As of now I am a self-proclaimed minarchist. I am, however, constantly adapting my views in accordance with ideas which I believe to be most conducive to a lasting environment of personal liberty, i.e., I'm open to the plausibility of full scale anarchism if its endurance or stamina can be adequately defended. This is the main reason for which I do not fully consider myself an anarchist. History has shown that man always tends towards some sort of authority. While anarchism is undoubtedly the best means by which men can most efficiently and indiscriminately achieve all earthly ends, given our nature, can it ever exist for more than a fleeting moment? Further, how does a group of men, which in the case of anarchism is not really a group but rather, various individuals, defend thesmelves from those who do not share their same beliefs? Would their military capabilities not be sufficient to adequately defend their way of life? I no longer question whether spontaneous order is most conducive to material ends but the very definition of anarchism seems to deem itself incapable of maintaining its own spontaneous order for any prolonged period of time. Anarchism only seems truly plausible in an instance where all men understood its benefits and thus, would abstain from trying to destroy it. Such an instance does not seem feasible deeming anarchism untenable for any sustantial period of time. These are conclusions which I have merely drawn on my own and are by no means set in stone. Further, I have not yet read the work of Rothbard, that of which ostensibly provides the best defense for a throughly anarchical society. I intend to do so but in the meantime I was curious as to what self-professed anarchists have to offer.
As an offshoot of the former proposition, and in relation to the latter half of the title, I am curious as to what response the following question will generate; namely, is there any conceivalbe way by which men could form a society where by freedom of all individual men would be maintained for a prolonged period of time (at least 1,000 years)? The creators of the constitution were perhaps most successful with comparison to all others, but as we have witnessed, even their efforts were quite easily manipulated, being used to actually increase the size of the state. Thus far I have not encountered any plausible solution, and as far as I am aware, nor have all men. Is it simply not tenable?
So your question seems to be about the sustainance of an anarchy and the possibility of one coming into existance to begin with. A few points:
1. Even if we admit that an anarchy is not infinitely sustainable, this would not therefore be a good rationale to keep currently existing states in place. This would be no better then argueing against the abolition of slavery on the grounds that slavery has a long historical precedent and it may not be possible to completely get rid of it in one swoop. Anarchists tend to see the state similarly. Furthermore, any idea can be unfairly shot down using the rationale that it has not been fully implemented yet. The free market has certainly never been fully implemented to my knowledge (sure, we have some examples of extremely polycentric systems from the past, but they usually fall a bit short of an anarchy). That's no reason to necessarily view it as an impossibility.
2. In many ways, society already is in a state of anarchy. This is true (1) as a relationship between citezens, given that the a good chunk of our everyday activities are anarchistic in that they are voluntary and there is no 3rd party "ruler" determining them; this can be seen in everything from friendship to dating to going to the bar (2) as a relationship among members of the government, because the rulers have no rulers and therefore the state is an anarchy internally and (3) as a relationship between national governments, because there is no complete monopoly on law, security or arbitration over the entire world; consequentially, nation-states are in a state of anarchy with respect to eachother. See Afred Kuzan's work "Do We Ever Really Get Out Of Anarchy?" for more on this.
3. In the spirit of La Boetie, the state fundmentally thrives on the passive resignation and ideological support of the masses. If the populace was not spoon-fed reverance for government since birth, anarchy would come much more naturally I think. People essentially have nationalism instilled in them from birth. So if anything, I don't think that the state is sustained through some natural tendency of people to want domination or to dominate others so much as the fact that they are socially engineered to ideologically accept the state as such. The formation of a state in a society full of people who have no been previously "educated" to think one is necessary is not as easy as one may think. If anything, the fall of states is an inevitable phenomenon, while during the initial period in which a state comes into existance it's exploitive nature is much more obvious in the eyes of the lay public. It is not until generations and generations have passed, once a state already is in place, that the public is simply "born into the system" and it seems natural to them, as if this is how it always was and has to be.
4. On the other hand, I do not think it is valid to argue that anarchy requires a unanimous public opinion. People can disagree about a lot of things in an anarchy - an anarchy, in my view, is a pluralist society by definition because free association between individuals implies the co-existance of different preferances for voluntary association and organization. There is no reason why people who have different beliefs or personal preferences need to monopolistically impose them on eachother. They can disassociate and engage in free competition. In the absence of a state, there is no monocentric institutional framework by which people can monopolize their preferences.The socialists can have their socialism, so long as they don't force me into it. The primitivists can go live as hermits in the woods for all I care, while I enjoy modern civilization. The racists can attempt to have an ethnically exclusive or pure community if they want, although I think they will be outcompeted in the long run and be shooting themselves in the foot economically, and I think that the natural course of both social and biological evolution will lead to intensified integration.
5. There are many reasons behind my assertion that the fall of states is inevitable. For one, entropy, in that all systems are ultimately reduced to their component parts. There is no such thing as a permanent institution, governmental or otherwise. The world is dynamic. The larger something is, the harder it will fall. And states engage in economic meddling that may very well be fatal to their own existance in the long-term. They may destroy the source of their supply and stretch their power too far and wide to the extent that the state is no longer sustainable. Furthermore, technological progress and the market itself hampers and outpaces the state. The more information there is, and the more wide-spread and complex that it is, the harder it is for the state to adequately determine and plan anything, and the harder it is to control public opinion. When the market can produce cheap grain for the masses, what point is there to have the state raise grain? Well, this applies to everything else as well. As the market itself continues in a dynamic process of weeding out inefficiency, the same principle is at work in the provision of security and arbitration. Basically, social evolution makes the state more and more useless and archiac over time.
Adam Smith considered it a given that certain things (roads, bridges etc) would have to be supplied by a state apparatus. So a society without a central government was just not practical, for this reason. However, technology has moved along, and things which weren't practical as private for-profit business in Adam Smith's day are popping up as private businesses today. For example most actual policing, in the form of protection of person and property, is done by private security, these days.
This is a form of ratcheting which is in the opposite direction to the steady increase in the size of the state that is seen starting around a century ago. We are now in the middle of a process where we pay ever increasing amounts of tax for ever decreasing supply from the state. We pay tax for a service, don't get it, and have to pay again (to the private sector) if we really want it. There is a Steven Wright joke about him buying batteries at a store; they weren't included, so he had to buy them again. We are living that joke in real life.
So how long will this go on? People object to paying twice for everything. The servants of the state are going to hang on as well as they can. This is not a stable situation. A society with a central government bigger than it clearly needs to be is less stable than most, I would think, and technology is reducing the size a government needs to be all the time (even if it hasn't reached size zero already).
Brett_McS:Adam Smith considered it a given that certain things (roads, bridges etc) would have to be supplied by a state apparatus. So a society without a central government was just not practical, for this reason. However, technology has moved along, and things which weren't practical as private for-profit business in Adam Smith's day are popping up as private businesses today. For example most actual policing, in the form of protection of person and property, is done by private security, these days.
I see this more as an area where Smith's reasoning was in error, an article of faith which he did not fully examine, rather than a case of it being true then but less true due to technology today. If large works such as roads or bridges are unlikely to be provided privately, it's more likely because the State has largely squeezed out private competition in certain fields, and thus in time people have been conditioned to expect the State to provide them, not because there is any barrier of natural law preventing private cooperation, or even because of any natural disinclination of self-interested individuals to large-scale cooperation. In point of fact, there were many privately owned and operated roads in early America.
edward_1313:I'm open to the plausibility of full scale anarchism if its endurance or stamina can be adequately defended.
edward_1313:...how does a group of men, which in the case of anarchism is not really a group but rather, various individuals, defend thesmelves from those who do not share their same beliefs?
In reply to both of the previous statements, I recommend The Anarchist Alternative at the following link:
edward_1313:is there any conceivalbe way by which men could form a society where by freedom of all individual men would be maintained for a prolonged period of time (at least 1,000 years)?
This question begs the imponderable. What human alive today can expect much more than 100 years of life? Learn Self Government and how to Free Yourself and live as free as possible for the remainder of your life. Teach your offspring how to do the same.
Pondering a 1,000 year Reich or 1,000 year free society burdens the individual mind with what is completely unrealistic because there is absolutely no way to obtain it, nor verify beyond one's own life that it is still working.
"To desire freedom is an instinct. To secure it requires intelligence. It must be comprehended and self-asserted. To petition for it is to stultify oneself, for a petitioner is a confessed subject and lacks the spirit of a freeman. To rail and rant against tyranny is to manifest inferiority, for there is no tyranny but ignorance; to be conscious of one's powers is to lose consciousness of tyranny. Self government is not a remote aim. It is an intimate and inescapable fact. To govern oneself is a natural imperative, and all tyranny is the miscarriage of self-government. The first requisite of freedom is to accept responsibility for the lack of it." - EC Riegel, 1949.
edward_1313: As an offshoot of the former proposition, and in relation to the latter half of the title, I am curious as to what response the following question will generate; namely, is there any conceivalbe way by which men could form a society where by freedom of all individual men would be maintained for a prolonged period of time (at least 1,000 years)? The creators of the constitution were perhaps most successful with comparison to all others, but as we have witnessed, even their efforts were quite easily manipulated, being used to actually increase the size of the state. Thus far I have not encountered any plausible solution, and as far as I am aware, nor have all men. Is it simply not tenable?
States may exist within anarchy. In an anarchical system, man is free to join with his neighbor to hire or provide governmental services. We live in a state of anarchy right now. So the question is not, how can anarchy be? But is instead, given that we live in anarchy, what form of government will be most natural.
No different from capitalism. All humans are capitalists. It is the nature of humans to be capitalists. So the best form of political system is one that works with, rather than against, human nature. We live in state of anarchy, so the best political system is one which works with, rather than against human nature.
As far as a 1000 year Reich, there is no way to ensure a 1000 year rule, because we live in a state of anarchy. At any time, men may bind together to destroy any form of government they wish. Anarchy is not a government, it is the nature of humanity.
The political and economic systems that allow human nature to naturally exhibit itself are Federalism and capitalism, two sides of the same coin. Federalism is the equivalent of political capitalism - exactly the type of political and economic system embedded in our traditions, the US Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. The Declaration of Independence is true by default; our Rights are inalienable. The US Constitution is the specific document that creates our government, but it does not protect our Rights - that is a facade. Our Rights are inalienable. We need no document to allow us to act toward our Liberty. We can act to secure our Liberty without government grant - because we live in a state of anarchy.
Does this make sense? Human life is anarchic and capitalistic. Political solutions will be stable to the extent that they work with these facts. All political solutions are artificial and temporary, but human nature is not. The pace of change speeds up with the increased ease of the distribution of information. Remember - the Revolutionary War happened only yesterday. In fact, anarchy may interfere with the development of a sustainable form of political and economic freedom indefinately. But every iteration in the process leads to greater freedom. It is two steps foward, one step back. We are taking a backward step after the huge leap made by our forefathers.
Live your life; make your will known; fight for what's right. I have chosen to bring down our State through my lack of tax payments. I earn very little, and I do it intentionally. I could make much more, but I find my tax dollars spent for immoral purposes. I hide; I hide my identity; I accept welfare; I undermine the State; I break no laws; I don't contribute; I vote for socialism; I know it is wrong, but I want progress; and I know progress comes from anger; I undermine the system; but you don't have to; "you can go your own way". If you are an anarchist, you will accept that you have no control over my 'contribution'. If you are a minarchist, you will believe that public law can destroy my inalienable Right to legally undermine the system. Which is it?
waywardwayfarer: Brett_McS:Adam Smith considered it a given that certain things (roads, bridges etc) would have to be supplied by a state apparatus. So a society without a central government was just not practical, for this reason. However, technology has moved along, and things which weren't practical as private for-profit business in Adam Smith's day are popping up as private businesses today. For example most actual policing, in the form of protection of person and property, is done by private security, these days. I see this more as an area where Smith's reasoning was in error, an article of faith which he did not fully examine, rather than a case of it being true then but less true due to technology today. If large works such as roads or bridges are unlikely to be provided privately, it's more likely because the State has largely squeezed out private competition in certain fields, and thus in time people have been conditioned to expect the State to provide them, not because there is any barrier of natural law preventing private cooperation, or even because of any natural disinclination of self-interested individuals to large-scale cooperation. In point of fact, there were many privately owned and operated roads in early America.
We must never fall into the trap of saying that technology makes anarchy possible. If we cannot prove that anarchy is a universally (in space as well as time) valid system of justice, we will be trapped by gradualism.
Historically, even in periods of anarchy, roads and bridges were produced by land-owners. These land-owners were expropriated by the state or became the state over time, and then later were overthrown and replaced by county and municipal governments.
The problem of land ownership is the crucial debate that must make up the first line of offense in favor of liberty. If you lose that, you will never get people on board.
The fallacies of intellectual communism, a compilation - On the nature of power
See, for example, Roderick Long's "Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections" and "Anarchism as Constitutionalism" (it consists of several blog posts in conversation with Robert Bidinotto; I think that's the right link, but I'm not sure since I'm on a work server that blocks all sorts of potentially distracting websites and blogs).
Yours in liberty,Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista UniversityWebmaster, LibertarianStandard.comFounder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com
Inquisitor:Stranger is right - whilst technology may make the move to anarchism easier, it must not (wrongly) be seen as what will ultimately make it work.
According to objectivistcenter.com, professors Roderick Long and Tibor Machan are publishing a new book called Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? William Thomas will have an essay in the book entitled "Objectivism against Anarchy." While this debate is ancient to both libertarians and Objectivists, it seems it simply will not expire. However, for those of you new to it, I can assure you that the case for anarcho-capitalism over limited government has been made, again, and again. Free-market anarchism would be more efficient and cheaper than minarchismFree-market anarchism is more efficient than minarchism because of the coercive monopoly dilemma. Government, big or small, is defined as a coercive monopoly on the use of force over a given geographical territory. A monopoly is an enterprise that has total or alomost total control over production and distribution in a single industry or field. A market or non-coercive monopoly is an enterprise that achieved its monopoly status through non-coercively outcompeting its competition in the free-market place, i.e., by offering better goods and services than its competition and by offering those better goods and services at lower prices than its competition. A non-market or coercive monopoly is an enterprise that achieved its monopoly status by legally outlawing any competition, and backing such outlawing legislation with the use of force.Under free-market anarchism, the only monopolies permitted would be market monopolies. Under minarchism, there exists a single enterprise which holds a coercive monopoly on the use of force over a geographic area. This logically leads us to deduce that free-market anarchism would be more efficient than minarchism because market monopolies are inherently more efficient than coercive monopolies and free-market anarchism is the only system that would abolish coercive monopolies while minarchism is a system that institutionalizes a coercive monopoly.Market Monopolies vs Coercive MonopoliesMarket monopolies are always more efficient than coercive monopolies because market monopolies have an eternally stronger incentive to be more efficient than coercive monopolies. That incentive is market competition. Competition is defined by the Austrian School of Economics as rivalrous behaviour. The free-market abolishes all forms of initiatory force, so the only rivalrous behaviour permitted on the free-market would be non-coercive behaviour. When rivalrous behaviour is regulated by the free-market, it remains non-coercive, so than outcompetition on the free-market can only be done by offering customers better goods and services at lower prices.Under free-market anarchism, competing protection agencies would have to offer customers betters services at lower prices in order to survive and earn a large share of the defense market. They would be legally unable to physically force customers to patron their services so they would have to resort exclusively to reason and persuasion. Such agencies under anarcho-capitalism would have to persuade customers to purchase their services by making their services more attractive, again by offering more services at a greater quality and at a lower price than the competiton. Each protection agency, by continually offering more services at a greater quality and at a lower price in order to beat the competition would end up lowering costs, increaseing variety, increasing quality services, and ultimately increasing the standard of living. Because of the self-interest of competing agencies to survive, flourish, and eliminate the competition, society would reap social gains. This is called the market competition incentive.The incentive in the free-market is to continually advance economically because a failure to continually advance economically, a failure to offer more services at a greater quality and at a lower price, would represent a failure to offer customers better values than the competition. A failure to do so would ultimately translate into joblessness as consumers would only patronize those firms that offered them the best services. Consumers, after all, are selfish and moral too and they want the best bargain and quality services they can find. They will only buy from those enterprises that cater to their demands, and cater to them best. This incentive is what encourages continual advancement in an economy.Even market monopolies are encouraged to continually advance by the market competitive incentive because under a free-market, anyone has the right to compete with anyone else in any field. When it comes to justice, under anarcho-capitalism, anyone has the right to compete against anyone else in the provision of law enforcement and military defense, provided as long as they do not violate the individual rights of anyone they deal with. If a market monopoly were to exist in providing justice, any other enterprise would still retain the right to compete with it provided that no one violates the individual rights of anyone. In this case market monopolies would still have to continually innovate and offer better values to customers because the threat of new entrants would never cease.No such market competitive incentive exists for the enterprise of justice under minarchism. A coercive monopoly on the use of force over a given territory has no market competitive incentive to continually advance, to innovate, and to explore. Competition is legally banned in the provision of justice under minarchism so the central government feels no market pressure to improve services or lower costs. Ultimately, the market competitive incentive works by emitting a non-coercive pressure, a pressure that brings with it the message "advance or cease to exist." Under minarchism, this non-coecive pressure is forbidden by legislation. Thus, since the market survivial of a central government is not threatened, since no competitor could legally exist to offer better services at a lower cost, there exists no significant peacetime incentive to innovate or lower prices. Thus under minarchism, justice services are less efficient and more expensive than they should be.Standard Objectivists have attempted to counter the above arguments by holding that their governments would be voluntarily financed and that an inefficient and expensive government could be overthrown by the populace in favor of an efficient, cost effective government. However, with a coercive monopoly on the use of force over a geographical territory, how could the populace know whether an Objectivist government were efficient and cost-effective enough?Under free-market anarchism, the populace would be able to easily gauge how efficient and cost-effective a competing protection enterprise was by analyzing its proformance against other agencies and by analyzing trends in its profits. Under, minarchism, no such information is provided precisely because no other enterprise would be allowed to compete with the government. There would exist no standard of evaluation to evaluate the government's performance. Objectivists say that the standard for evaluation of a government's performance is the protection of individual rights, if individual rights are protected or not. Yet rights are not simply either protected or not protected. There are levels of quality in protection. The inability to determine the proper levels of quality rights protection plagues minarchism.Under anarcho-capitalism, the public could be easily assured that competing protection agencies would be at their most efficient and would offer the highest quality service because of the market competition incentive. Under such a system, the most efficient firms would be at the top. Under minarchy, the government would just be.
libertarian: Inquisitor:Stranger is right - whilst technology may make the move to anarchism easier, it must not (wrongly) be seen as what will ultimately make it work.
I think technology would make anarchism harder. Early in the primitive hunter-gatherer stages, anarchism works perfectly. But as technological innovation increases, anarchism would become increasingly more and more difficult to sustain. Technological weapons are being invented every second that can conquer the world. New forms of weapons are much more powerful than previous weapons. Therefore, a slightly more powerful weapon invented has the ability to out compete all of the other weapons.
Anarchism works in the primitive and egalitarian hunter-gatherer-stages because there is no technology. All people have roughly equal physical force. Therefore, other people would easily punish a disbehaving individual. But for technological weapons, new inventions are much more powerful force than slightly older ones. The barriers to entry for a new weapon to invent is very high, so the nation that contains the most powerful weapon would have the ability to conquer the world. (such as atomic bombs) Americans first invented the atomic bomb, so theoretically it can conquer the world. If Germany first invented the atomic bomb, then they would definitely form a global government.
Nuclear-armed states make it so that two people have to turn the key to launch a nuke. The problem being they do not trust a single person with this kind of power. The existence of powerful weapons does not make the state possible. There is no weapon powerful enough to sustain one man's rule through force. There must always be an organization of men to wield these weapons, and such an organization is sustained not by technology but by ideology. They do what they do because they are absolutely convinced it is the right thing to do.