Who will build the roads?

Errico Malatesta was something of an anarchist super star, if such a thing is not self contradictory.  Toward the end of his life, he was so popular he could draw crowds in the tens of thousands to hear him speak.

His political career started early, as a boy he was arrested for writing an “insolent and threatening” letter to Italian King Victor Emmanuel II.  Many nations would look unfavorably at Malatesta, he was forced to leave Italy, he was blocked from entering Syria and Turkey, he was expelled from Switzerland.  He also opposed syndicalism because he believed it created an elite class of trades people.  He would spend ten years of his life in prison.

Malatesta was first arrested at 14

Malatesta was first arrested at 14

But it is his ideas and not his personal history which i find especially compelling.  One of the many compelling points in his short book “Anarchy” was:

Anarchy literally means “without government”. It has taken on the common secondary meaning of “disorder and confusion” only because people have been conditioned to believe that the abolition of government is impossible. In the days when people believed that the abolition of monarchy was impossible, the word “republic” carried a similar meaning to “anarchy” today.

I find it fascinating  that the people who control language choose a second meaning for the name of the style of government/self rule that they were afraid of with chaos and disorder, both for Republic a hundred years ago and for Anarchy today.

anarchy is not chaos

30 years ago i went to the Arcosanti community in the dessert of Arizona.  When i was younger i was fascinated by the dense building ideas of Paolo Solari who was the original designer of this extraordinary community.  When i was on the tour, someone kept explaining to our guide how this type of venture was impossible and would not work, they described all the businesses that they personally needed and how they could not see them there.  A blindness i would consider a failure of imagination.  

where we are going we dont need roads

Most people can not imagine work environments without bosses and hierarchy.  This failure of imagination leads them to think that these things are not possible.  And everyday i am at Acorn i am amazed, pleased and impressed by the business which we run that has no managers or bosses, dynamically determines much of the work which needs to be done and still comfortably succeeds in supporting the community.

There are dozens of answers to the question “Who will build the roads?” The fact that some people can’t visualize how this would be done, does not mean it can not be done, it often just means that people have poor imaginations or are wedded to the status quo.

Step outside the box

Step outside the box

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

2 responses to “Who will build the roads?”

  1. Mattie says :

    I went to Arcosanti in 2005 for a week. Fascinating, inspiring place, but I think it unfortunately lacks the momentum it once had. For a time Soleri was sort of the “other” architect in popular architecture, and these days he’s faded to the status of a hidden gem.

    For those of us that grew up playing Sim City, but then grew out of it because of the boring Godly authoritarianism inherent in the game, Arcosanti is a valuable place to visit.

  2. Mattie says :

    Also, the particular rhetorical question you asked is quite ironic. As I remember the rumor, years ago a car company (Subaru, I think?) wanted to film a commercial at Arcosanti, banking on the rugged landscape and eco-groovy image of the place. In exchange, they would pave the extremely rough couple-mile-long road that takes you from the interstate to the Arcosanti parking lot.

    Some saw this as a no-brainer to accept, especially because the road really was a barrier for bringing folks in. But, it was hotly debated and to my understanding they actually declined the offer based on principle. When I visited the pre-existing “road” was still there, and it was *quite* rough.

    So perhaps the literal answer to your question is “nobody”, or “well some people will build it voluntarily, but it won’t be that nice and a lot of people will probably be embarrassed by it or complain about it”, or “a rough road is fine for walking on, and f#*$ cars anyway!”

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