Anarchy with non-aggression?
Aren’t they mutually exclusive?
Strictly speaking, no.
Lets look at anarchy. Remember etymology class or perhaps you took Latin?
Like many words, phrases, philosophies and -isms of just about any kind, interpretation can vary widely. The same is true for anarchy. However for the purpose of this website, anarchy shall mean its more historical definition:
“without rulers” i.e. absence of government which results in a stateless society but not necessarily one without rules – government and law are not one and the same.
Anarchy shall not mean what is often incorrectly assumed to occur in the absence of government – chaos, violence and mayhem which is how the word seems largely used today. Perhaps it is unwise to fight the trend, but in this original light, anarchy is a very powerful, provocative and efficient word.
When combined with a largely mutually agreed principle that serves everyone’s interest and accountability most equally, it tends to connote nearly infinite and organic creativity, greater responsibility, and maximal sustainability than what is otherwise possible where governance is founded upon force. As such, the word anarchy is irresistibly simple and accurate.
As alluded above, a stateless society does not necessary mean a society without laws. Government, law and order are not synonymous or even interdependent. Law and order, like language, have been around far longer than the modern nation-state. They exist in their own right. Governance is a service like any other service imaginable. Like the creation of all products and services, governance can only be effectuated by individuals. Only individuals think, decide and act, regardless of the type of organizational entity from which they act. This should give us a clue as to why life without government is very possible and advantageous to all, but I digress.
Like anarchy, non-aggression means different things to different people, but there is a principle regarding non-aggression which actually drives why anarchy is absolutely necessary for the best possible degree of justice, peace and prosperity. It is called the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) – for more information click here – and basically states that one can do anything one wishes as long as he doesn’t threaten or commit harm to the body or property of another.
Pretty simple, right? I would say beautifully simple.
But as with any law or principle, implementation can never be perfect, yet there is a certain fundamental accuracy in this principle that pervades basic human nature if we are consistent in how each of us would like to be treated and then in seeing others equally treated pursuant to the rule of law. And even though many cultures, faiths and traditions do not recognize such consistencies and equality, it is still the most basic social foundation to communicate and learn if we are all to otherwise practice what we wish to believe and do, whatever that may be. If that foundation can be understood and respected by more people than not, then resolution to a host of local and global problems will be better solved.
Inextricably, the NAP is the fabric of a free, healthy, accessible and productive social, economic and political order – a system which inherently and most quickly self-corrects. The only problem is that because government exists upon a foundation of force, it violates the NAP by its very existence. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the NAP necessarily manifests a condition of absolute anarchy.
Still you may ask, how will society govern itself?
Who will make the rules?
Enforce the peace?
Put out fires?
Manage the roads?
Defend us from terrorists?
The answer: by and large, the same people who do so today.
Remember, it’s not the government per se which provides these services, it is individuals. Government is merely the organizational framework through which these particular services are currently provided. Assuming that there is in fact a demand, or degree of a demand, for such government-provided services, the NAP by default also results in a free market which provides the same or better in appropriate quantity and quality. The free market must trend toward greater customization, efficiency and customer satisfaction. As the government inherently violates the NAP, it is also mutually exclusive of the free market. Government exists and operates by force; a free market, by consent. Like pregnancy, there is no in-between. The market is either entirely free or arbitrarily obstructed in varying degrees by force. That obstruction necessarily relates back to government.
Furthermore, justice, whether social or the good old fashioned kind, requires the best consistency possible, not arbitrary exceptions. Because government is largely exempt from its own laws, it cannot mutually exist with the highest degree of justice. In its creation, government results in a minimum of two unequal classes of citizens; simply put, those who subsist through consent of the market and those who subsist through the force of government. Force and consent are mutually exclusive. These two classes, for which as long as there is government, will always create a condition of inherent and fundamental injustice within society.
Since government is synonymous with hypocrisy, it is constantly sowing the seeds of its own destruction – always trending toward more arbitrary action, social disruption, war and narrower distributed prosperity until finally it collapses. I suspect that this maxim weighs heavily in the rise and fall of all known civilizations. Government only survives by value created through the market i.e. taxes and then printing or debasing currency (counterfeiting); despite legal sanction, both are purely theft. As noted, through the millennia, civilizations and their governments have come and gone, but the market, however partially or intermittently restrained, has remained ever present and constant.
The takeaway? The freer the market the better.
What’s the most free market? One without government …but not law and order.
In sum, the NAP provides for the greatest degree of human expression within the boundaries of the greatest degree of accountability. Only the NAP and its manifestation as the free market in a condition of absolute anarchy can sustainably provide for maximal entrepreneurialism with maximal accountability to better solve any problem, including law and order, where greater justice, peace and prosperity can be achieved for all persons.
Where do we start?
To objectively face the hard and deeper reality of what government is and is not; then to take responsibility for this fact, to learn, understand and communicate the NAP to as many persons who may have an interest. Once a critical mass of adherents has been gained, better lives will follow.
Note: The views expressed are solely the opinion of the author.
Conceptual credits: Murray N. Rothbard
Image source: iStockphoto.com and Wikimedia.org