Peace Requires Anarchy

Dispelling the Myth of Violent Chaos with the Truth of the Free Market

3 Comments

One of the most common objections people make regarding a free market anarchist society is that such a society would be violent, chaotic and lawless. As economist Bryan Caplan writes in his Anarchist Theory FAQ, “The most common criticism, shared by the entire range of critics, is basically that anarchism would swiftly degenerate into a chaotic Hobbesian war of all-against-all.”

Economist Robert Murphy, in his article But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over? writes, “On two separate occasions in the last couple of weeks, people have asked me a familiar question:  ‘In a system of “anarcho-capitalism” or the free-market order, wouldn’t society degenerate into constant battles between private warlords?’”

Caplan and Murphy are two people among many market anarchists who have attempted to dispel this myth. Unfortunately, most people remain apathetic and thus go on believing that monopoly governments are “good” and “necessary” institutions despite the countless evils that each and every one of them have been responsible for throughout history. Most people imagine that there is no alternative to government that can be peaceful, orderly, and just. They falsely presume that Society Without a State must be violent and chaotic when in reality observation of The Anatomy of the State reveals that this is the nature of societies ruled by governments, not the nature of societies with voluntary, consensual (and thus necessarily anarchical) social orders.

Unfortunately, most people don’t care enough about peace, justice, and prosperity to bother doing a little reading and thinking, to bother paying attention to the thinkers before them who have already shown the myths to be false, beginning with Gustave de Molinari who first described in 1849 how market mechanisms could lead to the production of “governmental” services of security and justice in a free society and continuing ever since with people like Robert Murphy who continue to show today how The Market for Security is an efficient, just and realistic alternative to the coercive monopolistic governments that necessarily violate peoples’ rights rather than secure them.

If only people cared, the world would be a far better place. As abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison said in 1831, “The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.”

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Author: PeaceRequiresAnarchy

“A consistent peace activist must be an anarchist.” – Roderick T. Long

3 thoughts on “Dispelling the Myth of Violent Chaos with the Truth of the Free Market

  1. Pingback: There Is No Right to Education « Peace Requires Anarchy

  2. Interesting post. I don’t think it’s a matter of “caring enough to do a little reading” that is keeping people for embracing the idea… to be fair, if what you suggest has any merit, it is counter-intuitive, so few would independently pursue the model; just about every anarchy around (e.g. Somalia) kinda sucks IMHO. If you wanted to help things along, you should do more than cite a few “economists” and “thinkers” and provide the logical construction of such a society. Maybe an FAQ?… How would property rights be protected? How would you conduct a transition from the current structure to the one you propose without precipitating a Soviet Union-type collapse (currency inflation, breadlines, power grabs, deepening polarizations of rich and poor, etc.)? Any examples of how this works, or is this a “sounds good on paper” model like communism that depends on humans being “decent”?

  3. Hi John, thanks for the comment.

    If I recall correctly, I wrote this post when I was feeling frustrated (that’s almost always a bad idea, I think, but I posted it anyway). I was frustrated because I had encountered many people who dismissed anarchism offhand without doing any reading–even a short Wikipedia entry–to understand it. As I wrote in the post, they believed (as they had been taught by popular culture) that anarchy meant disorder and violence. However, when I disagreed and said that a society without a state could be peaceful and orderly, and when I cited various economists’s essays supporting that claim, they didn’t even bother to look at the sources. They just essentially said, “Eh, I don’t care. I still disagree.” How could anyone possible persuade them to adopt anarchist views (or any different views for that matter) if they don’t care enough about having correct views to even bother understanding views different than their own?

    So while I do agree with you that for some people it’s not just “a matter of ‘caring enough to do a little reading’ that is keeping [them from] embracing the idea [of anarchism],” I do still believe that for these specific apathetic people who refuse to make any attempt to understand or refute anarchist views, that it *is* the fact that they don’t care to learn about anarchism that is keeping them from becoming anarchists. There may be other reasons as well, but this reason alone is enough to keep them from ever becoming anarchists.

    “to be fair, if what you suggest has any merit, it is counter-intuitive, so few would independently pursue the model”

    I agree with this. There are so many different people in the world with so many different political views. I don’t think that people are obligated to spend a significant portion of their life looking into each of them to see which they agree with and which they don’t agree with. That said, whenever someone presents a political view different than your own, you can’t just say “You’re wrong.” Rather, you have to offer a reason why you believe their view is wrong. That’s how proper debates work. Someone makes an assertion and backs it up with an argument and the other person is supposed to either concede the point or make a counter-argument (not just a counter-assertion). Either that or admit that they don’t understand their opponent’s position well enough to debate it.

    “provide the logical construction of such a society.”

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by the “logical construction” of the society. Although, if other libertarian anarchists have already done this, isn’t it okay for me to just refer to their work rather than take the time to write it all out again myself? So for example, I could provide a brief summary of this “logical construction” and then say, “for more details, see this famous work on the subject.”

    “Maybe an FAQ?”

    The second link in my post is an FAQ: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm . And it turns out it is a great FAQ, because it addresses all 4 of your questions that you asked in your comment:

    “How would property rights be protected?”

    See this part of the FAQ: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm#part10

    “How would you conduct a transition from the current structure to the one you propose[...]?”

    See this part of the FAQ: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm#part23

    “Any examples of how this works?”

    See this part of the FAQ: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm#part17

    “is this a “sounds good on paper” model like communism that depends on humans being “decent”?”

    See this part of the FAQ: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm#part21

    Thanks again for your comment.

    Will

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