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Further Thoughts on Anarchism

Modern anarchism is the theory that in the absence of government, people will generally do the right thing in all their social and commercial interactions. That isn't the normal definition given, but it follows from the arguments offered for anarchism.

In market anarchism or anarcho-capitalism, there is no special jurisdiction for justice: arrest, holding a trial or giving a verdict and sentence. There's no chain of appeals to finalize a decision.

Whether or not someone has committed a crime is the decision of a private court, either attached to or commissioned by some force-agent or agency.

Unlike under a government, there is no final arbiter or appeals process, going to higher courts, all of which follow the same law in relation to each other.

Today, if you commit theft, you go to a specific court, have certain rights like the right to an attorney, bail, jury trial, etc. If convicted you can appeal up to a certain point.

It is all very clear in terms of who has jurisdiction and what rights the accused has, even if it doesn't always work out that way in practice. The law is in the letter, the spirit is free to roam. If people lack vigilance about their rights, they are gone regardless of the paper.

There are problems with rights-literacy and there are problems with plea bargains and risk-reward of demanding trial, and these problems are deliberately imposed by the corrupt criminal justice system in order to prevent defendants from accessing their rights.

Too many laws and too many bureaucratic mouths to feed from the Crim Just trough create the incentive to avoid prolonged trial by jury with high standards of evidence. It costs too much to the beast, over what it takes in. This corruption needs to be remedied, and the only answer to that is vigilance and willingness to demand justice, as with any political goal.

Under anarchism, anyone can claim jurisdiction over anyone else. There is no magic number of jurors, and no single legitimate force agency sanctioned by the public or a majority in a territory.

There's nothing that requires a security agency or an arbitration agency to apply one code of law over another, and no requirement that all recognize a common appeal process or final arbiter.

Does someone have a right of appeal after conviction? Appeal to who, and how many times?

If a separate court deems the person innocent, and there is no tie breaker or final arbiter, then both sides could fight for the accused on the grounds that the other side is acting aggressively, and there is no tie breaker or final say. Neither side is in the wrong in terms of non-aggression, because both are convinced of their rightness and the aggression of the other. For any case where both sides aren't budging, there is no final arbiter.

Anarchists can only respond to these problems with their claim that people wouldn't do any of this, that everyone would agree to a harmonic legal system that would function smoothly, and rarely or never violate anarchist principles or the non-aggression principle.

For the anarchist, the real enforcement mechanism for NAP and anarchism is not in any institution, but the free market, allowing the true wishes of the people for anarchism to be expressed. Anarchists believe that everyone is an anarchist at heart, and that no matter how uncertain or dangerous an environment, most people will adhere to the non aggression principle and the golden rule on inherent moral grounds.

Anarchism is largely a theory of human nature, and that's why it ties in closely with economics. Someone like David Friedman will argue that people generally always act in what he considers their rational economic interest. He isn't worried about violence under anarchism because it is expensive in the present legal and market order. He thinks the rules and thought processes that prevail for the manager of a McDonald's are the same that would prevail for the leader of a force-agency, or an average Joe, in a world where no agreement is certain, no justice is guaranteed, and the devil take the hindmost.

This also applies to left wing anarchism. Its less sanguine theory of economics gives a different flavor of anarchism, one which is largely about preventing concentration of economic power, capital, market control, etc., and treating firms a a kind of government. The left anarchist sees predatory power lust in private as well as government organizations.

Suffice it to say that aside from all the problems of a functional justice system or of national defense conforming to NAP, and aside from other concerns, the deeper issue is the fundamentally flawed understanding of human nature as a merely economic nature.

Because of this wrong conception of human nature, anarchists are forced to concoct a villain. A collective called "government" or "the state" is designated scapegoat for all human political and social ills. Rather than saying "Humans behave violently, and the consequence is the State" they think, "Because of the State, there is violence among humans. If not for the State, people would not behave violently." They credit a nebulous, dehumanized collective with the crime of force, and anyone who engages in force is said to be "acting like a State." The reverse is true: People form States because humans use force; the State is acting humanly.

The need to resort to a villain is always the corollary and shadow of a faulty concept of human nature. A correct understanding of human nature, good and bad, will inoculate one from anarchism.

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I did all those things in America, which has a government. So I did them in a coercive hierarchy. Just as you do all the things you do in the coercive hierarchy you choose to live under.

Getting dressed in the morning has absolutely nothing to do with government. However... if a gang came to my door and told me I had to wear blue or they'd cut my face off, I'd probably listen, until I could get some state protection and then go back to wearing my chosen assortment of colors.

And although the government typically has no interest in what I wear, you'd be a big fat liar if you claimed you chose your dress entirely without reference to the social pressure of your peers, the media, and your surrounding environment. That's not government, but it's more powerful than any government.

Or voluntary...

...neighborhood/private protection...no state necessary.

Any third party

who enters in after the fact to take a side or resolve an earlier dispute, arresting accused parties, etc., is inherently violating the non aggression principle. On anarchist terminology, such an actor is a State actor.

If there is...

...clear evidence of the aggression in progress then there is no such issue. After the fact, if there are only accusations, seems like there would need to be private investigation to turn up such evidence to present to the arbitration agencies involved, and not going around willy-nilly kidnapping people because of he-said, she-said.

Perhaps the wise voluntary security group would have a system whereby evidence of aggression in progress can immediately be captured and broadcast by victims and witnesses to the relevant agencies, to help in this area.

According to other anarchists

I've been debating with, it is justified to go up to the person who robbed you, 6 months later, and capture them on the street. It is the justness of this act that is then delegated to third parties like security agencies. So when you come to someone's aid, thinking you're defending them from aggression, you don't know whether or not they are justly capturing the person who robbed them.

At the end of the day, it has to be decided by someone with proper jurisdiction. Proper jurisdiction does not exist on NAP, because anyone can claim jurisdiction, there is no public jurisdiction, no chain of appeal, no final arbitrator vested with authority.

So when you see a bunch of black SUV's from a "security agency" kidnap a person, do you shoot at them on NAP?

That's why we end up w/ governments, and people in uniforms... so that there is public legitimacy and oversight of those who we grant the jurisdiction to do things that appear aggressive (arrest, trial, sentence, imprisonment, execution, etc.)

Micah, at least you have a sound moral ontology (Theism/God), a sound epistemology (Christ's life and teachings), and a consistent point of view (arresting / attacking is wrong, shunning and civil disobedience is right, and let god sort it out).

Starting from error.

> Modern anarchism is the theory that
> in the absence of government, people
> will generally do the right thing in
> all their social and commercial
> interactions.

> That isn't the normal definition given,
> but it follows from the arguments
> offered for anarchism.

This isn't the normal definition. It doesn't follow from any arguments for anarchism. It is very nearly the opposite of any definition ever given.

So, since you have made it crystal clear up front that you have no idea what you're talking about, where do we go from here?

I have heard anarchists make a similar argument. My concern

is that even if it is true that people will generally do the right thing even in the absence of government, it is the minority who won't, or the minority of situations where they won't that is the trouble.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

Fundamental flaw?

“the deeper issue is the fundamentally flawed understanding of human nature as a merely economic nature.”

How is the understanding of human nature as a merely economic nature fundamentally flawed?

Thank you Ron for waking me up.

Cyril's picture

Would you give a try at answering either of Bastiat's questions?

Would you give a try at answering either of Bastiat's questions?

I let it to be your pick :

1) http://www.dailypaul.com/320957

(the one in bold, at the end of the excerpt)


2) http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html#SECTION_G063

(the one starting with "if the natural tendencies...")

You can answer both, also, if you feel like it.

Please keep your answer(s) under 10 to 20 (or so) lines, just as the same ballpark he phrased his questions in.

I'll read with interest. Thank you.

Ah, yes : please don't answer by asking other questions. Direct answers only - on-topic, preferably. Otherwise, we can both play this game for eons, and that wouldn't make any sense.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

My 2 cents

I don't believe in universal suffrage. I believe one would have to be independent and a contributor to the community to vote.

Today's organizers certainly think themselves made of finer clay, but the real issue is that so many think of them in this manner. The US has millions of people who are more fixated on Royalty, Movie Stars, and Politicians than they are on their own families and friends.

Rather than Anarchy, I think Self Governance within the bounds of Natural Law is a better system. Can't get into how Self Governance and Minarchy work together in 20 lines or less, but willing to spell it out if you like.


copy the first one here and I'll give a reply later.

I agree, but in the

I agree, but in the anarchists' defense on one issue, the jurisdictional issue avoids NAP by 1)a monopoly of jurisdiction within any one land mass and 2)Implied or explicit consent requirement upon penalty of deportation or worse upon entry of the land mass.

This was the case in ancient anarchic Israel.

Ventura 2012

How can the area be cleared of competing agencies

without violating NAP? I've already shown that it's a violation of NAP for one individual to claim another individual signed a contract and use force to hold him to it, if the other denies it. This would be a dispute, requiring jurisdiction to settle, and if the two parties disagree over jurisdiction, force has to be used to settle it.

What you do is you give

What you do is you give notice and force signatures upon entry into a community(more realistically it would be implied consent). Your presence on the premises of the community would be prima facie evidence that you consented to jurisdiction, which could be rebutted by other evidence. You would adjudicate jurisdiction along with the other elements of the offense, the same way things are done today. Think of the Feudal Manor system, roughly. Or the modern state :D

Note that for this hypothetical system to exists there must be

A) A monopoly on the use of force in a given jurisdiction(presumably the monopoly could be removable if the people wished to hire another firm but probably not)

B) Enforced consent and stringent restrictions on migration and travel.

Now, I do undestand that you can reduce things to the point where no one ever knows anything for sure and therefore any enforcement of law whatsoever violates NAP, but I don't think the anarchist's definition is actually that broad to encompass that. Their version does, however, demand a monopoly on the use of force in a given land mass.

Ventura 2012


can't exist on NAP, because there is no valid jurisdiction for third party enforcement on the individual who denies he signed or says he was tricked or was drugged etc. To punish him on the claim of an accuser or hold him to a contract on the claim of an accuser requires there to be situations where third party agents have jurisdiction to deprive individuals of rights on the basis of jury or some other judgement. This violates NAP, as it is not self defense.

The NAP would need to be reformulated to include third party retributive aggression on the basis of standard legal concepts like reasonable doubt, jury, group consensus, valid public jurisdiction, defense of public interest, consensus definitions of property, etc. It would have to depart from absolutist individualist and rights based on self ownership. If self ownership is true, no one can judge you or punish you for the accusations of other people. If they did, it would be pre emptive action in self interest, not self defense.

Defense of property, because

Defense of property, because every person apprehended would be inside the property of the jurisdiction and therefore a trespasser or a consenter.

Like I said, you can say that consent or location on property is unknowable for certain but it is not necessary to have 100% jurisdictional certainty in any case. There has never been a 100% standard. The standard for contract law is 51%. If a person does not consent then he would not be apprehended by the authorities to begin with because he would not be on the property.

Remember, NAP for ancaps is based entirely on the myopic obsession with consent. I think they would concede that determination of consent is not 100% possible, so we cant really attack their system that way. What we can do is show that to enforcw consent uber alles, they must have heavy travel restrictions while heir competing agency fantasy dissappears.

Now, NAP would be violated if the person was apprehended outside of the property or smuggled inside unwillingly.

Ventura 2012

Property is whatever

an individual claims it is, until an enforcing body gives it a meaning. This requires that individuals who are in violation of that enforcing body's idea of property can be tried for breaking the rules. That requires these third parties have the jurisdiction to define property in an area. This requires that they have to be able to harm an individuals body to protect another individuals 500 acres. This is a democratic or at least governmental principle, and does not extend from self ownership. Shooting someone on your property is not self defense until you plug in a definition of property to be self defense, and NAP alone is incapable of defining property.

I haven't seen any good theories of property from the anarchists. Clearly property is what the group permits the individual to acquire on the basis of common rules, or else what the individual can hold b force, and not something that comes from nature or derives logically from ethics.

NAP says that its wrong to act with force except in self defense or in another's defense (i.e., anything else is aggression).

It doesn't grant jurisdiction to any public or private body or set a specific boundary to certainty, it offers no legal guidelines for justice.

It is useless precisely because anyone can grab hold of it and say you are aggressing against me. What then? Some group of people with weapons has to decide who is right on the basis of normal legal concepts and principles that have nothing to do with NAP and ultimately will violates it's strict letter.

If someone accuses you of being on their property, and you deny it, are you gonna submit to the jurisdiction of their private arb agency? Only if it can over power you, and aggress upon you. Not because it has proper jurisdiction. If you have your own gang on speed dial, they will fight it out, because neither one is recognized as having PUBLIC jurisdiction to decide disputes on this piece of land that one party claims is theirs.

Also, during self defense certainty is 100% possible. The parties involved and the eye witnesses are certain. But third parties coming in after the fact based on claims/accusations are not 100% certain. For their judgments to be valid or just requires a different principle, such as that there is public/group jurisdiction over all individuals when there is an accusation of criminality that passes a certain bar of evidence.

If there is a principle of proper jurisdiction, it is not going to be a hired agency by one of the victims, it will be a majority consensus of some sort in an area.

We're probably just not fully

We're probably just not fully understandi g each other, because majority consensus is exactly what the monopoly on force is. I certainly agree that NAP is inadequate but if we take it to its hypothetical best case scenario we can see it consistent with the existence of a virtual state and law.

Ventura 2012

I don't think the NAP is salvagable

It is incompatible with any system of justice if you take the wording seriously and use standard definitions. It would need to be formulated in a way that recognizes jurisdiction and defines aggression less broadly that force absent defense of bodies or property.

If NAP is true, I don't see how arrest can ever be legitimate prior to conviction. I don't see how judging a case on limited evidence can be construed as self defense. What gives a person the right to arrest or harm another person on the basis of uncertain evidence? How is that defense?

Also, if the property definition used by NAP is valid only due to majority consensus, then majority consensus can change the property definition at any time and change which contracts it decides are valid, which laws it will enforce, etc.

You're back to democracy. If the mob defines all property as public, than any law is valid, since violating it is violating the public's property rights and consistent with NAP.

Any property definition, or any morality definition

is going to require majority consensus to be implemented, regardless of its derivation. Even if you somehow prove some kind of God-derived morality, which you seem to favor, it's useless unless you get the majority to accept it. So, your claim about any property definition relying on majority consensus is essentially meaningless. Rather, the question is how do you get the majority to adopt a particular property or morality creed? Also, is consistency important? Because if the property or morality creed does not agree with self-ownership, you have some contradictions to deal with.

As for the arrest objection, NAP is not compatible with arrest prior to conviction. But I don't see this as a problem. That's how I would want things to work anyway.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

On second thought

I would have to disagree with your first statement, about majority consensus being necessary on any system etc.

A small military elite could easily implement its view without regard to the majority. That's most of history. Once the majority is whipped its easy enough to use propaganda to get its consent. People by and large don't form beliefs rationally, but based on necessity.

The majority of people in the middle ages professed to belief in the trinity, and perhaps they did. But not because that's what they concluded rationally. Same thing today about other myths like equality, justice, democracy, etc.

Contradictions and inconsistencies

are precisely the problem.

Self ownership and NAP really only justify immediate self defense. If someone is witnessing a 100% obvious case of one person initiating violent attack against another, they can try to stop the attack. But they don't actually know if the attacker is just anarchistically punishing an aggressor for his prior murder.

Self defense is obviously justified, but when you get into defense by others, and into third party armed gangs deciding guilt and innocence, then you have government by majority force.

What principles that majority use will always be based on the situation, conditions and interests of that majority. This is the root principle of justice in the world, and if its necessary for a group to commit aggression against someone who is suspected of a crime or may be carrying a plague or may be rushing to report your village location to an invading enemy, then the group will decide to commit aggression and justifiably so.

None of these ethically/apriori principles have any validity in reality. They are just customs that have developed in different conditions of life to best accord with the interests of most people, in that setting. They aren't true in themselves, they're just the best for the most people at that time and place.

That's why arguments from absolute moral oughts always fail.

You're correct that even in a world with a God, with a real moral ontology of objective rights and wrongs, built into the world and its fabric by the divine omnipotence, it would still not be clear how anyone would know this or implement it except through subjective beliefs and the use of majority force.

Preaching absolute ethical oughts may make good propaganda for non-inquisitive people, but it means nothing for the rigorous.

It's good that you admit that arrest of someone not already convicted (by who? who has jurisdiction? on anarchy, anyone can claim jurisdiction and convict another person, and anyone else can challenge it) is obviously aggression.

Therefore, the accused/suspect can always just flee to safety and not have to worry about paying for crimes.

I don't think it's clear that a lynch mob, even if it agrees on the guilt of the suspect, has a right to harm him on NAP, on the basis of an uncertain verdict. That's clearly not the same as self defense, or self ownership.

It's third party defense, based on community ownership of people. It goes right back to the group overruling the individual.


I've been sympathetic to anarchist ideas for some time - largely because many anarchists are rightly outraged by the many injustices they see carried out by government agents at various levels. But this statement sums up,what has become my biggest beef:

"A collective called government or "the State" and is designated scapegoat for all human political or social ills."

I believe people have the absolute right to be anarchists, just as people have the absolute right to form a government. It is simply freedom of association. But to blindly and simplistically blame a boogeyman called "government or the state" does not address any of the actual philosophical problems held by most people regarding individual rights. A government is just another human creation; if conceived and enacted by people who hold a poor philosophy, rights violations will result. But government is just a collection of individuals, and the minds of individuals are where our problems originate from, not some imaginary, demonic, emerged-from-the-ether "State."

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Very simple...

> A government is just another human creation;
> if conceived and enacted by people who hold
> a poor philosophy, rights violations will result.

You make this statement, and it is correct.

One can also remove some of the unnecessary qualification and it will still be correct:

Government is just another human creation conceived and enacted by people who hold a poor philosophy. Rights violations are the result.

This, of course, contradicts your earlier assertion that

> ...people have the absolute right to form a government.

Which suggests you think there is some other alternative. That is, you think people with a legitimate philosophy can legitimately give to others the right to legitimately do evil. I don't understand how that can be the case.


Yes, if you use the Max Weber definition of government, it is indeed evil and inconsistent with individual rights. But that's not the definition of government that regular human beings actually use.



": the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc.

: a particular system used for controlling a country, state, etc.

: the process or manner of controlling a country, state, etc."

There is nothing about "must be created without the consent of the governed, must violate rights, etc."

There is a reason that cities have existed historically, because people naturally migrate towards certain geographic areas to be in proximity of other people. It stands to reason, as has occurred historically, that many people will want to join together to create a system for law enforcement, courts, etc.

Whether or not anarchists think this can "work" is irrelevant. Anarcho-capitalists should certainly have the right to live in a "purely" AnCap system as well, but to deny the right of private property owners to create a city-state type organization based entirely on private property with the (literal, not theoretical or "social") consent of the governed. For one to deny someone this right is to deny their freedom of association, and an evil tyranny of its own.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

consent means no rulers

You are saying that there are three possibilities:

(1) a state which governs without consent
(2) a government which governs with consent
(3) anarchy which doesn't govern

There are really only two possibilities because options (2) and (3) are the same.

Options (2) and (3) both don't have rulers and that's what anarchy is - no rulers. Whenever you give consent, you don't have a ruler.

These are the only possibilities:
(1) rulers
(2) no rulers

2 and 3

Are not the same. A government by consent is a system to enforce natural law. Anarchy is a system with no formal law. Our current system is closer to anarchy in a sense, as the government - due to the bad philosophy of those,who support it - is a flagrant violator of individual rights.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Anarchy means without rulers

Anarchy means without rulers. It doesn't mean without law, or without formal law.

Rulers are people who are part of the institutionalization of continual NAP violations. They use threats and violence to attack self-ownership and property rights.

Whenever you have rulers, you have no law because law is supposed to apply equally to everyone. As Ron Paul said, government should never be able to do anything you can't do.

But if you consent to coercion, then it doesn't violate the NAP, just as a boxer can't sue the other guy for punching him in the face.

And the system of government by consent, is still an anarchy because there are no rulers, since it is a voluntary government where you have the choice to opt out by withdrawing your consent.

Let's ask Merriam-Webster again...

We can make up our own definitions all we want, but when making arguments it's best to use the definitions commonly accepted. Or else, what's the point of definitions?

an·ar·chy noun \ˈa-nər-kē, -ˌnär-\
: a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws.

a : absence of government
b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government
a : absence or denial of any authority or established order
b : absence of order : disorder

If you have a situation where there is law, it is not anarchy by definition. If you change the definition of anarchy to fit what you'd like it to be, then sure, you can say that anarchy is a system that has law and order.

You said:

"Whenever you have rulers, you have no law because law is supposed to apply equally to everyone. As Ron Paul said, government should never be able to do anything you can't do."

Politicians, the President, etc, are not my "rulers." I agree that when you have government than is held above the law, that violates individual rights, you have no law. That is the real anarchy. The original anarchists were communists, and their enforcement of communism was more akin to having "no law" - as in, a system where natural law is thrown out the window.

"But if you consent to coercion, then it doesn't violate the NAP, just as a boxer can't sue the other guy for punching him in the face."

You are pre-defining government as "coercion" here. But if a government is formed by say, 500 adjoining private property owners, there is no "coercion" involved. There is simply a voluntarily-formed, consensual system for the enforcement of natural law.

"And the system of government by consent, is still an anarchy because there are no rulers, since it is a voluntary government where you have the choice to opt out by withdrawing your consent."

As show by the definitions above, this isn't anarchy.

Most anarchist arguments have come from simply changing the commonly held definitions of words. But pushing "anarchism" as the be all, end-all solution to individual rights violations alienates all of those who don't necessarily want to live in anarchy, not by their definitions of it, which is understandably the commonly held definition of a system of "no law".

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*


Politicians, the President, etc, are not my "rulers."

Oh, so you consent to their threats and theft, voluntarily. Okay.