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An Argument for Anarchism

Anarchism - the absence of government - is not utopian. As defined at Dictionary.com:

utopia - any visionary system of political or social perfection

Under anarchism violence against people and their property would still exist - just as it does under any form of statism. Anarchism is not utopian. Anarchism does not hail itself as social perfection.

Anarchism does not rest upon the ideal that man is perfectible. Anarchism rests upon the realization that man is not perfectible. History has shown that when man is given a monopoly on force, he will eventually use that monopoly for tyrannical purposes.

It is idealistic to assume that government can be perfected - that tyranny can be prevented when such an institution exists. The government should not be able to perform any action that is prohibited for the individual. Government should not be able to steal your money. Government should not be able to take your property. Government should not be able to murder you. Government should not be able to murder people in far off lands. However, as long as governments exist, they will perform these actions. It is unrealistic to think otherwise.

Where demand exists the market finds a way to supply it - given that the technological capacity exists to do so. People may ask, "who will build the roads?" Who builds the roads now? Answer: Construction companies. Would construction companies cease to exist if government ceased to exist? People may ask, "who would pay for the roads?" Who pays for the roads now? Answer: The people. Would people desiring roads refuse to pay for them if the government did not exist? All of the other possible "who would" questions could also be handled by the market.

One major "who would" question is, "who would protect us against foreign invasion?" Answer: The people - a well armed populace. It has been reported that Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII, once said:

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

One may rebut, "how can a well armed populace defend itself against a modernized army?" The united States military is the most technologically advanced military in the world. They have tanks, armored vehicles, advanced aircraft, superior body armor, superior weaponry, etc. How have they fared against the vastly less well trained, less well armored, and less well armed fighters in Afghanistan? At the apex of their power, the Russians failed there too.

To win a war, to take over a country, to govern a country successfully, it is not good enough to kill more of them than they kill of you. The consent (or complacency) of the people must be gained in the conqueror's favor. How hard do you suppose a free people fight? You can ask the British.

Government is not required - even for combating foreign invasion.

Why then do people allow government to rob them of 30%, 40%, 50%, ..., 99.999% of their labor? Why do people support a government that murders others at will across the globe? Answer: Complacency. People assume "this is how it always was, and this is how it always will be." What happens when "always" ends? What happens when the government collapses under its own weight? After all, history tells us that all governments eventually fall. Will the people ask for a king? Will the people ask the majority to enforce their will upon them once more? Will people forever seek to institute governments - even when it becomes known by all that tyranny will inevitably ensue?

Or, will people eventually break their chains and do away with government? Will people eventually service their needs solely through voluntary transactions in a free market?

Or, will people continue to keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

Anarchism is not utopian. However, limited government is an unachievable ideal that will always lead to tyranny.

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Yeah, sorry about that

I had a few drinks before I posted that.

I'll try to explain better. When Ron Paul was running everyone said that he couldn't win. They repeated it over and over again to the point that people would use that as a reason to not support him. It never made sense to me because even if it is true it's not a valid reason to not support something that makes sense. I think the same is true with anarchy.

If every system is destined to end in tyranny...

I would rather start at a point of freedom than partial slavery.

I don't understand how you

I don't understand how you guys can see ME as the defeatist. You are very clearly the ones with the defeatist attitudes.

Freedom in our lifetime! - fiol.us

Freedom to die to one of the

Freedom to die to one of the unchecked tyrannical gangs?

I'll pass. I'm much more interested in liberty than "freedom" in the literal sense.

Freedom in our lifetime! - fiol.us

Governments are the biggest unchecked gangs

Death by government is leading cause of unnatural death over the last century - hundreds of millions. The figure doesn't include military deaths in wars.

Do you suppose there would have been less or more murders over that time period without government?

Under Hussein, some ~300K people were killed over the years. In the 1990's alone, some ~500K children died due to US sanctions. Some 1 million Iraqis died as a result of the war.

That's like asking do I think

That's like asking do I think there would be more or less murders without the invention of guns? They already exist. You can't ever live in a world without them. The best solution is to get your own.

The government is quite literally, exactly like a gun. It is nothing more than a tool that human beings invented. Those human beings and their beliefs and motives are the problem, the tool is not the problem, and as long as you focus on the tool instead of the bad guys who use it, you're going to be fighting a battle completely outside of reality, because the tool isn't really creating a problem, and it can't ever be eliminated.

If you were to win this argument, by the way, it would not be by convincing me that anarchy is a good thing vs a bad thing. It would be by proving that anarchy can actually exist, and is more than just a word for the way society started out. Because it's rather pointless to assess whether something that can't possibly ever exist is good or bad.

Freedom in our lifetime! - fiol.us


Bravo to the article!!!!!!!!!!

too tired tonight to take the

too tired tonight to take the bait, but i'll let mises do the talking for now as a consolation prize.

A shallow-minded school of social philosophers, the anarchists, chose to ignore the matter by suggesting a stateless organization of mankind. They simply passed over the fact that men are not angels. They were too dull to realize that in the short run an individual or a group of individuals can certainly further their own interests at the expense of their own and all other peoples’ long-run interests. A society that is not prepared to thwart the attacks of such asocial and short-sighted aggressors is helpless and at the mercy of its least intelligent and most brutal members. While Plato founded his utopia on the hope that a small group of perfectly wise and morally impeccable philosophers will be available for the supreme conduct of affairs, anarchists implied that all men without any exception will be endowed with perfect wisdom and moral impeccability. They failed to conceive that no system of social cooperation can remove the dilemma between a man’s or a group’s interests in the short run and those in the long run.

In an anarchist society is the possibility entirely to be excluded that someone may negligently throw away a lighted match and start a fire or, in a fit of anger, jealousy, or revenge, inflict injury on his fellow man? Anarchism misunderstands the real nature of man. It would be practicable only in a world of angels and saints. Liberalism is not anarchism, nor has it anything whatsoever to do with anarchism. The liberal understands quite clearly that without resort to compulsion, the existence of society would be endangered and that behind the rules of conduct whose observance is necessary to assure peaceful human cooperation must stand the threat of force if the whole edifice of society is not to be continually at the mercy of any one of its members. One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.

more from mises here: http://mises.org/community/forums/p/10600/250807.aspx
Ayn Rand:

In unthinking protest against this trend [the trend to more and more statism], some people are raising the question of whether government as such is evil and whether anarchy is the ideal social system. Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naïve floating abstraction: for all the reasons discussed above, a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare.

and from the author of the article w/ above quote,

We have plenty of historical experience with various forms of government, or various forms of organizing society. We have primitive tribes, Greek city states, the Roman empire, feudalism, absolute monarchy. representative government, modern dictatorships (to name those that readily come to mind). We can study the historical evidence and draw conclusions from it, e.g. that representative government is a great step forward, or that there is a strong correlation between the degree of freedom in a society and the degree of wealth.

But we have absolutely no experience with a situation where a proper limited government (or "night watchman state" as I usually call it) is vying with anarcho-capitalist protection agencies. So there is no historical evidence to point to and draw conclusions from. All we can do is imagine scenarios.

I think this is one reason it is so difficult to get the point across to the anarcho-capitalists. They paint a rosy scenario of protection agencies peacefully competing with one another; and we paint a bleak scenario of protection agencies fighting it out in the streets. When we are fighting the anarcho-capitalists, we are fighting against floating abstractions and fantasies.

i normally wouldn't quote rand, as i don't subscribe to her philosophy, and i am not entirely even in accord with mises. but the fact that even someone as far on the individualistic spectrum as rand recognized the infantile nature of anarchism should give one pause.

Thanks for showing us

why we needed Rothbard to fix the few mistakes that Mises made :)

If men are not angels, where will we find the angels to rule us?

Oh wait, I forgot that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

its hardly a minor tweak, its

its hardly a minor tweak, its an entirely different philosophy.

rothbard put forward a moral system from which he deduced necessary political conditions in order for society to adhere to his moral demands.

mises drew utilitarian conclusions about what legal and economic conditions were necessary to bring about the most economic abundance and well being.

there may be much overlap in terms of policy recommendations, but they are entirely different premises. they could in the future come to entirely different conclusions if data or conditions change.

BILL3, I applaud you for at least reading

both Rothbard and Mises. At least it seems like you did. I don't mind when people criticize Rothbard after reading his works.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson

one of my favorite and most

one of my favorite and most often recommended works is rothbards 'wall street, banks and american foreign policy.'

i've listened to all of rothbard's lectures and online audiobooks, from his study on pre classical economics, to america's great depression, his shorter works like the case against the fed, the history of banking in the united states. i'm a big fan of rothbard. i just don't accept his works on ethics and do not necessarily subscribe to every part of his economic theory.

his is an intellectual giant but not the only intellectual giant. when you realize that giants like hayek, mises and rothbard had major disagreements -- and remember here that we are dealing only with avowed free market liberals or libertarians -- just think about how much room for disagreement there is amongst the other intellectual giants outside of the american libertarian tradition.

hoppe takes things even further than rothbard in one direction, whereas george selgin and lawrence white take an entirely different direction.

in another direction, there is the George Mason Univ Austrians.... the line blurs into those who have dropped the Austrian label.

In another direction there are Austrians like GLS Shackle, and independent market thinkers that span the spectrum from Austrian to post-Keynesian with every shade and gradation on the way. (Steve Keen, Eric Janszen, etc.)

Those who claim that one thinker is the be all end all that everyone must bow down to, probably have not read them much himself, and if they have, they don't have the judgement, perspective, maturity or independence of mind to be of much use.

We don't need cults of personality around Gurus that excommunicate dissenters (the way Ayn Rand's cult excommunicated Rothbard for his heresy).

you are well read!

That is great. I am certainly not opposed to dissenting opinions. However, my litmus test is the same as Rothbard's, namely "do you hate the state?" I have little tolerance for state apologists. So when even Austrians go down that path, I do not hesitate to criticize, whether it is Mises, Hayek, or the quasi-Austrians at GMU. BTW, you forgot to mention Israel Kirtzner!

The thing with Rothbard is not that I worship him. It's just that I have trouble finding things on which I disagree with him. He was the most consistent libertarian I have ever come across. Also, I do love his laugh.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson


I'll take a truly free-market solution to any problem, any time.

The argument of authority...

Very high class. I recall you scorning others that have used such tactics.

In any case, the OP refutes the statement by Mises which you've used for your reply.

As for Rand, I enjoy the tenets of Objectivism, but in practice she was a virtually all-in statist. She agreed with the 1953 CIA coup of Iran's democratically elected government.

As for the last appeal to authority, we do have real experience with government. It always turns to tyranny. Maybe its time to rollback the state and ease into an anarcho-capitalist system.

hey i have a right to be

hey i have a right to be tired and not want to write a long reply, besides if i don't reply right away you get antsy and might get upset so i wanted to give you something to tide you over. gimme hugs

A little birdy told me that arguments for anarchism were easily


that little birdie

was probably sent by someone who thinks that chaos is a ladder

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson