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The Case Against the State - Anarchy, Not Chaos

October 21, 2009 - 8:00am
Nick Coons by Nick Coons


"Anarchy" is a highly misunderstood term, and is often used interchangeably with the word "chaos", though their meanings are quite different. "Anarchy" simply refers to a stateless society, a society without government where all human interactions occur voluntarily instead of by institutionalized compulsion.

(And before you compare your relatively luxurious existence in the United States or some other first-world country to that of the average Somali, do a little research and learn how much worse Somalia was when it had a government).

The objection that most libertarians have to a completely stateless society is that they believe the government is the only one capable of providing very basic services, like police, national defense, and courts. While providing excruciating detail of how these services may be provided sans government might be fun, it's outside of the scope of this article. What I'd like to point out to libertarians is how we are often on the other side of the table. For instance, when talking to someone about abolishing welfare, we're often asked how the poor would be taken care of. Standard answers include options such as private charity, and lax government regulations allowing them to gain employment where they couldn't otherwise. The typical response to that is a demand for details. How do you know charity will take care of everyone? How will it happen? Answering these questions amounts to predicting the future, and it simply can't be done with any accuracy.

But we do know from experience that the free market does everything better than government. There has never been a case where the free market provided a service, and was taken over by the government only to find that the service improved. Likewise, there has never been a case where government provided a service, and it was turned loose to the free market where the quality of the service declined. The free market, very literally, does everything of value better than government. The empirical evidence is overwhelming, so much so that it can reliably said that everything the government currently does, including security and dispute resolution, will be handled better by the free market. The public sector has given us no evidence that it provides these services well, nor does it act as some sort of necessary glue holding society together.

Not being able to predict the future ("how will security and dispute resolution work without government?") is not a case for keeping the government, any more than it is a case for maintaining the institution of slavery. When slavery was on the cusp of being abolished, there were likely people who wondered what would become of former slaves. Their masters fed and clothed them. How would they eat once they were freed? Would they find jobs? Would all of them find enough work to make enough money to eat? How can you know for sure?

Answering these questions would require a crystal ball. But they're completely irrelevant, because the issue is not in the effect of abolishing slavery; it's in the morality, which is something that we can and do know in advance, because morality is a universal. Slavery is wrong; this is a moral rule, and it is the only thing we need to know if we are going to discuss whether or not slavery should exist. The free market will allow freed slaves to get jobs and benefit from being free, and so history shows us that this was absolutely true. It's amazing how society as a whole prospers when we abolish something that we know to be evil, even if we can't predict the exact path prosperity takes us.

Likewise, governments around the world are responsible for the vast majority of all violence. The institution of state power is evil, as it attempts to create virtue out of acts of aggression.

How can we prevent such acts of evil by thugs in the absence of a state? The short answer is, "better than in the presence of a state." If society is unenlightened and morality misunderstood, the presence of government does not temper evil, it amplifies it. In a statist society, those hungry for power will seek out institutions like government in order to put their desires into practice behind the protective wall of the state.

If you believe that all human interactions should be voluntary and not compulsory, if you believe in the non-aggression principle, then the only logical conclusion is a stateless society; free market anarchism.

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Related Content:

The Case Against the State - Logical Contradictions - Nick Coons
The Case Against the State - Libertarian Morality - Nick Coons
Is Barack Obama Just a Smarter George Bush? - Jim Iannuzo

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