

It is rational to say that capitalist markets and full protection of private property, minus aggressive force, and external interventions, will provide the greatest possible amounts of true justice.  It is rational because it affords the individual the greatest single amount of personal freedom to organize while minimizing violent and coercive factors.  If justice is the single most important goal in any society, then the rational person must accept the position that Hierarchy should not matter and that only aggressive physical violence or the threat thereof should be eradicated.

Below I have placed two scholarly sources which reference the concept that markets create hierarchies.  I do not necessarily agree with the statements made in these sources but they do present an interesting discussion about the dynamic of Hierarchy with the market.  A perusal of the internet will turn up a plethora of sites and work in which the authors wish to eradicate all forms of hierarchy and often this is especially pointed at market hierarchies.  I will not include these types of sources because they are considered common knowledge and are easy to find by any person casually searching using Google.



Works Cited

Adler, Paul S. “Market, Hierarchy, and Trust: The KnowledgeEconomy and the Future of Capitalism.” Organization Science 12.2 (2001): 215-234. Web. 19th April 2016. <>.Print.

Marglin, Stephen A. “What Do Bosses Do?: The Origins and Functions of Hierarchy in Capitalist Production.” Review of Radical Political Economics 6.60 (1974): n. pag. Web. 19th April 2016. <>.