The How & Why of Anarchism, Part 4: War, the State, and Anarchy

Well, here we are, with three lengthy discussions behind us about the Free Market and the nature of the State. The main thing now to do is move on and ask ourselves… “If we know that Representation is inherently flawed, as is Democracy, and if we know that the Constitution has failedand we know that the Free Market solves the problems of Government better than Government itself does, then… what do we need to do, as a Society, to safeguard our Liberty, Lives, and our right to pursue happiness?”

On a brief note, if you dispute any part of the above question, then I encourage you to read Parts 1 through 3. All of these concepts are demonstrated clearly in the previous parts of this series. Representation has been shown to be inherently flawed (even if it was what we wanted it to be); Democracy has been known for thousands of years to be inherently flawed (a dictatorship over the few by the many); the Constitution has clearly failed to protect the rights which it was established to protect; the Free Market has been shown to handle issues like health care, Social Security, and Medicare much better than any Government ever could. All of these things are true and have already been demonstrated.

To continue, we must return to our previous definitions:

  • The State is the collective governmental body which oversees a given society. The State is a collective whole which, in the United States, consists of the Federal Government, all of its branches, and all pseudo-governmental agencies such as the Federal Reserve.
  • The Society is the collective body of People. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that Societies do not require the existence of a State; the existence of a Society is independent of whether or not the Society has a Government. Any group of people of any size who work together, whether voluntarily or by being forced, is a Society.
  • Once a Society has a State over it, the two collectively are the Nation. That is, the Nation is a Society and its Government.

The question is that, since the State in its current incarnation (and all past incarnations) has clearly failed in its duty to act in our best interests and under the mantra of Liberty, what kind of State do we need?

If the goal is to protect our Lives, Liberty, and right to pursue happiness, then we need NO state. Governments are incapable of protecting any of these things, and Governments have, throughout all of human history, been proven to be detrimental to these things. Who causes war? Governments. This is at least true in the modern world, although it is true that, in the past, societies actually waged war against one another, but this comes from the days of ancient history and has not been true in a very, very long time. Moreover, wars against societies are much more localized and much less destructive than wars between Governments.

In the modern world, if there was no Government, there would be no war; there could be no war. In order to justify this statement, we have to stop the car and reverse a little bit. It’s one thing to say that Government is the cause of modern wars; it’s quite another to say that if we removed Government, there would be no war. Before I slam on the brakes, though, I want to point out that hardly a month goes by that I don’t get into a conversation with someone (generally under 30) who shows sincere confusion and says, “I don’t… I don’t get it. Why are we fighting? It’s the 21st century–shouldn’t we have… ‘evolved’… past war by now?”

Modern Warfare: Revolutions

The vast majority of warfare in the world today is insurrection and rebellion. These are not our concerns. Rebellions, revolutions, and insurrections happen, and there is nothing anyone will ever be able to do to stop it. As long as there is Government, there will be rebellions and insurrections. Without Government, there is nothing to revolt against. One cannot revolt against Society, because there is no such thing (as Part Two demonstratedas Society; there are only Individuals.

Revolutions happen when a Society (using the term colloquially; do not make the mistake of thinking that any “Society” actually exists) becomes unhappy with its Government to the point where Individuals are willing to risk their livelihoods and lives bringing it down and/or replacing it. This can happen because the Government is oppressive and totalitarian; this can happen because the Power in the Nation (Nation = Society + Government, remember) is concentrated almost entirely in the Government or because power is more evenly distributed among the Society and the Government yet the “Government” is made up of too few members, thus the power the Government contains is concentrated with too few Individuals for the comfort of Society (Constitutional Monarchies, for example); in short, revolutions happen because there is Power and because the Individuals who revolt want to take back that Power which belongs, rightly or wrongly, to the Government.

This is always true, and there could never be an exception to this rule. When Cuban rebels led by Castro overthrew the Cuban Government, it was because they did not like the previous Government holding the power which it did and they, whether for the good of other Cubans or merely for the good of themselves, wanted that power for themselves. When the American Colonies rebelled against the British Empire, it was becasue they did not like the previous Government holding the power which it did and they, whether for the good of other American colonists or merely for the good of themselves, wanted that power for themselves.

All revolutions are a matter of seeing power, wanting power, and taking power.

So when you remove this apparatus which maintains this concentrated power, there is nothing to see, nothing to want, and, therefore, nothing to take. Revolutions cannot happen when there is no Government because there is no entity which has this power concentrated within it. Without Government, the Power which a Society has is vested and distributed equally among all members of whom the Society consists. If 100 is the value of a Nation’s Power, then, in theory, 51 would be the Society’s power in a Constitutional Republic and 49 would be the State’s power in a Constitutional Republic. A revolution will occur when the members of Society determine that they want that portion of power back, since any power the State has necessarily comes from the Society’s consent; the Society gives up certain rights and power and vests them instead in a State. In practice, the 51/49 ratio will not last more than a century or so, and the power of the State will grow while the power of Society (distributed still evenly among its members; there is just less of it to distribute because a portion of it has been handed over to the State) weakens. We have reached a point in the United States where it can be argued that the State holds 51% of the power–or more–and that Society now holds 49%–or less*.

Individual Power Within a Society

Economic power is important to the discussion, especially if Free Market principles are to determine the course of Society. Naturally, in a Free Market, power is evenly distributed amongst all Individuals; even if one Individuals owns 99% of all the wealth in the Free Market, then that Individual has no more power to dictate the flow of Society than any other Individual. This comes back to “voting with the wallet,” as mentioned in Part Three, except that it should be noted that one person can have no impact on the Free Market simply because that Individual has an inordinate amount of wealth.

For a time, one Individual could keep alive any number of corporations and businesses which other Individuals do not support. If Bob owns 99% of all the wealth in our economy and Bob loves Monsanto, he can continue pouring his wealth into Monsanto, voting with his wallet to keep Monsanto alive. But without the support of others, the money he pours into Monsanto will, because of their employees earning money and spending money elsewhere, be redistributed from Bob to Monsanto to Monsanto’s employees to other businesses and corporations. By standing alone, Bob is actually redistributing his wealth to everyone else, temporarily propping up Monsanto in the process. But if no one else likes or approves of Monsanto, even its employees who just work there because they need a job, then Monsanto isn’t getting any other income, and Bob’s investments cannot return any profit–his investments can only return losses, as surely as if he’d simply set his money on fire. Bob will continue pouring money into this corporation which he alone supports, and he’ll eventually run out of money and be able to do it no more. Even though Bob owns 99% of the Society’s wealth at the beginning, that wealth purchases him no more power or authority than any other Individual has.

In a Free Market, boycotts have an effect, as does rallying around one business or another to support it. A single Individual cannot simply throw a bunch of money at this corporation or that industry and have any lasting effect; it is a black hole, and there is no surer way to bankrupt oneself. But if 30% of Americans stand with Chik-Fil-A’s right to spout ignorance and bigotry–as I do stand with the owner’s right to do so–then those 30% have a real, lasting impact on the corporation. If, however, 70% of Americans stand against Chik-Fil-A’s spouting of ignorance and bigotry (Though they must acknowledge the owner’s right to say it and enforce whatever policies he desires), then those 70% who boycott Chik-Fil-A will quickly override the 30% who support it. Thus, Democracy, in effect, happens, and no State or social protocol was needed in order to accomplish this.

But Democracy Is Bad…

Democracy as a form of Government is bad, because it allows the Majority to become dictators over the Minority. But the will of the Majority overriding the will of the Minority isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it only can become a bad thing when the principles of Life, Liberty, and the right to pursue happiness are not revered as they should be. If Liberty is held in proper esteem, then the 70% will recognize that, even though they despise what the ignorant dick thinks and says, they have no right to stop him from saying it and no right to make him change the policies of his company. Similarly, those 70% have the right to not do business with his company. No one is being forced to do anything and no one’s rights are being violated.

Yeah, But Couldn’t We Just Do This With a Government?

In theory, yes, but as I just showed: a Government isn’t necessary to the process. Government isn’t necessary or even mentioned in the above Free Market boycott scenario involving Chik-Fil-A. We could have the Government do this or do that for us, but it can only do that through the use of force and not through the voluntary choices of a Free People. What could the Government do in the above Chik-Fil-A situation? The Government can do absolutely nothing that doesn’t violate someone’s rights. Perhaps, with a Government, Chik-Fil-A approaches bankruptcy because of the boycott, so they go to the Government and ask for a bailout. “We’ll have to fire all our employees if we go bankrupt! And that will mean ten hundred quadrillion jobs will be lost, and the sky will fall, and terrorists will have gay sex with puppies in front of children on the front steps of family homes!”

At this point, the Government can say, “Okay, we’ll bail you out, but in exchange, you must open your doors on Sunday and you must recant your position on homosexuality.” At this, the 70% will cheer and the 30% will cry “violation of rights!” Or the Government can say, “We can’t bail you out… 70% of the People are against you, and they’d never support you,” at which point pragmatism on the part of politicians has made the decision. “If you step down and install a new CEO, one who is less anti-homosexuality, then we could probably bail you out.” At this change in leadership (which is precisely what happened in Dodge, GM, AIG, and other corporations, though for different reasons), the 70% will cheer and the 30% will cry “violation of rights!” Or the Government can say, “You’re right. We can’t let unemployment rise! Here, take some money. Will thirty billion dollars be enough?” At this, the 70% will cry foul and will say that their tax money shouldn’t be used to support corporations they are against, but the 30% will cry that it is a victory for Liberty. Or Chik-Fil-A will be denied a bailout altogether, and some other portion of people will scream that the Government should have done something instead of allowing all those jobs to be lost. There is no way to please any significant part of the population once a Government becomes involved.

Moreover, why should we want to give over any amount of our power to a Government when we can use that power at least just as effectively as the Government? What is our motivation for installing a Government with part of our power when we can accomplish our goals while also maintaining our power? 

Modern Warfare: Terrorism

The bulk of international wars now raging in the world stem from one thing and one thing only: American occupation of the Middle East. In fact, other than the Middle East, there really aren’t any international wars right now. And make no mistake: it is our presence in the Middle East that has made us into the enemies of Middle Eastern Peoples. They don’t hate us because of our values, because of our Liberties, because of our religious beliefs, because of our free speech, because of the sex on our television shows, or because of our “democracy.” They hate us because we’re allowing our Government to have occupational forces in their lands.

It has been demonstrated over and over again that American presence in the Middle East creates terrorism. Prior to the American invasion of Iraq, terrorism was non-existent in Iraq. Now terrorism reigns Iraq, and people die there every single week in terrorist attacks. Terrorism is more problematic in Afghanistan than it has ever been, mostly because we brought down the Taliban (which opposed the Caspian Pipeline that we wanted) and made them install a government of our choosing. It should be noted that, whether we like it or not, the Taliban did have the consent of those who they governed; if the Taliban did not have the consent of the Afghan People, then, as mentioned above, there would have been a revolution against the Taliban. As Murray Rothbard points out in “Anatomy of the State,” it is not just democratic governments that need the consent of the majority of the people–all governments need the consent of the majority. If they do not have the consent of the majority, then revolution occurs. We didn’t like the Afghan Government, so we invaded and deposed it, but this doesn’t mean the Afghan People didn’t approve of their Government and it doesn’t mean that they approve of the one they’ve installed under our guidance. In fact, given the way insurgents are kidnapping and killing political officials–something that never happened to members of the Taliban–it is pretty clear that the Afghan People do not consent to this new Government.

The Taliban’s role in 9/11 was clear, and there needed to be consequences for that. I do not dispute that, nor do I excuse the Taliban’s involvement. However, we can’t just punish the Taliban and think that doing so will end terrorism. After all, the Taliban was not the cause of terrorism. Al-Queda is not the cause of terrorism. Osama bin Laden was not the cause of terrorism. Terrorism is, in fact, as has been pointed out even by a former leader of the CIA and the world’s foremost expert on the now-murdered Osama bin Laden, caused by American occupation of the Middle East. This isn’t providing an excuse–it’s pointing out the motive. And motives are critically important.

After all, when criminals are on trial, whether motive can be demonstrated is a major part of the trial. If there is no motive, there is generally no crime. Nor is pointing out why we’ve agitated the terrorists “making up excuses for their actions” or “blaming America.” If a murderer’s motive was to kill the man with whom his fiancee was cheating on him, asserting that this was the motive is not “excusing” the actions of the murderer, nor is it blaming the fiancee or blaming the man with whom she cheated. It’s simply pointing out what the motive was. These things are common sense; use your critical thinking skills. 

The idea that saying, “America’s presence in the Middle East pissed off Muslims so badly that they flew two planes into the World Trade Center” is the equivalent of trying to excuse their actions or trying to blame America is preposterous. C’mon, people–use your gifts of critical thinking and reason. It’s not “blaming the victim” when we say that the murderer killed the man because the murderer’s girlfriend was committing infidelity; it’s just pointing out the murderer’s motive. It’s not “excusing the murderer’s actions” when we say that the murderer killed the man because the murderer’s girlfriend was committing infidelity; it’s just pointing out the murderer’s motive. So I am neither excusing the actions of terrorism or blaming America. I’m simply pointing out the motive behind terrorist acts and asserting that, if we want to stop terrorism, then we need to not give them a motive to commit terrorism. What would we say if the fiancee continued cheating on her murdering boyfriend (who somehow kept getting out of prison for some reason) and the murdering boyfriend continued murdering the men with whom she cheated? How many people would have to be killed in this scenario before it was recognized that the fiancee had some responsibility for the deaths?

And that statement is not placing the blame on the American People. It’s not even asserting that the American People bear some portion of responsibility for the deaths of Americans which were brought about by terrorism. I am, however, asserting that some portion of the blame rests on the American Government. As I pointed out in Anarchocapitalism, Part Two, we have developed the tendency to identify ourselves with the State, rather than with “Society” or with ourselves. I alleged that this is predominantly because many people have no achievements from which they can draw a sense of pride or a sense of satisfaction, so they are forced to identify themselves with the State so that they can share in its accomplishments. Because people have no successes of their own, they tend to identify themselves with the State, a mechanism which allows them to feel proud, to have self-esteem, and to revel in glory without having to actually do anything to earn a sense of pride or self-esteem. They need do nothing when they identify themselves with the State; they are great simply because they are Americans and live in the land of the free. No further effort required.

But as Part One demonstrated unequivocally, we are not our Government. We therefore have no justification in feeling any connexion with our Government or its actions. We are not responsible for the wrongdoings of our Government any more than children are responsible for the wrongdoings of their parents. We cannot take pride in the achievements of our Government any more than children can take pride in the achievements of their parents. While we do have some amount of control over our own Government, this does not justify holding the American People responsible for the actions of our Government, especially since the disconnect between the Government’s actions and our desires is steadily growing. This was made abundantly clear by Obama’s insistence that he was free to strike Syria no matter what Congress said and no matter what the People wanted. We are not responsible for a Government that does not abide our wishes. And even if the Government did abide the wishes of the Majority, then, as Part One explained, we are still not responsible because there is a necessary disconnect between our Representation and ourselves, even if there is a 99% Majority.

Modern Warfare: International War

Aside from an imperialist American presence in many parts of the world and terrorist acts which result from that presence, there are hardly any international wars to speak of. Nearly all of them are motivated by our presence in the Middle East, which motivates terrorist acts against America, which in turn motivates militaristic retaliation against those who committed the terrorism. Eliminate the prime motive, which is American presence in the Middle East, and terrorism abruptly ends–as does the international militaristic retaliations, since there is nothing against which we would retaliate.

This is not to say that there aren’t other conflicts in the world–there are. But these are exclusively the province of Governments wanting more territory or having ideological differences with other Governments. Wars are not a matter of one Society against another; Societies have not fought wars against each other since the time of ancient history. We believe that these wars are being fought against the People whom they involve, but this hasn’t been the case in thousands of years. Wars are fought between Governments, and the first goal of Government in these wars is to convince its people that they are the ones who are being threatened. In reality, though, it has been the case for thousands of years that the Government, and not the People, are the ones in danger from war.

Wars are fought between Governments, and the People only become involved when they are convinced that the enemy Government wants to kill them, but this is hardly ever the case. Even Adolph Hitler didn’t want to kill the British People–he only wanted to depose the British Government and install a new, German-controlled government (Hitler did, however, want to eliminate the Jews–or so it is alleged–but since the Jews had no Government to protect them in the first place, or to be destroyed, this is, actually, irrelevant to the discussion at hand).

We must not lose sight of the truth of war, which is that Governments fight against other Governments. This is why attacks on civilians are held to be so horrible and why they are generally avoided at all costs: wars are fought between entities, not between Peoples. While attacks on civilians do happen, wars are not explicitly declared against civilians, nor are wars fought with the intention of fighting civilians. Instead, wars are fought with the intention of fighting against another Government and its army.

Defenseless? No. Better Protected Than Ever.

It is alleged that, if nothing else, we need the Government to provide us with defense against other Governments. This overlooks, first, the obvious truth that it is not us who other Governments–or even terrorists–want to impact; it is our Government. If we have no Government for them to fight or impact, then they have no motivation for messing with us. However, it is asserted that if we have no Government, then others will be irresistibly tempted to conquer us and make themselves into a Government over us. If we had no Government, then the Russians or the Chinese would invade to fill the gap in power.

What they would quickly find, however, is that the apparent “gap in power” was illusory and that we were, in fact, more powerful without a Government than anyone would ever be with a Government. Not only would Individuals, now that Individual Responsibility was recognized as critical, rise up to fight against any invading force, but the corporations and businesses for whom we provide luxury would have more interest in protecting us than any Government ever would. While it’s true that the CEOs of multibillion dollar companies don’t care much for their minimum wage employees, if their way of life is threatened, they will contribute wholeheartedly to the protection of that way of life, because they have more in danger than even the Individuals who would be fighting tooth and nail.

It was quite common in the Middle Ages for wealthy merchants and individual lords to purchase mercenary armies for their defense and for the defense of the people who they needed to protect. At their own expense, lords hired mercenary armies to protect their way of life, protecting, in the process, the people over whom they were in charge. While an anarchocapitalist society would not have lords and peasants, it would have CEOs and workers (just as we do now), and the two systems are much more alike than you think–and this is why many people call our current system “Feudalism 2.0”. Just as the lords of the Middle Ages hired mercenaries, purchased catapults, walls, castles, and trebuchets to protect themselves, their way of life, their power, and the people who gave them their way of life and power (those in charge need the underclasses much more than the underclasses need those in charge), so would the CEOs of today hire mercenaries, purchase drones, satellites, tanks, rocket launches, missile defense systems, and invest money in better ways of protecting their lives and livelihoods (thus protecting our own lives and livelihoods).

In World War 2, the Government forced many industrial companies to do this, but many of them wanted to do it anyway. Some of them wanted to because they wanted State-sanctioned monopolies (impossible in a Free Market system), but some of them wanted to do it because their lives, livelihoods, and ways of life were being threatened. And yes, we can rely on corporations to do the right thing and to be good to us, because the only thing that allows evil corporations like Monsanto and Tyson to fuck us over is the fact that the Government allows them to maintain a monopoly in their markets. If Individuals had a choice, no one would choose to use either Tyson or Monsanto, and both corporations would either go out of business or would quickly have to modify their behavior. Through competition and choice, we are assured to have corporations who protect us, who pay us well, who treat us well, and who recognize us as living beings who have the same rights and privileges as they, because if they didn’t do these things, we would vote with our wallets and would shut them down just as surely as the 70% shut down Chik-Fil-A above.

We can’t presently trust our corporations. I freely admit that. But the only reason we can’t trust our corporations is because they don’t have any competition and because we have no choice but to continue supporting them, even as they screw us over and commit acts of evil. Farmers have no choice but to continue supporting Monsanto’s tyranny because the Federal Government has regulations and codes that are preventing Monsanto from having any competition. Look at the Mississippi Casino market. All of the casinos offer health insurance, 401ks, Paid Time Off, opportunities for advancement, and all sorts of other perks to their employees, even though they don’t have to. They do this to attract better workers; to help themselves, they realize that they must help their workers and that the more they help the workers, the better the workers they will attract. People now compete with one another for these good jobs, allowing the casino to pick the best candidate. While this is true in every company in times of high unemployment, the casino has more of an advantage and gets much better applicants than, say, Domino’s Pizza. This is because the casinos offer substantially better pay, benefits, and perks. Many corporations already know that if you scratch your workers’ backs, they will scratch yours. If, however, all of the casinos were owned by a single conglomerate, then there would be no competition and the corporation could strip away most of these perks and benefits. And they would. But if suddenly a new casino opened and offered those perks and benefits, all of the best employees of the old casinos would leave and would go to the new casino. The old casinos would lose their best workers because the best workers would apply and would get jobs with the new casino because of the perks it offered them. At this point, the old casinos would have to reintroduce the perks in an attempt to get good workers back.

Competition protects us because Competition makes businesses and corporations need us as much as we need them. If the Communist China attempted to attack an America ruled by Anarchy, then the corporations and businesses of America would fight tooth and nail against the invaders, using the power of voluntarism and free will to create a force far more powerful than the conscripted and choice-less invaders. With not only their livelihood threatened, with not only our livelihood threatened, but with also the very notion of Capitalism and private property being threatened, everyone would voluntarily unite and fight to protect their individuality and their right to be free. Even if a non-Communist Government attempted to do this, the same thing would happen.

Competition and private property give us multitudes more power over corporations than we could ever have over our Government. And this is why I supported the secession last year–it would provide competition for the United States Government. As long as we have no other choice, the American Government can do what it wants to us, because they have no competition to which we can devote ourselves instead. If some of the States seceded and formed a new confederation with more desirable policies, then people would flock to this new Confederation, attracted by its perks and benefits in exactly the same way that people would flock to a new casino if it offered health insurance and a 401k but their old casino didn’t.

* For example, in 2012 Colorado and Washington had on their election ballads proposals which would decriminalize the possession of marijuana in quantities of less than an ounce, making it legal for Individuals to have and smoke weed. When this legislation passed, there was some concern that the Federal Government would overturn these initiatives and would re-criminalize the possession of marijuana. Obama announced that he would not have the Federal Government ignore the decisions of a Free People who voted democratically to legalize the plant, but it remains possible that he “could” have. President Obama could easily have thwarted the will of the People of Colorado and Washington, despite the fact that they legalized marijuana through a general vote, thus ensuring that the Majority felt that way. Violating this result would have been saying to the People of Colorado and Washington, “You do not govern yourselves. We govern you.” While President Obama chose not to do this, he still maintains that he had the power to do so. So how much power does Society really hold when the results of a vote held within a general election can be overruled by the State?