Friday, October 14, 2005

Questions on Anarchy

Once again I had started writing an e-mail to DD and then decided that I would make it into a blog post instead. This one is about anarchy.

I have been inspired by an article I just read called Defining Anarchy by Mark Davis over at Strike The Root.

The article very clearly explains that:
Anarchy is freedom;
Chaos is not anarchy; and
Chaos is the result of statist-government failure.

The writer deftly uses the situation in post-hurricane New Orleans to illustrate his points. It is a strong and clearly written essay.

But I still have a problem with the concept of anarchy. I have been totally convinced for a long time that our system of government does not work – that is the easy part. Where I am still skeptical is not being sure about how people would behave if they were suddenly truly free.

My first questions for anarchists then are these:

Is there any kind of theory or are there any potential plans that have been prepared for when we rid ourselves of centralised government? It seems to me that there will be a lot of people who will not have any idea what they are meant to do. I feel like I am missing something on the practical side.

Does an anarchist society presuppose that the majority of people are inherently good/moral rather than merely law-abiding?

I have more questions, of course, but I would like to start here. You do not have to be an anarchist to offer an opinion. Thank you.


Devastatin' Dave said...

Max said: "Is there any kind of theory or are there any potential plans that have been prepared for when we rid ourselves of centralised government? It seems to me that there will be a lot of people who will not have any idea what they are meant to do. I feel like I am missing something on the practical side."

As far as theory, I would refer you to Rothbard's For a New Liberty and The Ethics of Liberty. Also, try Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed. As far as potential plans, there wouldn't be an overarching plan in an anarchic world. You can't plan for 6 billion people. Each person would plan for themselves. If there are a lot of people that wouldn't know what to do with themselves, then that is just a sad commentary on the philosophical state of humanity. Not only do you need to want to be free, but you also have to take the responsibility of being free.

Max said: Does an anarchist society presuppose that the majority of people are inherently good/moral rather than merely law-abiding?"

It presupposes that man, by his nature, is free and should live his life as he sees fit.

Devastatin' Dave said...

When the Eastern Bloc countries began to free themselves from the Soviets, there were areas where sectarian fighting and disruption occurred. Some bemoaned this and yearned for the old days of Soviet control because "at least the Soviets kept the peace." The best response to this was a quote by George Reisman - "It was the peace of cowards and slaves."

Monkey's Max said...

DD, I knew you would say exactly that about a plan, but you do know that loads of people are not prepared for real freedom. I am not arguing from a philosophical or belief-based perspective on this point. This is a pragmatic question.

For example, what will single mothers on welfare do? Are we to assume that their communities will somehow look after them? What if their communities are projects in Detroit?

DD, I am with you on the freedom thing, but I think you have dodged my question. I don't mean to make you alone responsible for providing me with answers, but I reckon you can do better than that.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Did I dodge your question or not provide the answer you were looking for?

No one will stop you or anyone else from helping the single Mom or those in the projects in Detroit. Religious organizations, fraternal organizations and private charities will evolve to help the less fortunate, just as they have in the past. It's funny that those that advocate taking money from some(taxation)to give to others(redistribution)balk when faced with the prospect of personally having to take action on their beliefs instead of using a bully in DC to do it for them.

As for the multitudes that "aren't prepared for real freedom," well, they'll have to learn. Those that choose not to are welcome to form communes if they so choose.

By the way, why can't a "philosophical or belief-based perspective" be pragmatic?

Skeeter said...


I agree with DD about all those things, with the one difference being No Government or Government question.
My interpretation of the Anarchists is that because government's behave badly, they wish to "Abolish" governments (question for DD to follow).

I have a reference for you Max...Ayn Rand "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" Chapter "The Nature of Government".

Do you mean to abolish all levels of government (no state or local), or just centralized or federal governments?
If all governments is your answer, then you would get rid of all laws laid down by said governments, correct?
Did you ever see "The Jack Bull" with John Cusak? That is the perfect example of Anarchy in my opinion.

Devastatin' Dave said...


Yes, all. Your assumption is that laws, necessarily, derive from government. Anyways, why does civilized behavior need to be codified? Yes, most of the present law would be abolished. How many laws do you need? Don't kill, don't steal, don't initiate force against another...Never seen "The Jack Bull," so can't comment on it. By the way, Randians are not anarchists, they are min-archists.

Skeeter said: "My interpretation of the Anarchists is that because government's behave badly, they wish to "Abolish" governments (question for DD to follow)."

Anarchists want to abolish governemnt because it is nothing but force and the believe that it is not proper for man to live by force.

Monkey's Max said...

DD, I did not mean to say that a philosophical or belief-based system cannot be pragmatic. It is just that while I understand, and agree with, the philosophy (or theory, if you prefer), I am still trying to come to terms with its practical application.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it does seem to me that in your answers you are presupposing that most people are good or moral or ethical, or however you want to define that. And maybe they are, it's just that I don't know.

Skeeter, thanks for the references.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Anarchy is a means of social organization. It doesn't profess to be Utopian or to solve the problems and injustices of the world. I do believe that most people are good, but that is the realm of ethics, not anarchy.

"I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Monkey's Max said...

DD, did you know you can download Rothbard's For a New Liberty for free?

Monkey's Max said...

...and The Ethics of Liberty too:

Monkey's Max said...

Review of Hoppe's book:

Devastatin' Dave said...

Yes. They're both in my collection, so I never had the need to download them.

Monkey's Max said...

Well then, you could have told me. But then again, I am self-reliant (in spite of my princess post) and found them myself.

Skeeter said...

DD said:

..Anarchy is a means of social organization."

What organization? It seems like every man and woman for themselves.

I know Randians are not anarchists, thats why I gave the reference to MM...the yin to your yang you empty headed animal food trough water. :)

You ask why does civilized behavior need to be codified? Its not for the likes of you or me, it for everyone else and its not for saying murder is wrong or stealing is wrong, its for whats to be done after that happens and it will happen. Its for the little disagreements that blow up in to big disagreements.

Now you say "most" of present laws would be abolished..which ones and who decides? You? Me?
I thought Anarchy was dealing with every person on an individual basis.. So why aren't all laws abolished?

Devastatin' Dave said...

Skeeter said: "What organization? It seems like every man and woman for themselves."

Voluntary organization as opposed to forced. You're starting to sound like Al Gore.

Moses codified law for the Hebrews. It was religious rather than governmental and those that didn't want to follow Mosaic law were free to leave.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Scenario in anarchic world...

Random man thinks that because there is no government he can commit murder. He attempts to kill Devastatin'. Devastatin' puts the smackdown on him because he knows murder is wrong. Case closed.

Skeeter said...

Scenario 2 in anarchic world...

Random gang with guns stop Devastatin' Dave in the street and proceed to put a smackdown on him and kill him because there are no cops, no laws, and no one will stand up for Devastatin Dave even though DD knows murder is wrong because no one wants to be killed by said random gang.

Skeeter said...

Scenario 3 in anarchic world...

Devastatin Dave finds himself tied up and gagged like Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames in "Pulp Fiction", and then Zed comes in and Bufu's Dave, while Dave cries and cries and cries like a little girl

Devastatin' Dave said...

It's sad that you wouldn't stand up for me against the gang. Hmmmm....Anyway, that could happen to me today in a non-anarchic situation, so what's your point?

We have laws on the books right now and there is still crime. Crime, or lack thereof, is not a function of how many laws are on the books. It's a function knowing right from wrong. All the politicians in the world won't change that, especially since they are some of the biggest criminals.

Devastatin' Dave said...


I realize you can't conceive of a world without politcians. Just because there would be no government police services doesn't mean the private sector wouldn't provide it. Hans-Herman Hoppe has written on the private provision of defense services. You're still thinking inside the statist box.

Skeeter said...


First of all I would of course stand up for you...that's a given. I happen to live in Tennessee and you live in Colorado, so I can't stand up for you is my point. And practically speaking, it's not so easy for a gang to do that to you now...the thought of getting caught, the thought of jail time, do in fact inhibit crime..that's a fact.

Also my point is there is no reprisals other than vengance. As it stands now the gang breaks the law they are arrested, prosecuted, thrown in jail. With anarchy there are no reprisals other than vengance. What can I do as a friend of yours? Hunt the gang down, and make a citizens arrest and throw them in my basement? Is it OK to kill them for killing you?
What if they just beat you up, is it OK for me to beat them up after the fact, assuming I'm not there at the time? Wouldn't that be initiation of force?
What if it was the wrong gang? or person..maybe you didn't get a good look at them and it was dark.
The police and courts are given that power and responsibility by the people to investigate crimes and prosecute the offenders.

On the other hand, whats to prevent someone from accusing you of commiting a "crime", (anarchy doesn't have "crimes" per se, because there are no laws, because there are no politicians, but..) whats to prevent someone from exacting vengance upon you, unjustly?
With anarchy do you have some laws or no laws or what? I feel like you haven't answered my question yet. You always throw out the "I can't conceive of life without politicians" line. Well the legislature sets the laws.

Maybe I can't conceive of life without politicians, but I can conceive of a free society with government... If Jefferson believed it could be so, so can I.


Thanks for the opportunity to speak on this subject

Monkey's Max said...

Skeeter and DD

Thanks for an enlightening discussion.

Devastatin' Dave said...

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."

Below is a link to a list of books on anarchocapitalism recommended by Hoppe. Specifically, see the book by Bruce L. Benson, The Enterprise of Law.

Devastatin' Dave said...

Crap, here's the link...

Monkey's Max said...

Wow, DD, looks like a great list. At least in the sense that there is enough there to keep us all busy for a long time.


Audie said...

DD said: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."

Aud says: "Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

Good discussion, boys and girls.

Skeeter said...

LOL Audie