THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 164, March 11, 2002
Why Anarchy Wonít Work
by Patrick K Martin
Exclusive to TLE
Yes I know, Iím just a glutton for punishment. You would think that, after the reception my last set of articles received, I would want to go with a subject less likely to arouse the wrath of those who read this publication, well forget it. I am not a person who shies from controversy, nor do I wish to be popular with those who might disagree with me. My philosophy is, Iím right until you prove otherwise, and I will speak my mind until then, whether anybody likes it or not. Now on to our subject.
Before I get to the meat of the problem, let me say that I like the idea of an anarchistic society. I believe that I could get along in a world where the only governance is self-governance. The idea that I, and only I, would determine what will be done for me, or by me, is one that I find very attractive. I say this in the full knowledge that I might starve and die in the gutter in such a world, but I would rather risk that than live in the world we have now, where every swinging Richard on the planet can come along and tell me what to do with my life. So the problem here is not with me, but what about the other people one the planet?
I have a friend. He is a very nice person, a real Salt-of-the-Earth type. The issue with this friend is that he believes that the Holy Bible is the literal truth. He believes that the world is four thousand and some odd years old, that it was created in six calendar days, and that everything bad in the world is the direct result of humans not obeying God. He also believes that if you donít love God, and accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, that you will go to Hell when you die, regardless of any and all good works you may have done. The guy is, in a word, an Idiot. The thing is, he has a right to be an idiot. After all, arenít we all somebodyís idiot? I know a lot of you readers think Iím an idiot.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Human beings do not, will not, and cannot, agree with each other completely. We argue and fight, and sometimes kill, over so many different things, that the ability to sustain a society in which there is no third-party arbitrator who has the power to enforce a settlement becomes almost impossible. Letís take my friend for example, weíll just call him Richard for a moment. Richard has a tendency to proselytize, and while he will respect my wishes when I tell him to buzz-off, letís suppose he decided not to. Letís say that Richard just keeps after me, not enough to really be called harassment, but he just refuses to let it go. Nothing he does violates my rights per se, heís not trespassing or doing anything to threatening me, he is just bothering me. Sure, I could call him out, but if I start fighting duels with everyone who annoyís me, the body count is going to get pretty high. So I demand arbitration, and the judge (or whatever we call them) agrees with me and orders Richard to stop, what if he doesnít? Yes, I know the theory, if I announce it publicly that Richard is not abiding by the arbitration then social and peer pressure will be brought to bear, but will it? Richard is not a con-artist or a thief, he is simply a person with a particular set of beliefs, a set of beliefs I might add, that many people share. Will Richard really suffer? Will others shun Richard and force him to alter his behavior? If not, how will we stop others from doing as Richard does? How will we maintain our society in the face of those who refuse to abide by the rules, not out of criminal intent, but simply as a result of their beliefs? Letís face it, the Richards of the world might annoy us, but if we refuse to allow them the right to their beliefs, how long will it be before someone denyís us the right to ours?
What was that you said? Educate the Richards, and show them the error of their ways? How? Libertarians all believe that coercive education is one of the worst artifacts of statist philosophy, so how do you expect to educate those who refuse to be educated? The question also, is whether you intend to educate them about their religious beliefs, or why they shouldnít annoy the rest of us with them? Iím sure there are a lot of veggie-eaters out there who would like to ĎEducateí you on the evils of meat. If we have the right to educate the Richards out there, donít the rabbit-people have the right to educate us? You and I have NO RIGHT, to educate anybody against their will, or to deny anybody the right to hold their own beliefs. So how on Earth will we stop the idiots?
Another, related issue, is the problem of the Sheeple. Sheeple (or sheep-people) are those who have no desire, much less the ability, to live their lives without being led by somebody (usually the guy who is looking to shear them). You know them, they are the ones who blindly accept everything from Virgin-births to gun-control to Hegelian- dialects. They do have brains, they just refuse to use them. Unfortunately they tend to breed faster then mother nature can kill them and, unless they do something really stupid, we canít kill them ourselves. The Sheeple are probably the biggest single impediment to anarchistic society. Because they MUST be led, they have no capacity to survive without being led, and there will always be someone who is willing to lead them. Someone is always willing to tell other people what to do. Those of us who use our brains will ignore them, but the Sheeple are LOOKING for them. How do we stop them? When some used-car salesman stands at the head of an army of Sheeple, how will we keep them from taking over our little anarchist-utopia? And donít give me that "Individualists are innately superior" crap, the number of innately superior people who have been put in their graves by knuckle- draggers is enough to boggle the mind, ask the Khmer-Rouge.
What this all boils down to is the simple fact that a society that has no structure capable of organizing the efforts and abilities of itís people will be unable to cope certain threats. The threat of stupid people who refuse to learn, or are constitutionally incapable of learning may seem comical to some, but those who study history know better than to discount it. The inability to use force, pro-actively, on the behalf of the larger community against incipient threats is another. Europe could probably have avoided World-War II if France and England had slapped Hitler down in the Rhineland, but he was not a direct threat to them at the time, so guess what? They acted in a manner compliant with the non-aggression principle.
I think the current state of the various public school systems is another good example. Unable to enforce discipline, the children run rampant, and lacking any real understanding of the purpose of a school (i.e. providing children with the intellectual tools to survive in the larger world), they are quick to adopt whatever current social or educational fad is currently in vogue. All of which results in masses of un-educated pampered brats running loose in our streets. Do you think that allowing people to educate their children, or allowing any fool to set up a school without any standards beyond what he can convince parents to accept, will make this situation better? Sure you and I might benefit be such a system, because we would use logic and reason to determine the standards we want our children educated under, but what about those who use neither logic or reason? How are we to prevent them from polluting our society with more dunderheads?
Look, if the Probability Broach opened up in my living room, Win Bear had better get out of my way or heís going to have my footprints on his back, Ďcause Iíll trample his ass getting in. In the real world however, getting people to live their own lives, and accept responsibility for them, is going to be damn near impossible.
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