What is Anarchy? According to dictionary.com, Anarchy is:
1. a state of society without government or law.
2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
4. confusion;chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.
So let’s look first at what anarchy is not, or more specifically what parts of that definition are not exclusive to anarchy.
Political and social disorder due to the absence of government – Although I agree that anarchy is political disorder, since politics, namely a political body cannot exist under anarchy, social disorder is not a unique descriptive characteristic of anarchy. There are numerous examples of societal disorder that occurred with a political or governmental presence and many were caused by the existence of government. From wars to natural disasters, many societal upheavals are possible even in the presence of the State. Saying that lack of government control causes social disorder is like saying that obesity is caused by a lack of vegetables on your diet. Yes there can be a circumstantial relation but it is not a causational relation. Obesity is caused by excessive caloric intake in relationship with the amount of energy expenditures. Social disorder is not caused by lack of governmental control but by lack of social order. Specifically a lack of order within the individuals that compose such society and the cultural norms accepted by the individuals in the society.
Confusion; chaos; disorder – I don’t think so. All those are present in Statist societies, see Chicago, Illinois or Juarez, Mexico, as well as stateless societies, see Somalia.
So what is Anarchy? The lack of a State. Notice I did not say the lack of society, culture or rules, I said the lack of a State.
So what is a State?
At its core, a State is a small group of people that retain a monopoly on the legal use of violence in order to control a larger group within a geographical area.
So, and I can hear you asking already, how can you have a society, culture or rules without the State? You have this now! It exists today. Where? Look at the mirror. You are in essence the best example I can give you of a Stateless society. From when you wake in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night, your whole life is lived based on societal rules that you voluntarily adhere to. You get dressed in the morning because the weather makes it impossible to walk around naked. And even if you lived in a tropical paradise, your local community would shame you into dressing appropriately. No need for the State or the threat of violence, just the mere rejection of your local community is enough to convince you to behave a certain way. You go to work and follow dozens of rules and dictates from your superiors. No State force here. You can choose to not follow the conditions of your employments but, your employers are free to not pay you and ask you to leave. You buy lunch or dinner and you have a myriad of choices to what and where you eat. No one has dictated what you will eat, you chose freely from what was available. Even the value, to you, of the available products dictate the availability of such products. If a local lunch place charges too much, you go elsewhere. If enough consumers do so, the lunch place either lowers its prices or goes out of business. You drive home in a car you chose into a house you bought filled with furniture you chose. At no point in your day did you need to interact with the State. True, you might have been bothered by the State, and very likely were. From traffic lights to speed traps to workplace rules to a myriad other annoying little things and large freedom robbing events, your interaction with the State was not one that was needed by you but one that was initiated by the State. And for all this, what did it cost you to support the State?
Lets ignore for now the loss of freedom, entrepreneurial power or wealth that was destroyed by the State or the loss of potential wealth. Let’s focus for now on actual visible costs. I will use my case for this conversation and you are free to adjust your costs accordingly. I pay and effective 17% annual income tax rate to the federal government. Add to that a 7% or so Social Security/Medicare. Plus 8.5% sales tax and about 2.5% of my after tax salary in Property Taxes. I will not even try to count the additional hidden taxes included in the price of all consumer goods since it would take a much larger tome to calculate it. So let’s say, to keep the math easy, that I pay about 25% of my income in taxes to the State. That means that for 3 months of the year I worked for the State. One fourth of my productive life was plundered by a small group of people that claim I must provide them with my money. For what?
Well, let’s see. About half of that money goes to provide money to those who refuse to work. Whether they are retirees or welfare dependents, they are receiving money, my money, for not producing anything and for not providing any value to my life. I know, I know, they paid into the system and I will get to steal from my kids and grand kids when it’s my turn. Really? You accept this concept? You see nothing wrong with grandma and grandpa sending a State agent to steal money from their grandkids?
About another fourth goes to support military bases and ships in about 122 countries. To provide for the common defense. Who’s common defense? The Germans? The Japanese? The Afghans? When did we sign up for this? And please do not insult your own intelligence by claiming that guarding a border crossing in Afghanistan protects the security of a waitress in Peoria. Such stretch of thinking defies the most basic laws of logic.
About another fourth goes to pay for interest on the debt. So let me get this straight. The State decided to spend more money that they could tax and made me liable to pay interest on their debt? Wait, since when did I become liable for someone else’s debt? When did I sign a contract becoming liable for that?
And this is not the whole budget. About twice again is going to be spent by the State in your name for numerous vote buying and favor creating slush funds.
What else do you get? Well you get roads to drive on and schools to send your kids to and police and firefighters to protect your property. Fair enough but, is there not a better way to buy those same services without the coercive force of the State? Without having to fear the IRS or having no say on what services I choose to pay for? Why can I choose my lunch but not my kids school? Why can I choose my car but not the roads I am paying for? Is there a better way? Yes.
In an Anarchic system the same services will be provided but on a voluntary market based basis. Let’s look at some examples. Let’s assume that you did not have to pay any taxes whatsoever. None.
Schools: Public Schools are relatively modern invention. Before public schools were instituted by the State, parents hired a teacher to teach their children. The modern version would be private schools. But it goes beyond just a simple cost analysis. Let us say that you could send your kids to a school that creates custom classes that fit their interests and personality. Furthermore, let’s say that this school could provide your child with life skills and when they graduate they will do so with marketable skills that fit their intelligence and personality. And let’s say that it will cost you about the same that what it costs you today in property taxes. Would you not like that school? Do you believe that if the demand for such a school existed that it would not exist? Of course it would. Anything that you can imagine and that there is a market demand for the market will fill the need. Why are your schools not operating that way? Because the purpose of public education is not to educate but to indoctrinate and to add insult to injury, private schools are required, by law, to follow the same curriculum and standards that the public schools follow. So you pay for failure twice; once thru property taxes and once directly to the private school.
Firefighters: In the Roman Empire, firefighters were actually insurance company employees. Why can’t it be so again? You insure your home against fire. Your insurance company pays an annual fee to a firefighting company to keep your house from burning down. It is, after all, in their best interest to make sure your house does not burn down. Furthermore, do you doubt that your insurance company would not spend the money and resources in preventing the fire instead of fighting it after it starts?
Law and order: This is a long and complicated subject that is going to take a few articles to cover but, I can attempt to at least start the conversation here.
First, we must divide crimes, or what we currently consider crimes into victimless and victim crimes. Victimless crimes are those actions that the State, in all their wisdom, (heavy sarcasm) has decided to criminalize; gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc. Any action that consenting adults choose to undertake would not be considered a crime under an Anarchic system. If you choose to smoke some vegetation, you go to a distributor, pay a few dollar notes and go home. Please explain who is the injured party here? How is this different than walking into a liquor store and purchasing beer or liquor? The only injured party is the State. They do not get to charge taxes on the transaction.
Those crimes that do have a victim can be further categorized as property crimes and violent crimes.
Let’s look at property crimes first. Let’s say your car gets stolen. We will look at the Statist solution first and then the Stateless solution.
Statist solution: Your car gets stolen. You call 911 and a police officer shows up, takes a report and files it. If enough cars are stolen, the police may begin investigating the car thefts. There is a 2 :10 chance that your car will be found and an even smaller chance that the perpetrators will be caught and punished. And if the car is found and the thief caught? In the astronomically unlikely possibility that someone is found guilty, he is sent to jail where he now lives in constant fear of battery, rape or murder. He learns additional criminal skills from his fellow inmates and then he is released into society with no marketable skills and no chance to start over. And you get stuck with the bill, both the bill to incarcerate him and the bill to repair your car.
Stateless solution: Your car is equipped with a theft prevention device that you bought in order to reduce your insurance rates. Your car is also equipped with a retina or voice recognition software that prevents anyone but you or any other designated drivers to operate your car. The car gets stolen. You call an 800 number and your insurance company, after verifying your identity, locates your car via GPS and disables it. The insurance company calls a car rental company and sends over a rental car to pick you up while an independent stolen car retrieval company who is under retainer by the insurance company, goes to the GPS location to retrieve your car. Once your car is retrieved, it is taken to a repair shop were any damage is assessed and repaired. You are notified that your car is ready and you drive to pick it up, a rental car company representative is waiting for you at the repair shop and collects the rental car. All this exists today. It is the way the market has addressed the shortcomings of the Statist solution yet, you are still paying for the police force that did not retrieve your car, provide you with a rental car or repaired any damage. Why are you paying for them again?
But what about the thieves, what happens to them? Well, first of all, stealing cars would be a very low profit enterprise if the cars are almost always retrieved. If you steal a car and within 10 minutes the car is remotely disabled and a retrieval team shows up to pick it up, the chances that you can make a profit from it would be fairly minimal. Remember, a thief is not looking for a violent confrontation; he is looking for an easy profit. But let’s say the car is stolen by a complete moron anyway. The retrieval team shows up. They may or may not encounter the thieves. At this point there may or there may not be a confrontation. Ask most police officers and they will tell you that a thief will run. The team either identifies the thieves on site, via retinal scan or via fingerprints or other means left on site (DNA from skin follicles or hair). The retrieval team has no interest in detaining the suspects, their job is to retrieve the car. An investigation ensues and the insurance company, who is now liable for the cost of the rental, the retrieval and the repairs, determines who stole the car. Your insurance company contacts the thieves insurance company and presents the evidence. Since it is in both of their financial interests to cooperate, they agree on a third party arbiter and present the evidence. The arbiter notifies the thief of the review date and invites him to attend. If the thief is found guilty, the insurance company recovers the money from the thief’s insurance company.
I know, you are thinking, why would a thief have insurance? He would have little choice. You see, without a State, businesses would buy insurance, just as they do today but, they would refuse to do business with anyone who is uninsured. Remember, under Anarchy, there is no public property. Roads, houses, food, parks, everything is private. No insurance, you can’t rent a house. Not because the State would compel it but because no landlord would risk his insurance coverage by renting to an uninsured person. This partially exists today. If you rent a car, you have to either show an insurance card or purchase coverage from the rental company. If you want to rent a hotel room, you have to provide ID and a credit card (financial liability). Under Anarchy, you could not participate in the free market system without insurance. You may choose to do so and some will. But the degree of difficulty that would come from not having coverage would make life close to unbearable. You could not buy anything or sell anything. You could not hold a job or rent a room or buy food. Notice that no force has been used at any point. The thief may choose to not show up for the hearing. He may refuse to pay for the damage, at which point, his insurance company would drop his coverage and he would become untouchable. No rent, no buying or selling of anything, no driving (roads are private). He would become a prisoner dependent on the good will of others who would risk their coverage for helping him.
So, to continue our scenario. The thief is found guilty and he is offered the opportunity for an appeal, by the way, if he is found not guilty, the insurance company accusing him would have to pay a fine to him and his insurance company for false claims, he receives a visit from a friendly insurance agent, probably his own friendly insurance agent. He would be notified of the options. If he goes for an appeal, the insurance companies select a different arbiter and present the case again. If he is found guilty, he is now liable for the second proceeding along with the original costs. He is now given two options. He can pay the bill, by either selling property or paying directly or, more likely, if he cannot pay, he is given the option of going to work at a designated work facility. This would be a regular job but, if he has no marketable skills, he would be trained first. A portion of his salary would be kept by the insurance company until the bill is paid, then he would be given the choice to continue working there, if the factory owner wants him, or find a different job. Either way his slate is clean. What if he chooses to run? His coverage is dropped and the insurance company would notify all other insurance companies of the case. He is now a rogue. No work, no money (money is private), no food or roads or any other commercial good.
But, I can hear you screaming, wouldn’t insurance companies become the new totalitarian State? No. Just like State Farm, Geico and Progressive cannot become the State now, they could not become the State absent a government. The Free market is the best regulator. If an insurance company does something you dislike, you are free to find a new one. If the State does something you dislike, you have to find enough people that agree with you, spend months of time and thousands of dollars organizing to try to unseat an incumbent politician and then, hope the new one keeps his promises.
An example. About ten years ago I had all my insurance coverage thru Allstate. I had my home owner’s policy, and a couple of cars with them. That year a rash of floods in my State caused Allstate to lose money. They notified me that they were raising my home owner’s policy cost by 25% even though I do not live in a flood prone area. I promptly dropped them, found insurance with the same coverage at a lower price (even lower than the original) and moved my cars to GEICO. Now, if this would have been a government agency they would have raised my rates without telling me and I would have had no other option but to pay or have an IRS agent confiscate my salary or send me to jail.
In the next installment I will discuss violent crime.