So I get a response from Mr. Bylund the other day to my Blog entry, and I keep meaning to write up my own reply, and just never get around to it. I am a man of many passions (as this blog should quite readily show) I once spent an (in hindsight) inordinate amount of time on politics and political thought, but those days are quickly receding into the past. Much like the message he sent me.
Then, lo and behold, I notice he’s added comments to the blog entry itself.
Hello Mr. Bylund! I’m not ignoring you, I just think that achieving the anarchist ideal ranks somewhere behind science fiction fandom and humor (and living in the here and now) on the importance list. I establish my own values, just like I know and uphold my own rights. I don’t look to government to maintain them for me, but to abstain from violating them in the process of doing its legitimate work.
I read your comments through several times. This is the paragraph which I feel the need to specifically address:
To minarchists, the anarchist position is utterly utopian, perhaps even idealistic, and they conclude it would not work. Such a society could quickly degenerate into chaos and misery since there is no final arbiter in conflicts and no power to leash or control the evils unavoidably existent in society. The reasoning is that there needs to be something larger, but external to the market, setting the basic rules and enforcing them. Without the enforcement of rights, there are no rights.
The key phrase here is final arbiter. Government is legitimate, in my estimation, when it:
- Violates no rights in maintaining its existence.
- Acts only as the final arbiter in a conflict.
While I don’t know of any government that meets this criteria that is currently in existence, I believe that it is possible to attain (I would refer to Nozick’s state as government because that is the word that fits the purpose being served) What I do hear from Anarchists that argue with me on the necessity of government is that they have a plan to substitute the structure that is government for another structure which does essentially the same job, but isn’t government. My counter argument will always be a rose by any other name. It is still government no matter what it’s called.
When I point out to them that anarchy is chaos by definition and that political anarchy, to be true to its definition, would require that there is no structure (which I will always call government) in order for it to be called anarchy,that the resultant society would be chaotic and prone to instability, which most likely would lead (and has lead in the past) to more repressive forms of government taking root, I’m told that I just don’t get it.
But I do get it. The anarchists want to use the word anarchy to serve as a figurehead for something that isn’t anarchy but will be different from the current government structure, a tactic which has and most likely will backfire again when acted upon. Which is why I bother to argue about this in the first place.
Utopian and idealist visions have lead to some of the worst hell holes on the planet. During the time of the Russian revolution, Anarchists and Socialists were brothers in the same cause; fighting to bring change to a Russian society that desperately needed it. The idealist Anarchists of the time thought that if they could just get rid of the Czar, the social utopia of Communism (which is a governmentless form of society, an anarchy; at least as Marx envisioned it) would soon follow. I think history will show it turned out differently.
No, I’m not saying that Anarchists are Communists. The Wiki entry should plainly show, if nothing else, that Anarchists don’t even know what Anarchists are. Which is fitting, considering the definition of the word anarchy. Chaos is its own definition.
Every time I find myself butting heads with someone politically, I discover that the someone in question has some ideal vision in his head concerning what should be the way things work. A Utopia for which they just won’t accept any substitutions. Unfortunately reality doesn’t consult with us concerning it’s inner workings. In an ideal world, there would be no idealists. That’s my idea of utopia. You can thank your lucky stars that I don’t believe in utopias.
If we want structures to serve the purposes we intend for them, then we have to look at the constraints that reality places on us and design them to fit. Self-funding support bodies for essential government functions (i.e. the cost of police and fire departments being funded by the insurance companies and land owners that profit from their existence) is just one vein of thought on the subject. Government structures that don’t violate rights simply by existing in the first place.
Suffice it to say I’ve put some thought into this, and I doubt that there is much that can be said that will sway me from my opinion.