Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Is anarchism "feasible"?

On his blog yesterday, Tom Knapp offered one of the best responses I've ever heard to the frequent (and tiring) charge that anarchists "have not articulated a feasible alternative" to the State. In response to limited-government advocate Robert Bell, Tom writes:

"If the state had to pass the same test for 'feasibility' as anarchism, Bell would find it a failure as well. In case nobody's noticed, the state hasn't eliminated violations of rights -- or proven equitable in remedying them. It hasn't eliminated crime, it hasn't eliminated poverty, it hasn't eliminated inequality, it hasn't eliminated war, it hasn't eliminated violence, it hasn't eliminated any social problem, and in many cases it has exacerbated or even embodied those problems. So to object to anarchism on the basis that it can't wave some sort of magic black flag and make all the bad things go away does not constitute a reasonable argument in favor of the state. It's not like anarchists are asking people to give up something that's been successful in favor of something that hasn't been tested. The whole point of anarchism is that the state hasn't succeeded in addressing human problems and that it has often been the cause, or at least a cause, of those problems."

13 Comments:

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Waumpuscat said...

The psychopaths, the fools, the rent seekers, and the easily bored people will overthrow, if that is the mot juste, any society enjoying the bliss of anarchy. A single generation should suffice. Mankind's societies are rendered tolerable by systems of status hierarchy, which, delightful paradox, limit conflict. But conflicts there will be, even with relative opulence displays, potlatches, and murders (or at least homicides). NEW SOVIET MAN and NEW ARYAN MAN should warn us against NEW ANARCHIC MAN. Man is a social, political, reasoning, lying, and grasping animal (when God is ignored). Take him as he is, YES; but bind him by laws which he chooses to make himself.

 
At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Tom Ender said...

Laws made by "psychopaths, the fools, the rent seekers" ? Does "laws which he chooses to make himself" include the ones in place in the USA today? How is a phrase like "laws which he chooses to make himself" interpreted or implemented?

There is no utopian solution with no problems available. The real question should probably be: "Why give a monopoly on force to any single group of people?"

 
At 8:43 PM, Anonymous waqumpuscat said...

A monopoly of force is not "GIVEN"! It has always been seized by various combinations of force and fraud. Madison's Constitution allocated the employment of lawful, lethal force to three entities: 1) These United States, 2) The several States, and 3) the Sovereign People. The Sovereign People have conspired with their Elected Servants to divest themselves of that most splendid and noblest attribute of Sovereignty: The uncontested right to employ lawful and lethal force. Their wrists extended as supplicants, the People begged for their fetters, and Freedom was diminished yet again. Is Heaven an Anarchy, populated with angels and souls suffused with bliss? My understanding is that it is a totalitarian dictatorship presided over by a Perfectly Benign Deity. Why do human beings find this arrangement so congenial? Is it because Mankind is FALLEN?

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger psyren said...

Dude!! Cool blog!! I totally agree, if only anarchism was feasable.....

 
At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Sunni Maravillosa said...

Anarchy is feasible; as this Butler Shaffer essay shows, much of our day-to-day doings are anarchic and voluntary in nature, rather than governed by the state's heavy hand. (For more lucid writing on this subject, here's Butler's essay archive at Lew Rockwell.com.)

The question may be more one of scalability of an anarchic society, rather than feasibility. But I'd be willing to deal with that challenge as part of bumping the nation-state out on its sorry ass.

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Waumpuscat said...

Anarchy is feasable IF the society thus UNgoverned could contrive to strangle in their cradles those babes who will grow up to become the antisocial predators who will batten on the toil and flesh of the vastly greater number of decent folk. But who will decide the fate of the lovely babies? Would Plato's Wise Men be invoked? Then will the seeds of Oligarchy be sown. People are different by Nature, although Nurture can enforce some changes in behavior, for good or ill. The people who inhabit the Anarchy Models are Statistical Men, as was New Soviet Man. The 20th Century was the time of Force, when Real Human Beings were to be turned into Men suitable for inclusion in the elegant Models. It did not work, although Force, without stint or limit, was employed. Model Building is intellectual fun, but Actual People must live in a Real World of other Human Beings, all of whom are imperfect. Even Thou! And, mayhap, I too!

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

Waumpusat, it appears to me that you're going on and on about the infeasibility of anarchism without having read any of the essays or posts recommended here. You certainly haven't addressed any of the arguments made by those authors.

 
At 2:59 PM, Anonymous waumpuscat said...

I address the arguments posted on the site. Any other method of disputation degenerates into the hurling of revealed truths and quotations across hollow canyons of doubt and mistrust. I repeat the QUERY: Who will strangle those babies in their cradles?

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

You have NOT addressed Tom Knapp's arguments, which prompted my initial post. Rather, you set up a straw man (the suggestion that New Anarchic Man must strangle select babies in their cradles). Knapp wrote, and you can find it ALL at his blog (link above): "It is possible, even likely, that society will never achieve perfection and harmony...but just because life's going to include miseries, that's no reason [to] heighten those miseries by enshrining them in permanent, monopolistic form. Better to face the possibility of devils we DON'T know than to interminably entertain and humor the devils we do."

Fact is, throughout history, the State has routinely "strangled babies in their cradles." Again, I urge you to read and address the points specifically made by Knapp.

 
At 5:49 PM, Anonymous waumpuscat said...

Any system of general social control that does not control the wicked people in society will leave the decent folk at the mercy of thugs and hooligans. Magistrates, however chosen or whatever they are to be called, will ultimately gain, over time, sufficient power to fasten a despotism onto the decent folk they are charged with protecting. The advocates of Anarchism chooses to ignore this deficiency in their models. It becomes a political system suitable for angels. The best becomes the enemy of the good. Behold the debasement of Madison's Constitution, which was the finest political work of man's rational imagination. We inhabit its ruins.

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

Tom Knapp posts a response to "waumpuscat" on his own blog (knappster.blogspot.com/2005/06/word-gets-around.html), but allow me to quote part of it here:

"One of the commentators over on Wally's blog ... seems to think (definitely my terms, not his, and definitely an extrapolation) that an anarchist society wouldn't develop its own inertia, and that nascent statism within that society would magically accrue momentum instead of having to work for it. For obvious reasons, I disagree. I think that if we ever get the ball rolling toward elimination of the state, it will happen fairly quickly...and that once it's expended its potential energy and come to rest, it will be just as hard as -- maybe even harder than -- statism to dislodge."

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger psyren said...

Wow, i've started me a little agrument here with lots of big words flying all over the place!

Well, you can cout on me to be in the revolution!

As the great Zack de la Rocha once said:

Why stand on the silent platform,
Fight the war,
Fcuk the norm!

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger psyren said...

Well, you can count on me to be in the revolution! Any chance of starting one in the UK to?????

Psyren

'Welcome to my dreams of anarchy'

 

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