Go to footer

Skip to content


The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Anarchism: What it is and what it is not.

Moderators: Yarrow, Yuda, Canteloupe


The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby Bubba Ho-Tep » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:26 am

The Amish: Proud Anarchists

by Brad Edmonds

Q: What’s this: "clop clop clop clop clop BANG BANG clop clop clop clop"?

A: An Amish drive-by shooting.


That is funny for two reasons: One, because a horse-driven drive-by is comical; two, because the idea of any Amish committing such an act is absurd, as is immediately apparent to all of us. After hearing from an Amish/Mennonite reader in response to my article on one-room schoolhouses, I had something to say about the Amish – anarchists and role models.

"Anarchy" in everyday usage is taken to mean "mayhem" – even Microsoft Word offers one as a synonym for the other. However, ask anyone literate who considers himself an anarchist for a definition of "anarchy," and the response may surprise you. Consider your own answer: If the police disappeared today, would you suddenly become more tolerant of having your property stolen? Would you begin stealing? I’m a people-ist, because I believe ordinary people, acting in their own interest at the community level, constitute the most trustworthy sort of governance. So do the Amish.

In 1968, Wisconsin decided to force Amish residents to formally educate their children through 12th grade (many of the Amish cease classroom instruction at 8th grade). Kansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania already had successfully defeated the Amish on this front, but some Amish in Wisconsin decided to fight, taking the case to the United States Supreme Court by 1972. This was risky: Before, the Amish would simply move to another state when life became intolerable (something our founders had in mind, actually). Setting the wrong precedent in the Supreme Court would consolidate power against the Amish in all 50 states, meaning they would lose their communal sovereignty; some would feel compelled to leave the country.

The Supreme Court ruled in their favor, and the Amish retained their freedom. Further, the Amish have some exemptions from social security, Medicare, and Medicaid taxes. They have argued successfully that care of the elderly is a family and community responsibility, and that government medical insurance suggests a reliance on someone or thing other than God and hard work. They’ll have no part of any government insurance. One might assume the Amish don’t use hospitals and doctors anyway, but this is a myth. They just pay as they go. If the patient can’t afford the bill, members of the community with more resources will help. Note that in this "communist" system, they don’t lose 65% of the money to bureaucratic overhead – 100% goes to the beneficiary, and is given voluntarily.

(The Amish isolate themselves, such as by forgoing the ownership of automobiles and electricity. This is not from a fear of technology, but from a thoughtful estimation of what such technology would do to their communities. Cars would spread them out and make it too easy to sink into the popular culture. Electricity would bring the popular culture into their homes. Thus, when we see them hiring a taxicab to get to the modern hospital, they are not being hypocritical.)

The Amish are anarchists in the sense that they need almost no government. Their lack of government, notably, is not synonymous with lawlessness or confusion, two common synonyms for anarchy. The Amish require only enough government to live without risk of being sold into slavery – a possibility in some countries, perhaps, given the Amish passiveness even in the face of violent crime.

They are safe in their communities, tightly knit, peaceful, and productive (not with inventions, but there is a tourist industry built around them, and they sell quilts and other handmade items in addition to being self-sufficient). At the same time, they have stood up to our national government, which routinely uses force in devastating the rest of us in pursuit of dubious goals (look at Klamath Falls, Oregon). The Amish have done this twice now, with no weapon more fearful than a pitchfork and no legal resources of their own. These people may be passive regarding violence, but they’re not passive when someone orders them to blaspheme.

The Amish aren’t the only ones, and America isn’t the only place where courageous people stand up to domineering governments. The Mino Mission in Japan stood up to the imperial government during WWII, refusing to worship the emperor in their churches. The government eventually left the Mino alone – yet continued to harass the churches that acquiesced (the link isn’t very informative; documentation in English is sparse, though I was told the full story by a reader living in Japan).

We ain’t all Amish – most of us don’t have their courage, their ability to endure the simple life with long hours of hard work, nor their willingness to strive for moral purity. But I don’t believe we’re all Mansons, either, ready to become evil as soon as the government goes away. The next time someone mentions anarchy to you, take a minute to find out whether they mean the Amish sort of anarchy, where community and devotion replace government force.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/edmonds/edmonds55.html
Image

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.
- Socrates
User avatar
Bubba Ho-Tep
Swivel-Hips
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:56 am


Postby Why » Tue Jun 06, 2006 11:22 am

Indeed, I've said this before. One of the most striking forms of Amish society is that they allow young adults who are coming of age to leave the collective, just once. And they are allowed back. Just once. This is just remarkable to me, because they have such faith in their system that they don't even require significant force to maintain it. It just is. Granted it is mired in religious stuff, and I'm sure science and other things of that nature is dissuaded, but one may leave at any time. It is absolutely anarchism.

I was once in love with an Amish girl... heh.
Why
Denizen
 
Posts: 232
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:15 pm


Re:

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:08 pm

Why wrote:Indeed, I've said this before. One of the most striking forms of Amish society is that they allow young adults who are coming of age to leave the collective, just once. And they are allowed back. Just once. This is just remarkable to me, because they have such faith in their system that they don't even require significant force to maintain it. It just is. Granted it is mired in religious stuff, and I'm sure science and other things of that nature is dissuaded, but one may leave at any time. It is absolutely anarchism.

I was once in love with an Amish girl... heh.


This is pretty interesting. I wonder, however, if their "faith in their system" really is "faith in their indoctrination". Since it is mired in religious stuff, there is the possibility that many don't leave the collective because they've been brainwashed to fear the outside world.
Guest
 


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:15 pm

Not to mention that Amish society is male-dominated, thus, by definition, they are not anarchists.
Guest
 


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby |Y| » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:42 pm

Guest, it definitely has a lot to do with the indoctrination. A *lot*. They are, for all intents and purposes, socially inept. They have faith in their system because they produce people who simply cannot handle the "horrors" of the outside world, sociologically speaking. They just can't do it. So the people who generally "leave and stay away" turn out to be absuive alcoholics or drug abusers. This is the same for the Mormon cultures, too, because they expell males out of the clan when they become too competitive with the fathers, etc.

But yeah, I probably should not have said what I did, just beacuse you have free association and can leave doesn't necessarily mean that you are anarchist. Especially since you're indoctrinated *not* to leave.
I am a leader, but you will not follow me.
User avatar
|Y|
One Step Beyond
 
Posts: 5629
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2003 1:16 am
Location: The Americas


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby Guest2 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:11 pm

i loves me some shoo-fly pie, anarchist or not.
Guest2
 


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby Francois Tremblay » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:30 pm

If you want to understand just how ridiculous this "striking form" is, watch the movie "Devil's Playground." I recommend it, for you to get rid of your belief that the Amish are a wonderful form of society. I agree that they are more meritorious than most, but insofar as children are involved, it's extremely damageable.
Left-mutualist, atheist, childfree
http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Francois Tremblay
Zen Master
 
Posts: 1501
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:52 pm


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby coup-detat » Sun May 24, 2009 9:11 pm

I grew up in Ohio and I would see the Amish every week or so. They are some of the kindest people in the world. I would talk to them on occasion and it's nice to see a group of committed anarchists that non-violently fulfill their desire for freedom in this rapidly changing world. Because of their faith, however, the women don't really see their shackles. This is my one critique of Amish society. The Amish from where I am from would send their kids out into the "advanced" world at around the age of 17 and often times, the children will choose to go back to the Amish lifestyle.
"Sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution." ~Subcomandante Marcos
"Just because I'm an anarchist doesn't mean I won't burn a black flag." ~Johnny Hobo & the Frieght Trains
User avatar
coup-detat
Denizen
 
Posts: 256
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 1:11 pm
Location: Santa Fe


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby AndyMalroes » Thu May 28, 2009 9:48 pm

I'd say the Quakers are a better example of Christian-Anarchism
How long do you think we can have a free and democratic society if we insist on maintaining totalitarian systems in our companies? We must have freedom for individuals and organizations to grow and to realize their potentials.
(Delmar Landen, Head of Organisational Development at General Motors, 1981)
User avatar
AndyMalroes
Zen Master
 
Posts: 1479
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:19 pm
Location: Australia


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby Zazaban » Fri May 29, 2009 3:59 pm

AndyMalroes wrote:I'd say the Quakers are a better example of Christian-Anarchism


Pardon me, but
Image
"I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood."
~ Oscar Wilde
"Greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society."
~ The Right to Be Greedy
User avatar
Zazaban
Zen Master
 
Posts: 2388
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 6:00 pm


Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby AndyMalroes » Fri May 29, 2009 5:33 pm

Yeah but there one of those groups who believe in anarchist principles and don't know it. Which can lead to things like that.
How long do you think we can have a free and democratic society if we insist on maintaining totalitarian systems in our companies? We must have freedom for individuals and organizations to grow and to realize their potentials.
(Delmar Landen, Head of Organisational Development at General Motors, 1981)
User avatar
AndyMalroes
Zen Master
 
Posts: 1479
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:19 pm
Location: Australia








Re: The Amish: Proud Anarchists

Postby SokSareth » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:10 pm

Guest, it definitely has a lot to do with the indoctrination. A *lot*

goldenslot
SokSareth
Swivel-Hips
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:07 pm

Next

Return to Board index

Return to Anarchists and Anarchism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests