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Rise of Autonomous Collectives in the 21st Century

by Elizabeth Ann Devine

For centuries, all humanity has known in its collective memory are forms of hierarchy that have volunteered themselves as having the right to exercise violence on others, and to conquer and rule by force. Few humans know or can imagine what it’s like to exist outside of government or other social structures that impose coercion to accomplish tasks. It hasn’t always been that way, but selective record keeping, outright erasure of alternative cultures, and Imperial preferences in today’s historical academia have made it appear so. Ungoverned communities have existed, cooperated, and flourished before people wanting to instill hierarchy massacred them, destroyed their work, and imposed rule on survivors.

Hundreds of years later, in this last decade, global Autonomous Collectives erupted from the collective consciousness of the internet. An Autonomous Collective is a group or community formed without imposed structure. Each member is autonomous, but cooperates voluntarily with others towards common goals. The two collectives that rose from the internet in the most drastic numbers were Anonymous and the Occupy Movement, both of which included hundreds of thousands of members minimum all across the globe, working together in unison towards common goals.

Governments including the United States have attempted to dismantle these communities with violence, infiltration, prolonged imprisonment, and control of the Internet. In response to the backlash, autonomous people have formed communities dedicated to self-sustainability and non-aggression.

Keywords: Autonomous, Collective, Government, Hierarchy, Anarchy, Occupy, Anonymous, Internet, self-sustainable, non-aggression.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Political Science & International Affairs

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Robinson Ballroom B

  • Event date
    • 1 April 2015

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements: