Enjoying The Deep End question from "Does Anarcho-Capitalism Allow..."Submitted by farmer on Sat, 07/05/2014 - 08:18
Enjoying The Deep End asked a question here:
With a little rephrasing, it's a really interesting question:
"What is the fewest number of people among whom the idea of government can exist?"
Can it be two? Three?
I don't know the exact answer, but at least I can explain why it's a difficult question, and I think I can give, perhaps, a rough estimate.
It's related to a very important question: What is the minimum number of people required to produce a self-sustaining economy?
This question includes many "hidden" questions. What is the level of technology for that society? What are the external challenges from which it must defend itself?
In any case, this second question is related to the first because in order for government to arise, you need an adequate economy to support a parisitic ruling caste.
An immediate corollary is that you won't have it with two people, or three. You need more people than that just for the economics. In any case, we can see this confirmed. It is difficult to recognize any society with fewer than (at least) dozens of people in which the idea of government would be recognizable.
With smaller numbers of people (say dozens), some peculiar circumstance is also required. You either need some kind of residual inherited tradition of rulers---i.e., it doesn't arise naturally, or perhaps the condition could be religiously induced. Even the oft cited case in which one person enslaves another, there is no question about what is happening. The slave, nor anyone else, has any delusion about legitimacy.
And this is really the defining characteristic of government. You need enough separation between the ruling caste (or some other peculair circumstance) for at least someone to think the enslavement of the ruled by the rulers is legitimate.
I'm pretty sure you can have a vibrant economy with 5000 people, and therefore the possibility of government entering the minds of some will definitely be a danger. If there were no prevailing psychosis, i.e., if these 5000 people were the result of an intentional anarchist expansion, it would probably still be very unlikely that the idea of government could/would arise in a society of 5000 people.
With 15,000, there might be enough separation/lack of interaction that some will contrive to enslave others with some claim of legitimacy. Even then, I don't think it would be likely to arise "out of the blue."
While 5000 and 15,000 are certainly plausible numbers, the root cause in most cases of this magnitude, i.e., county "government" is probably due to tradition.
That probably doesn't give a minimum number. Given a strong source of apriori delusion, you might be able to have "government" in a society with 50 or 100 "primative" people. Of course, in this case, there is a good chance that the idea will quickly destabilize and destroy such a small society.