This light-hearted post is inspired by comments on “Extreme Libertarianism and the Accountable State“. I considered a long disquisition on the subject but decided that it (the subject) isn’t worth the effort.
Anarchy is a pipe dream. A state of one kind or another always exists or emerges, on a scale that ranges from the family unit to the globe-spanning empire.
If you are looking for a life in which you aren’t subject to another person — even one — you must be prepared to strike out on your own, go off the grid, and live entirely by your own wits and physical skills. If you want to take with you some things that you have acquired — things that were made by corporations that you might otherwise disdain because they are in bed with their regulators — be my guest. Sunk costs are sunk.
What about taking along a significant other or a close friend? Well, that might work if the person is your identical twin (assuming that an identical twin would share your psychological makeup). But, otherwise, you are setting yourself up for conflict. And if you value the other person emotionally or rely on his or her help to make your way through life, you will find yourself necessarily (and fairly often) acquiescing to that person; that is, being ruled by him or her in a way. Unless, of course, you are domineering and make the other person bow to your every wish, though that’s hardly in the spirit of anarchy, is it?
Oh, you’re not that kind of anarchist. You just want conflicts to be resolved and rules to be made locally rather than at some remove, so that you are a full participant in the resolution of conflicts and the making of rules. You can live with decisions with which you disagree as long as you have a direct hand in the making of them.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but that is no longer possible, and hasn’t been possible (in what is now the United States) since 1585. Yes, there is the occasional commune, and a few of them have lasted for more than 50 years. But they are the rare exceptions that prove the rule.
Small towns and villages? Well, they’re really in the same boat as the rare commune that doesn’t collapse like a soufflé after a few years. There’s nothing like the tyranny of small-town mores and ostracism. Even those (mythical) small towns and villages that are actually run in a participatory way — and not by local élites and power-mongers — are no more than microscopic nodes in the vast network of statutes, regulations, ordinances, codes, and judicial decrees that govern almost every economic transaction and far too many social transactions in the United States of America.
So, even a true believer in anarchy who actually wants to attain it must strive realistically. That means working hard just to contain (and occasionally curtail) the powers of the central government, State governments, and local governments. You won’t get far, but you will do more good than you will by preaching anarchy, which ain’t gonna happen and which only kooks like you believe in.
But maybe preaching anarchy gives you a lot of pleasure. So do other fruitless pursuits (e.g., this one), and they’re less frustrating.
P.S. If anarchy were a viable option, it would have long since thrived. If it seems to have eked out a tenuous existence in isolated cases because of state sponsorship, isn’t that evidence of its inviability? And if it hasn’t thrived because statists of one kind and another have suppressed it, isn’t that also proof of its inviability? Call it a non-existence proof. Case closed.