On the internet someone posted this video about anarchy:
And then of course, we have this expected and all-too-common exchange:
HS: “If you like anarchy then you’ll love Somalia – it’s an anarchist paradise with absolutely no evil authoritarian regime or oppressive drug laws.”
GF: “The comparison of Anarchy with Somalia is the most cliche [ignorant] anti-anarchist argument there is. Anarchy means no power hierarchies, whereas in Somalia there are several aspiring power hierarchies at war with each other. There is no Anarchy in Somalia – not as the term is to be properly understood; to denote an absence of rulers.”
Here is the solution to this silly argument:
If “properly understood anarchy” or “true anarchy” as the way you wish it to be defined can only exist in a very highly self-controlled society of moral individuals following the golden rule who will not succumb to the common darker natures of man, then with such a population of humans it is equally safe, secure, and peaceful to have a government.
For the same reasons that you criticize the abuses by and of government, that is, the general inability for man to behave totally peacefully towards his neighbors, we can also criticize a well-expected lawlessness of anarchy.
As you admit, the only way to prevent a bloody chaotic anarchy is if we have a society composed of the right type of individuals. The same is of course true, then, for a government.
The desire for power and to accrue power to oneself using any means possible comes from within individuals; the desire itself is not created by government. The desire would still be there, within individuals in an anarchy, and individuals would follow that desire, unless the anarchist society were composed of perfect individuals – but in that case one could equally-well institute a perfect government. Certain personality types or individuals wish to rule over others, and they will use whatever means necessary to do that. Having a society with no one who wishes to rule means inventing a new ideal humanity for that purpose, which doesn’t exist. Under that necessity we can invent an ideal humanity for a perfect government, and this is just as pointless since such a humanity for this doesn’t exist either.
And so there is no difference between the “ideal anarchy” and the “ideal government” – they are both wishful thinking requiring man to behave as perfect moral agents. Given that man doesn’t, a practical anarchy would reduce to serfdom and Monarchy or despotism, just as practical government reduces to corporatocracy.
However there is a difference; in a practical anarchy, the people have no power except for that of force, if they can muster force in the conditions which have been created and imposed on them by the more powerful (and in history we see such events leading to things like the Magna Carta), whereas if the people at least have a well-instituted government, change can come from peaceful means, resorting to the need of the people to use force only in the last analysis (which is why the people must maintain such an ability, even if never used…ideally never used).
Given that man is prone to desire for and abuse of power, and that the “ideal anarchist” philosophy rejects the use of force over others, then practically the ideal anarchist must fall in with a practical well-instituted government as such a society at least provides the means for peaceful solutions and resolutions to societal problems without the use of force, whereas the practical chaotic bloody anarchy will always require the use of force in the very first steps to create change. An individual living in an anarchy can just as well inflict suffering on the entire rest of the population as an individual can in government; in the former case there is no recourse for the suffering except for that of shear brute force assuming that they can still muster such force, while in the latter case there is a peaceful recourse through law and the system of government, and only when these have become totally corrupt would the people resort to force, a well-instituted government having not infringed on the people’s ability to muster such force.
The point is, the argument that anarchy is the best system when and if we have a society composed of perfect moral agents is totally superfluous, because such a society could equally-well institute a government without risk of it abusing its powers.
We however do not live in an ideal world composed of perfect moral agents – we live practically. Ideally we could have Plato’s Republic. Ideally we could have Communism. Ideally we could have the Invisible Hand of the Free Market. Ideally we could have Anarchy. Ideally we could have Democracy. Ideally we could have Meritocracy. Ideally we could even have Monarchy.
Practically, however, we need to restrain each other from the use of force, with the use of force.
The atrocities of the 20’th Century are of course disgusting and horrific; the scale here, however, was facilitated by technology, not by government; Genghis Khan and many others for example committed atrocities on an unimaginable scale without such technology, and these cases relate to examples of practical lawless anarchy where individual power rules all. If kings, tyrants, and despots had the technology of the 20th Century at their disposal, they would have used it too on an arbitrarily large scale.
And so, the “properly understood, ideal anarchy” reduces to wishful thinking under the proposition that all man behave as perfect moral agents. If that were the case, the threat of use of force by government which the “ideal anarchist” objects to would not exist in the first place either.