A County of Ghosts – Margaret Killjoy

Wonderful short anarchist novel that does an excellent job of showing how anarchism could work.

I adjusted some dialog so it flows easier.
  • Hierarchy
    • But it wasn’t General Wilder’s bayonet that cut into the women’s flesh. It was not by his hands that she was salted. It is in this way that the Imperial Army – indeed, any authority military force – eschews individual responsibility. If there is a devil in this world, it does its work through hierarchy. 
    • And I remembered the police, the armed men who roamed the streets enforcing laws they couldn’t even recite, who killed with impunity.
    • “What would you have us do with criminals, then?”
      “Give them medals. For daring to be antisocial in the face of an antisocial order.”
  • Military
    • “If we’re scouts in hostile terrain, why are we out here riding in broad daylight?”
    • “These are our mountains. We can’t be seen sulking around in the darkness like common thieves.”
      The military mind of the Imperial officer is beyond me.
    • Unlike conquerors, the actual residents of the mountains felt no need to ride during daylight.
    • I realized that food given freely tasted objectively better than for taken by force.
  • Possession
    • I don’t think we talk about things in the same way as you do. I think if I used possessive words around you, you’d get the wrong idea. At home, in Hronople, I ‘owned’ my home. I knew I’d be gone for so long, though, that I gave it away. Out here, we’re at war, and a soldier of Horn doesn’t ‘own’ much at all. I built this place, and I can make use of it, but I’d be a dammed fool to not make use of it in the way that best serves us in this conflict. Anyone can come and go at any time, and I trust them not to invade my privacy without some reason.
  • General Wisdom
    • You can have your guilt, if it makes you feel better. Or if you like the way that it makes you feel worse. Whatever it takes for you to learn to carve distance between yourself and the place you’re from, from the soldiers who speak your mother tongue, that’s alright. But when your guilt stops being useful, you’d better let it go. It can fester and ferment in your belly.
    • I’ll never figure out if I’m supposed to let worry get the best of me. Because I don’t want to fall off a cliff but I don’t want to risk never looking over the edge.
    • “Solidaritous” – Adjectival word for “Solidarity”
    • Most philosophy I see seems like it was written to justify whatever the philosopher wanted to do anyway. Why do we need to justify acting on our desires? We should just act on them. The people who think what we’re doing is good will tell us, the people who thing what we’re doing is bad will tell us, and we can use that to inform our future actions.
    • Most everyone, at the core of their being, wants to be an asset to their friends and community.
  • Organization
    • Hron’s a country, I guess, in that we’re a collection of people with a somewhat-shared culture who commonly defend certain rough borders and principles. But we’re not a country like Vorronia or Borolia or even the Floating Isles. We don’t have a king or a parliament or a council or a royal priesthood or trade barons or capitalists or really any of the vestiges of power at all. We’re a country, but we’re an anarchist country.
      It means that everyone in Hron is their master of their own destiny. It means that there are no laws here, no prisons.
      The Free Confederation of Hron is a voluntary association of autonomous groups and individuals who cooperate to provide one another mutual aid.
      We’re people who have each other’s backs because having someone’s back means someone has yours, and that’s a good way to live.
    • The Horn Accord sets out the principles of unity that bind us together. Anyone – any individual person, any group of people – can be part of Hron if they abide by the guidelines set out in the accord.
      Those who don’t want to associate with others by those principles are more than free to associate with others in whatever way they want, just not here, and not with us.
    • All people are free. When we speak of freedom, we acknowledge that freedom is a relationship between the people of a society. This relationship of freedom is created by means of mutual respect, the acknowledgement of one another’s autonomy, and the ability to hold one another responsible for their actions. All people are free and all people are responsible to themselves and to one another.
    • We’ve had some bad years. But as much as adversity can drive people apart, set people to hoarding, it can bring out the best in people. When it comes down to it, we all agree – if there’s not enough to go around, Hron will share with Hron. It’s hard and it’s awful and we do it.
    • Narrator: “What got you the job of caretaker?”
      Sakana : “I chose it, the same as anyone chooses a job.”
      Narrator: “What if you didn’t want to do it?”
      Sakana : “Then I wouldn’t do it.”
      Narrator: “And someone would take your place?”
      Sakana : “If they wanted.”
      Narrator: “What if no one wanted to caretake the guest hall?”
      Sakana looked at my travel companions for reassurance that they knew I was clearly a madman
      Dory: “If Sakana stepped down and no one stepped up, the guest hall would go unmaintained. People would bring it up every now and then at the council, and if someone decide it seemed like a useful or pleasurable thing to do, they’d take it over.
      Narrator: “What if no one wanted to harvest food or tend to the ostriches or cook or wash up?”
      Sakana: “If people wanted to starve, I supposed they could. I tend to find that people prefer to eat. And to eat, we have to plant and harvest, and we have to herd and hunt. We find joy in doing things for ourselves and our communities.”
      Narrator: “What about less pleasant things, like washing dishes? Or maintaining your systems of sewage? Cleaning latrines?”
      Sakana: “Where you’re from, do you have to get paid to shower? Dress yourself? When you’re done working, do you walk off and leave the tools in disarray? I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but are you a country of children?”
    • “Where do you get your food and tea then?”
      “From farmers. They give it to me because they know I redistribute it fairly. They give it to me because I have a good reputation. In Borolia, you’re measured by the tokens you carry, whether you’ve earned them or not. In Hron, you’re measured by your reputation.
  • Facilitation
    • We’ve got a process we’re going to try, and during the lunch recess and then later tonight after dinner anyone who would like to discuss process may join us and do so. But we have a lot to discuss and a lot of people from all over the country who clearly have important things to get done, so we won’t be discussing non-immediate process concerns during the meeting itself.
    • Before we get started, I just want to clarify for those who haven’t been to confederational councils before that this is not a decision-making body. This is a coordinating body. The decision-making will happen in the groups that you each represent. We’ll hear from a few witnesses and experts about the threat that we face, then we’ll hear from each spokesperson about their plans. Concerns about plans may be raised but we are not here to poise on another’s actions, only to give ourselves the knowledge we need to integrate our plans with one another so as to defend ourselves from this threat. Spokespersons will take the information they have learned today back to their groups and develop their plans, and we will have monthly confederational councils to discuss developments until that is no longer practical.
    • It encourages initiative… hierarchy is notoriously slow. The worst of both worlds would be a committee through some kind of central decision-making body that has to come to agreement with everyone.
  • Take care of yourself. No, to hell with that, take care of your friends and let them take care of you. Do stupid things for them.