The difference between Law and Anarchy

The Law

I started a self-study course on Australian Law so I will share my notes and writing here on my blog in the category of Law.

What is the difference between anarchy and the law?

The law is “a set of enforceable rules of conduct which set down guidelines for relationships between people and organizations in a society.”   Humans live in societies – a group  of human beings linked by mutual interests, relationships, shared institutions and a common culture.

As societies developed, the people established and enforced rules about the conduct of relationships. Laws developed and became officially recognised, binding and enforceable.  The laws are enforced by the police and other government bodies (for example, Border Protection).

Everyone in a society is subject to the same laws, known as the rule of law, and nobody is above the law, not even the leader of the country, politicians or those who made the law.

The existing laws have evolved in our society based on its customs, values and ethics.  These laws are necessary to ensure that our behaviour is regulated and to meet the common expectations of society.   People will usually do the right thing by other members of society, however in the absence of laws, a minority of people will behave badly and there will no means to enforce good behaviour.

Anarchy means “without a ruler” and describes a state of chaos and disorder resulting from the absence of rules and rules.    Anarchy can occur during a revolution or after a natural disaster or civil unrest, such as the recent riots in the USA following the police killing of George Floyd.  Protestors were angry and deliberately broke laws about damage to public property, arson and assault. The police were unable to get this riot quickly under control.  The protestors had the mind of the anarchist trying to bring out change, rebelling against the police – the law enforcement agency of the US government.

According to Wikipedia, anarchism is a political philosophy where  societies self-govern. They believe that a governing authority is not required and should be replaced with voluntary institutions to achieve the same effect as government.

Is anarchy a viable means of living in a society?  I don’t think so.  History has shown that society needs commonly agreed rules which are enforced for the common good of the people.


Cambridge Legal Studies – Preliminary 3rd edition © 2013 – Chapter 1

Anarchy – Wikipedia
Accessed Wednesday 29 July 2020


The first time I heard the word anarchy discussed in a political context was the comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  King Arthur approaches two peasants in search of the castle holding the holy grail.   After introducing himself as King, the peasants argue about their form of government:

Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman:  We don't have a lord!
Arthur: (surprised) What??
Man:    I *told* you!  We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune!  We're taking
        turns to act as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week--
Arthur: (uninterested) Yes...
Man:    But all the decisions *of* that officer have to be ratified at a
        special bi-weekly meeting--
Arthur: (perturbed) Yes I see!
Man:    By a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs--
Arthur: (mad) Be quiet!
Man:    But by a two-thirds majority, in the case of more major--
Arthur: (very angry) BE QUIET!  I *order* you to be quiet!
Woman:  "Order", eh, 'oo does 'e think 'e is?
Arthur: I am your king!
Woman:  Well I didn't vote for you!
Arthur: You don't vote for kings!
Woman:  Well how'd you become king then?
(holy music up)
Arthur: The Lady of the Lake-- her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite,
        held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by
        divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.  
        THAT is why   I am your king!
Man:    (laughingly) Listen: Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords
        is no basis for a system of government!  Supreme executive power
        derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some... farcical
        aquatic ceremony!
Arthur: (yelling) BE QUIET!
Man:    You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some
        watery tart threw a sword at you!!
Arthur: (coming forward and grabbing the man) Shut *UP*!

Read the full transcript


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