Archon Understanding of Anarchism
Who is really an anarchist? The answer depends on the definition of anarchism.
Anarchism is a composite word derived from the parts "an" (prefix meaning "no") and "archon". The word archon literally means "ruler" or "lord", which necessarily implies two things: (a) the archon exercises power over others (b) conscious, voluntary consent from the others is not needed to authorize the archon to exercise his power.
Analyzed from etymology, it becomes evident that all (consistent) anarchists are against all archons, period. This is completely contrary to the widespread erroneous beliefs that "anarchism" means "absence of order" or "absence of hierarchy".
Who is an Archon?
The question then becomes who is an archon? Let's use an example to deduce it.
- Neither anarcho-capitalists nor anarcho-communists would label the doctor in a normal non-dysfunctional doctor-patient relationship as an archon. This is the case, even though the doctor most definitely assumes a role of power over the patient. From this observation, you can deduce that merely having power is not a sufficient condition to qualify as an archon.
If having power isn't "enough" to be called an archon, what, then, distinguishes archons from regular individuals? Well, let's look at the example again: what fact authorizes the doctor to have power over the patient? Quite simply, the fact that this eventual power derives from a voluntary, non-coerced, mutual consent from the patient, which the patient can withdraw without fearing coercive punishment from the doctor as a consequence.
So, for the purposes of determining if a particular person is an archon, you would have to ask whether the relationship between the alleged archon and others is consensual and voluntary. The difference between, say, a surgeon, or a boyfriend, or a loving father (not archons), compared with a butcher, or a rapist, or an abusive father (clearly archons), is consent (along with all the facts implied in consent).
Most importantly, from the above we can deduce that all anarchists share one thing in common: they all are in favor of mutually consensual, voluntary relationships. This is true for anarcho-communists, and it is also true for anarcho-capitalists.
The corollary of this, is that anyone who tells you certain archons are acceptable or necessary, is simply not an anarchist, no matter how much fervently he calls himself an anarchist. And anyone who tells you that obviously consensual relationships involve archons, is trying to trick or deceive you.
Property: Anarcho-Communists vs Anarcho-Capitalists
Now, in my personal observation so far (a couple of years transacting with them), the fundamental distinction between anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists is whether they consider property owners to be archons or not. The anarcho-capitalist's position is that defense of property (in particular, of capital goods) is ethically equivalent to defense of self, and that the person seeking to appropriate others' things by violence or subterfuge, is an archon himself. The anarcho-communist's position is that property owners are archons, and that appropriating others' property through violence, force, of subterfuge is ethically equivalent to obtaining unowned resources.
As you can see, the divide is straight along the line of what rule set should people follow, to decide who gets to use what at which times? (in other words, what model of property is the "correct" one). It is entirely a normative dispute, as you can see. It's an important dispute too, because choosing the "wrong" model of property has been known to cause mass human death (which is precisely the outcome that a "good" model of property is intended to avoid or prevent).
Many rule sets to determine have been proposed. I won't speak for other stripes of anarchism, but all anarcho-capitalists accept the property model known as Hoppean private property. In any case, and merely as a personal observation, I personally suspect very strongly that the adoption of certain particular rule sets is a direct consequence of certain forms of child abuse, but I won't elaborate on that further since that's a bit off-topic.
From these observations of mine, you can probably draw useful conclusions.
(minor edits by JamesCarlin)