A.A.: Benign Anarchy and Democracy
When we come into A.A. we find a greater personal freedom than any other society knows. We cannot be compelled to do anything. In that sense our Society is a benign anarchy. The word “anarchy” has a bad meaning to most of us. But I think that the idealist who first advocated the concept felt that if only men were granted absolute liberty, and were compelled to obey no one, they would then voluntarily associate themselves in the common interest. A.A. is an association of the benign sort he envisioned.
But when we had to go into action — to function as groups — we discovered that we also had to become a democracy. As our old-timers retired, we therefore began to elect our trusted servants by majority vote. Each group in this sense became a town meeting. All plans for group action had to be approved by the majority. This meant that no single individual could appoint himself to act for his group or for A.A. as a whole. Neither dictatorship nor paternalism was for us.
A.A. COMES OF AGE, PP. 224-225