Following the homicide of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department, public displays of outrage erupted across the nation. Protesters were outraged, in part, due to the lack of accountability involved with citizen deaths whilst in the custody of law enforcement. Many protests were hijacked by agitators that seemed more interested in causing damage than they were trying to make a progressive statement. Many pundits in the media claimed that protestors attending the many nationwide protests sparked from Floyd’s death were anarchists. These pundits applied one of three very different, yet the only negative, definition of what was being reported. The media reported on wide-scale looting, unprovoked violence, and unwarranted property damage suffered by property owners who did not contribute to the actions of the State, which enraged protestors. Many protestors came in peace and left in peace. A fringe minority took to the streets to cause destruction. This fringe minority was labeled “anarchists.” The media took definition 1b of “anarchy,” referenced from Merriam-Webster, which reads “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority,” and accurately applied it to the fringe minority of rioters that attended the protests; however, that is not even the second-best word to use for the actions of those groups. “Rioters” would have been more accurate. “Lawless anarchists” would have been just as accurate. When rioters were described simply as “anarchists,” however, it cast a negative light on those who peacefully advocate for anarchy.
To many citizens, they can peacefully live without government intrusion. To touch on what else Merriam-Webster calls “anarchy,” refer to definition 1c. It reads “a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government.” Consider the mental images one could conjure just by reading those two definitions. They’re completely different images because they are completely different situations. One word cannot accurately describe both situations, therefore it is imperative to distinguish between the two. As the term “lawlessness anarchy” more accurately describes the situation described by the media regarding lawless activity at the protests against police brutality of 2020, that definition should cease to simply be called “anarchy.” To be compared to a lawless group of agitators can cause great resentment and offense in the libertarian anarchist that is described by definition 1c.
Erik Russell rose to fame as the defensive coordinator under Vince Dooley of the University of Georgia Bulldogs Football Team, and later as the head coach of the Georgia Southern Eagles Football Team. Coach Russell had one rule for his squads: do right. He never elaborated on what “do right” meant, because he felt “do right” did not need to be explained. Coach Russell felt the concept was that simple. To libertarian anarchists, the rule of government is unnecessary, because they willingly “do right” without an authoritative State coercing them with a threat of violence to do what the majority feel is right, regardless of whether it violates the natural rights of others.
The particulars of what “do right” means in various places within the country may vary based on region; however, the basic tenets are the same. Every being is brought up among a society by which there are many rules, but only five you really need to know, because the rest are elaborations on the five basic rules: (1) people have the right to life, (2) people have the right to liberty, (3) people have a right to property, (4) people have the right to defend against those that would infringe upon their rights, and (5) people have the right to practice these rights, so long as the practice of their rights does not infringe on the rights of another. This phenomenon, known as natural rights, is considered to be intrinsic by philosophers and ethicists.
True Libertarian Anarchists need no ruler. True libertarian societies have no government, as the citizens show immense amounts of integrity and respect one other without State coercion. They pass the shopping cart test with flying colors. They believe that the preference of their neighbor is not their concern, but there is a caveat. They expect the same respect and treatment from their neighbor, in return. When the neighbor fails to respect the natural rights of the libertarian anarchist, that is when he becomes agitated. He doesn’t wish to engage in confrontations, but he is not afraid to do so when necessary. Some libertarian anarchists follow society’s written laws to avoid confrontation, and that is perfectly fine. Others follow their own moral code, regardless of what society’s laws have to say. Neither man is more righteous than the other for how he voluntarily elects to live his life.
In a world obedient to natural law, people love who they love without question. People choose their destiny and follow their dreams, at their own peril. People respect the tangible and intangible property of others and not taking for theirs’ what is not. People respect the decision of others to prepare themselves, as they see fit, for tyrannical resistance of a State that claims dominion over that of the individual. To true libertarians, “anarchy” is the goal, not some disparaging label.
I would only say that “lawless anarchy” is not the same as rioting either.
As you pointed out, one term with 2 so very different meanings, is the dictionary’s publisher/editor/author misconstruing the true meaning of the word. Anarchy is not molotov cocktails and general rioting in the streets. People only have that image in their minds because that is what they’ve been told to believe.
Rioting is rioting. Anarchism is anarchism. Period.