If anarchy involves the absence of government, what could be wise about that?
Note that the “absence of government” does not mean the absence of leaders or law and order. Both existed prior to modern governments and there is no evidence that they cannot exist today without them.
Ironically, there is plenty of waste, graft, violence, and destruction (what most people think as anarchy) that stems from governments. No matter who one is or where one lives, the not-so-invisible hand of government is present. Evermore, we are enslaved.
This is not about bashing bureaucrats or the military. There are good folks in government and the military, as everywhere else. Most people are good most of the time. Otherwise, social cooperation could not have driven human progress for millennia, even despite extended periods of warfare and the growth of nation-states.
This is about seeing government for what it is, to assess it as objectively as possible – to examine its foundation and organizational structure, to recognize that it is inherently flawed because all forms of government contain the seeds of its own demise. Every great civilization has perished. Barring famine or other extraordinary events, abuse of power is a recurring theme.
No government has ever contained any reliable mechanism to consistently, peaceably, and sustainably control or cleanse the accumulation of bad characters and the misuse of power. Coups, wholesale revolution, and migration have usually been the cure, but with the unwanted side effects in loss of life, liberty, and property – or worse, a total collapse of the system.
And it gets worse. Lord Acton was on to something when he allegedly observed that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This could be why governments are always growing in power, influence, privilege, and committing greater acts of waste and graft. Accumulation of the bad eventually overflows and the pain spreads.
Many industries and quasi-governmental organizations enjoy significant governmental protection and largess – finance, healthcare, energy, agriculture, and academia to name a few. Phrases like:
- Too big to fail
- Relief act
- Stimulus package
- Foreign aid (aid of any kind)
- Quantitative easing
- Target rate
should alert the public to massive preferences extended to or through the politically connected and often the “aid” fails to reach the supposed beneficiaries. These measures are always at the expense of the unconnected and those creating value through mutual consent without governmental assistance or protection – either by increased taxation (additional confiscation of earned wealth) or “printing more money” (devaluation of existing money in circulation). At heart, this is nothing but legally sanctioned theft – twofold!
Objectively, there is no justice in this system of governance. Justice is nothing, if not consistent. There is no rule of law for the same reason. To assert otherwise is pure fiction.
But should this be a surprise?
Is it reasonable to expect justice from a system of governance that is based upon force and injustice?
Of course not. But unfortunately, too many tolerate the hypocrisy and this scourge continues.
And no cop-outs. These deficiencies are not a “necessary evil” or the “price of democracy” or the “lesser of two evils”. Absolute nonsense. The state of affairs is unacceptable, if for nothing else because there is clearly a better way. But it is going to require a certain mass of folks to critically think, then stand up in sufficient concert to challenge the status quo – good old-fashioned resistance, if not revolution, just as prescribed in the Declaration of Independence.
Apparently, that is what some pundits thought of democracy during the age of the great European monarchies.
But where are they now?
So, fundamental change is clearly possible, if not probable.
We must be responsible to ourselves and our children to retain our self-ownership, to think, decide and act in ways that create and test principles to achieve more justice – and not yield power to anyone, except through consent. There is no concern for the front of a shovel when filling the back – similarly, when justice is maximized, peace and prosperity necessarily follow.
Maybe the opening question should have been: can the world survive government?
Luckily, everyone lives in the moment and has a choice, and that includes living without rulers today.
What does “anarchy” really mean?
According to Wikipedia, the Grecian meaning was “without chief or ruler”. For the French it became “without government”. A more modern definition includes “violence and mayhem” which seems to be an assumption as to what happens in the absence of government. For many, those who commit any violence and mayhem, especially in masse with political motivation, are called “anarchists”. But these are actually terrorists. A terrorist is “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
As an example of this inaccuracy, pundits called the violent and destructive rioters seen across the United States in 2020 anarchists, but changing government – not its wholesale elimination – was their political aim. They are terrorists, not anarchists.
Obviously, nobody owns language. Definitions often change over time organically or with the help of those in power or with other influences. Despite the possibility for confusion, the first meaning of “anarchy” is simple, concise, and historically appropriate for mankind’s love-hate relationship with rulers – not to be confused with the respect for natural leaders. “Anarchy” may be a provocative term today, but given our collective slumber, some historical clarification and a little provocation are in order. Plus, seeking wisdom, especially when it is misunderstood and unpopular, requires a little courage.
As counter-intuitive as the “wisdom of anarchy” may seem, if one is willing to examine and challenge many of today’s sacred cows through this libertarian perspective, an even greater realm of wisdom will reveal itself with clarity akin to revelation. Except unfortunately, it will not occur instantly. For most, unlearning dogma and related viewpoints, based upon irrational or false principles gained and reinforced over many years, will require personal motivation and the grit of extended effort. A certain unease with the status quo and the hunger to more deeply understand helps.
This site is dedicated to sparking interest and inspiration, encouraging self-education, and promoting action for the application of the non-aggression principle (NAP) as the single rule of law in governing all social and economic interaction – both locally and globally.
For the purposes of the NAP, aggression is defined as the initiation or threat of initiation of any forceful interference to an individual’s body or property, and that such action is wrong. The basis for this principle is that each person owns his body i.e., where any form of slavery is wrong. One’s body (including the mind and spirit) is sovereign relative to any other entity. Period. When laws fail to respect this maxim, injustice necessarily results.
One’s property is defined as an extension of his body when it has been acquired and is under his control without violation of the NAP. Property is acquired by either finding it (where it is not under the ownership/control of others), gift (by voluntary transfer of ownership), purchase or barter (by voluntary transfer of ownership for consideration or trade), production (by literally mixing one’s body with other property to create new property, whether making things individually or in some concert with others or otherwise using one’s body in the service to others i.e., services provided).
Shockingly, the application of the NAP necessarily results in a state of anarchy – again the absence of government – not the assumed disorder and violence thought by some to result without it – because the existence of government is founded upon force and theft of property – clear violations of the NAP.
Amazingly, the NAP allows for maximum freedom because anything is allowed that does not violate it. But conversely and almost paradoxically, it imposes maximum accountability because all violations are rooted in a person’s or group of persons’ acts or omissions.
There is beauty in its simplicity and balance, and awe in its potential to create maximum justice in its application as the rule of law.
And it gets better. Persons can voluntarily agree to modify their freedoms and responsibilities to each other to the extent that the arrangement does not violate the NAP as it relates to others outside of their agreement. This is the basis of contract law which allows for the exchange of resources that further empowers human ingenuity.
Because every service or product is made by bodies or the mixing of bodies and property, i.e., by a person’s efforts or the succession of efforts of many persons, every known human activity can be justly gauged by the NAP for the application of maximum justice.
With the death of dogma, the brilliance of the NAP shines.
But there is work. Like any law or principle, a sufficient number of people must understand and respect the NAP before any benefit may be had. And the NAP being what it is, its everyday application always remains rooted in mutual consent. Implementation cannot rely on force and intimidation without hypocrisy. Education is the only means.
That may sound like a non-starter. Although self-ownership and property rights cannot be obtained through force, they are nothing if they cannot be defended and preserved through force. And therein lies the key to expanding and maintaining the use of the NAP. But there must be momentum for its support and use. As it is adopted, the security and protection of body and property become solely the function of providers in the free market and the application of the NAP can spread.
As with any law, there will always be differences in interpretation, and the same will be true in the application of the NAP. And like security and defense services, for all the reasons previously noted, there is no logical reason that all judicial services cannot be privatized to interpret whether the NAP has been violated or a contract has been breached.
All human action can be evaluated and enforced under the NAP through free market-based services, and most easily in cases upon consensual exchange for any type of product or service which constitutes nearly all economic activity, barring markets that violate the NAP e.g., for slavery and stolen property.
The free market alone is not enough to maximize and sustain justice and all the benefits that flow from it. However, when the NAP is applied as the boundary for the free market, sustainable justice, peace, and prosperity can be maximized, and will always trend positively in the long run.
How society would operate without forced governance, within the free market under the NAP, is best described by a school of thought known as anarcho-capitalism (AC). It may also be called libertarian anarchy, market anarchism, or free-market anarchism; regardless, all are founded upon the NAP. Unlike other forms of anarchy, where there is ultimately always a small group of people in control, AC respects self-ownership and property rights and the distribution of power is maximized.
Legally and economically, these ideals are best understood and applied to human action through the study of common law, contract law and the school of economic thought known as the Austrian School of Economics. This lineage of law and economics further supports the provision for maximal choice in the peaceful creation and consensual movement of people, goods, services and ideas, subject only to the NAP.
Although perfect justice and total equality can never be had, the application of these ideas organically creates a socioeconomic environment that more justly, quickly, and efficiently self-corrects for abuse of power and undue concentrations of wealth. Thus, cultures and traditions ever trend toward greater and more sustainable justice, peace, and prosperity for all persons – all without the positive force, control, bureaucracy, lag, and hopeless centralized planning associated with any form of government. The key to creating this environment lies in achieving a critical mass of the population who understand the NAP and demand its application. At the tipping point, a government becomes helpless. It erodes and collapses because free-market participants have supplanted its relatively ineffective services. Although this event may be inevitable given the nature of the market (she’s related to mother nature), pro-action will speed the process and relieve and shorten the pain of disruption.
Critics of AC contend that it is utopian and idealistic. But to paraphrase Murray N. Rothbard, a central figure in the development of AC, what is utopian and idealistic is believing that government can centrally plan and provide for the nearly endless needs and desires of constituents in increasingly pluralistic or diversified societies. All government – not to be confused with the services of governance – is the single greatest threat to humanity. It is literally socioeconomic cancer.
In all forms, government based upon force (subsisting from the force of taxation) is inherently unjust and hypocritical. Even democracies, while often deemed the best form of government, still suffer from this fatal flaw. They may even be more detrimental to society over the long run, given that the revolving door of political offices fails to incentivize long-term planning, all while the underlying bureaucracy expands its power and expense.
As history has demonstrated in the rise and fall of past civilizations, government as a form of human organization, when based on force, has always been and will continue to be a hypocritical and unsustainable venture. A deeper examination of logic and history shows why AC must be the foundation of any just effort for fundamental change – not more rules and certainly not more government.
Fortunately, due to entrepreneurial advancements in technology such as the decentralization in knowledge (internet resources and libraries), communication (internet, cellular and satellite systems), energy (distributed renewable energy such as geothermal, solar, wind), and money (cryptocurrencies), more people will better physically, mentally, and spiritually understand the fallacy of all governments and how the application of AC through the NAP would result in the most decentralized and sustainable system of governance where both individual choice (freedom) and responsibility (accountability) are simultaneously maximized; and by extension, the well-being of society as a sum of its individuals.
Clearly, mankind has not only survived without government but has significantly evolved in spite of it. Only individuals can think, feel, decide, and act, whether alone or in concert with others, regardless of the type of entity through which they may work. With the exception of the ruling class, government hinders the expression of everyone’s unique abilities. If there is to be a level playing field, no government can exist.
And in reality, there is no government per se, only individuals acting through its fundamentally unjust structure. Dismantle government and there can be no special interests or preferential treatments along with the disproportionate distribution of wealth. A true and just meritocracy would arise where monopolistic and oligopolistic players can never last for long.
Aside, many ignorantly call the current U.S. economic system capitalistic. When it is in fact, if not ironically, it is socialistic and at times fascist (think executive orders terminating continental pipelines and other unilateral decrees). Unlike other “isms”, capitalism happens naturally, with or without government, as a result of changes in individual time preferences for the use of human resources e.g., money (in whatever form) – whether to spend or invest one’s capital today or to spend or invest it at some point in the future. It is about how and when one uses his resources – one’s property – nothing more or less.
Socialism and fascism are simply variations in a smaller group of persons, who cannot possibly embody the knowledge within the marketplace, disproportionately imposing their necessarily deficient knowledge and self-interest upon others through the force of government – and without any effective non-violent checks and balances – this structure always ultimately begs for revolution. The degree to which capitalism currently operates exists at the pleasure of our socialistic rulers and functionaries i.e., those operating through government. Do not confuse capitalism with crony capitalism. The latter is simply the special interest of socialism.
Regardless that some forms of government may be better than others, the overwhelming and undeniable evidence proves that all government has failed and will continue to fail its constituents. Although everyone is born into this bondage, people live in the present, and it is incumbent upon each person to understand and implement worthy and consistent principles that improve ourselves and our relations with each other to enhance our individual physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, and by summation that of society. This is the wisdom of anarchy.