A question often asked of anarchists is, what, in the absence of The State, would restrain men's baser impulses?
The simple, surface answer is, the same things that restrain them (or fail to) now. It's a snappy reply but there's not much there. Most men do not refrain from rape because they will be caught and punished; most people do not avoid short-changing others because it is illegal and your sister's favors are not for hire because the Vice Squad is likely, eventually, to haul her in. Indeed, you are now in about as good a position to poison the water supply of your city as any slapdash terrorist -- and consider, the traffic would be less and many jobs would be left open; you have much to gain. Do you seriously entertain that the you and your fellows have not yet done so only due to the likelihood of arrest, trial, imprisonment and execution?
It seems unlikely. While humans are governed largely by self-interest, mature humans tend to take a longer-term approach to "self-interest." Mature humans tend to deal fairly -- or not terribly unfairly, and more or less so to the extent they see them as peers, members of the same tribe -- with others. And past that, they extend a degree of courtesy to others and recognize it when it is given to them. Immature and/or criminal humans do not -- unless you count it a handshake to pick a man's pocket.
What keeps people from "doing unto others" first and hardest is as simple, as apparently trivial as courtesy. Customs. Manners. Those things which must (or must not) be done vary between our different tribes, clans and septs but they always exist. From a High Tea to an outlaw biker rally, there are acts and words of some sort which are observed by those who would take part pf the social interaction; the lout who flouts the social graces and calls it "honesty" makes of himself something less than human.
Looking back to times when the hand of Government fell less heavily on the individual, one finds situations refined and coarse; and while in general the individual had less to fear from crime in the 19th Century the the 21st, he or she had even less to fear in areas where good manners were more widely used and respected. London -- then well-armed, as shown by accounts of The Tottenham Outrage -- was safer than Deadwood. Same species, better manners. Greater awareness of manners even among those who had little or no use for them.
Humans have very few instinctive behaviors; we're born knowing how to suck and in my darker moments, I suspect that's about as far as some people get. Proper manners -- yes, O Rosseauian "Natural Man," that terrible, horrible hypocrisy that lets enemies sit down at table and try to flay each other verbally, pleasantly, instead of reaching for their knives -- is one of humanity's better inventions, ranking with fire and the wheel; the traditions that preserve and transmit our customs and manners are as essential to our progress as was the domestication of animals and the invention of soup.
Speculative thought about the shape society might take is common to all varieties of political thought and it is not uncommonly shown through rose-colored spectacles. From the "Worker's Paradise" to the high-minded Progressive dreams of Georgist single-taxers to L. Neil Smith's delightful visions of an anarchist/minarchist America, it's all painted so very lovely. Me, not so much; my kind of anarchy takes property rights as fundamental and leaves plenty of room for grotty little factory towns, mean or evil bosses and lazy workers. The indolent would be free to starve, the incompetent to seek their own level and it would be no paradise. --You'd have more choices of doom, mostly, and my own line of work would very likely get less respect and pay worse than it does now. But people would have better manners -- or not, and be held back by the lack. Make of that what you will.
Philosophically, I am something of a lightweight. There's not a lot of rigor to my thinking; Ayn Rand would've dressed me down but good and turned her back. This does not bother me; we can't all be Immanuel Kant and I'd as soon not. Roberta-X-ism is not a movement and it couldn't be.
This blog is something I do for my own amusement. It's all over the place -- fools are mocked, I natter about guns and shooting, post fragmentary stories not quite about slices my life or other lives I've glimpsed and whatever else it strikes me to do. Sometimes I'm wrong. Other times I'm not. I blog for fun and I would even if no one read it or commented on it. This is my place and visitors can either play by the very few rules, or they can leave.
1. Itself a fine example of the rude actions of the sort of "Anarchist" that is a blot upon the word -- and the world.
2. Snicker all you like -- before soup, the elders died when their teeth gave out, somewhere around 30 years old. Not a lot of time to learn much -- and even less time in which to pass it on.