Anarchism

Everybody's an Anarchist Sometimes

Everybody.

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hoist that rag
Joel Bedford/Foter.com

Ben Powell of the Independent Institute explains at the Freeman:

Consider Cambodia in the late 1970s. The Khmer Rouge government intentionally killed more than two million of its own citizens. That's an average of eight percent of the population killed each year while government simultaneously inflicted countless other horrors. Do you think the Cambodian people, faced with that government, would have been better off with no government at all? Congratulations. You are, sometimes, an anarchist.

The anarchist-minarchist debate usually revolves around how well an ordered anarchy could work. How well could law and order be provided without state provision? That is an important question—one that Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, and James Buchanan made important theoretical contributions to in the 1970s. Bruce Benson and others started making historical contributions in the 1980s. And starting in the late 1990s, scholarship on the question virtually exploded. 

Reasonable classical liberals can digest this scholarship and disagree about how well an "ordered anarchy" might work. But whether you cling to Hobbesian notions of a nasty, brutish, and short life in anarchy, or believe anarchy would be libertarian paradise, you have only answered half the question about anarchy's desirability. The other half of the question is, "Compared to what government"?

He takes the infamous example of Somalia, one of liberals' favorite strawmen for libertarianism:

Cases like Pol Pot's Cambodia are easy calls for most of us. It would take extraordinary Hobbesian assumptions about life without a state to think that Cambodians were better off with his government than they would have been without a state at all. The Chinese under Mao, Russians under Stalin, Germans under Hitler—they all fall in the same category.

The real question is how far to move the line. Somalia had a fairly predatory state until its collapse in 1991, but it wasn't nearly as murderous as those above. It's been in a state of anarchy since then. To the extent we can measure them, living standards seem to have improved since the state collapsed. In fact, they've improved faster than the sub-Saharan African average.

When classical liberals talk about Somalia it is not because it represents some ideal libertarian anarchy. It doesn't. We talk about Somalia because it passes the comparative institutions test. Its imperfect anarchy seems to be doing better than the very imperfect state that preceded it and many of those states it shares a continent with.

This does not prove that a limited minimal government wouldn't work better in Somalia. But that is not the relevant question. As I argued in response to a bunch of nation-builders at a conference on Somalia a couple of years ago: Whatever version of a government you think is ideal, it is probably not achievable in Somalia. 

Consider other African governments today. Most brutally suppress the freedom of their subjects and have horrible standards of living. Check out their Polity IV scores on how liberal/democratic they are, or their economic freedom scores. How many of them, like Somalia, would be better off stateless?

Read the rest of Powell's piece here and more Reason on Somalia here.

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  1. Um, roadz?

    1. I would be intersted in hearing from the Somalian Road Kochporashun on this subject.

      1. Here you go. Jim Davidson, CEO of Awdal Roads Company, gave his assessment of Somalia at http://web.archive.org/web/200…..030d1.html

        (Awdal is a region of Somalia.)

        1. Bloody … ! What’s wrong with HTML and links here?

          Trying again:

          http://web.archive.org/web/200…..030d1.html

          If that didn’t work, go to http://praxeology.net/libertariannation/a/

          and search for “Somalia and Anarchy” or “Jim Davidson”

  2. The State is the God of the Left. Arguing for a stateless society to leftists is like going into your local church on Sunday and attempting to persuade them that God isn’t real.

  3. Neither extreme is ideal. But no question Cambodia or Mao’s China is worse than Somalia, although what about Rwanda? Rwanda if I remember correctly was a case of huge, non government mobs committing genocide. I think I would rather tough it out in Stalinist Russia than be on the wrong end of what went on in Rwanda.

    As in all things, it depends on the circumstances. But since anarchy is much less likely to happen than totalitarianism, better to er on the side of small government.

    1. The Rwandan government was complicit and many parts of it assisted the mobs. A team effort, so to speak.

      1. Being complicit means not doing your job as a government, something that would happen under anarchy.

        The point is that people do actually want to do really bad things that don’t involve governments.

        1. No being complicit means they helped perpetuate the genocide, but were slightly coy about publicity. The Army and police actively helped, and they were not mutinying to do so…

        2. You assume that the job of government is always to prevent that sort of thing.

          1. If there is a job of government, it would be that.

            1. I’d like to think so, but there is really no a priori job of government. Some governments have clearly made their jobs something other than what you or I would like. For example, for a while the Rwandan government’s job was helping to kill huge numbers of its subjects.

    2. The Rwandan genocide happened because of decades, if not centuries, of government programmed hatred

      1. Maybe so. But people seem to have no problems hating each other without government. And even if this particular hatred was caused by government, so what? It is still there and still makes anarchy a bit hard.

        1. To be fair, and I’m certainly not an anarchist, the fallout from collapsed states in wartime is not really comparable to intentional anarchism, where people decide they don’t need government to live.

  4. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Enough with the, “SOMALIA!!!111, SOMALIA!!!111,SOMALIA!!!111”, Ben. We get it.

    Makes me think of, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”

    And the Brady Bunch sucked almost as bad as SOMALIA!!!111

    Also, fried chicken.

    1. Ru-fi-O, Ru-fi-O, Ru-fi-Ohhhhhh!

      1. Bangarang!

        1. A perfect example of a stateless society.

          1. A mob of hoodlums led by the fascist dictator Pan.

    2. “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”

      /pedant

      1. They only had the SAP dub in Michigan.

    1. Enemies of the People is a documentary about Nuon Chea, “Brother Number 2”. A Cambodian journalist – whose family died under the Khmer Rouge – spent several years getting him to talk about his role. S21 is perhaps even more disturbing, as a filmmaker talks to several people who worked at the death camp.

  5. Anarchy is a sometimes idelology.

  6. Do you think the Cambodian people, faced with that government, would have been better off with no government at all? Congratulations. You are, sometimes, an anarchist.

    Would you rather be beaten to death with a claw hammer or fuck a goat? Congratulations. You are, sometimes, a goat fucker.

    1. +100 Amazing how someone can get published for making the observation that “sometimes a choice is the best of a list of bad alternatives”. Congratulations Mr. Obvious. Here is your cookie.

      1. More amazing, however, is how often people don’t recognize that choices generally have to be made between real alternatives. A Soviet Union governed by the right people might have been a paradise. The people who could have turned the Soviet Union into a paradise DID NOT EXIST AND NEVER WILL.

        That’s the point.

        1. Except that “no government at all” wasn’t ever even a remote choice for the Cambodian people. For them it was more a choice of crypto-fascist thugs or genocidal communists. The author’s point is completely silly because once you throw away the unrealistic false choice (Communist Death Cult or Anarchy) his point that “everyone is sometimes an Anarchist” falls flat on its face.

    2. Exactly. Would you rather live in failed state Somalia or in socialist Venezuela? Congratulations, sometime you are a state socialist. (Again, I know failed state Somalia is not comparable to intentional anarchism, but pointing out a similarly ridiculous conundrum.)

  7. “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) ? or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inaminate real of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could go back to personal names, it would do a lot of good.”

    J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the great anarchist fable The Lord of the Rings.

    1. Isn’t the whole book just a homage to agrarian utopianism?

      1. No. Talk about not getting it.

      2. The Shire is very Jeffersonian in the idealism it represents.

        1. Yes it is. And Mordor and Orcs of Saruman are very industrialist.

          1. Yeah, and Stalin had a similar approach to industrializing Russia.

            Tolkien wasn’t writing a screed against capitalism or industrialization, he was writing an allegory about the nature of absolute power and what it does to individuals who attempt to wield it.

            1. Except he was anti-industrialization, particularly if you view LotR within the larger universe. Don’t forget that Suaron began as a sort of divine smithy and was corrupted because of a desire to run society the same way a mechanic runs an engine. Saurman was similarly corrupted because he had “a mind full of metal and wheels”. In Tolkein’s mind, a fascination with technology almost inevitably leads to a desire to dominate other people.

            2. Well, he denied writing any kind of allegory at all. But I can see why one might not believe him.

              1. He wasn’t writing an allegory in the sense of particular people in his story mapping to particular people in the real world, ala Animal Farm. That doesn’t mean themes of the story weren’t applicable to the world.

      3. there is more to it than that I think. But that is definitely a component.

      4. Which one?

        The Lord of the Rings is intended to provide a cultural framework for the languages he was inventing.

        The Hobbit is intended as a story to entertain kids.

        They are anti-industrial, but really don’t advocate anything more coherently than that.

        I will say, though, being in the midst of reading the Hobbit to my daughter as part of her bedtime routine (We’re at the point where Bilbo just finished sneaking back into the mountain having completed his unauthorized and back-stabby operation intended to break the siege) that I was pleasantly surprised by the intelligence he applied to plotting the characters actions. I remember being really disappointed by the Lord of the Rings as a teenager, and I am starting to think I should re-read it; perhaps I was misjudging it due to my callowness.

        1. The Lord of the Rings is intended to provide a cultural framework for the languages he was inventing.

          Yes, that was his primary purpose along with storytelling.

          That being said, he has been quoted as saying that he did not object to people reading a political and philosophical allegory out of his work.

          I remember being really disappointed by the Lord of the Rings as a teenager, and I am starting to think I should re-read it; perhaps I was misjudging it due to my callowness.

          I last read it 4 or 5 years ago. Tolkien had a very old-fashioned style to writing that takes some getting used to, but the sheer scope of the story is just astounding. Amazing that one man could create such a detailed world.

          1. I had a really hard time rereading it in college as the movies were coming out. I’m not sure why since I enjoyed it so much in jr high.

            Amazing that one man could create such a detailed world.

            I was continually impressed with the feeling that if you made a left turn where the Fellowship made a right the world would continue on and there’d be interesting things to find.

        2. [(We’re at the point where Bilbo just finished sneaking back into the mountain..]

          I’m reading “Memoirs of a Scarlet Lady” to my adolescent. We’re at the point where the Dildo just finished sneaking back into the cave.

    2. Isn’t that book just a bunch of elves and fairy shit for twiggy little gaywads?

      1. Plenty of killin’, and a Shakespeare-worthy suicide and such…no sex, just G rated love interest stuff. Give it a 6 on the manliness scale out of 10 (there is quite a lot of fighting, hacking, slaying, and a finger getting bit off too).

  8. It’s amazing that in just eight comments, so many people can so clearly miss the point. But that’s nothing new when it comes to hysterical and idiotic responses to the concept of anarchy. It’s so scary! And it has to be perfect, unlike every form of government ever tried, or it’s unfeasible!

    1. It is pretty much unfeasible.

      1. Did you drive over the speed limit this morning? Did you smoke a bowl last night? Did you knowingly break any laws this past week?

        You are an anarchist. Welcome to the club.

        1. Wait, your argument is that disobeying any laws makes you an anarchist?

          1. This is one of Epi’s intellectual blind spots, unfortunately.

            The fact is that there is no such thing as anarchism. The question is how best to restrain the men with guns, not whether they will exist, as the latter is a given. Government is, to paraphrase Washington, akin to fire: you can either control it or let it burn you up, but it’s always going to be there.

            1. And here you are, utterly missing the point and getting my point exactly backwards. There is nothing but anarchy. Everyone obeys rules they find tolerable, and ignores the ones they find obnoxious. The guy who murders his wife for cheating on him ignores the law against murder because he wants to kill his wife. Law and government are a fiction, one created to get the little people to accede to a warlord’s power more easily.

              1. Yes, and the guy who murders his wife will subsequently be sent to jail by an established court system run by the government of the state.

              2. There is no such thing as “practicing anarchy”. Yes, he “ignored” the law, but it isn’t much of a fiction when the State inserts a needle in his arm 20 years down the road.

                Law and government are a fiction, one created to get the little people to accede to a warlord’s power more easily.

                This is puerile. Are you saying that people in North Korea are on the same footing as people in the United States?

                1. You’re both wrong! Obviously the only way to go is with a democratic monarchy, with me as King of Eternity.

                  1. “King of Eternity”

                    Need a Forever Field Marshall?

            2. The fact is that there is no such thing as anarchism.

              I assume you mean there is no such thing as anarchy; the philosophy seems pretty clearly to exist. Or am I misunderstanding?

              1. He’s just ignoring the rules of grammar. Randian is a linguistic anarchist because he only obeys the rules of language that he finds tolerable and ignores the ones he finds obnoxious.

                1. Irish:

                  He’s just ignoring the rules of grammar.

                  And who has the power to set the rules of grammar?

                  Language is a very interesting example of how one can have order with a completely decentralized system, and no one with the power of force. It’s all voluntary.

                  Apparently, we can have rules with language, even without rulers.

                  I wonder how that carries over to the anarchy debate… hmmmm….

              2. No, nikki, you are right, though I admire Irish’s spirited defense.

            3. The question is how best to restrain the men with guns, not whether they will exist, as the latter is a given.

              To me that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as anarchism. It means there is only anarchism. The only question is whether you grant special moral status to the men with guns who apply the label “government” to themselves. If you do, you are a statist. If you don’t you are an anarchist.

              1. plus what somebody else pointed out :

                s/anarchism/anarchy/

              2. The only question is whether you grant special moral status to the men with guns who apply the label “government” to themselves. If you do, you are a statist. If you don’t you are an anarchist.

                To me, “anarchism” is the belief that it is possible, and desirable, to completely eliminate the control of the men with guns who currently call themselves the state, and if we could just do that, everyone would sing Kumbaya and the Age of Aquarius would dawn.

                If you’re now telling me that “anarchism” means the fatalistic belief that we will always be ruled by men with gods, but that we should not anthropomorphize their rule into a meta-entity called “the state” which possesses some black magic power called “sovereignty”, well – wow. Thanks for that contribution, we already knew that.

                My minarchism is the belief that there is no way to avoid being ruled by men with guns, so we have to do what we can to try to limit the range of action of the set we get stuck with. Now you’re telling me that’s secretly anarchism, because of the fatalism involved. But that would mean that there would be no difference being anarchism and minarchism, and that’s dumb.

                1. I hope some day to be ruled by men without gods.

                  1. Sorry, that was supposed to be “men with guns”.

                    I don’t know how that went all Zardoz.

                2. I don’t think fatalism has anything to do with it.

                  Minarchist make moral apologies for taxation. They get so used to the idea that government is a “necessary evil” that they somehow forget about the “evil” part of that. Or sometimes I think I detect a whiff of “well if it’s neccessary, it can’t also be evil.”

                  Anarchists have varying theoretical and definitional views on the “necessary” part, but they don’t ever forget the “evil” clause.

                  At least that is my distinction between a minarchist and and ancarchist. Really I don’t see why the distinction between “as small as possible” and “zero” has to be a huge one. Until we get to the point where at least one minarchist thinks we have perfect minarchy, I’d expect complete agreement.

          2. Not really, it means you’re practicing anarchy. You know what the state demands, and you purposefully ignore it and do what you want to do anyway, mostly without consequence.

            For example, on my way to work today, I fucked and then killed three Korean hookers, one of which may have been a dude. That is me practicing anarchy.

            1. I thought they were escorts!

              1. When they’re dead, they’re just hookers.

            2. I was wondering what happened to Sum Yung-gai.

        2. Did a duck land in your back yard? Then you need the Government.
          Did your neighbor forget to mow his lawn? Then you need the government.
          Do you wonder how many micro grams of sodium are in one teaspoon of your favorite soup? Then you need the government.

    2. Look, you don’t know what you want, but you know how to get it. I think you just want to destroy.

    3. Obviously the point is that people who acknowledge the dangers of the State on some occasions fail to extend that knowledge to a general principle. I, for one, was mocking the idea that one can only “sometimes” profess to an ideology. You’re either Cookie Monster or you’re a hypocrite.

    4. It’s amazing that in just eight comments, so many people can so clearly miss the point.

      Oh come on. It’s not amazing at all.

      1. I try very hard to miss the point as often as possible. It’s one of my many charms.

      2. Oh, you are very correct, and there will be a smorgasbord of replies to me that utterly miss the point, continuously. Just wait. It won’t be long.

        1. Now look here mister, I think snarkily paraphrasing a Sex Pistol’s song is quite on point, thank you very much!

          *departs huffing in high dudgeon*

          1. And I made a mistake with the apostrophe…on purpose

    5. I want to have a government in your “anarchy”, how do you prevent me and my buddies from forming one? By force? I would think so. And that would require you forming some kind of government of your own, even if said government only passed one law; thou shalt never ask for any more laws.

      It is not only infeasible, it is self contradictory. The only way not to have a government is to have some rule backed up by force that prevents people from forming a government and enforcing it on everyone else and that force would be a form of government thus destroying the whole scheme.

      Anarchy could only work if people were different than what they are. If they were perfected in such a way that no one ever had a desire to form a government or make rules over other people, it would work. This is known as Marxist paradise, only Marx used the term “exploit” rather than control. But it is the same thing.

      1. Yes, we understand that if anarchy were to occur, that you would be one of the first to take the opportunity to rape, pillage, and plunder. That’s one of the reasons I like to call you Red Tony. Like him, “might makes right” is the basis of your morality.

        1. I like that. Very fitting explanation.

          1. No, it is nothing more than a fancy ad hominem, which is to attack John’s intellectual point by making it personal.

            1. You lecturing about ad hominems? I thought you invented them.

            2. John’s point was not very intellectual, much like Tony’s “points”. Thus why the moniker is fitting.

              If we are discussing an anarchy and ways that it could work and his first point is that people will automatically desire to set up a government, well hey, go ahead and try, but that’s not to say it won’t be opposed by people who would rather not be ruled over by political elites.

              1. John’s point was thoroughly intellectual and on-target. Whether you disagree with it is another issue, but no, the moniker in this limited example is not fitting and is nothing more than a way to dig at John personally. As it stands, sarcasmic generally agrees with John on this subject, which makes the insult all the more unwarranted.

                1. The difference between myself and John is that I would prefer to be left alone, while he would join the first gang of plunderers that came by.

                  1. It’s common to insert oneself into the hypothetical to concretize it and make a point. You turning into some sort of actuality is just braindead.

                    1. I liked it better when you ignored me.

                    2. I liked you better when you were actually trying.

              2. If we are discussing an anarchy and ways that it could work and his first point is that people will automatically desire to set up a government, well hey, go ahead and try, but that’s not to say it won’t be opposed by people who would rather not be ruled over by political elites.

                Right. And John’s group will make their attempt with force, and the people who oppose their attempt will resist it with force.

                The point is that whoever wins that conflict is the state, whether they choose to call themselves that or not.

                1. That’s why I would say that anarchy, as imagined by many anCaps is impossible, but being an anarchist is a perfectly reasonable philosophical position. I sometimes call myself an anarchist because I can’t find any moral justification for government. But I also see that government is inevitable, so it is worthwhile to try to limit its power and scope. Government is never a good thing, but it is inevitable in most scenarios, and some are preferable to others. At best it is a necessary evil.

                  1. But I also see that government is inevitable, so it is worthwhile to try to limit its power and scope.

                    By it’s very nature as the last word in violence, the governed cannot keep the government in check. It must check itself. How does that work? It doesn’t.

                    1. Well, there are certainly some governments that I’d rather live under than others. So something works to some extent, for at least a limited amount of time.

                    2. One thing I like about the town I live in is that there is no police force. That doesn’t mean that there are no police. The troopers set up speed traps and the sheriffs answer calls. What it means is that the town cannot set up laws that it cannot enforce. For example the state recently legalized certain fireworks, but left municipalities free to add restrictions. Well, some lady at a town meeting complained about the fireworks and asked for a law. The town council told her that the state and county cops will not enforce town ordinances, and that most residents like it that way. She wasn’t happy. Especially after someone suggested she get earmuffs for her shell-shocked kitty cat.

                    3. “She wasn’t happy. Especially after someone suggested she get earmuffs for her shell-shocked kitty cat.”

                      By God, I wish you had film of that!

                2. Fluffy:

                  The point is that whoever wins that conflict is the state, whether they choose to call themselves that or not.

                  I don’t think so. “People voluntarily coordinating in self-defense against people initiating violence to set up a state” != “state”

                  “People forcing people to support them and fight against other people trying to force people to set up a state” = “state”

        2. Talk about not getting it. The point is not what I or what anyone else would do. It is what people in general would do. And it doesn’t even have to involve raping and pillaging. It can involve courts and settling disputes and punishing crimes all of the other work a day functions of government that people like. You will never stop people from forming associations for those purposes and once those are formed they will inevitably assert themselves over everyone and become governments.

          You can’t have anarchy without changing human nature. Again, the end state of Marxism is anarchy. Marxists and anarchists just disagree on how to get there. Marxists think people can be perfected by the state. Anarchists think they can be perfected by being left alone.

          1. You can’t have anarchy without changing human nature.

            I agree. It is easier to plunder than to produce. It is human nature to do what is easy. Therefore there will always be a gang with the last word in violence, because it gives them license to plunder.

            1. I am forced to agree with jackass up there.

              1. See, we can all get along!

            2. Okay so you admit John is right. Was that so hard?

            3. You are correct sarcasmic. Human beings suck. They just can’t help themselves.

            4. John:

              You can’t have anarchy without changing human nature.

              Eh, these human nature arguments are old and have been discredited many times. However, they’re easy for people who’ve only partially thought about it to pull out and glom onto.

              1. If this is “human nature”, does that mean it’s your nature? Do you have to assert power over people, or support someone who will? Is the only thing keeping you from plundering, a state? If you’re an exception, why? Special pleading?

              2. If this really is true, then we’re all fucked, and a state won’t save you. If everyone’s just trying to make their lives easy at the expense of everyone else, this will apply to your state power. It will be abused to steal from you and control you. In a way, it does remind me of the current system. If the problem is human nature, then the problem is pervasively human, and the state embodies this. It’s not a solution.

      2. You could create a government in an anarchy, you just couldn’t compel anyone to join it that didn’t want to.

        1. How do you plan to prevent me? That is just the point.

          you just couldn’t compel anyone to join it that didn’t want to.

          That is a law. And the only way to enforce that law is through some kind of government.

          1. Wow, you so utterly don’t get this that it’s a waste of time talking to you. Not allowing people to compel other people is called the NAP, not a law. I don’t think you’re mentally capable of getting this.

            1. Not allowing people to compel other people is called the NAP,

              How do you plan to no allow people to follow the NAP without a government dipshit? Yes Episiarch, if we live in a fantasy world where human nature is perfected and everyone follows the NAP, assuming such a thing were even possible, then anarchy works. But we don’t live in said fantasy world. In the real world people don’t follow the NAP and have to be compelled to do so. And that is called a government.

            2. How are you going to “not allow” them to compel other people? Flowers and prayer?

              1. Is a baseball team a government? How about a theater troupe? No? Then why is a posse a government to you?

              2. You guys are being aggressively dense. Amazing shit from you guys. You are allowed to stop someone from compelling others under the NAP. There is no law or government involved. Why is this so difficult for you to get?

                1. Asked and answered. By what process do you punish the would-be compellers?

                  1. Mutually Assured Destruction.

                2. What is to stop someone from getting a big ass group of guys with guns, bigger than anything you can muster, and forcing you to obey? That’s how governments formed in the first place, by warlords forcing their will on other groups of people. How would that not happen in an anarchistic society?

                  An anarchy would eventually tend towards authoritarianism when someone got a big enough army.

                  1. Nature abhors a vacuum, especially a power vacuum.

                    1. If nature abhors a vacuum, why is it so abundant in space?

                    2. Because In Space No One Can Hear You Postulate.

                  2. What is to stop someone from getting a big ass group of guys with guns…

                    This, in my mind is where the theory of an anarchy falls apart. Government is a method of protecting one’s self. (And should be nothing more.) But anarchy seems to rely on the premise that everyone will follow the NAP and there are no bad people out there who will take your shit.

                    Sure you can take care of the bad guys on a small scale, but what happens when Hitler (Russia, China, pick one) decides to take your shit? Is each little community going to have fighters and tanks to defend itself?

                    1. But anarchy seems to rely on the premise that everyone will follow the NAP and there are no bad people out there who will take your shit.

                      No, it’s not even that.

                      The communication breakdown here is that the anarchists on the board seem to be asserting that if they band together and collectively employ violence to stop people from violating the NAP, that’s not a government.

                      But we minarchists think that if we band together and collectively employ violence to stop people from violating the NAP, that’s a legitimate minarchist government.

                      So we’re describing the same end point, but the anarchists are bound and determined to not call themselves a state, for what amounts to completely emotional reasons.

                    2. I don’t really give a fuck what tou call it, it’s a good way to run a society.

                    3. Fluffy:

                      So we’re describing the same end point, but the anarchists are bound and determined to not call themselves a state, for what amounts to completely emotional reasons.

                      This is because they usually define the state as an entity in society for which it is assumed that violating the NAP is completely OK. It’s the only entity that can force you to do something with threats and violence.

                      Anarchist != pacifist. They don’t reject force altogether. Just initiating force.

                      Most anarchists reject all violations of the NAP. And, what’s a state that doesn’t initiate force? A bunch of people voluntarily cooperating with each other? This sounds like a charity or a company, but not a state.

                      At the point that your minarchist state is drafting people, or forcing people to pay taxes, to collectively employ violence to stop people from violating the NAP, then the anarchists call you a state, and get huffy.

                3. You are allowed to stop someone from compelling others under the NAP. There is no law or government involved. Why is this so difficult for you to get?

                  And when you alone can’t stop that? When that other person victimizes you, what then? Oh I know the cooperative defense unicorn. Because forming a coop won’t require there being any rules or any way to solve differences and won’t end up looking just like a government or anything.

                4. You can live like an anarchist if you want Epi, just don’t draw the attention of anyone in government. Then again I think you’d like prison. Sodomy and all that.

                5. You are allowed to stop someone from compelling others under the NAP.

                  How?

                6. You are allowed to stop someone from compelling others under the NAP. There is no law or government involved.

                  I think I’m starting to see the problem.

                  What John is saying (and I thoroughly agree) is that if you and sarcasmic coordinate your efforts to stop me and John, you can shout at the top of your lungs “We’re using our rights under the NAP here!” but you’re still undertaking an act of governance. For the duration of the time period when you’re engaged in stopping me and John, you’re the state.

                  That’s because when the state acts legitimately (even our current shitty state) it does so in terms that can be reconciled to the NAP. If the most corrupt cops in NYC show up somewhere and catch a rapist and send him to jail, they’re enforcing the victim’s rights under the NAP, to exactly the same extent that you’d be enforcing sarcasmic’s NAP rights if you helped him out if John and I showed up to impose our government on him.

                  1. Right. That is an act of governance, and to deal with repeat or multiple offenders, you need some kind of process, which requires rules, which requires input from the community you allegedly represent…

                  2. I would argue that a government cannot abide by the NAP. One word: taxes. There is no way to collect any tax in a consistent and uniform way without initiating force against those who do not wish to pay.

                    1. One word: taxes. There is no way to collect any tax in a consistent and uniform way without initiating force against those who do not wish to pay.

                      The only feasible way that I can see would be to declare that anyone who does not pay the tax is hostis.

                      The situation would then work itself out, albeit in a potentially chaotic fashion. But we’re already comparing this to a purely chaotic state anyway, right?

                  3. If I get my big brother to help me beat up the kid who’s been stealing my lunch money, have we formed a government?

                    1. If I get my big brother to help me beat up the kid who’s been stealing my lunch money, have we formed a government?

                      If there’s no other government around, and you are prepared to escalate your action as far as you have to if the bully persists, escalates to greater violence himself, etc. – then yup, you’re a government.

              3. How are you going to “not allow” them to compel other people?

                I vote for “by bribery with excellent single malt Scotch!” Now somebody give me some Danegeld,STAT!!!!

          2. There is a law stating that home invasion is illegal. If a person breaks into your home, will you stand down until the government can enforce the law against this criminal?

            The law is the law, and in “anarchy,” anyone may start enforcing the law. Just as anyone may start selling fruit or publishing novels. There is open competition in the enforcement of law. Pretty simple, though it’s understandable if you’re not convinced it would be stable.

        2. Yeah you could. Government is simply the last word in violence. That’s all it is. Nothing more. If your gang can kill people, and no other gang will stop you, you are government.

          1. sarcasmic:

            Government is simply the last word in violence.

            This is not a stunning endorsement of the institution.

        3. And who is going to stop you from compelling anyone to join it? I get a lot of people with guns together to force people to pay me tribute. If someone else got a lot of people with guns together, they could fight me. But if I won, there would be a government.

          It would be called the ‘Guys with Guns’ government, and I would be their mighty king.

      3. To your first point, why would anyone try to stop you? You’re free to form whatever little club your heart desires. You can even call it a “government” if that makes you feel good. But the second you try to appropriate others’ property or limit others’ freedom without their consent under otherwise anarchic conditions, you’re violating the trust an anarchy requires and you should be smacked down. This is not an aggressive act on their part, it’s an act of defense against your aggression.

        1. Right, but then how do you punish me? You need a system. You need process. Anyone who commits an aggressive act is breaching the trust of anarchism and has to be dealt with. But you can’t just do it ad hoc.

          And then guess what you just formed?

          1. A posse formed to resist oppression is not a government any more than any other voluntarily formed group is a government. Is a general contractor a government?

            1. OK, but again, let’s draw out the hypothetical:

              My club consists of 200 members who are trying to compel someone to pay tribute. You form a posse of 500 people and subdue our efforts, killing some of us but capturing the others.

              What do you do now?

              Also, compulsion needn’t come in the form of a group of men with guns. When I commit fraud, that’s a form of compulsion. When I mug someone, that’s a form of compulsion. What do you do with fraudsters and muggers?

              1. I disarm you and point out that you shouldn’t ought to have done that. You’re free to try again but you might want to watch your back with all the folks you just led to ruin, and all the other people who now know just what kind of a person you are. You are the aggressor, not me.

                In a more extreme example, why would wthe posse bother capturing any slavers in the first place?

                1. Natural instinct. These people hurt you once, and you are just going to let them run free to hurt people again?

                  Would you do that with a serial killer? Rapist? Thief? Robber?

                2. If I accuse Episarch of stealing my TV, and he says “No, I made that TV myself”, how does the posse decide who to disarm?

                  1. This is no different than the existing regime. Holy shit, my house was actually burglarized a few years ago and the police told me if I couldn’t prove I had bought a particular TV, they had no standing to prosecute anyone for possession of it. So keep some goddam records of what you own. Write down the serial number. How do you prove you own the cash in your wallet? How do you prove someone stole it from you?

                    1. Yes, but you see we have set rules that determine who gets the TV. It’s not a popularity contest between the two of us over who can rustle up a bigger lynchmob.

                    2. As has been noted below, anarchy is not the absence of rules. It is an absence of a central authority with a monopoly on violence.

                    3. Absent a central authority with a monopoly on violence, they aren’t rules; they’re suggestions.

                    4. THIS^ Thank you.

                    5. Stormy Dragon:

                      Absent a central authority with a monopoly on violence, they aren’t rules; they’re suggestions.

                      We don’t have a centralized authority with a monopoly on violence with our current system.

                      We have decentralized authority with federal, state, and local laws. None has a monopoly on violence. Also, people can defend themselves and commit crimes without the government. Therefore, all violence does not rest with the government.

                      Does this imply that we have no rules, just suggestions?

              2. What do you do now?

                Why would you capture anyone? Even libertarians believe in killing those who have transgressed against them in the slightest way.

                What do you do with fraudsters and muggers?

                Let the person who was defrauded or mugged deal with it as they see fit.

                1. So now your anarchist utopia involves lynch mobs, retributive killings and the death penalty for fraud?

                  I hope your post is a joke.

                  1. So now your anarchist utopia involves lynch mobs, retributive killings and the death penalty for fraud?

                    Yeah, it’s very like libertopia in that regard.

                2. So some guy steals the pie off the window and you execute him by firing squad.

                  Great.

                  1. So some guy steals the pie off the window and you execute him by firing squad.

                    You’re joking, right? Are you new to reason.com? Are you completely unfamiliar with self-named libertarians that comment here holding this exact position?

                    1. Seriously? I’ve never seen that. That’s pretty hilarious.

                    2. Seriously? I’ve never seen that. That’s pretty hilarious.

                      The only difference being, the libertarian answer is to kill the aggressor yourself and not bother with a firing squad. The moment somebody performs an act of aggression against you, you’re free to kill them. Supposedly that is the core of the NAP.

                    3. The moment somebody performs an act of aggression against you, you’re free to kill them. Supposedly that is the core of the NAP.

                      [Citation Required]

                    4. [Citation Required]

                      Go back a few weeks and read some of your own posts. Look up Night Elf Mohawk’s as well. I’m not going to defend your ridiculous philosophy.

                    5. No sparky. You made the allegation. The burden of proof is on you. You will never find me saying if someone violates the NAP you are free to kill them, nor do I EVER recall anyone else here arguing such bullshit. If they did, they are certainly in the minority, therefore representing that as a libertarian viewpoint is unmitigated COCK!

                    6. You made the allegation. The burden of proof is on you.

                      I don’t care what you think, I’m not going to scour three weeks of H&R posts just because you demand it. You want the proof, it’s there for all the world to see if you feel like doing a search. I believe there was an article last week about Moderate Muslims, you can start with the comments there.

                      If they did, they are certainly in the minority, therefore representing that as a libertarian viewpoint is unmitigated COCK!

                      Next time you run into NEM, I suggest you bring it up with him. I could swear there was a point where you also made the claim that an act of aggression against you could be responded to with disproportionate force, but it’s possible I’m confusing you with another commenter.

                    7. As I recall, you thought that was what I meant and I refuted it and we ended up agreeing.

                    8. As I recall, you thought that was what I meant and I refuted it and we ended up agreeing.

                      That could very well be the case. That being said, I’m sure there were a few others who echoed the sentiment, I just don’t recall offhand who they were.

                    9. Because there is clearly no middle ground between allowing rapist, murderers, and pie thieves run willy-nilly across the wasteland, and putting a bullet in the skull of any person who transgresses another.

                    10. And what middle ground would that be? Send them to jail? Run by who? There’s no government.

                    11. Have you not read any of the posts here? Shaming, proclamation of his status as a theif, social discouragement by refusing to do business or associate with him until he publicly makes amends? There are plenty of solutions. If he finds life as a pariah to be too hard he can work to improve his reputation or move away to hide his past.

                    12. Okay, then all that means is you’ll have traveling con artists who move from one town to the next conning people until their reputation suffers, at which point they leave.

                      Quite the legal system you’ve got there, db.

                    13. I guess something shut down Angie’s List and the rest of the internet?

                    14. So now you’ve got a system wherein people need to check a website and find a specific person. Also, this person could have changed his name, thus making it virtually impossible.

                      This will quickly become one of the most convoluted legal systems in the history of mankind.

                    15. You’re deliberately being obtuse now.

                    16. Irish:

                      And what middle ground would that be? Send them to jail? Run by who? There’s no government.

                      It’s all a big argument from ignorance: I can’t imagine how this could function without a government, so it must be impossible, until anarchists prove otherwise.

                3. Let the person who was defrauded or mugged deal with it as they see fit.

                  So unless I’m personally capable of dealing with a mugger, it’s fine for them to prey on me?

                  1. So unless I’m personally capable of dealing with a mugger, it’s fine for them to prey on me?

                    It’s not my problem that you’re unable to deal with it. You can ask for help and I might grant it.

              3. “What do you do with fraudsters and muggers?”

                Sell them to Warty?

                OK, I see my attempts to cool some of the hot feelings down with humor are failing.

              4. What do you do with fraudsters and muggers?

                Dude this is basic anarchist theory. Fraudsters get trumpeted to the world as such, and then people won’t trade with them. Muggers get dealt with like any other aggressor: armed people, either acting in defense of themselves or acting as part of a coop, union, syndicate, neighborhood association, volunteer group, nonprofit, or private company deal with them.

                Your argument is essentially that in order to keep a well armed and funded gang of thugs from plundering the populace, we will create a well armed and funded gang of thugs that will plunder the populace.

                1. If it’s basic anarchist theory then I have yet to see a satisfactory answer for all of it.

                  People who act in defense of themselves through a co-op who have a system of justice and protect a geographical area are called…*drumroll please*…a government!

                  1. Anarchists have no problem with that. Volunteer militias, or other non coercive associations, are in keeping with an anarchist polity.

                    It’s the nonvoluntary stuff that’s a problem, i.e. the aforementioned gang of thugs who promises they’re keeping an even worse gang of thugs from moving in.

                    1. Anarchists have no problem with that. Volunteer militias, or other non coercive associations, are in keeping with an anarchist polity.

                      And those would never turn into mafias that victimized people? You people can’t be this fucking stupid.

                    2. And those would never turn into mafias that victimized people? You people can’t be this fucking stupid.

                      Hence the reason you will never be able to grasp the concept. And the reason you would never function in an anarchist society. You can’t even fathom a group of people willing to work together voluntarily without one or more NEEDING to take control.

                    3. Right, I cannot. Because it is never going to happen. Taking what others have is the express route to being rich and powerful. What is it about that fact of human nature that is so hard to understand? Are there not enough examples for you?

                    4. Right, I cannot. Because it is never going to happen.

                      It must be pretty awesome to know the desires of every person on Earth.

                      One thing that’s come of all this nonsense is the humor brought about by libertarians using the same arguments against anarchy that hardcore statists use against libertarianism.

                    5. Hence the reason you will never be able to grasp the concept.

                      I grasp it very well and understand it to be a fancy, in other words.

                    6. And those would never turn into mafias that victimized people? You people can’t be this fucking stupid.

                      It’s interesting that you mention “mafias”. Those have pretty much always existed, regardless of the size of government, right? Somehow, I think that’s the point everyone is missing.

                    7. Again, I get the theory. The attacks are coming from the practical application thereof. Repeating the theory isn’t helpful when you are facing the problem of applied ethics.

                    8. Randian:

                      The attacks are coming from the practical application thereof.

                      Right, but since all this “practical application” is totally hypothetical, it basically reduces to:

                      1. Anarchy scary! No rules!
                      2. We’ll have disorder and chaos! Scary!
                      3. You must disprove 1 and 2 now, please.

                      It’s just a big appeal to ignorance, for it’s most usual reason: to shift the burden of proof.

                      When do the statists prove that their governments will stop plundering, killing, and maiming? Never. This, apparently, is not a problem for them.

                    9. It’s the nonvoluntary stuff that’s a problem

                      So we have a voluntary militia, but only for people who agree to be shot.

                2. Exactly. Shaming the fraudster and other petty criminals works wonders. You are begging the question. You start off with the assumption that only violence or the threat thereof can have a chance at deterring crime and then attempt to slag me with accusations that I’d kill over a stolen pie? Open your eyes.

                  1. You start off with the assumption that only violence or the threat thereof can have a chance at deterring crime

                    The assumption is that only violence can repel violence. What happens when the petty criminals form a gang and go around plundering since there is no larger gang to fight them off?
                    Do you form a larger gang? What stops the new gang from becoming the new plunderers? Once you have a group of people with the last work in violence, what stops them from stealing the fruits of your labor and calling it a tax?

                3. Your argument is essentially that in order to keep a well armed and funded gang of thugs from plundering the populace, we will create a well armed and funded gang of thugs that will plunder the populace.

                  *ding ding ding*

                  It’s similar to fallacious argument that the hard left uses about controlling the corporations.

                  “The rich corporations control the government! We need to wrest control of the government from the rich corporations by giving it more power! Oh no! The rich corporations still control the government! Give it more power! Oh no!…”

                  1. V O L U N T A R Y.

                  2. ” It’s similar to fallacious argument that the hard left uses about controlling the corporations.”

                    And you’re falling in to the leftist trap of asserting that insisting on voluntary cooperation is limiting the freedom of those who would impose their worldview on others.

                    Seriously. Do you agree with leftists that libertarians and anarchists, by advocating liberty and the freedoms of contract and association, are forcing everyone to live in their world? It is the exact opposite of force.

                4. Muggers get dealt with like any other aggressor: armed people, either acting in defense of themselves or acting as part of a coop, union, syndicate, neighborhood association, volunteer group, nonprofit, or private company deal with them.

                  IOW, government.

                  How do you deal with Russia?

            2. At their beginnings, ALL governments are voluntarily formed.

              Your ‘posse’ is attempting to govern the actions of another in defense of the actions of yet another party. It is a government.

          2. Right, but then how do you punish me? You need a system. You need process. Anyone who commits an aggressive act is breaching the trust of anarchism and has to be dealt with. But you can’t just do it ad hoc.

            You’re writing as if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a spontaneous order. Of conventions and traditions that evolve and persist without a centralized, bureaucratic organization controlling them. Frankly, this is getting into “TOP. MEN.” territory. There needs to be a process, and this process can only be maintained by a single organization!!

            Bruce Benson’s Enterprise of Law, especially the chapters on the development of common law and merchant law, is some great reading.

            1. And yes, I think “anarchy” allows for an overarching governing body. The concern is whether there is open competition in dispute resolution and law enforcement. Law develops through the (privately contracted) courts. If there is need for a higher body, to exert pressure against the law getting too far out there, then hopefully such a “government” would develop and be similarly pressured to remain bound. Such a body, at least in the numerous ways I think it could exist, would still be different from a minarchist or night watchman state.

              Similarly, I think an anarchist society would still be just if custom was such that, during emergencies, certain institutions could, say, expropriate funds from everyone’s bank account, confiscate a certain number of military or rescue supplies, appoint a leader with some discretionary power, etc. This is obviously a more dangerous custom, more susceptible to abuse, but that’s obviously true of a republic as well. And if it’s necessary for survival during a definite place and time, then that’s that.

      4. Actually in an anarchy you are quite welcome to form any government you wish to live under, you are merely prevented from imposing that government on others.

        Most of these problems have actually been worked out by anarchist philosophers and you really could build a functioning society based on their precepts, for a while.

        The problem of course being that eventually the inherent disagreements between various factions within the society would be forced to erupt into open warfare and end with a single vision of society being imposed by the victors, aka a government.

        The question then becomes which is more stable, a limited constitutional republic or an anarchy.

        IMO this is where the republic wins out, it can last far longer, a few hundred years as opposed to 3 – 4 generations and when it does fail is not guaranteed to fail into a bloody civil war the way an anarchy is.

        1. Rasilio:

          The problem of course being that eventually the inherent disagreements between various factions within the society would be forced to erupt into open warfare and end with a single vision of society being imposed by the victors, aka a government.

          I am always so amazed at how clairvoyant people are in determining the future.

          The question then becomes which is more stable, a limited constitutional republic or an anarchy.

          The problem of course being that eventually the inherent disagreements between various factions within the limited constitutional republic would result in more and more state power and oppression, with taxes, rules, and regulations, that, eventually, the whole system collapses into a economically irrational heap, and everyone has to start over again, usually, with some form of worse government.

          It’s so simple really: human nature. Now prove it wrong.

    6. “Oh captain, my captain!”

    7. Historical anarchists were incredibly effective. Unfortunately historical communists were much more effective at rounding them up and throwing them in gulags after anarchists had successfully toppled the existing government.

    8. OK, I’ve only done some very limited & basic reading about anarchy. So, if you will indulge me in a genuine enquiry: is hyphenated-anarchism possible? I’ve read about syndicalist-anarchism. I’ve heard friends claim to be socialist-anarchists (although I know that in the late 19th century, anarchists & Marxists hated each other’s guts.). I’ve also seen references to libertarian-anarchists. Any thoughts?

      1. You can structure a voluntary society however you want within the framework of anarchism. If everyone agreed to share in the labor and divide up the profits of a business you’d have anarcho-syndicalism. If they’re coerced you drop the anarcho. The same would be true for any of those other hyphenated identities.

        1. I run into anarcho-syndicalists all the time online and they keep railing against capitalism, that dirty exploitive hierarchical system destroying the world as we speak, and claim that syndicalism is socialism. I ask them if a syndicate would be privately held. Yes. Would the owners make a profit? Yes. Ok, so you’d have privately owned for-profit businesses. And that’s not capitalism, why? They never give me a good answer that isn’t just an exercise in semantics.

          1. Yeah, I find syndicalism pretty interesting because it seems to be worker owned collectives embedded in a free market framework. I find it funny that people who like syndicalism would pretend like there isn’t a market force at work there.

      2. I guess if there were true anarchy then the hyphens don’t matter. Whatever group or society you’d want to join can organize themselves (voluntarily) into whatever hyphenated structure they like.

        1. Right, that’s what I was trying to say as well.

      3. Thanks all.

  9. The right people just haven’t tried it yet. Next time.

  10. Epi hit on this earlier, but the arguments that involve listing out, point-by-point, so-called “problems” with anarchy and demanding satisfactory solutions to all of them is absurd. You could do that with literally any form of government. It’s just stupid to say, “Well sure our current system sucks, but since you can’t scientifically prove that your alternative is perfect in every way, it is therefore completely impossible!”

    1. No. what you are doing is one of two things. Advocating a smaller government or dreaming that people are different than they are and wouldn’t require any sort of coercion not to enforce their will on each other.

      1. You’re confusing self-defense organizations with “forming a gov’t”.

        Were there some sort of collapse, and say most of the people in my town formed a militia for the sole purpose of keeping out roving bands of sexual deviants (who I assume will be the predominant type of people roaming around after the fall), that does not make that militia a government.

        There wouldn’t be any zoning laws, speed limits, etc. And you could leave any time you chose, without consequence or penalty or paperwork. You would, however, be held responsible by the militia if you hit and killed somebody with your car. That is not the same thing as a government. That is merely organized self defense.

        1. “held responsible”…by arresting the person, throwing them in jail and waiting until they get a trial?

          So now you need warrants, due process, the Eighth Amendment, and a court system.

          1. Actually, no you don’t. But that’s beyond your comprehension, I guess. You just can’t get the idea of a place without written rules, can you. Like it’s just beyond your ken, completely.

            This gets boring really, really fast. I’ll let JJ take it from here; he’s good at it.

            1. I guess. You just can’t get the idea of a place without written rules, can you

              Sure I can. It was called early Medieval Europe. England didn’t write down laws and customs until Henry II. But I really don’t think it looks quite like you think it does.

            2. Actually, no you don’t. But that’s beyond your comprehension, I guess. You just can’t get the idea of a place without written rules, can you. Like it’s just beyond your ken, completely.

              This is what you do. When problems are presented against your beliefs, you simply state “awww you cannot understand my magical esotericism! you so stupid!”

              Whatever.

            3. Actually, no you don’t.

              So one time when someone hits and kills someone with their car, they can be held responsible by a fine.

              And the next time they can be held responsible by being gang-raped by the family members of the person they hit and killed.

              I mean, if you have no consistency, why not?

              1. Exactly. At what point does a person or group of people defending under the NAP become the agressor? Serious question.

            4. Copying question from earlier in the thread:

              OK, I’ve only done some very limited & basic reading about anarchy. So, if you will indulge me in a genuine enquiry: is hyphenated-anarchism possible? I’ve read about syndicalist-anarchism. I’ve heard friends claim to be socialist-anarchists (although I know that in the late 19th century, anarchists & Marxists hated each other’s guts.). I’ve also seen references to libertarian-anarchists. Any thoughts?

              1. RN, I think this has gone off the rails – I was trying to jolly the place up a bit and you were asking a serious question…this post has gone into nigh flame war type status.

                I believe that you cannot have hyphenated anarchism, as true anarchy would reject being grafted onto a “system” or type of government. I think when people hyphenate with “anarchism, they are merely trying to modify the first word – almost like “lite” or some other qualifier.

              2. Based on my extensive reading of it, no. Anarchism is a theory of government. If you want to have a voluntary society based on socialist principles, that’s fine, but that does not make you a socialist-anarchist, just an anarchist who does your thing.

              3. Thanks all.

          2. And if you voluntarily agreed to all of those things, and did not seek to forcably expand your group to incorporate those who are unwilling to join it, it would not be a government.

            Governments legislate pro-actively. Self-defense organizations hold members to certain voluntarily agreed to standards of behavior and punish said members for infractions. It IS NOT THE SAME THING.

            1. And if you voluntarily agreed to all of those things, and did not seek to forcably expand your group to incorporate those who are unwilling to join it, it would not be a government.

              That is nonsense. If an organization controls territory, answers to only its members, and holds a monopoly of violence within that territory, it is a government. And how is that any better than what you consider government? You don’t think small groups of people are not capable of horrible cruelty and violence to each other? You see this and think something out of a fantasy novel. And yeah, it could be that. But it could just as easily be Jonestown.

              In the end where is the anarchy? All I am seeing is replacing overlords in Washington with local overlords in small communities. BFD.

              1. Because it wouldn’t hold a monopoly of violence in that territory. It would hold a monopoly of violence amongst those who voluntarily agreed to participate in it.

                Jesus, you’re not one of those, “We all signed the social contract by virtue of birth and not expatriating!” liberals are you?

                1. Because it wouldn’t hold a monopoly of violence in that territory.

                  Why wouldn’t it? Who is going to say that it doesn’t?

                  Jesus, you’re not one of those, “We all signed the social contract by virtue of birth and not expatriating!” liberals are you?

                  No I am not. But some people are. And that is the whole point. What makes you think these organizations would be in any way voluntary other than “that is the way you would like them to be”?

                  1. What makes you think these organizations would be in any way voluntary other than “that is the way you would like them to be”?

                    Nothing more than the same hope someone who believes in representative democracy and federalism has that The People ? in their wisdom won’t vote themselves in a dictator. At this point, you’re asking for proof of the impossible. It’s all nothing but hope.

                    1. Giant Lizard,

                      This was a good and honest answer. Thanks for that.

                2. Because it wouldn’t hold a monopoly of violence in that territory. It would hold a monopoly of violence amongst those who voluntarily agreed to participate in it.

                  And amongst those who would seek to attack the people in that group.

                  Because you’d have to protect them against others who don’t agree, or there’d be no point.

                  So, yup – government.

                  1. No, not a government at all, you could have for instance a Catholic, Protestant, and Athiest millitia all coexisting within the same geographical area and only enforcing laws on their own members or those who aggress against them.

                    The problem is what happens when a Catholic kid knocks up the daughter of an Atheist and she gets an abortion and then the Catholic grandparents want her & the doctor prosecuted for murdering their grandchild?

                    The Atheist Militia would be bound to protect the girl and Doc as they violated no rules they agreed to and the Catholic militia would be bound to apprehend them and dole out whatever punishment their rules call for and there really is no room for compromise meaning a war between the 2 militias.

                    However if you presume geographic hegemony on the use of force, then by definition it is not an anarchy, if there are multiple competing individuals/groups with recognized authority to use force to resolve disputes then it becomes an anarchy.

        2. Were there some sort of collapse, and say most of the people in my town formed a militia for the sole purpose of keeping out roving bands of sexual deviants (who I assume will be the predominant type of people roaming around after the fall), that does not make that militia a government.

          Yes it does. It is just a smaller government that you would like better than the one you have. What happens when someone in the group steals from someone else? How do you deal with the marauders other than just killing them? How do you have an effective fighting force without some kind of discipline and rules? And what do you do when someone breaks those rules? Do you exile them? Hang them?

          That is a government. And in fact given human nature could be a hell of a lot worse government than we have now. What is to stop the group from hanging the first thief or one guy from getting in charge and killing off his rivals?

          We are right back where we started.

          1. The question, it’s begged.

            Government does not equal the State.

            See, we’re going to have this long thread where people who have not done even a little bit of reading about anarchism demand answers to questions anarchists have addressed for literally decades.

            1. I have point-blank asked David Friedman these same questions and even HE admits they are difficult to answer.

              So stop with the special pleading already. No, these inquiries have not been conclusively “asked and answered”, otherwise you could link to some simple refutations and shut the whole thing down.

              1. This seems to be a common argument from the anarchists in this thread: ‘All of these questions have already been answered (even though they haven’t). You’re too dumb to understand them (Even though they still haven’t answered the question).’

                1. And besides, if you truly are an advocate of an ideology, you should be able to answer these questions repeatedly. What do you think everyone will just come to see your point by themselves?

                  If you really truly do want anarchy, and you cannot convince LIBERTARIANS without resorting to special pleading and ad hom’s, you truly have no hope.

          2. It is not a government if every member of it participates voluntarily. Government is an involuntary monopoly of force. That’s like saying my company is a government because they can fire me for breaching codes of behavior that I agreed to when I came to work for them.

            1. It is not a government if every member of it participates voluntarily.

              And your children? What about them? And when you don’t like it and the majority tells you you can’t leave, what then? The group isn’t so voluntary anymore is it?

              Once again, if people were not what they are, we wouldn’t need government.

              1. And your children? What about them? And when you don’t like it and the majority tells you you can’t leave, what then?

                Where do you come up with these hypotheticals??? If the children want to strike out on their own, so be it. If someone wants to leave, so be it. WHO IS FORCING THESE PEOPLE TO STAY???

                I don’t understand why this concept of anarchism is so hard for some to grasp on here. I didn’t even consider myself an anarchist until I saw how fearful fellow libertarians are of anarchy. It is the NAP personified; you don’t need a government. You simply need to have respect for everyone else’s natural rights, whether you think them endowed by God, Allah, FSM, no one, whatever.

                We all have the right to life, liberty, and property. If you threaten one of those things, the person being threatened has the righteous authority to respond with force to defend himself. There is no set standard of rules that must be followed, because there IS NO GOVERNMENT. Each person can decide of their own accord how to deal with possible situations.

                1. If the children want to strike out on their own, so be it. If someone wants to leave, so be it.

                  I consider my children my property and therefore I can rape them with impunity.

            2. It is not a government if every member of it participates voluntarily.

              Me and John aren’t participating voluntarily. That’s the whole point.

              You and your friends get together and voluntarily agree to your self-defense league. Awesome. Good for you.

              John and I say to each other, “Let’s go fuck those losers up and take their shit.”

              You proceed to put John and into graves up on Boot Hill, despite the fact that we definitely aren’t volunteering for coffin duty.

              That point of involuntary interaction, right there – the part where you kill us because we break your rule against shooting the place up and taking everybody’s stuff for our own – is “government”. And you can’t tug on your beard and say, “But we all voluntarily agreed!” because NO WE DIDN’T, man.

        3. keeping out roving bands of sexual deviants

          Why would you want to keep the Reason Commentariat out of your town?

          1. Why would you want to keep the Reason Commentariat out of your town?

            Because they’re a bunch of freaking statists!

            1. Because they’re a bunch of freaking statists!

              HEY! I resent being lumped in with those jerkbags.

            2. Statists who experience no joy!

          2. Hey, I am in no way a member of a ‘roving band.’ I prefer to sate my sexual deviancy within walking distance of my house.

            I’m a bit of a homebody.

            1. Jeebus, I don’t even want to leave my house…guess I am a lazy deviant-commenter.

              1. Where do you find your victims?

                1. That’s the beauty of the internet, no? Fire up an app, select one, say “I’m horny looking to [foul deviant behavior of choice here]. Come over now” and they show up on your doorstep.

        4. Yes, it IS government JJ. The ONLY legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

          All that other shit you mention, is government as we know it today…illegitimate.

    2. Libertarians are just as much statists as the conservatives and progressives that they bitch about. They can’t fully grasp a position that isn’t theirs so they just deem it impossible and move on.

      1. I fully grasp the position and reject it. There’s a difference.

        1. Judging by your questions, you do not fully grasp the position. You keep coming up with what ifs that you wouldn’t even need to ask if you did fully grasp the position.

          1. Judging by your questions, you do not fully grasp the position. You keep coming up with what ifs that you wouldn’t even need to ask if you did fully grasp the position.

            The reason it’s hard for most people to ‘grasp the position’ is because the entire idea of anarchy is nothing but a hardcore libertarian circle jerk. It’s like progs talking about the most effective way to organize a communist society.

          2. I full grasp it and ask those “what ifs” in direct response to the full grasping.

            And I am not just positing “what ifs?”; I am pointing out anarchy is impossible. There will always be warlords. Always. The question is how best to restrain them, and it seems that the grand fictions like self-governance, limited powers, Constitutions, republics, etc. have a done a damn better job than any anarchist theory has.

            1. Agreed. Government is needed to protect the rights of the citizens.

              Liberty is highly desired, but government is a necessity.

              Security and liberty are diametrically opposed.

              Therefore, the optimum situation is to maximize liberty while minimizing security.

              1. A person can do as he wishes, PROVIDED in doing so, he does not infringe upon the rights of others.

              2. The ONLY legitimate function of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

              You can nearly replace the entire Constitution with those two tenets.

      2. That is so full of shit. You twist the meaning of voluntary association around so far that you think you can claim that anyone who insists on freedom of association is imposing their will on others who would force people into associations.

        Even Orwell would shake his head in despair.

    3. So their argument is… “For forms of Government let fools contest
      Whate’re is administered best is best”?

  11. I’m just going to leave this here.

    1. Yeah, but they’re brown people, so something something indigenous something something traditions something something good. They don’t count.

  12. The trouble with anarchy is that eventually some asshole (or group of assholes) will come along and ruin it by taking over.

    1. Exactly this. You MIGHT be able to have the kumbaya community for a generation, but eventually someone with a lean and hungry look will come in and manipulate their way into power.

  13. Have I not sufficiently plugged Michael Huemer’s The Problem of Political Authority yet? He addresses the same basic points made in the Freeman piece, among others.

    1. As someone who thinks anarchy is a delusional fantasy of autistics, I find Friedman much more persuasive than Huemer.

    2. Fuck, $88 on Amazon.

  14. Anarchy is not an absence of law. It is an absence of a central authority that enforces the law. It requires self governance. Perhaps in the form of the NAP, or in the form of religious morality. The problem is that there are always people like John and Tony, with no morality other than “might makes right,” who will happily rape, pillage and plunder if there is no central authority to stop them.

    1. Which is why Anarchy doesn’t work. It’s just like socialism: ‘If human beings totally changed the way they are, our mighty socialist paradise could soon be realized!’

      And I don’t know why you’re being such an asshole to John on this point. His argument seems completely valid.

    2. You don’t need a central authority to stop them if everyone is free to band together as they see fit. Forming a group to stop a marauding band of raiders doesn’t magically transform you into a government.

      1. It does if you plan on punishing the marauders somehow other than slaughtering them all. And what do you do with the spoils of the marauders once you have defeated them? That’s property that rightfully belongs to their previous victims. But it’s also arguable that you are entitled to it as the victor over the marauders. What then?

      2. Forming a group to stop a marauding band of raiders doesn’t magically transform you into a government.

        Yes it would. You are going to have rules aren’t you? What happens when two of your self defense group get into an argument over a woman and one kills the other. Who has the authority to deal with that? What happens when people steal from one another? Do you let these things fester? Do you have a society of blood feuds like the Pagan Vikings?

        1. Again, you’re confusing self-defense for gov’t. Whoever killed someone else would be guilty, and if they were part of the organization, would be held to it’s rules of punishment for such an infraction.

          Purely defensive action is NOT THE SAME THING as what governments do, such as banning certain soda sizes, putting a lien on your property for not keeping your hedges trimmed, etc.

          1. Whoever killed someone else would be guilty, and if they were part of the organization, would be held to it’s rules of punishment for such an infraction.

            And you plan to figure out who is guilty and punish them how? Some kind of rule of law and court system I would hope.

            And that is not a government? Really?

            1. And that is not a government? Really?

              Not if you voluntarily entered into it, no, it is not.

              Again, you’re not advocating that we all signed the magical Social Contract by virtue of birth, are you? Because that’s the only way you can equate a voluntary system of justice with government.

              1. I apologize if this has been covered, but I have a question.

                What happens in this voluntary organization or society, when someone decideds to not abide by the rules of punishment? say the person then declares that he no longer is part of the voluntary organization. How is the still existing dispute resolved?

                1. Ha ha. The anarchists will bluster that this has already been covered, dummy, while conspicuously being unable to answer.

                2. @ RG: assuming any group worth their salt would include as a basic principle of membership the notion that you can’t do something against the code of conduct and then immediately resign, then you still have warrant to capture and punish them as laid out in the rules they agreed to.

                  Sure, they could flee I suppose, but people do that already to non-extradition countries, so that’s not really a factor since it’s something that already happens in the current system.

                  1. I appreciate the answer.

                    And as others have pointed out, this requires an enforcement mechanism and additional codified rules, which sounds supiciously like gov’t. And if you can’t resign at any time for any reason, is it really voluntary?

                    On top of that, there’s the pesky burden of proof. In many cases you’ll end up with he said/she said conflicts.

                    To further complicate the issue, assume the person who resigns membership truly is innocent, and resignation is his only recourse to avoid unfair punishment.

                    1. No RG, in order for it to be properly termed a government it must have geographic hegemony and non voluntary membership.

                      The general anarcho capitalst system works like this…

                      You contract with a law/security agency that you like, it holds you to certain behavioral standards, both when dealing with members inside the group and those outside of it. They in turn offer you protection and promise to punish those who aggress against you.

                      Your neighbor could be a client of any other agency or even none at all (a very dangerous proposition).

                      Now yes, this organization will have all manner of rules that you are contractually bound by and they will govern all of the procedural elements.

                      So lets say you kill someone and you decide to fire your security agency and sign on with a competitor for protection?

                      Well 99% likely your new company is going to want to avoid going to war to protect some schmuck who is already wanted for violating someone elses laws before he has even contributed any significant amount of fees so they are almost certainly going to have clauses saying they refuse to protect you from retribution for any acts committed before signing the contract.

                      Since you now have no one protecting you your old security provider is now free to apprehend you and dole out whatever punishment was spelled out in your initial contract with them.

                      The important part, just because there are codified rules does not make it a government

                  2. Okay, I’ll just resign before I start robbing people with impunity from your government-that’s-not-really-a-government.

                  3. assuming any group worth their salt would include as a basic principle of membership the notion that you can’t do something against the code of conduct and then immediately resign, then you still have warrant to capture and punish them as laid out in the rules they agreed to.

                    A principle I no longer subject myself to the second I resign from the group but which you want to force me to adhere anyway.

              2. Not if you voluntarily entered into it, no, it is not.

                How do you plan to ensure these groups are “voluntary” other than wishful thinking?

                1. How do you plan to ensure voters uphold constitutional principals and don’t elect themselves a dictator other than wishful thinking?

                  That’s an argument against absolutely any system of organization imaginable, not just anarchy.

                  1. Which gets to John’s point. Humans are imperfect.

                    1. Which gets to John’s point. Humans are imperfect

                      If that was John’s only point, who could refute it?

                      But that isn’t his point; since that’s a given, it is the evidence he uses against one particular system of organization. Since the same evidence can be used against literally any form of organization, it is not germane to the current debate.

                2. Because there are multiple competing groups all within the same geographical area and all working on free market competition principals.

                  Don’t like the rules of the group you are part of, quit and join a competitor

              3. Gojira and John, it appears this has devolved into semantics. To some people “government” doesn’t necessarily mean “the state.” Perhaps instead of using the term “government” use “governance.” I know it means basically the same thing, but most people conflate “government” with “coercive state.”

                1. I’m pretty much burned out on this thread answering the same questions just worded differently, so I’ll leave off with this: I think you’re right, Juice, in that there is a semantics problem here.

                  I define gov’t as an agency which monopolizes force over a given territory and which people are forced to belong to involuntarily. John seems to define gov’t as anything which can tell somebody else what to do, ever.

                  An anarchist social system could very well do many of the bad things that the worst current gov’ts around the world do…but as long as people are subscribing to it voluntarily, it is not a government.

                  1. Nobody would voluntarily allow themself to be punished, they would simply resign.

                    1. So you are saying that no cop would ever allow himself to be punished for violating the law, he would just quit the force instead?

                      People voluntarily allow themselves to be punished all the time.

                  2. Your false assumption is that private parties couldn’t force people to subscribe to their rule. Mafias do it all the time, and their power is currently held in check by the semblance of state protections of rights. A corporation could create a private army to take what they want.

                    This is mainly why I don’t believe anarchism really exists. Somebody will always fill the coercion vacuum when they realize there are people left defenseless who have desirable assets.

          2. Government is (suppose to be) organized self defense, before it turns into a machine of plunder.

            1. Government is (suppose to be) organized self defense, before it turns into a machine of plunder.

              Such is the human condition.

          3. Purely defensive action is NOT THE SAME THING as what governments do, such as banning certain soda sizes, putting a lien on your property for not keeping your hedges trimmed, etc.

            JJ you are confusing what government IS with what government should be.

      3. Forming a group to stop a marauding band of raiders doesn’t magically transform you into a government.

        Yes, it does.

        You have a rule: No marauding.

        You have a bunch of guys who will enforce that rule.

        You have a geographic area where the power of the bunch of guys is sufficient to enforce the rule.

        That’s a government. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

        You’re basically arguing that you can have a building where you rent out the rooms for people to sleep in a night at a time, but it’s not a hotel. “Why isn’t it a hotel?” I ask. “Because we don’t have a sign outside that says ‘hotel’,” you reply.

        1. If this group collects taxes then it’s a government. If it doesn’t it isn’t.

      4. Forming a group to stop a marauding band of raiders doesn’t magically transform you into a government.

        That’s the DEFINITION of a government.

        1. It’s strange that anarchists are so concerned a miniarchist state could be corrupted into an authoritarian megastate, yet they fail to wonder if a militia, a protection business, or any of the other entities they claim would replace government might ever realize that they’re powerful enough to be the new government and have a profit incentive to take advantage of their ability to coerce.

      5. “You don’t need a central authority to stop them if everyone is free to band together as they see fit.”

        I tend to agree that Militia does not a Government make, so I can see where this makes Randian and John arguments inaccurate.

        That said, people “freely banding together as they see fit”, are not going to preserve anarchy…for long. Militias are notoriously bad at defense over the long term. That includes Militias of the fledgeling US, btw.

        A professional army- which is different from Mercenaries and requires a government’s taxing powers- will prevail in the end.

        It is the nature of free markets that we get a curve of distribution of whatever is being traded. Some people have little, some have lots. I have no problem with that. When the means to initiate force are applied the same distribution, we have a problem. Eventually someone will use that free market to accumulate enough force that they can take the rest.

    3. The problem is that there are always people like John and Tony, with no morality other than “might makes right,” who will happily rape, pillage and plunder if there is no central authority to stop them.

      Now you are getting it. Yes there will always be people out there that you really don’t want to meet. We have penitentiaries and hangman for a reason. This is why anarchy is Utopian and self contradictory.

      1. Yes there will always be people out there that you really don’t want to meet.

        Yep. More often than not they work for the government.

        1. The fact that government violence and coercion exists doesn’t mean private sector violence and coercion isn’t a problem that needs to be addressed.

  15. I think the missing ingredient here is culture. Somalia’s living standards have improved in an anarchistic society but are constrained insofar as its culture constrains it. But that same culture would give rise to an even worse govt than the absence of govt and that would dampen living standards further.

    I think a bit of a transitive property works here too though. If anarchism produces a better life for people within a particular culture, it would likely produce a comparably better life for people of a different culture vs whatever govt that culture is wont to produce. The central point being that it is culture that matters more than govt and that even if the govt your culture produces is not particularly bad, your culture would still produce better overall results in the absence of the state.

  16. For all of you hyperventilating about warlords, I suggest you go read some Bob Murphy:
    But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?

    1. The opening premise says “Assume People are Angels”

      That’s been long refuted.

      1. Matt Welch is an Angels fan. Does that count?

        1. Angels fan?! Pah, he deserves everything that happens to him then!

  17. ITT, anarchists make puerile non-arguments in the seeming belief that their intellectual immaturity and facil points are actually strengths.

    1. Gentleman, I show you now the corpse of Irony. Oh, irony… you were too beautiful for this crass world…

      1. Now now SF, it’s not nice to make fun of the retarded kids.

        1. Response consists of puerile non arguments and…’the corpse of irony’. Can God make a comment so unself-aware even he thinks it’s retarded?

  18. At least it’s an ethos.

  19. C’mon Ed. Khmer Rouge vs. Anarchy is a false dichotomy fallacy. I’d prefer Mussolini’s fascism to Khmer Rouge if forced to choose, but that doesn’t make me “sometimes a fascist.”

  20. All the same rogues and plunderers exist in even the most limited government. Even if you restrain them for the present, their children and their children’s children will join the government and pervert it to their own ends.

    It’s not that anarchy is uniquely untenable; every human organizational schema (even a lack of of said schema) is untenable when viewed from a prospective of their commitment to maximal liberty.

    1. It is just that what people are calling “anarchy” is in fact limited government or some kind of Jeffersonian socialism.

      True anarchy, no government, no rules, can never happen unless you figure out a way to morally perfect human beings. When confronted with this fact, anarchist start retreating and constructing government institutions that they call something else.

      1. Nonsense. Anarchy as a political philosophy is not “no rules”. That’s a teenager punk-rock bullshit misinterpretation of what anarchy is.

        Anarchy is literally “without archons”, meaning no central, involuntarily enforced authority. It is not synonomous with chaos, no matter how much you wish it was so that your points against it would make sense.

      2. Anarchy does not mean no rules and no law, dammit. It means “no archon,” as in no central authority that enforces the rules.

        Is there legislation authorizing the police to do violence against someone who cuts in line at the grocery store? Nope. Do people do it? Nope. Why? Because it’s against the law. Because society does not approve. That’s what it means to be against the law. Legislation is just words on paper allowing those with the last word in violence to do violence.

        law != legislation

        1. Actually sarc, I think we may be close in thinking on this subject. I believe all gov’t to be inherently evil, and thus anarchy to be the only moral solution. It is something to live, something to strive for, and an ideal end.

          At the same time, I don’t think it can or will ever actually happen on a large scale or for very long at a stretch, because of the very things you’ve pointed out. That does NOT mean I can not hold onto it as an ideal, and understand the theory and preach it’s virtues as the best way in which to organize ourselves.

          1. Government is violence, and it is predicated on coercion. Yes, it is evil. But it is also unavoidable.

            1. The problem with anarchism is that government is not the ONLY violence nor the ONLY coercive force in society. Miniarchists are willing to settle for the least bad option: a heavily checked government that’s only purpose is to prevent violence and coercion by private parties.

              1. And that’s fine, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that it’ll stay checked forever.

                1. It won’t – then you have to have a revolution or such.

                  1. It won’t – then you have to have a revolution or such.

                    Yeah, and then what? What do you think would happen if there was a revolution in this country? Would the new government be founded on principles of liberty, or on social justice? I’m thinking the latter.

                2. But that’s a slippery slope argument and the same case could be made against anarchy. Powerful private entities in anarchism could exercise coercive violence and become worse than a formal state. I’m not convinced in all cases that state is always the most coercive or violent force in society.

                  1. I’m not convinced in all cases that state is always the most coercive or violent force in society.

                    I’ve seen you make this argument in several posts, and I really don’t know what you’re talking about.

                    The state is, by definition, the last word in violence. By definition it is the only organization that can initiate violence. By definition it is the only organization that can use coercion.

                    That’s what government is.

                    1. If the state is not the most violent and coercive force in society, then it has failed to govern. That’s what governing is. Governing means keeping order. How is order kept? By settling disputes and stopping violence. How are disputes settled? By coercion. How is violence ended? By having the last word in violence.

                    2. “The state is, by definition, the last word in violence. By definition it is the only organization that can initiate violence. By definition it is the only organization that can use coercion.”

                      And that’s the flaw in your logic. There are many, many examples throughout history of de lege non-state actors being so extremely coercive and violent, that the state even bends to their authority. Libertarians all agree that in most of these cases, these actions and entities were mostly the unintended result of bad state policies, but as neither an anarchy or a miniarchist libertarian state would invent any sizeable black market the final test is which of the two is more likely to result in more violence and coercion, a question that is obviously up for debate here.

                      My point in the statement you quoted is that the argument any form of state will always inherently have more authoritarianism and coercion than any non-state system is falsifiable by an extreme case of unintentional failed-state anarchy (Somalia) vs. multiple impure/non-miniarchist but somewhat limited Western states.

                    3. There are many, many examples throughout history of de lege non-state actors being so extremely coercive and violent, that the state even bends to their authority.

                      You keep saying that. Please provide an example.

                    4. Listed examples below. Also, if goverment is always the most powerful entity, no state would ever collapse or be rendered ineffective via revolution, terrorism or crime.

                    5. if goverment is always the most powerful entity

                      Backwards. The most powerful entity is government. When an entity ceases to be the most powerful, it ceases to be government.

              2. I waver back and forth between minarchism and anarchism. Sometimes I wonder if there really is an option to be a Cookie Monster who honestly believes that cookies can be a “sometimes food.” Other times I think a minimal level of government is desirable to handle situations like Francisco’s question above about what do you do when there are predatory states with large armies outside the borders of your anarchy.

          2. That does NOT mean I can not hold onto it as an ideal, and understand the theory and preach it’s virtues as the best way in which to organize ourselves.

            Why not adopt a workable philosophy that strives for maximum liberty while acknowledging the need for security will never allow total liberty?

            Maximize liberty, minimize government only to the essential (i.e. protecting the rights of the citizen)?

            1. Yes, I don’t understand the “yeah, there are a ton of practical problems and it won’t last very long, but it’s ideal anyway!”

              That is definitionally not ideal.

      3. What I’m calling anarchism is just the moral belief that whats wrong for me is wrong for thee, even if you work for something called a “government”.

        When confronted with my definition, statists start trying to change the subject with completely irrelevant mad max scenarios. Or tell me I’m using the word wrong, despite the fact that just about everybody here who self identifies as an anarchist has very little problem with what I’m saying.

  21. From the article on 24/7 about the Marine saving a woman from getting beaten to death:

    The West Allis police chief says these types of situations really are judgement calls for gun owners. While they don’t encourage this behavior, they appreciate citizens watching out for each other as long as they do it legally and are willing to accept the consequences.

    ANARCHIST SCUM

  22. And to answer the prevailing question of “Well what happens if a bigger horde than you can gather comes and takes your stuff or threatens you?”

    Well, I guess I die. But that’s not really that different from the glorious government we have now, is it? Anarchy may not be “The Answer”, but it most certainly is not a wrong answer, either. And better to live free for even a short amount of time than to live under the thumb of government for an entire life (hypothetically speaking… at least I don’t think I have suicidal tendencies).

    1. Didn’t someone once say “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”

      1. I thought we were done with the anti-flufferism yesterday.

      2. I thought Bud said that at the end of Repo Man

    2. Rights subject to lynch mob or mafia are even more arbitrary and even less enforceable than in a monopoly state legal system.

      The concept that the natural rights of the weak and poor are almost completely at the mercy of charity or restraint by the powerful and rich does not sit well with me. I’m aware that it’s the same case today, but at least they have the semblance of equal protection and recourse.

      I support the maximization of individual rights. For every counterpoint that miniarchism could become corrupted and grow beyond its minimal power, there are equal counterpoints that anarchism would be a disaster little different from de facto totalitarianism.

      1. Well, at this point we’re arguing very hypothetical problems. Faced with the injustice that has been the demonstrated effect of statism, our thrust should be to try minarchism or anarchism and see what we get. Could it be worse from a liberty standpoint? I guess, but my guess is the antiliberty effects would be localized and limited. Could it be better? Certainly, and it would be worth a shot. The trick is convincing folks they really would be better off if the state didn’t run their lives.

        1. I don’t think that many people want the state to run their lives. They want the state to run your life. If I don’t use drugs, then drug laws don’t affect me. What do I care? But I’ll be damned if some loser druggie is allowed to live his loser live in peace. Lock the fucker up.
          Now if I like large sodas, well fuck you if you’re going to tell me what I can or can’t put into my body! What gives you that right?!?
          Hey, is that guy over there smoking a joint? Get him! Punch him! Teach him a lesson! Lock him up!

          The trick is convincing people that it would be better off if government didn’t run anyone’s life.

          That’s pretty hard.

    3. The problem is you’re trying to have the argument both ways. Government is a “bigger horde…(that) comes and takes your stuff” as you admit. So why not declare that the government doesn’t control you, secede your property from the country, stop paying taxes, stockpile some guns and “live free” for the short amount of time before they send in a drone to take you out?

      Either anarchy can’t exist as long as any form of coercion does, or we are in an anarchy today and the state’s power is purely a function of the fact that they are the most established coerive horde/security firm.

      1. we are in an anarchy today

        Ding ding ding! Anarchy, like atheism, is the natural state of things. Government is an illusion to make people feel they must submit to its authority.

        1. Ok, then to call oneself an anarchist is meaningless because every tyrant in history just happened to have the worst and most powerful private hordes to enforce their will, and “The State” does not exist beyond the de facto most powerful entity at that moment in time. Usually, this is called “government”, but there are exceptions where government is not the most powerful or coercive entity.

          1. but there are exceptions where government is not the most powerful or coercive entity.

            You keep saying that. Please give an example.

            1. Sure, the drug cartels in Central America are quite often more powerful than the formal governments in many areas. Paramilitaries. Warlords. Mafias. Defense contractor companies that are more powerful than many armies. I know, they all likely resulted from government policies, but they would all potentially be stronger if there was no pretense of protection for the powerless.

              1. I know, they all likely resulted from government policies

                Right. So if government policy created them, and if repeal of that policy would end them, which is really more powerful?

                Interesting that you mention the Mafia. As far as I’m concerned, government is nothing but the most powerful Mafia. They both offer protection or else. They both run cartels. They both fiercely guard their monopolies with deadly force. The only difference between government and the Mafia is that the government has the last word in violence.

                1. And that’s the very argument we’ve been having. If government is “the most powerful mafia”, how can it be the “last word on violence” if mafias can’t be? In the defeat or disappearance of the most powerful mafia, the second most powerful mafia becomes “the last word on violence” and so forth. If this will always exist, the anarchism is pointless and anarchy is impossible. Or today is anarchy, but nobody’s built a big enough private security firm to overcome the current mafia’s power (again rendering the concept pointless).

                  1. If government is “the most powerful mafia”, how can it be the “last word on violence” if mafias can’t be?

                    Government runs the prisons. Government runs the courts. Government has the last word.

                    In the defeat or disappearance of the most powerful mafia, the second most powerful mafia becomes “the last word on violence” and so forth. If this will always exist, the anarchism is pointless and anarchy is impossible.

                    Yup.

                    1. The mafia can imprison, punish and kill people who violate their rules or hurt their extortees. I’m still not seeing the distinction beyond not having formal establishment. The last word on violence is whomever pulls the trigger.

                    2. The mafia can imprison, punish and kill people who violate their rules or hurt their extortees.

                      Yes. But who has the last word? Government imprisons mafia guys all the time. Everyone knows where they are. They’re in prison. You can try to get them out, but you’ll be outnumbered.

                      Mafia kidnaps a government agent. The location is a secret because once the government knows where the agent is, the place will be overwhelmed.

                      The only way to win a violent (as opposed to legal) fight with the government is to never get into it in the first place.

                      Government is simply the gang with the last word in violence.

                    3. And if the mafia is more powerful than the formal government, as it is in many Mexican towns?

                      The only way to win a violent (as opposed to legal) fight with the government is to never get into it in the first place.

                      Every successful revolutionary would disagree with that statement.

    1. This makes me want anarchy more than any of the arguments used so far.

  23. I have a question for those on here who claim that forming a group to stop a marauding band of raiders is by definition a government. No one has brought up the issue of private, for-profit security firms. They already exist in our society, yet we do not label them as governments, nor are the people who hire them governments (ex: Britney Spears’ bodyguards).

    So how is voluntarily cooperating with others in the community to defend ourselves considered a government, yet Britney Spears and her entourage of armed security is not?

    1. Let’s flip this one around. If you think about it, the state is merely the biggest of all for-profit security firms (but obviously not a monopoly). If you form a bigger and more powerful security firm, you can overthrow it or limit its power to control and exploit you.

      The assumption of anarchists is that one can rebel or hire a competitor to stop the most powerful private entity that tries to assumes the same coercive and exploitative powers as the State in an anarchy. Hence, either anarchy can exist only as utopian theory that no party will ever be coercive, or states are technically not coercive and do not hold a monopoly on violence – they just hold the biggest share of the market right now.

      1. If the state were a for-profit security firm, it would have gone belly-up ages ago.

        Dude, you have a pretty shitty opinion on human nature. You seriously believe that the majority of people would suddenly turn into murderous pirates in the absence of a coercive central authority to tell them that this behavior is morally wrong? Seriously?

        Granted, I think there is a fairly significant proportion of society that prefers not to take responsibility for their own lives and want to be told what to do, but I would speculate that the (silent) majority of society does not feel this way at all.

        1. “If the state were a for-profit security firm, it would have gone belly-up ages ago.”

          All that matters is that the salaries get paid. If Nice Corp, defender of individual rights against coercive influence, becomes Evil Corp when they realize they can profit from mafiaesque extortion and coercion against the defenseless, are powerful enough to suppress all competitors, and can cash rainchecks to their creditors based on the strength of their stranglehold on the extorted, we’ll be right back where we are today.

          “You seriously believe that the majority of people would suddenly turn into murderous pirates in the absence of a coercive central authority to tell them that this behavior is morally wrong?”

          No, I think there will always be a minority of people who will become murderous and powerful enough to control the majority of citizens. Just like today.

          My point is that either anarchy can not exist on the basis of utopianism, or we are in anarchy today and the State just happens to be the most powerful and centralized mafia at this moment, but could technically be overcome with either a revolution of the majority or be avoided with a strong-enough private security force.

          1. As I said above, anarchy is the natural state of things. As the people who call themselves “the government” become more powerful and more coercive, it begins the break the spell they have over people, convincing them that their authority is legitimate. It’s an emperor-has-no-clothes scenario, only cyclical. Eventually people will begin to realize that the government’s authority is an illusion, and they will shed the current authoritarian system, only to build up another one over time. Anarchism is simply breaking the cycle and asserting that no government authority is legitimate, no matter how benign or benevolent it may seem to others.

            1. “Anarchism is simply breaking the cycle and asserting that no government authority is legitimate, no matter how benign or benevolent it may seem to others.”

              But you just said government’s authority is an illusion, so how can it also be illegitimate if it doesn’t really exist? You can’t “break the cycle” because non-government entities can act like States and form governments if powerful enough. Both anarchists and miniarchists are hoping for an entity that is powerful enough to stop other entities and individuals from violating rights as much as possible, but benevolent enough not to violate rights themselves. Whether this is called government or not is perhaps a technicality and a disagreement over definition.

              1. But you just said government’s authority is an illusion, so how can it also be illegitimate if it doesn’t really exist?

                It is an illusion. Those under it’s spell consider it legitimate.

                Whether this is called government or not is perhaps a technicality and a disagreement over definition.

                There have been numerous articles on this site regarding wrong-door police raids. Because the police are “the government”, I have no recourse. If I try to defend myself against them, they will murder me, and most people would probably say the police were justified in putting me down, because I resisted.

                If the police did not have a monopoly on the use of violence, I would be justified in defending myself, and most people would rightly see it as simply a man defending himself from a home invasion. That is about as good a distinction as I can muster this late in the afternoon.

                1. But we just agreed that police DON’T have an inherent monopoly on the use of violence. They are merely the enforcers of the most powerful entity in the market today. If you build your own private security firm that is stronger than the police (and military, which would undoubtedly be called if you defeated the police), they will not be able to come into your home and murder you.

                  1. And the fact that your is likely impossible due to suppression of competition could still be the case whether the police are the enforcers of a de lege formal government or the enforcers of Evil Corp/the mafia/etc.

                    In fact, at this point, miniarchists point out that if the de lege formal government makes a mistake, there MIGHT be a (albeit flawed) system for reparations/justice. The mafia/Evil Corp engaging in pure extortion probably don’t, unless they believe there is some likely retribution or loss of power or profit for their actions.

            2. As I said above, anarchy is the natural state of things.

              I disagree.
              The natural state of things is the strong plundering the weak. The weak, unable to plunder, must produce.
              The plunderers will want to be the exclusive plunderers, so they must protect their weak producers from other plunderers.
              Thus government is born.

  24. Part of the problem here is that the word “anarchism” has had the crap beat out of it in so many directions that the person saying it seems to mean something different than the person hearing it with a very high frequency.

    I’m going to have to double-hyphenate my particular brand: pragmato-existentialist-anarchism. Search for “biggins” above if you care. Ask here for further clarifications if you care.

    And don’t confuse me with Friedman anarchists, or the syndicalist. Those guys are total sell outs, and I can’t believe they have the nerve to call themselves anarchists. (that was a joke).

    1. Pragmato-existentialist-anarchism. I like that and I might have to use it.

  25. This is all very interesting. But I think I’d rather just go home and read some Robert Anton Wilson. At least he has some good sex scenes.

  26. Serious questions. I understand the distinction between voluntary associations with their own rules and laws and a government which is involuntary, but what happens in disputes between members of one such voluntary association and members of another such voluntary association. If one group retaliates against another group under the belief that they have been agressed against, is there not a point at which the retaliator becomes the agressor? If I kill someone because they stole my steroeo, who is the agressor? And is it not indeed possible for such a dispute to be a misunderstanding, and no act of agression actually took place, even it was thought otherwise?

    1. *even though it was thought otherwise

    2. This is one of many questions I’d also like anarchists to answer. The default seems to be “too bad for the guy you killed who was obviously unable to defend himself. Hopefully your voluntary association’s private army will be able to fend off his association’s army and vengeful relatives so you don’t get killed in retaliation. Maybe you can come to a mutual and peaceful agreement when you realize it was all just a big misunderstanding.”

      1. This is exactly like the recent article by Conor Friedersdorf. You are focusing on the most unlikely, distracting minutiae of a philosophy.
        I assume you are a libertarian; to what extent I do not know. But I think I’m safe in assuming you believe the maximum role of government should be in protecting life, liberty and property. Who is to say that these services cannot be provided by the free market? Here is a great lecture by Bob Murphy, albeit a bit long, regarding the market for security, including police, courts and military, and how it might function in a stateless society. He does a much better job of explaining than I can.

        1. I never said the services couldn’t be provided by the free market. Where possible, I’m all for it.

          Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the conflict that alan_s and I are pointing out that justice will always be dealt by whomever controls the most power, be that a state or be that a voluntary association. In an anarchy, whether justice is served or not will depend on if the aggrieved has hired a superior justice organization to that of the aggressor.

      2. ok. But I’m close to joining Epi in exasperation.

        If one group retaliates against another group under the belief that they have been agressed against, is there not a point at which the retaliator becomes the agressor?

        yes. there is some point.

        If I kill someone because they stole my steroeo, who is the agressor?

        The thief is definitely an aggressor.

        Killer may or may not be. Depends on your viewpoint I guess. I dunno.

        And is it not indeed possible for such a dispute to be a misunderstanding, and no act of agression actually took place, even it was thought otherwise?

        yes that is possible.

        So now that I’ve answered those questions, I’d like the non-anarchists to answer some questions?

        Do you think theft is wrong?

        Do you think theft stops being wrong when the government does it? What if they call it “taxation” instead? What if it’s for a really good cause?

        If I think theft is wrong under all these circumstances, will you please explain to me why I’m supposed to change my mind about theft being wrong because I can’t formulate a good plan for 9000 different post-apocalyptic scenarios? Because I really don’t get the connection.

        1. “Do you think theft is wrong?”

          Sure.

          “Do you think theft stops being wrong when the government does it? What if they call it “taxation” instead? What if it’s for a really good cause?”

          No, doesn’t stop being wrong (which is why I support voluntary land exclusivity fees as the sole basis for my miniarchist government’s revenues.) However, using anarchist theory, if you don’t like theft by an entity, you can start your own private security firm or army to protect your life, liberty and property when you stop paying their extorted protection money. If you can build your own firm stronger than the police and military, you are free from theft. The same burden would exist in anarchy, overcoming de facto psuedo-governments intent on theft.

          “will you please explain to me why I’m supposed to change my mind about theft being wrong because I can’t formulate a good plan for 9000 different post-apocalyptic scenarios?”

          Nobody’s asking you to change your mind about theft being wrong. Note, miniarchists ALWAYS have to answer for the potential expansions of states that have occured throughout history and defend ourselves from those slippery slope scenarios. We are asking practical questions about how conflicts of justice would actually work in certain cases because there is little evidence to base on whether it would work practically or maximize individual rights.

          1. Nobody’s asking you to change your mind about theft being wrong.

            You aren’t. Some are.

            But anyways, welcome to anarchism, the philosophy(TM). Not anarchy, the obviously and empirically unstable form of not-government. We won’t tell anybody you are in the club if you find the label too embarrassing. Dues are obviously voluntary.

            1. The big question I’m still trying to get an answer on is whether the distinction between anarchism and miniarchism is a technicality over a definition of the word “government.” If government is merely the biggest mafia at the moment, both anarchists and miniarchists want an anti-mafia to replace and overpower it. But technically that is the case even today – you could technically create a rival to the current government with enough resources, manpower and planning and declare your independence from their extortion.

              The definition of anarchy is important – some anarchists here have said that anarchy means considering the government’s control and laws illegitimate and/or illusory. Others claim it means there is no central, monopolistic authority. These are two distinctly different things.

              1. I agree that at least some of the argument is pointless semantic bullshit.

                At the same time, I only have my definition of anarchsim. I think, by definition, I can’t speak for other anarchists.

                At any point in time where minarchists agree that government is doing all it needs to do, and also doing something it shouldn’t, then some common ground should findable.

                My current pragmato-existentialist-anarchist definition stands: grant special privelge to “government” = statist. Don’t = anarchist. Really that still makes 99% of all people statist, and most people here who self identify as anarchist can at least kinda sorta agree with my definition. So i’m stickin with it for now.

                1. My problem with your definition is that “government” is in quotes, which is still the open question for me. Is “government” the strongest force of coercion at any moment? Is the crazed guy with a knife to my neck my “government” for as long as I’m willing to do anything he says for him not to kill me? If he tells me to bow before him and call him “king” and hand him my wallet, he is, on a small scale, a monarch. He might be overthrown by a more powerful government or perhaps I engage in my own revolution against his rule.

                  Miniarchists believe that the most powerful coercive force in society should also be the fairest, most consistent and violate rights the least possible. I know this is likely utopian in and of itself, but striving towards this goal is still superior to a system where microgovernments and mini-dictators use coercion arbitrarily for whatever purposes they seek with no pretense of fairness, consistency or respect for individual rights.

  27. “If I think theft is wrong under all these circumstances, will you please explain to me why I’m supposed to change my mind about theft being wrong because I can’t formulate a good plan for 9000 different post-apocalyptic scenarios? Because I really don’t get the connection.”

    I feel the same way in reverse.

    “Killer may or may not be. Depends on your viewpoint I guess.”

    So this is still arbitrarily decided by fallible human beings and can only really be settled by war. I believe murder is just as wrong as theft, and in your society, murder may be wrongfully justified, so I cannot change my mind either.

    1. “I believe murder is just as wrong as theft, and in your society, murder may be wrongfully justified, so I cannot change my mind either.”

      I just haven’t been convinced that murder and theft will be inherently minimized by anarchism. I still think there are ways to fund government without “theft” anyway.

    2. “I believe murder is just as wrong as theft, and in your society, murder may be wrongfully justified, so I cannot change my mind either.”

      I just haven’t been convinced that murder and theft will be inherently minimized by anarchism. I still think there are ways to fund government without “theft” anyway.

    3. I find your response completely baffling.

      If I could codify an exhaustive and complete set of rules for when deadly force was appropriate and when it wasn’t you’d agree with me that theft is wrong? But since I can’t, you don’t?

      That can’t be what is going on here, but that is best I can get out of what you wrote.

      1. I think his scenario gets to the core of miniarchist apprehensions about anarchy. There are two realistic systems of justice: a coercive uniform system or “might makes right”. The uniform system may be unjust and corrupted depending on how well or not it is set up, but miniarchists seek to create the best system realistically possible. Competing justice systems have no basis on agreement or compromise, nor do they have any interest in turning over their paying customers over to rival systems they didn’t contractually agree to. Meaning either justice is impossible or justice will only exist if the victim’s justice enforcers are stronger than their aggressor’s defenders.

        1. ^^This. I’m not looking for a complete and exhaustive set of rules, just a reason why anarchy is inherently more just than a minarchist state. I haven’t found one.

          1. It’s not inherently more. It’s inherently less. Start with minarchism. Subtract out the shit you already know is wrong, and Bam! You got anarchism.

            Really thats it. Just stick with it, and no wussing out because you prefer sentiment to logic.

            1. I get that, but if anarchism is as you say, inherently less just, don’t ask me to subscribe to it. If someone’s rule of law is that if I unknowingly step on their property, they have every right to shoot me, I don’t have to agree to that any more than you have to agree to a miniarchist state. Either way, we both are bound to terms and conditions that we did not agree to, and in the absence of rules, the only means of settlement is war.

              1. Either way, we both are bound to terms and conditions that we did not agree to, and in the absence of rules, the only means of settlement is war.

                I think this is the mentality of the current government we live under. But there are many alternatives to “war” in the midst of disagreement. Arbitration, mediation, independent courts (think the courts on Luna in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress)… the response to someone trespassing or stealing or whatever doesn’t have to be violence. And I think that is where this topic went way off course.

                We are all used to systems of government where violence IS the answer to differences. An anarchy isn’t going to be rainbows and puppies, obviously, but it doesn’t automatically become Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome or Waterworld (no gills) in the absence of government either.

                1. I guess I shouldn’t have said the “only” means. What I meant really was the “ultimate” means. You’re correct that the response to someone trespassing doesn’t have to be violence, but if that is someone’s response, then the offender’s only recourse in that situation is to return with violence. At this point, who is really in the wrong? One is a trespasser, but the retaliator is attempting to kill the trespasser. Ultimately the victor (the one who doesn’t die) is right. And if the losers family feels that the victor is in the wrong, they may feel justified in retaliating with violence, and whose to say they’re not? That’s really what I’m talking about. I’m not arguing that violence is the only means of settling differnces, but if it comes to that, there’s no end to the cycle if both sides feel that they are justified and there’s no arbitrer for determining this.

                  1. That’s just human nature, I think. There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all answer to such a problem. In our society, we see everyday what happens when someone is transgressed against, they call the police, a dog gets loose, and now that person has been transgressed upon twice in the same day when the cops shoot the dog dead.

                    There will always be people who answer every problem with violence. Anarchy doesn’t seek to eliminate that from people, at least I don’t think it does. It only says that we will not be subjects of a government that does subscribe to “Might makes right”. As I said below, it’s the ultimate form of self-governance.

        2. So when do we get to test out the non-might-makes-right system? Because that sounds worthwhile. I’d love to try it out. Just let us naive utopian doofuses know when that starts, then we can take a vote on it, and I’ll totally give it a thumbs up if it seems like it’s working.

          1. We all agree that the uniform justice system is and probably always will be flawed. The rich and powerful can hire the best lawyers to connive their way out of justice, often on technicalities, unlike the poor. And the better lawyer often wins the lawsuit. This is why miniarchists make the case for a clearer criminal and civil law code with less loopholes but also less crimes.

            The difference is that it is good to have a coercive force for justice that is not conflicting with other coercive forces seeking to defend injustice. People who have killed others should be coerced into going to jail, showing up for trial and, if convicted, going to prison. In return for this coercion, they receive their due process, certain options to minimize the coercion until due process has resulted in a convinction and options for appeal and review. This would be true even if he was the richest man in America who murdered the poorest man in America.

            But there are not two or more competing forces claiming the ability to coerce or defend from coercion by any arbitrary means necessary on their each of own terms.

  28. Hard to believe there’s so many crypto-fascists on here, but I guess this thread drew them out of the woodwork.

    Since the non-anarchists seem to believe that official thuggery under color of state morality is required for anyone to exist at all…

    What then is this “libertarian” government that is the only logical alternative to anarchy or (more full on) jack-booted statism?

    1. So miniarchists are crypto-fascists who support thuggery and will lead us down the slippery slope to tyranny? If you say so, but your combination of fallacies and hyperbole are neither extremely convincing arguments nor substantial contributions to the existing conversation.

  29. Overall, this has been a very rewarding discussion topic. I think it’s pointless (maybe not pointless, as that contradicts my first sentence, but not overly-productive) to assess every possibility and hypothetical happening in an anarchy. There will unfortunately always be people who do not value or respect the individual rights of those around them, and will use force to take from those who cannot defend themselves.

    Taking by force is wrong no matter who does it or what they call themselves. We see it day in and day out in our lives and it goes by the name of government. Whether a voluntary army in a true anarchy called themselves “government” doesn’t change the fact that they would be wrong to take life, liberty, or property from others by force. I think if we strive to educate and create a society where people do not feel the need to take by force (as much, preferably “at all”), then we will achieve something great. Whether that world is anarchist, minarchist, libertarian, or whatever else, I honestly don’t care.

    1. it’s pointless to assess every possibility and hypothetical happening in an anarchy

      I don’t disagree, as it is pointless to address every slippery slope argument about miniarchism. I don’t think the scenario we brought up above is pointless because it gets to the core of why miniarchists have a problem with anarchism and do not believe individual rights and justice for violation of these rights will be safe (much less maximized) in an anarchism. Conflicting multiple justice systems will result in both “might makes right” and justice not being served. I agree setting up a miniarchist government with minimum (or without) force is a challenge, and we may merely be engaged in a technical disagreement over the word “government”, but the questions like this about anarchy make me wonder whether the poor and powerless will have any pretense of safety and rights.

  30. Right. And John’s group will make their attempt with force, and the people who oppose their attempt will resist it with force.

    The point is that whoever wins that conflict is the state, whether they choose to call themselves that or not.

    Hmmm, John and his buddies want to become warlords and steal from people and call that theft “taxation”. Me and my buddies want nothing of that. So when John and his buddies come back to rob us, we machinegun them, and then go back to minding our own business and not trying to rob anyone.

    If you call the victors of that battle a “government”, then you have a curious view of what is a government — a group of people who form on a temporary basis to resist aggression and don’t try to tax or to otherwise tell anyone what to do if they aren’t being aggressed against. That’s a government? The fuck?

    1. Yes, it is.

      Absolutely.

      We’ve already established that you’re “telling people what to do”. We’ve agreed that you’ve got one rule – “No setting yourself up as a warlord and trying to collect taxes.”

      In the fullness of time, it would become apparent that you would have other rules:

      “No coming to our town and raping women.”

      “No coming to our town and abducting children.”

      “No coming to our town, picking up somebody’s TV, and leaving.”

      And you’d enforce them all, with machine guns, as you describe above.

      That’s a government.

      Eventually, the visitors to your town would say, “Hey, guys, you know what would be helpful? If you could print up some flyers that list all the things you shouldn’t do here if you want to avoid being machine-gunned. In addition to being helpful, that’s really only fair. Right?” And you’d have to admit that was helpful and fair, so you’d write all the “Rules to Avoid Machine-Gunning” down and print up some flyers. (BTW, this is the way written law began, just about everywhere where the history has been established. Just with stone or gold tablets, and not paper.)

      So, yup, government.

      1. This is the part that doesn’t make any sense to me. Say a single person was powerful enough to resist the force of others. He didn’t strike out and try to take in return; he simply said “leave me the fuck alone”.

        As long as we’re on the purely hypothetical, pretend Superman is an anarchist. Lex Luthor gets a ton of people together to steal from him or rape Lois Lane and Superman fights them off and says “Don’t take my stuff or threaten my loved ones.” A single man is now a government?

        That contradicts all rational definitions of government. So it’s only when more than one person tries to do the same thing that Superman can do on his own–resist others who would threaten him with force–that they become this thing “government”?

        Please try to explain that concept to me.

        1. Using your same scenario, let’s say Lex Luthor and his posse are successful at raping Lois Lane and stealing Superman’s tights collection. If Superman hunts Lex down and beats the crap out of him and coerces him into his basement prison, is he not acting as the government over Lex? Is not coercion good in the name of bringing criminals to justice?

          If the posse in the above scenario hunted down the bandits and either attacked them or imprisoned them (a totally justified action, but an act of coercion and power nonetheless), how would they not be acting as the de facto government of that town, even if they aren’t formally organized as a State?

          1. I guess the discussion really does teeter on what the definition of “government” is. Most people would have no problem thinking of a nation state as a government. I don’t think establishing a set of rules by which people interact or hash out agreements is a government.

            We don’t consider an HOA to be a government; we don’t consider a company to be a government; we don’t consider a church to be a government. Is it because force is involved? I honestly don’t know.

            I think that an anarchy is the ultimate form of self-governance. That does mean that some people will push the limits and attack other people in order to accumulate “more”, as we have said above. But I don’t think that makes the system as a whole any less noble than what we have now or even a minarchist system (admittedly I know less about the latter than I do about anarchy).

            Excluding the poor definition of a person found in the Constitution, I think that was a decent attempt at setting up a minarchist government (please correct me if I’m wrong). But they did try to establish that the role of government is to protect the rights of the individual against the power of the state. But providing anyone with even a small amount of authority over others will eventually snowball to what we now have. By starting in anarchy, where no one is recognized as head honcho from the get-go, maybe all you really do is delay the inevitable by a couple generations.

            1. P.S. This is why I love science fiction. There are vast amount of space where a person can just go and not have to be bothered by a soul. There are planetary governments, sure, but for the most part the space in between systems is about as close to a true anarchy as humanity may ever reach.

    2. And as you got better and better at responding to threats, your machine-gunning teams would coordinate their activities. “OK, when Fluffy’s gang next attacks, me and Ed will set up our machine-gun nest on the north tower – but prolefeed and Emmerson Biggins will take the cavalry and hit them on the flank.” And you know what? Let’s say the guy who takes the most initiative and cleverness in setting up those plans is Sparky. In two generations’ time, the word “Sparky” will come to mean “King”. Hundreds of years later, “Sparky John IX” will rule as an absolute monarch.

      So, yeah – you’re a government.

      1. Ok, so in all of this craziness, I get lost where the burden of proof is supposed to be.

        Are you saying you can prove that this is what happens? Or, are you just saying this is what happens, and someone else has to prove that it doesn’t?

        Because this entire line of conversation seems batshit crazy to me.

  31. I’ve been well entertained. Although I’ve read the word Government so many times I’m having nightmares again. Could we toss in a few more, “maximize liberty” type statements?

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