Shamelessly ‘ripped’ in its entirety from The Art of Not Being Governed …
Republished here for the enjoyment of readers whose brains have not atrophied.
“Anarchy Can Never Work”?
Written by Robert F. Eschauzier.
Semantic precision – for the purpose of this post, “anarchy” means a complete absence of coercive rulers; “social good” means a beneficial economic or social result for ALL participants in a given transaction or activity.
Frequently we hear statists proclaim that anarchy can never work. Let’s give that some thought.
For starters, they invariably neglect to define that term as they understand its meaning. The implication that must be drawn however is that they view anarchy, not as defined above, but as just another political system like democracy. The thought that anarchy, since it involves no ruler(s), is in fact the absolute opposite of a political system never seems to occur to them.
The idea that anarchy should or could somehow be made to work (or not) is utter nonsense. Anarchy is best described not as a working system but as a “state of being”. A society or division of labor process that is in anarchy is in constant spontaneous flux. Its observable rate of change takes place at such a rapid rate and with such near infinite numbers of variables and combinations as to be impossible to catalogue, let alone be managed with any justifiable confidence in the outcome.
Then there is another conveniently overlooked question. To what ends any social “system” is supposed to work is never spelled out or discussed. If asked, they will respond with such vague collectivist bromides as “why, the common good, of course”. When one probes, “for the common good” always means “for the majority” and thus is not “common” at all as it excludes (victimizes) the “minority”. A logical fallacy if ever there was one.
As Leonard Reed’s brilliant 1958 essay “I Pencil” illustrates, even something as apparently simple as making it possible for you to buy a pencil involves voluntary cooperation between countless individuals and groups spread out over vast geographical distances with constant micro adjustments to myriads of changes, all in such numbers and at such velocities as are only possible in near complete anarchy. In defiance of this, there have been and continue to be many well documented attempts by the operators of collectivist nation states to (coercively) manage these processes. All have failed miserably if their goal was to improve the process.
Another interesting and completely overlooked aspect of the story of the pencil to which can be added countless others such as fashion design, religious congregations, work tools, scuba diving, cell phones and GPS devices, to name just a few random examples, is how these processes and activities exist and flourish in comparatively high (not complete) states of anarchy. The significance of this becomes especially apparent when one observes how processes and activities which have been co-opted by the state and no longer exist in a meaningful state of anarchy have in the most extreme cases been severely corrupted and/or rendered near dysfunctional. “Licensed” taxi services, “public” education, major transportation, the automobile and healthcare industries among many others, come to mind.
So far we have focused primarily on empirical observation. This analysis would be incomplete however without also examining the case for anarchy from an “Austrian” perspective, which demands that one set aside all empirical evidence in favor of strictly logical proof. What can be logically deduced without difficulty is that only voluntary non-coercive interaction (possible only in anarchy) between people or groups can be undeniably beneficial to ALL participants, thus producing social good as defined above.
CONCLUSION: The degree of social good derived from a transaction or social process is proportionate to the degree of anarchy in which it exists. One can therefore propose to define a positive law of social causality. I shall call this the Law of Anarchy, which states that “Any given division of labor or other advanced social activity will produce the highest degree of social good if it takes place in the greatest possible state of anarchy”.