The Anarchy of day-to-day exchange, compromise and resolution is the ground on which cities.......... and architecture........... flourish
Anarchy and chaos are often spoken of as if they were
the same thing. And the Anarchist project has been diminished
in popular perception to become nothing more than the loss
of order and descent into dangerous, chaotic war in the
However, Anarchism is a much more rich tradition, and intellectual project, than is often thought. And there is much in Anarchism that can be a useful perceptual lens for us as Architects, Urban Designers and Planners.
At the risk of over-simplification: The Anarchist Project makes two over-riding propositions: The first, and best known, is that the world would be better without government of any kind. And the second is that mankind would get along just fine by working things out on an ongoing basis of exchange, conflict and resolution - with no necessary recourse
or dependence on, higher powers and organizational structures.
Government - as the provider of laws, policing protection, military protection, infrastructure services, and social services - has proven to be pretty valuable to mankind. Larger groups who have lived without effective government and legal frameworks have faced overwhelming complexity and dangers. And the life-without-government agenda of classic Anarchism is probably more fraught with risk of chaos and dominance/subjugation and exhaustion than it is fraught with social benefit.
On the other hand, the other main tenet of Anarchism - that a lot can be done with good old-fashioned exchange, dialogue, conflict, consensus and resolution - is a pretty valuable “take” on the world.
In fact, nearly 100% of our daily relationships - whether
they are personal, social or economic - hinge more on the
anarchic dialogue of everyday life than on the legal framework
of government. Within a background of governmental presence
and stability, we live surprisingly anarchic lives - lives
formed and enriched by a constant dance of circumstance,
encounter, dialogue and resolution.
Within this evolutionary and dynamic environment all kinds of results result - highly structured, soft and fuzzy, rationally sophisticated, clumsy.........all.
It is within this context that we set out to celebrate the anarchy: to celebrate and build upon - rather than deny and overcome - the dynamic exchange of all of the points-of-view, values and priorities within which any project comes to life.