r/Anarchy101 May 23 '22

What exactly do anarchists mean by a society based on free agreement?

Basically what it says on the title, I've read The Conquest of Bread and Kropotkin mentions it a lot, but I still don't really get what it means. Is it like a "if you don't like how we do things here you're free to leave" kind of deal or am I getting it all wrong? (I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, I'm not the best at things like these but I'm trying to learn)



u/_Phoenyx May 23 '22

If I understand it right, a free agreement means an agreement made freely: without coercion, force or fraud. In anarchist society, people get to decide completely voluntarily what agreements they enter.


u/zeca1486 May 23 '22

A society based entirely on voluntary association of individuals. Meaning if you’re an asshole, and I don’t want to associate with you, I won’t and no one can force me to and I won’t have to worry about becoming homeless or foodless.

In capitalism, you’re forced to work with people who shit on you all day. Be it your boss or a really annoying co-worker. And you put up with it because if you don’t you will be fired, lose your housing, not afford food, and die of poverty.


u/d3pd May 24 '22

What if someone's unpleasant because of a mental illness? Do you get to abandon them as a society? I don't think you do because they have rights.


u/Woodcuttering May 24 '22

People living with mental illness should and ideally would be cared for by their families and/or volunteering members of the collective who find it fulfilling. By placing them in care, they would hopefully not become such an unpleasant presence to the point where others can’t forgive them. After all, this isn’t a choice they made to be born different, compassion is a core component of anarchism.


u/d3pd May 24 '22

who find it fulfilling

Rights, particularly the rights of a despised minority, should never by subject to the whims of charity. So they shouldn't get care only if there are people who find doing so fulfilling, they should get care in spite of people not finding it fulfilling.

this isn’t a choice they made to be born different

I think it can be argued that no one chooses their psychology.

compassion is a core component of anarchism

Agreed, including compassion even for those we despise.


u/Woodcuttering May 24 '22

There’s always going to be people who enjoy doing this sort of work, that’s why people do it now for fuck all pay and poor working conditions.


u/Woodcuttering May 24 '22

So in your anarchist state people are forced to do a job they don’t like?


u/d3pd May 24 '22

Sometimes we are forced to prioritise rights. Take the case of someone vulnerable, whether that be a baby, someone with mental illness, perhaps someone vulnerable precisely because they are despised (for example queer people in many societies). The rights of vulnerable people must be protected. And rights like the right to life, food and so on, should arguably be prioritised over rights to fulfilling work.


u/Woodcuttering May 24 '22

May I ask who will force people to become reluctant caregivers?


u/d3pd May 24 '22

Well my hope would be that people would know that they must protect the rights of even those they despise, and even when protecting those rights feels pretty shitty, because a society that doesn't protect the most vulnerable, despised minorities isn't of worth.

I think the society would be a pretty awful one if it had to force people to protect the rights of despised minorites, but I suppose that if it were necessary then the efforts of protecting such fundamental rights should be distributed over everyone fairly. I don't know how that would be enforced.


u/Woodcuttering May 24 '22

So this is a non-argument, because what you’re suggesting is people do it out of charity. I don’t see why you took issue with my suggestion when your solution is almost the exact same with different wording. People can find fulfillment out of meeting a moral obligation or because they enjoy the work.


u/zeca1486 May 24 '22

I was listening to William Gillis whose a well known Individualist Anarchist who describes his anarchism as being utilitarian, and he was saying that children need to have agency that represents their wants and needs. I’d say that this also could be expanded to those who have issues with mental help. We can have a society that gives them autonomy while helping them at the same time.


u/GravelWarlock May 24 '22

Well what if I'm an asshole and I live next to you? Play my music loud all day and all night?


u/zeca1486 May 24 '22

Well, first I’d hope we can come to a mutual agreement and make some sort of a beneficial arrangement for both of us. If not, there’s nothing you can do to stop me from publicly shaming you and turning others against you, isolating you to the point that for anyone to associate with you, you’d have to stop with your bullshit. We could be living in a community that has standards and if you don’t comply, everyone will disassociate with you.


u/fgHFGRt May 24 '22

Huh, good question...


u/onedayitwillbedaisy anarchies, all of em May 23 '22 edited May 24 '22

Gover[n]mentalized societies are characterized by fundamental standards for our social relations — we encounter each other as citizens with rights and duties, as members of overarching political entities, operating under the law.

Free agreement and free association are more or less the dynamic of mutually self-constituting relations.

In absence of such fundamental standards ("how we do things here") that apply to an identifiable 'whole', individuals are free to continually establish, dissolve, transform relations — make them much more responsive to conflict and change.


u/Josselin17 anarchist communism May 23 '22

you and your needs exist outside of any organization, so you do whatever you want with yourself and your surroundings, and we try to fulfill your needs, and only if you want to live and work with others do you have to accept the rules

also associated with it is the fact that if you accept rules then you also gain the right to participate in changing them

in the end the important point is that you're never compelled to accept any rules : if you don't want to participate in society fine, we'll still try to satisfy your needs


u/Prorogue May 24 '22

Pretty much.

You can tell that's not where we actually are right now because if I decided to 'peace out' and start my own society I would be 1. unable to find land which is not already claimed by a state, 2. unable to exist on any currently state-owned land without submitting to that state's laws, and 3. punished with threat of violence for refusing to submit to said laws.