At first sight the enduring relevance of Le Guin's (1974) The Dispossessed, is its unflinching thinking through of an anarchist society. (This is not to deny its ongoing relevance for reflection on gender relations and open access scientific publishing.) In fact, part of the narrative is structured around a contrast between "very naive" anarchism and a more sophisticated anarchism reflected in the growing awareness of the main protagonist (Shevek). In the novel both versions of anarchism can be traced back to Odo's writings. (I return to this below.)
The anarchist society, founded on Anarres, is structured around the anticipatory sympathy (or emphathy) with the pains of others. Actual suffering must be prevented. The ruling norm is that "Suffering is dysfunctional, except as a bodily warning against danger. Psychologically and socially it’s merely destructive.” The consequentialist aims of society are, thereby, oriented toward the prevention of suffering. All work/employment is oriented toward this; and it provides the main axiological norms. In this society property and the state do not exist. Because a virgin moon was colonized, no violence was needed to bring it about. (If anything, the story strongly implies that the society was founded by exiles who were on the losing side of a would-be-revolution.) The abolition of property has a wide-scope: the family unit is largely abolished, and child-rearing is socialized; even naming of children is farmed out to a central computer (everybody gets a unique name--society fixes identity).
To maintain social order (organicist metaphors dominate), in the absence of bodily shame (which is associated with discarded religion), the society relies on a mixture of internalizing a social conscience, intra-group social monitoring. and a kind of tacit fear of being cast out of the community. This fear is non-trivial because while the society is capable of quite impressive social planning and the maintenance of sophisticated technologies, it is not capable of moving beyond subsistence. (Le Guin recognizes that without property and profit, sustained productivity growth is not so easy to generate.) Ultimately, at the extreme, population-size is regulated by (the permanent risk of) famines. In addition, while the anarchist society is deeply suspicious of religion, it relies on the existence and ongoing recycling of a positive narrative founded on "history courses and knowledge of Odo’s writings" and a negative narrative about a place (sometimes called "hell") associated with A-IO, the society on Urras they rebelled against and were exiled from (and from which they are more or less sealed off from).
What I have called "social order" can also be called "conformity." This social conformity has little space for individuality in the arts (which is why harmony and choral works are preferred), or un-applied sciences; in fact, where self-censorship fails, there are more heavy-handed forms of censorship, including the use of psychiatric hospitals, and unpleasant work-assignments.
As I implied above, the story unfolds the growing awareness for the need of a more sophisticated anarchism -- one that is founded on the reality (rather than denial) of pain. On this view, "the real mutuality and reciprocity of society and individual" are as follows: "Sacrifice might be demanded of the individual, but never compromise: for though only the society could give security and stability, only the individual, the person, had the power of moral choice — the power of change, the essential function of life." This requires a kind of "permanent revolution" (rather than deference to tradition and status quo society); given that there is no state or property to revolt against, this is the kind of revolution that "begins in the thinking mind."
There is a lot more to be said about the nature of such thought. But here I want to focus on (and close with) one important ingredient. The conceit of the novel is that that smartest man of Anarres (in raw sciency terms) is simultaneously a "fool." He starts out lacking the disposition to question the norms, and their function, of his own society and, thereby, he is incapable of understanding how power operates in any society; throughout the novel, others have to do the unmasking for him at home (and eventually) abroad. While Shevek is hindered by the artificial language he has inherited (the anarchists created a language from scratch), the more fundamental problem is the implied curriculum of his education: "history courses and...Odo’s writings."
For, while nobody can deny the acuity of Odo's critical insights into her own society, and her visionary (I would say philosophical prophecy), the anarchists have prevented the study of political philosophy, that is, comparative institutional analysis. In fact, while cosmology is present in some of the societies depicted in Le Guin's The Dispossessed, political philosophy is entirely absent in each society. However, unlike Odo, Le Guin's book is (or shows) such political philosophy. In fact, the novel leads us through the comparative, institutional analysis of multiple societies: first on a single planet (a world society), then in a competitive system of multiple states (on another planet); with a further reflection on the stability of the interaction between two planets, which are finally embedded in a galactic history, as presented by Ambassador from Terra (Earth). Without denying Le Guin's brilliance, she shares this trait -- exhibiting political philosophy, without stating it -- with More's Utopia. I have proposed to call this genre, Socratic political theory about ideal theory. And so, I intend to return to Le Guin as a teacher of philosophy (while granting her contributions to the development of science fiction, too).