“Anarchy is all around us. Without it, our world would fall apart. All progress is due to it. All order extends from it. All blessed things that rise above the state of nature are owned to it. The human race thrives only because of the lack of control, not because of it. I’m saying that we need ever more absence of control to make the world a more beautiful place. It is a paradox that we must forever explain.”
“Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
-Etienne de La Boetie
Many goodhearted people confuse anarchy with mayhem; they fear it causes widespread violence, blood, guts, and grenade explosions. They believe total freedom imposes dog-eat-dog and all-versus-all, and that it injects the vilest form of social Darwinism into the community, leading to pandemonium.
The media pelts unwitting viewers with images to advertise this hell. Broadcasters portray punk-rock kids wearing Mohawks and jumpsuits. These punks wave black flags and carry bomb-filled messenger bags. They prepare to hurl Molotov cocktails through grandmother’s window on a moments notice.
Educational institutions, court philosophers and government authorities paint anarchy under the same damnable light. They speak of early humans having been embedded in a wild and anxious state of nature, where lawlessness descended into law of the jungle, and mobs engaged in desperado style brawls and gunfights. As a result, rulers and court intellectuals urge citizens to accept Leviathan to defend against this scourge of human nature.
Today, well-meaning people continue to mistake anarchy for bloodshed, disorder, and chaos, but this is opposite of truth.
The truth suggests that anarchy is for lovers.
Anarchists oppose strife and disorder. They shun fighters and bomb-lobbers. They disavow warmongers. They loathe slave-holders and tyrants. Instead, anarchists champion peace, nonviolence and prosperity. Anarchism represents the sine qua non of human decency and freedom; and because anarchists promote such civility, this article intends to combat incorrect assumptions about anarchism, provide refutations to common arguments, and dispel old and tired propaganda
Anarchy means “without rulers.” It comes from the Greek, An: without,and Arkhos: chief or ruler. It simply means no masters. No tyrants. No rulers. No government.
Some believe anarchism denotes “without rules.” This is false. Rules always exist in society, within the market place, business or personal home. Anarchism just describes the absence of violence-happy authority.
Many people compare anarchy to a political system but anarchism opposes systems. People do not implement anarchy.They do not place a key in an ignition, rev and start it. Nor does it require men, thousands of miles away, writing laws and ordering men to cage and kill other men. Anarchy simply means freedom from institutional violence.
Spontaneous order develops as a natural consequence of this freedom. It suggests self-organization, or order out of chaos. It refers to people’s tendency to cooperate without central planning. Spontaneous order states that the human organism will act according to its will, and civilization and ‘rules’ will emerge as a result.
An article from the Economist eloquently expressed spontaneous order:
“What it means to say that an order is spontaneous is simply to say its stable macro-level patterns—those things that make a complex system a system, an instance of order rather than disorder or randomness—do not come about through design, planning or imposition, but arise instead from the interaction of micro-level elements operating according to certain basic principles or rules.”
With knowledge of these self-organizing principles, there is no need to implement systems of governance and force people to behave in specific ways. People are capable of handling their problems and lives by choosing who they associate and work with.
To impose government on total freedom, then, is to force artificial restrictions on human action, subvert peaceful people and rend apart voluntary association. Obstruction of liberty means to jam the gears of humane, prosperous, loving, and forward-moving societies—but before people accept this, they must disabuse themselves of the erroneous belief that anarchy equals mayhem.
People must submit themselves to the peace blooming inside what they mis-perceive as unchecked chaos, and allow themselves to see truth of the anarchist love for liberty.
Following are the common arguments marshaled against anarchism and their refutations, which will help clarify the position.
Government apologists claim human nature undermines anarchy by turning the world into a Mad Max and the Thunderdome bloodbath, but if human nature forces people into violence, then no hope for individual choice of peace and love exist. Yet many people prefer peace over war, love over hate, nonviolence over violence and morality over immorality.
This suggests that peace or violence reflect opposite points of “human nature.”
People are not preprogrammed robots. One cannot argue that all humans commit violence, because many commit good; one cannot argue that all steal and kill, because many choose trade and love; one cannot argue that all want government, because some do not. Human’s exhibit unique personalities not all geared toward destruction and death. Committing violent or peaceful acts are independent choices. They are not preordained. People are conscious agents with the elbow room for free will.
In addition, arguing against anarchy using the human-nature-equals-violence argument implies blind faith that a group of men have moral perfection. If men instead possess moral imperfection, and they gain power, this status gives them access to an unlimited supply of armies and weapons. Then they strive for the subjugation of humanity.
If evil humans desire to command power, an intelligent society would never relinquish its strength and weapons to these psychopaths at the expense of the many.
Similarly, people often forget nurture and focus on nature when thinking about the consequences of anarchism,but nurture and nature work together. Biologists refer to this as epigenetics of gene expression. The environment switches genes on or off.
For example, alcoholism may crop up in a person if they associate with people who drink, use drugs, or gamble. However, just because a genetic trait exists does not imply submission to that trait. Human psychological nature is not ironclad. It is malleable. It changes based on environmental stimuli.
The University of Utah website says this about epigenetics: “The genome dynamically responds to the environment. Stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors activate chemical switches that regulate gene expression.”
From this knowledge one draws the conclusion that human tendencies shift according to nurture and development. Humans express either violence or love according to their surroundings, which implies that anarchism does not automatically devolve into madness and chaos. Instead, society organizes according to people’s individual choices, and will be both good and bad, with people solving problems of their own volition.
Those seeking to discredit anarchy go on to say, “We need government to protect us from murderers and robbers.”
This argument misses key points besides being contradictory. For instance: merchants and philanthropists do not run government. The people in authority do not rely on business exchanges or charitable donations.
Government consists of people with a monopoly on the illegitimate use of violence over a geographical region, which suggests that they take their earning by brute force, rather than as a gift or through trade.
If governments use violence to accomplish goals, it metes out social justice in the same way as street gangs. Governments fail to protect and defend people from criminals, and instead commit criminal acts against everyone, everywhere. The following question captures the argument from protection, “how can the State protect people from murderers and robbers when it is itself made up of murderers and robbers”?
The obvious answer is that it cannot and will not.
“Under anarchy the poor and impoverished suffer the most due to disorder caused by freedom, since no one will help them, because everyone is greedy,” argue the communists.
This position devalues the fact that people organize regardless of government. Voluntary association and cooperation bud in the absence of political power. Goodwill and philanthropy remain an integral part of group dynamics. Charity does not vanish under freedom, and it may multiply, because people no longer have their earnings extorted.
Already—without government—millions benefit from the generosity of kind people. To say that the poor and infirm continue to suffer is to say that people are incapable of helping. This argument suggests that without authority people suddenly become less philanthropic, that people need a gun to their head in order to share. More frighteningly, this position means only the angelic men of political power maintain the ability to aid the suffering; but governments consist of criminals, not angels.
Thus, no sane person appoints them to care for the meek. Doing this would be like asking Jeffrey Dahmer to house-sit children or run a nursing home. True concern allows voluntary, peaceful, and free people to network and use their skills to care for the impoverished.
This occurs through charity and charitable organizations.
An article from Huffington Post discussed novelist J.K. Rowling’s donations. The article explained that Rowling lost her “billionaire” status by giving 160 million dollars to charitable causes. She accomplished this without a gun pressed against her temple.
The above example shows that people are capable of kindness and love without the threat of violence against them.
Argument, Counter-Argument 2
Another common argument from well-meaning peoples goes, “In the absence of Big Brother roving bands of gangs rise up and rule everyone, therefore abolishing government would be detrimental to society.”
If government amounts to a group of violent criminals, then the fear that violent criminals might take over comes across as illogical and circular. Using this argument would be like saying if people abolish slavery, it would return a decade later. If people remove an inflamed appendix, it will grow back and become inflamed again. If people eradicate human sacrifice it will resurface tomorrow, on and on ad nauseum.
No one dying of cancer opts out of surgery for fear that the cancer might return, especially if undergoing the operation might save their life. No one worries about imagined consequences if they benefit from an immediate action. No one allows a violent, immoral group of tyrants to continue ruling on the irrational fear that more will crop up in their absence.
The aforesaid complaint reeks of Stockholm syndrome, and does not constitute a valid argument.
In addition, if a moral action faces a practical one, the moral action takes priority because the “practical”one results in evil. Too many people fall for the charm of “practicality,”because it appears logical even though choosing it allows for certain death,enslavement, rape, robbery, and genocide—all opposite of love and morality engendered by anarchy.
For instance, some believe owning chattel during the 19th century was a matter of practicality, and simply releasing slaves would have been impractical because it would have caused economic ruin to the southern States.However, if people adhere to practicality, regardless of the truth, they de facto advocate slavery, which is an unacceptable position for decent, moral people.
When freedom-advocates argue for total liberty, liberty-haters often say, “Move to Somalia if you do not like it here.”
These folks assume that Somalia imitates an alternate-dimension wasteland, like something out of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.They assume violence and bloodshed have arisen out of the stateless environment, and Somalians murder each other for control of people and property.
In reality, the Somalian government collapsed due to inherent corruption and instability. In the aftermath, gangs murder each other to regain that power, but not because anarchy molds people into killers, but rather lust for political power lures and charms sociopaths.
If anything, the “argument from Somalia”validates anarchy.
The Somalia problem demonstrates that people go great lengths to gain political pull and that assaulting and murdering highlight these lengths. Thus, if the idea of government-as-necessity turned into a myth, the roving gangs would be considered criminals rather than aspiring politicians and leaders.
To characterize the situation another way, American politicians are the kind of people who murder and pillage for power. They resemble the kind of people who are roving through Somalia attempting to impose their will. This state of affairs does not bode well for the defense of political authority, and sends most honest people running to the commode to vomit in disgust.
In addition, although gang warfare consumes Somalia,the private sector blossoms. Outside of rampant gang warfare, the market thrives. The standard of living continually increases and cost of goods and services continually decreases.
Robert P. Murphy wrote a brilliant article entitled Anarchy in Somalia that referenced these statistics in 1996:
Life expectancy – 46 years
Birth rate – 46
Death rate – 19
GDP per capita – $210
Infant mortality. – 116 deaths
Safe water – 35%
Adult literacy – 24%
Index 2011 (or latest)
Life Expectancy – 50 years
Birth Rate – 44
Death Rate – 16
GDP per capita – $600
Infant Morality – 109 deaths
Safe Water – 29%
Adult literacy – 38%
Some statistical problems exist.Access to safe water decreased, which implies a number of unconsidered variables. Birth rate declined, which is ambiguous. The overall stats, however,showed that society does not crumble in a state of freedom. Civilization grows and begins to prosper. This represents spontaneous order rising from the muck of Statist violence.
For the Love and Truth of Anarchy
As with Somalia,when people think “anarchy” they think “chaos,” but anarchy drives people forward. Government stays out of many areas of people’s lives, allowing them freedom to make decisions. Sadly, people revile the idea of anarchy and label it dangerous and evil anyway.
Stefan Molyneux expressed this fear, “We love the anarchy we live, and fear the anarchy we imagine.”
Molyneux was right.
Every time people brush their teeth, watch television, go for a hike, cook hamburgers, or make love, they are living anarchically. Everyone enjoys intimate time with their spouses and lovers; everybody embraces freedom to join a chess club, bridge club, or Toastmasters; everyone chooses their work and career path; everyone places emphasis and pride on their hobbies, tastes, likes and dislikes with minimal government involvement.
Where Big Brother abstains, anarchy flourishes.
Condemning anarchy means condemning peoples own lives and decisions. Shunning liberty means supporting sociopaths,warmongers, slave-holders and tyrants. It damns humanity to the uncivil ghost town of oppression, and denies the compassion and cooperation rooted in mutual respect and love; it ushers in the blood and bombs everyone fears.
Ideas of anarchy fester with images of mayhem, blood and bombs, due to the Utopian dream of the centrally planned society,which rests on the notion that with enough threats and guns, social bliss unfolds and blooms like a flower.
The truth contradicts this idea.
Truth exposes the fact that human happiness, kindness, equality, and freedom correspond to the individual’s ability to live his own life, unburdened by controls and threats. Freedom is not the ugly state of nature revealed by the tyrants and control freaks; freedom answers why so many people are trying to gain as much wiggle room in their lives as possible, and why many have turned their backs on government.
Lovers thus value anarchism because chaos and violence represent the opposite inclination of love, which is hatred.
People must steer clear of hatred for the future’s sake. If the responsibility gifted by freedom fails to take hold,the consequences bear hardest on the children, who represent everyone’s appreciation of liberty, since the lovemaking that produces children occurs in a state of pure, uninhibited, and raw anarchy.
Goldberg,Eleanor. “‘Forbes’ Billionaire List: JK Rowling Drops From Billionaire ToMillionaire Due To Charitable Giving.” TheHuffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 July 2014.
Molyneux,Stefan. Everday Anarchy.N.p.: Freedomain Radio, n.d. Print.
Murphy,Robert P. “Anarchy in Somalia.” -Robert P. Murphy. Mises Institute, 30 June 2011. Web. 30 July 2014.
Rose, Larken. The Most Dangerous Superstition. United States: S.n., 2011. Print.
University of Utah. “Epigenetics.” Epigenetics. University of Utah, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014.
(originally published on The Art of Not Being Governed)