First of all, I know there is no such thing as "anarchic state", so let me explain what's going on.

In my novel gods exist. One of those gods, the Goddess of Chaos, was exiled from the council of gods and forced to live among the humans. Being a very powerful being, she quickly attracted a large following, which eventually fought for independence and became a whole nation (let's call this nation ChaosLand).

Being the Goddess of Chaos, this goddess highly values individual freedom and allows her followers to do pretty much whatever they want, meaning they live in a state of constant anarchy. In early times, this made ChaosLand very vulnerable to attacks of neighboring countries, controlled by rival gods.

The solution found by the people of ChaosLand was institute a monarchy. The king deals with international issues, with the help of the goddess, and, should an emergency arise, will command the army and defend the country. In peaceful times, the king doesn't really do anything. There are no laws and everyone is free to do whatever they want.

ChaosLand's army is made mostly of men willing to fight to defend their country and lifestyle from any threat. Even if ChaosLand is a free country, it has a strong military tradition and most men and women have at least basic military training. Many independent military groups (town watches, volunteer patrolmen) exist and will assemble to form the "official army" in times of need.

My question is: Can the country of ChaosLand prosper? If attacked, can it reasonably be defended and survive? Is the ruse of a "fake-king" enough to keep its rivals in check?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "should an emergency arise, will command the army" - who determines when the emergency arises? Would the king get the full martial law (to do conscription and provisioning), or a fully equipped army just magically appears? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 8, 2017 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander, thanks for pointing that out. I edited the question and it should be clearer now. About who declares emergency, it should be self-explanatory. Some travelers from another country are no big deal, but if an enemy army is burning cities to the ground, something must be done. $\endgroup$
    – FFN
    Sep 8, 2017 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ In state of anarchy there is no law. You would't have farms, markets, schools, just group of peoples killing each other for their stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Tridam
    Sep 8, 2017 at 21:55

4 Answers 4


What does the Goddess of Anarchy hold dear?

First a quote: Noam Chomsky

At this stage of History, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialised class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the Global Community. The question is whether privileged élites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether Democracy and Freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly-terminal phase of human existence, Democracy and Freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”

Anarchy is not "everyone fight everyone". Anarchy means "no king" - no established standing power structures to command people. It means that individuals are not compelled to turn over decision making power to other individuals. Can I help my neighbor take in his harvest in an anarchist society? Of course. If my neighbors hear trouble on my property, can they come to my aid? Of course! But can the Boss tell me that I must go help take it someone else's harvest? No. I am the boss of me. I make my own decisions as I see fit.

The concept of anarchy is very cool and many aspects are coming to pass in the age of internet and individual enlightenment.

But the Goddess: Followers of the Goddess

/do pretty much whatever they want, meaning they live in a state of constant anarchy/

That does not mean they spend the days lighting each other on fire. They would starve. What most people want to do is fill their bellies, hang out with people they like and be left alone by the people they don't. People can still cooperate in an anarchy. If you choose to go around lighting children on fire, the Goddess of Anarchy is OK with that. But my neighbors and I will someday find out where you sleep. She is OK with that too!

Any system can devolve into some sort of a strongman system but you have a means to avoid that. You have a Goddess. She will prevent it.

As regards fighting wars, or building roads, or contributing to the common good, or any other endeavor for which we are accustomed to being told what we do by some central authority - be creative. How could a group of free willed but concerned individuals act together to achieve these ends? Anarchy does not mean no division of labor: if we are in a fight I can choose to follow the direction of strategists more knowledgable than me. The archers can organize themselves as they see fit, and so on.

Having a King gives up on the prospect that anarchy is the best way for people to live. A Goddess who is the embodiment of free will and autonomy would never allow it. Figure out another way. Also: it will be a cooler way.

  • $\begingroup$ So, the solution is effectively to use handwaving to make people follow their best rather than worst instincts? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 9, 2017 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ It is not handwaving. It is enlightened self-interest. Currently I can act like an ass because professionals paid by the city will come put my house out when it is on fire. If I am counting on my neighbors to help me put out my house, I am less likely to act like an ass. Also, if I am a big enough ass, it will be my neighbors who set my house on fire. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Sep 9, 2017 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ You are assuming that wrongdoer has a house and lives just like other people do. In most of today's societies there is population of rogue criminals who don't mind the risk of the authorities caching them. Do you think regular people can do a better job than professional detectives? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 9, 2017 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ A 'king' can be a military leader chosen either by the Goddess or people in times of need and only for times of need. There is still a problem with military discipline. Chain of command is important for big armies. Orders must be followed, otherwise, the army will be ineffective. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Sep 9, 2017 at 5:25
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    $\begingroup$ Alexander you seem to think I am promoting an anarchic society as the best possible or the most efficient. I am not sure either is true. Worldbuilding is about the possible, and an anarchic organization is possible and can work well. If you are interested, read about Scrum scrumalliance.org/why-scrum/core-scrum-values-roles. "Anarchic" has pejorative connotations so the term is not used, but that is exactly what Scrum is: ad hoc problem solving with a flexible leadership structure. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:18

I think you should really read more about anarchism before introducing such "state of anarchy". It is neither that anarchy is one simple concept nor there is only only model of introducing it at this level. Even if you just mean "contemporary western model of country minus government and laws" then there is no "pure" anarchy but system where existing beliefs and ethical concepts still exists (and you cannot just get rid of them as it would mean getting rid of human intelligence altogether). Also, such situation would be rather unstable so you should choose one of more advanced anarchist concepts, like e.g. anarcho-communism.

And it is unstable mostly because there is no force for stopping anybody moving the political situation toward some form of junta government or totalitarism. This includes especially your king. If he is initially allowed only to use his force in case of emergency and there is no force to stop him from deciding to abuse that power then he may just decide emergency starts today (out of pure air) and ultimately end the anarcho-utopia in favor of his autarchy.

On the other hand if you start introducing means of controlling the king to stop such abuse you end with normal government of some liberal country. Of course unless you introduce some sort of deus-ex-machina which may change everything.

TLDR: I suggest reading some anarchist theories and choosing better system than the naive "just anarchy", i.e. some sort (or mix) of anarcho-communism, anarcho-capitalism, anarcho-syndicalism etc.

(and keep in mind none of them is 100% free will, just the constrains are not on the government level)

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. As for a mean for controlling the king, that's exactly what the goddess is for. The goddess does not simply like chaos. She IS chaos and will take any offense to free will very seriously. If the king tries to abuse his power, she will simply smite him down immediately and choose a new one. $\endgroup$
    – FFN
    Sep 8, 2017 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @FFN Sounds like she isn't very chaotic then if shes going to enforce her will upon others in order to preserve her the order of the world to her liking. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2017 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ So maybe instead of anarchy and peace you should choose to have incessant war between several factions? $\endgroup$
    – jaboja
    Sep 8, 2017 at 23:56

As you mentioned, there is no such thing as an anarchic state. What you describe seems closer to a libertarian monarchy. If you were to have an actual anarchic state an army isn't necessarily needed to prevent foreign invasion. In your scenario these people religiously worship anarchy, they would resist any invading country without the need for a king ordering them around. (and they would also resist any king.)

In a true state of anarchy (Not an anarchic nation) the ability to defend ones self is very important as the police are not their to help protect you. People wouldn't carry on as if nothing happened, homes would be more fortified and weapons would be stockpiled.


Just equip each citizen with god like power over the lives of others, making each citizen of ChaosLand a nation of one.

If this were a Science Fiction tale, I would suggest a massive, pervasive thought-responsive nanite cloud with the ability to kill that every citizen can access and use just by thinking about it. In your deity-populated fantasy world, the Goddess of Chaos can just give every citizen thought kill magic to the same general goal.

Now no power can rise to threaten either the nation nor even the weakest of its citizens and everyone would have to learn to be very nice to each other. No one would rise to rule if they could be deposed with a single thought.

...and until the Goddess took her power back, that state of leaderless freedom would be stable, simply because nothing could rise to replace it. Citizens would starve and die for lack of the services usually provided for by the government or the community, so even beyond thought deaths, the mortality rate would be high. Imagine the wild wild west and then make all the gunslinger movies simultaneously true.


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