Many left-anarchists are fairly civilized. But many others are not. An ex-vegan was going to give an anti-vegetarianism speech at an anarchist book fair in San Francisco, and these criminals threw cayenne-laced pies at her. What completely indefensible behavior. These people might want to bring down state power, but I don’t know that we’d be better off being ruled by them than the current power elite.
One reason “anarchism” — the rejection of the state or, more generally, the rejection of authority—is not enough can be seen in the way left-anarchists often violate private property or even commit acts of personal violence against political enemies. Property rights and the non-aggression axiom are key. Anarchism is best seen as the logical consequence of libertarianism, grounded in property and self-ownership, rather than being an end in itself. All radical libertarians should be anarchists. But not all anarchists are truly libertarians.
Of course, even private criminality would be infinitely more tolerable than the state, and certainly this is the case in a relatively civilized culture that can handle some deviants here and there, as ours can. Indeed, the fact that America is relatively civil despite the state doing everything to undermine civil society—through war, drug prohibition, gun control, welfare, public schools, etc.—demonstrates the workability of anarchy. But culture must come first to maintain any free or even civilized society. And on the question of culture, many left-anarchists are on the wrong side. They would reduce us to tribalism, primitivism and chaos. By the way, I am not talking about the mutualists or pro-market, pro-law left-anarchists. I’m not talking about Tuckerites or followers of Proudhon. These people all have views on social order and economics than differ from mine, but at least they believe in society and tend to oppose violence against the innocent. I am talking about the social anarchists even to the “left” of these folks, who have no love of the market, no respect for property at all, no compunctions about watching the world burn.
Perhaps in a sense they are the true “anarchists”—opposed to all order, hierarchy and law, not just statism—whereas the strictly anti-statist meaning of anarchism is the actual misnomer. But on the other hand, how can one be against order and hierarchy altogether? Even to be philosophically opposed to hierarchy puts hierarchy below disorder, thus bolstering a hierarchy of ideas. The extremist anarchists oppose all social conventions and norms, and even language and technology. You can read about it on their websites. This kind of anarchism is incoherent and contradictory, even if it is more true to the etymology of the word “anarchism.” But anarcho-libertarianism, anchored in private property rights and non-aggression, is far more achievable, humane and civilized, and eschews the type of aggression we often see left-anarchists personally involved in.