What Anarchy Really Looks Like
I'm not an Anarchist. I used to think Anarchy was just a ridiculous idea and that those who advocated for it had no idea what they were truly advocating. And maybe that was true, but the truth of the matter was that I also had no idea exactly what it was I was against. I'm not an Anarchist, but I do consider myself to be as close to an Anarchist as you can get while still believing in some form of government. And while I am not an Anarchist, I'm not really against it like I used to be, because I have come to understand what Anarchy really is. Anarchy isn't chaos, it isn't a free-for-all, at least not in the sense that most people think it is. Anarchy isn't The Purge. Anarchy is nothing more than a system of government whereby there is no official government, but the people govern themselves. Anarchy is absolute freedom, absolutely. There is nothing inherently frightening about Anarchy. Anarchy is neither good or bad, Anarchy simply is. It is how the people behave under an Anarchistic system that is good or bad, and people choose to be bad with laws and government. But in an Anarchy, you get to choose what is best for you in all cases. I would like to explain exactly what it means to be Anarchy.
Dictionary.com has several definitions for Anarchy, most of which are just wrong. It defines Anarchy as:
1.a state of society without government or law.
3.anarchism (def 1).
4.lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination
5.confusion and disorder
First of all, only the first definition has any sort of accuracy to it at all. Definition 3 is redundant and refers you back to definition 1, so it shouldn't even be on the list at all. So we can discount that one out of hand. Definition 4 is just ridiculous. Anarchy has nothing to do with being disobedient to authority or being insubordinate, because there is no authority to be disobedient or insubordinate to. You can't disobey rules that don't exist. So we can strike that definition off the list as well. Which leaves us with 2 and 5, both of which pretty much say the same thing. That Anarchy is disorder or chaos by definition, and that we need government to keep order. That just simply isn't true.
I used to hang out in a lot of punk rock circles in my late teens and early twenties, and as such had a lot of friends that claimed to want Anarchy. They didn't really understand Anarchy as much as they thought they did, they just thought they wanted it because the music we all listened to told us that that was the only accepted system. What they failed to understand, however, was that the music, while great to listen to, was wrong. Punk rock music is about rebellion. It's about lashing out at the system. It isn't really about Anarchy, it's about chaos, and since everyone understood that to be Anarchy falsely, they punk rockers and their legions of disciples thought that they wanted anarchy. But Anarchy isn't really chaos at all.
We used to debate Anarchy all the time. Their position was that chaos was the natural order of things. They were wrong, and I had no trouble telling them so. If you look around at nature, order is the natural way of things, not chaos. There is no chaos in the animal kingdom, there is order. Order based on instinct, but it is order just the same. Sure, you'll have one lion attack a pride, or even the leader of the pride, but there is a fight and then the pride settles back into its natural order, either with the original leader or the new one. There is no governmental body that enforces this way of life, it is simply the way of things. The natural order of things. You see the same things in ape tribes and bird flocks and everywhere. Larger animals still eat the smaller ones, but that is no different than humans eating lesser animals like fish and livestock. That isn't chaos, it's the natural order of things. There are predators and there are prey. But within their own communities, you don't often see birds or lions or tigers turning on each other. Sure, it happens, but it isn't a part of the natural order. It is an anomaly outside the order, intruding on the order. Anarchy is not inherently chaotic, any more than government control can keep chaos completely absent from society either.
My friends argued that Anarchy was chaos and that since chaos was the natural order of things, that made Anarchy the natural order of things. And they were wrong. I argued that because Anarchy was chaos and chaos was unnatural, then Anarchy was unnatural. And I was wrong. We were both wrong on the same thing; defining Anarchy as something it just simply wasn't. Anarchy is not chaos.
What Anarchy Is
Anarchy is a lack of government, pure and simple. Nothing more, nothing less. Anarchy is simply not having any external body telling you what is best for you. Anarchy is the right of the individual to choose what is best for them, as well as the responsibility of the individual to do for himself. There is no government to take from the producers and give to those who don't produce. In an Anarchistic society, everyone would have to produce, or they would suffer the consequences of not contributing to society. Sure, in an Anarchistic society someone might decide that you have something they want, and they might choose to take it. It could be your car, it could be your wife. But Anarchy also requires you to take the responsibility to protect what's yours, and there are no rules stating how you are or are not allowed to fulfill this responsibility.
In a true Anarchy there will be crime, but we have crime now. The difference is that there are no limits placed on good people on how they are allowed to protect themselves from bad people, and that could actually cause less violence and chaos in an Anarchistic society, not more. Look at violent crime rates in societies that have broader allowances in how someone is allowed to protect themselves verses societies that are more strict. Where you don't have laws like the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground and where you don't have Right to Carry laws, you have much higher violent crime rates than in places where you do. Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, these are all places that have very high crime rates and they have very strict regulation on how the law abiding can protect themselves from criminals. Batman said it best, "Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot." That is the absolute truth. The reason we see lower crime rates in areas that are more lax in things like guns is because criminals are afraid to commit those crimes for fear of picking the wrong victim and becoming the prey themselves instead of the predator. In an Anarchistic society, this fear of reprisal would be even more prevalent because the criminals would be afraid of retaliation or reprisal by an armed and well prepared citizen. Would there be crime? Sure, but it would be much less widespread. You see, Anarchy isn't chaos at all. In actuality, true Anarchy would be the opposite of chaos.
A lot of arguments against Anarchy usually lead back to the question, "Who will provide the police and fire departments?" Well, the answer to that is we will. Just as we do now. There will still be private security agencies even if there are no cops. We would probably see more gated communities who utilize private security agencies as their own community police forces, patrolling the communities, watching out for prowlers and other suspicious activities, just as police do now and as many private security companies are also already doing. The same with fire departments. You would pay for the services, just as you do already through tax dollars. Most private fire departments would probably work on an insurance system. You pay your premiums every month and if you are unfortunate enough to have a fire, they would come put it out. The difference is, you could choose not to contribute to these services and if you did have a fire, it would be your responsibility to take care of it. Whatever you chose, however, it would be your choice and not government mandating it through force. These private agencies, also, would run much more efficiently than the public services run now, because you would always be able to fire them and give your money to someone else.
The simple truth is, there is nothing the government can do for us that the private sector can't do better and cheaper. That's right, odd are you would save money on these services and get a better quality service for the money you are putting in to it. Value is something the government can't be bothered to think about, but it is something the private sector can't afford to do without. Competition is always a threat for the private sector, but the government has no competition. In fact, through regulations and laws, the government does everything it can to stamp out competition. Because of this lack of competition, government doesn't have to decrease their costs, increase their quality, and give their customers more bang for their buck. Government doesn't have customers, they have subjects, and in many cases you have no choice but to use their services. Schools would be the same thing. Private schools right now provide a better education with far fewer resources than public schools. There is rampant waste in all facets of government that the private sector simply can't afford to have. And as a result, these services, while you are paying out of pocket, will save you money in the long run.
Why I'm Not an Anarchist
There are a few reasons, and maybe I'm still wrong about Anarchy. I am completely open to hearing suggestions to these problems I still see presented by Anarchy. First of all, traffic laws. We need them. We need stop signs, we need traffic lights, we need prescribed sides of the road to travel on, and we need a way to enforce these rules. I don't think speed limits are really that important, because most people are going to drive in a safe manner, as they do now even if they ignore the speed limits. Someone driving fast isn't necessarily driving dangerously, and people are pretty good at being able to avoid someone they see who is driving recklessly. But there are certain rules we need, maybe not for society to function, but there is some convenience government can provide that the private sector can not, unless all roads are privatized and these road owners decide to have private security to enforce their traffic rules. But then you run the risk of different roads having different rules. I think having an extremely small government and having traffic laws are necessary. There are a few other laws that are necessary, but we definitely have entirely too many laws right now. Anarchy may not be the best system, but the system we have now is certainly bad.
Another danger presented by having an Anarchistic society is the might makes right mentality. Yes, you can fend off a mugger. But what happens when a gang that outnumbers your community comes in and takes over? Now, you're thrust back into a governmental system, but it's a tyrannical government, an illegitimate government, and your only option is revolution or subjugation. And if you throw out one gang, maybe another comes in. I'm not saying this will happen, not by any means, but it does have the potential to happen and then you're looking at the possibility of having to spend more time at war with each other than at peace. We can look to nature to see examples of this too, most notably the American Indian tribes. They were forever at war with each other, conquering each other and killing each other. So there is a precedent for warring between factions in an Anarchistic society. Don't let anyone tell you the American Indians were peaceful until the evil white man conquered and subjugated them. That is just simply not true. And it does have the possibility of not being true in our idyllic Anarchist society.
I think with true Anarchy there are too many variables to support this system right now, but we really do need to take a serious look at certain parts of Anarchy. We really need to look at more privatization and we need to shrink our government. We have allowed our politicians to grow the government way too big, government has their hands in things that they really have no business getting into, and no real Constitutional basis for getting into, and we need to cut that stuff out. We need to decide what, if anything, the private sector can't do and we need to design our government to do those things. I think I could really support a federal Anarchy but with very small state and local governments, but I really just can't support complete Anarchy at this time. Again, maybe I'm not seeing things completely right, and I am open to seeing things in a more pro-Anarchy light, but right now I can't see not having any government at all, I just see where we need to have much less government than we have right now.