Some fear that in a society without authorities, the strongest people would run amok, taking and doing whatever they wanted. Never mind that this describes what generally goes on in societies with government! This fear derives from the statist myth that we are all isolated. The government would very much like you to believe that without its protection you are vulnerable to the whims of anyone stronger than you. However, no bully is stronger than an entire community. A person who shatters the social peace, disrespects another person’s needs, and acts in an authoritarian, bullying way can be defeated or kicked out by neighbors working together to restore the peace.
In Christiania as elsewhere, the state presents the greatest danger to the community. Unlike the individual bullies one imagines terrorizing a lawless society, the state cannot be easily defeated. Typically, the state seeks a monopoly on force on the pretext of protecting citizens from other bullies; this is the justification for prohibiting anyone outside the state apparatus from using force, especially in self-defense against the government. In return for relinquishing this power, citizens are directed to the court system as a means of defending their interests; but of course, the court system is part of the state, and protects its interests above all others. When the government comes to seize your land to build a shopping mall, for example, you can take the matter to court or even bring it before the city council, but you might find yourself talking to someone who stands to profit from the shopping mall. The bully’s courts will not be fair to the bully’s victims, and they will not sympathize with you if you defend yourself against the eviction. Instead, they will lock you up.
Extract from Peter Gelderloos’ “Anarchy Works,” available free at the Anarchist Library.