Chris Wyatt
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Legal authority beyond state imposition
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This chapter addresses the conceptual schema of associational anarchism’s legal framework, which may be thought of as non-parliamentary jurisprudence. Anarchism renunciates the legal authority of the modern state. It points to the possibility of life beyond the law, of a social order held together by a cooperation that, where necessary, may be legitimately coerced if derived through collective and democratic decision-making. In general, it has been suggested that minor infringements can be left to public pressure, with more serious cases solved through trials, compensation, isolation and ultimately expulsion. This chapter qualifies these claims in certain ways. On the grounds that laws are determined inclusively by all who are subject to them, and that they are not enforced by the coercive institutions of the state, an anarchist legal order can be coherently theorised. Here the chapter engages with the intriguing political thought of J.J. Rousseau. The guilds will self-legislate within their own jurisdiction at the local level, and their legal decision-making will assume the mode of general will deliberations. The idea is that individual cooperators will determine the legal rules they themselves agree to comply with in their productive lives. The chapter moves on to indicate how interpersonal conflicts beyond the sphere of production may be settled consistently without recourse to a centrally administered judiciary. At this point, the distinction drawn in the works of Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin between ‘customary law’ and ‘codified law’ is explained, which leads to a discussion of the associational anarchist innovation of the ‘justice councils’.

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Associational anarchism

Towards a left-libertarian conception of freedom


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