The How & Why of Anarchism, Part 5: Crime & Punishment

Included links won’t work, and I’m not up to fixing them at the moment… I’m sorry about that. I will fix them in the future, though.

In the previous installation of the series, we discussed war, its causes, its nature, and how a Society with no Government would protect itself against foreign Governments. There is little to add to that discussion, except that there may be some confusion about why we could expect corporations and businesses to come to our aid in the same manner with which Government provides for our national defense. To answer this question, we must first ask another question: Why do we expect our Government to come to our aid and provide for our national defense?

Corporations and businesses could, after all, be persuaded by foreign Governments into turning a blind eye to an invasion, into selling us out, and into allowing the foreign Government to conquer us. Suppose that a foreign Government promises to give the Corporation more power, a monopoly in their industries, and other benefits. Wouldn’t a corporation naturally want to take that offer, since it is the desire for profit that drives corporations in the first place, and since being promised a monopoly is guaranteed to yield a profit? Well, yes, it’s a possibility.

But the very same things could be said of our Government. Politicians within our Government could be made the very same offers. “We’ll install a new Government and give you the authority of Kings!” the foreign Government could say. What would keep our Government from selling us out to some foreign Government if that foreign Government made a tempting offer? “Turn a blind eye to our invasion, and we’ll give you…” What would keep anyone in our Government from accepting that offer?

Nothing, really, except that the American People wouldn’t stand by and let our Government do it. The only thing preventing our Government officials from selling us out to a foreign Government… is us. It’s we, the American People, who provide for our National Defense, as the Government and its members could always turn a blind eye to an invasion by a foreign Government, and the only thing preventing them from doing that is the fact that we wouldn’t allow it and we would fight it. We’d remove from power any Government and any Government official who attempted to turn a blind eye to an invasion.

The bottom line is that we’re currently “unprotected” from this possibility. If all of Congress and the White House suddenly decided to send all our soldiers to Afghanistan while the Russians invaded us, there would be no mechanism in place to protect us from this screw-over by our Government. There are no defense systems, no mechanisms, and no other systems with which we can ensure that our current Government doesn’t sell us out to a foreign Government. By abolishing our Government and switching to an Anarchy governed by Principles rather than people, we wouldn’t lose any ability to ensure that we weren’t sold out to foreign powers.

Our Government is as capable of selling us out to foreign Governments as the corporations and businesses would be in an Anarchy.

But our Government officials won’t sell us out to foreign Governments. Just as you have an intense love for your homeland and a patriotism to your land, so do the people in Government–and so do CEOs and small-business owners. The CEOs, Representatives, and Senators all have the same passionate love for our homeland as do you and I. Just as neither you nor I could imagine turning a blind eye to a foreign Government by allowing that Government to invade and conquer our homeland, neither can they. Bill Gates loves his homeland as much as you do; Donald Trump loves his homeland as much as you do; David Rockefeller loves his homeland as much as you do; the CEO of Wal-Mart loves his homeland as much as you do. Just as you would fight tooth and nail, devoting everything you had to fighting an invasion, so would they–just as our Government does.

Most CEOs recognize that they need us far more than we need them. They’re replaceable; we are not. Worse still, they can and will be replaced if they don’t treat us well and competition rises which will treat us well. As I demonstrated in Part Four, corporations and businesses, when there is proper and unrestricted competition, go out of their way to treat their employees and customers well, because competition means that if they don’t, then they will be brought down by the Free Market and consumer choices very, very quickly. When there is competition, corporations have to treat us well, they have to treat their employees well, and the better they treat consumers and their employees, the better consumers and their employees treat them. This is exactly why, in the Middle Ages, laws were passed preventing serfs from freely moving from one lord to another; the competition created by allowing the serfs to move to a lord who paid better or treated them better forced other lords to behave better and pay better, and the other lords did not appreciate this. Read Ken Follet’s “World Without End” if you’re curious about how a wage increase by one lord could make other lords furious. Now, of course, we’re not dealing with lords and serfs; we’re dealing with CEOs and employees, and it is understood that employees can freely move from one corporation to another and that they will go to whichever corporation treats them the best. This forces CEOs, whether they like it or not, to treat their consumers and employees better. The more competition there is, the better the CEOs must treat their employees and consumers. If, then, we lift all restraints on competition, the standards of consumers and employees will increase drastically. 

With a Free People fighting for their freedom, no force on Earth can defeat them. And when you apply the principle that these Free People are voluntarily contributing all that they can to the effort, instead of having it forced upon them, you end up with a Free People fighting tooth and nail with everything they have against invaders.

When a Free People fight for their freedom, no force on Earth can defeat them.

Corporations will have as much to lose as do the Individuals and would therefore contribute just as wholeheartedly to the cause. Sure, there may be some corporations who are willing to turn a blind eye to the invasion, and there may still be others who are actually willing to sabotage our efforts, but there are now Government officials who may be willing to turn a blind eye to an invasion, and there may still be other Government officials who are actually willing to sabotage our efforts. Our current system leaves us no recourse to reprimand or prevent the President of the United States, if he so chooses, to sell us out to a foreign power. With the President being wholly in charge of our military, we could be sold out to a foreign Government by a single person, and nothing really prevents him from doing this. However, in an Anarchy governed by Principles, no one person could singlehandedly sell us out to a foreign Government, and if any one person tried, they’d quickly find themselves boycotted, blockaded, and brought down by consumer choices, competition, and the rivalry of the Free Market. Only a love for his homeland and his People prevent the President (any President) from selling us out to a foreign Government. A love for the homeland and the People, and the Free Market consequences of trying (as outlined previously) prevent a corporation from trying to sell us out to a foreign Government. Since no force on Heaven or Earth can defeat a Free People who fight for their freedom, the Free People would inevitably win, and if the corporation which sold them out managed to survive to that point, it would not survive much longer. Betrayed and angry, the Free People would rally against that corporation like never before, and any corporation which rose in competition that was led by someone who had fought bravely in the war would overtake the treacherous one in a matter of days.

The Free Market and Free Market consequences save us from being sold out by any corporation. Moreover, the people in charge of these corporations, like you and I and like the people in Government, love their homeland, the principles of their homeland, and their People just as much as everyone else. They would fight for their homeland just as strongly and devotedly as you would.

Okay… I’ll Reluctantly Accept That… Just Move On. What About Murder?

Ah, for murder we must examine Laws. Governments pass laws, yes, but those laws are only reflections of what Society thinks is right and wrong. When Society accepted slavery, the Government allowed it. When Society turned against slavery, the Government outlawed it. When Society accepted drinking, the Government allowed it. When Society* turned against drinking, the Government enacted Prohibition. When Society turned against Prohibition, the Government allowed drinking again. When Society* turned against mairjuana, the Government outlawed it. Now that Society is turning around again to allow marijuana, the Government is following suit.

My point in all of this is that Society, and not Government, dictates what is and isn’t allowed. Society makes the decisions, and Government just writes them down. Government, however, is slow to change its mind and slow to modify existing law–hence the current marijuana situation. Though huge portions of the country want to see marijuana legalized for medical purposes and still more want to see it legalized for recreational purposes**, the Government is still very reluctant to do this and has instead simply said that it won’t try to overturn some State laws about it. Rather than actually being on the cutting edge of social progress, the Government always is a few steps behind. It follows that, with the Government always being a few steps behind, Government often gets in the way–as it is now doing with marijuana.

At any rate, even if Government timed its legislation to perfectly coincide with the decisions and values of Society, then Government still actually contributes nothing to the process. All the Government does is write down Society’s values and prescribe punishments for people who violate those values. Firstly, writing it down isn’t necessary and, as I pointed out in the preceding paragraph, does more harm than good: it causes Government to lag behind Society, often getting in the way of social progress. There is no reason, for example, to write down that murder is illegal, that rape is illegal, or that theft is illegal. Society decided these things a very long time ago, and writing them down contributes nothing to the function of Society.

Laws also do not protect anyone from having anything happen to them. A law making murder illegal doesn’t prevent anyone from committing murder. If it did, you’d be able to type in the comments, “The only thing keeping me from murdering people is the fact that it’s illegal.” The same is true of rape and theft. If laws against these crimes were actually preventing anyone from doing them, then people would be able to say, “The only thing that keeps me from stealing, raping, and killing is the fact that we’ve made it illegal! Thank God for these laws! Because if it wasn’t illegal, I’d rape, torture, and kill you, and then steal everything you owned!”

But no one thinks that way. The law isn’t deterring anyone from committing any crime. People don’t commit crimes because their Morality holds them back, and when that Moral Restraint breaks down, then they are capable of committing rape, theft, and murder. But as long as that Moral Restraint holds up, no amount of anger or desire can entice them into killing, raping, or stealing. And once that Moral Restraint breaks down, no law can stop someone from killing, raping, or stealing. Once their Morality breaks down, for whatever reason, then no Law will stop them from doing whatever they want. At that point, the Law will only provide a framework within which they can be punished. But since the Law isn’t actually deterring anyone and the Law is only a reflection of Society’s value (thus, a reflection of Individuals’ Moral Restraints) in the first place, why is the Law even necessary?

Violations against Society’s values, however, that have victims would still require some sort of punishment–though “victimless crimes” would not. And this is because there’s no such thing as a “victimless crime,” and a Free People understand that. A “victimless crime” isn’t a crime; it’s a choice. In modern America, smoking pot is a “victimless crime,” and it is one that can send someone to prison for several years. Not too long ago in most states, sodomy (and hence homosexuality) was a “victimless crime,” and it was also one that could send someone to prison for several years. Society has changed its mind about tolerating these things, but they should never have been crimes in the first place. Nothing that does not have a victim should be considered a crime. The idea is absurd, and a Free People find it abhorrent. “Victimless crimes” are choices, and just because one Individual or another does not approve of the action in question doesn’t give anyone the right to make it a crime which warrants punishment. Only crimes with victims are crimes; anything else is simply a choice and must be tolerated, no matter how much you disapprove of it.

Any action can be made into a crime if we allow this notion of “victimless crimes” to exist. Turning on a fan when it is Sunday could become a “victimless crime” which sends people to prison if we allow some religious sects to have power over legislation. The very same intolerance has allowed sodomy, gay marriage, and marijuana to all be made illegal–one religious group or another determined that the action was a sin and that, even though there was no victim, it needed to be punished with imprisonment. We can’t let this happen; the only way to prevent it is by abolishing this notion of victimless crimes. When we abolish victimless crimes, we are left only with crimes which have victims:

Murder, rape, and theft. We have the taking of life, we have the violation of rights and autonomy, and we have the violation of property rights. When we abolish victimless crimes, we are left with only three crimes, and those three crimes are:

  • Violating someone’s right to Life.
  • Violating someone’s right to Liberty.
  • Violating someone’s right to Pursue Happiness.

Those are the only crimes in a Free Society, and those are the only things we need to prevent any Individual from doing. As there is no greater violation of someone’s right to Life than killing them, murder would necessarily not be allowed. As there are few violations of someone’s right to Liberty (autonomy, self-governance, and choice) than forcing oneself upon them, rape would necessarily be not allowed. As there is no greater violation of someone’s right to Pursue Happiness than by stealing the property with which they would pursue that happiness (as Part Two demonstrated, the right to pursue happiness requires the right to private property), theft would necessarily not be allowed. Now that we’ve protected everyone’s Life, Liberty, and right to pursue happiness, what else is there left for Society to ensure?

Nothing. Everything’s taken care of at this point. We established in Part Two that the only things we must protect are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, because trying to protect anything beyond these three things require sacrifices of these three things. In regard to health care, I demonstrated that we can only protect someone’s “‘right’ to receive healthcare” by sacrificing the right to pursue happiness (by violating the right to private property of others). Every Individual does, however, have the right to pursue healthcare. But that is where their rights end when it comes to healthcare.

With Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness now protected by Social Agreement, we must only ask…

“Okay, Fine. But Not Everyone Follows the Law or These… ‘Social Agreements’…

No, that’s true. As I stated above, people break the law. People commit rape, theft, and murder every single day. And this is true, even though we have laws in place which have made these things illegal. What good are these laws doing? Would we have more rape, theft, and murder if these things weren’t illegal? If we would, then you think that the only thing stopping people from raping, stealing, and murdering is the fact that it’s illegal. There’s no justification for thinking this, especially since the only reason these things are illegal is because we have decided that they’re wrong.

In the process of Law, first the People decide that the act is wrong. Then the Government makes it illegal. So even if you remove the Government and even if you remove the whole concept of legal and illegal, the People still think it’s wrong, because they were the ones who decided in the first place that it was wrong, and this decision is what created the Law. The Law didn’t make Society think that rape, murder, and theft are wrong; Society decided these things are wrong, thus the Government passed a Law that said so. But whether the Law is there has no impact on whether or not Society thinks something is right or wrong–again, see the marijuana changes sweeping our nation.

What Society says is Moral, Immoral, and Amoral is completely independent of what the Government decrees. After all the Government had once decreed that slavery was okay. Society said slavery was not okay, even though the Government had already passed laws saying it was. The Government had once decreed that homosexuality was illegal. Society said that homosexuality was okay, even though the Government had already passed laws saying it wasn’t. Over and over again, we find that Society dictates what is right and wrong and Government only passes laws to reflect that. Over and over again, we also find that the Government’s laws make no difference to the Society and have no impact on the entire process. Over and over again, we find that the Laws aren’t necessary because they don’t do anything.

The only things the Law accomplishes which Society’s Values do not is that the Law provides a framework for punishing people who violate the acts. There is a rigid system for this which defines rigid punishments, and the further we go into bureaucracy, the more rigid this framework becomes. Already, trials are by the State and not by the Jury, as demonstrated in Part Two, and already Jurors are restricted only to delivering verdicts based on the law and the crime. This was not always the case. Jurors were once able to weigh the circumstances of the crime, whether or not the action was justified by the circumstances, the Constitutionality of the law, the rightness of the law, and all sorts of other factors that have since fallen to the homogenization of bureaucracy.

Just as we have Trials today, so would we have trials in an AnarchyThe Government doesn’t have a monopoly on Justice. Society does. When someone is accused of violating another’s Life, Liberty, or right to pursue happiness, Society can try this person by a jury of peers just as Government is supposed to today. Individual counties, cities, and neighborhoods can come up with their own methods for incarcerating people while trials are organized and can allow the jury to decide the consequences if found guilty, allowing the circumstances of the crime and the Individual’s history to guide their sentencing if the person is found to have done wrong.

Justice is not and can never be a one-size-fits-all thing.

Circumstances matter, and by not trying to homogenize the process and by not trying to make one-size-fits-all systems of sentences, we allow the impartial Jury to weigh the action, the effects of the action, the motive behind the action, and the circumstances of the action to determine a sentence that is fitting to the crime. Trial by jury has been a staple of Western Society for centuries. It’s not going anywhere, because Society dictated that crimes shall be handled by a jury of peers. Government didn’t decide this. Society did. All Government did was write it down. And Society will still have trials by jury, even without a Government making them do it, because we as Individuals figured out centuries ago that the only way to ensure Justice and not revenge was to allow an impartial jury of peers to deliberate–and to assign a sentence relative to the heinous nature of the crime.

Um…

It has been amply demonstrated here that Government is not necessary to the Criminal Justice process. It has been amply demonstrated that Laws do not have any actual utility and that they are only documents that provide a framework for punishing criminals–and then it was amply demonstrated that trying to have such a framework to punish criminals is a bad idea. So not only do laws fail to provide a deterrent for criminal behavior, but their only other function, to provide frameworks for sentencing, is flawed and should be abhorred by a Free People. Since Laws have only the purpose of acting as a deterrent and fail to do that (I dare you to type in the comments, “Only the fact that it’s illegal is keeping me from raping every woman I see and want.), and since their secondary purpose is to provide a framework for sentencing (which is abhorrent to a Free People, as a Free People recognize that motive and circumstances matter far more than the actual act itself), it is shown that Laws have no place in our Society. 

Furthermore, it has been shown that since there is a lag between Society’s Moral Restraints and Government’s laws, the Government’s Laws frequently get in the way of social progress and that, even if Government laws perfectly coincided with the changes in a Society’s Moral Restraints, the Law is still not desirable because it contributes nothing to the process–if it might as well not be done as be done, then it shouldn’t be done. If it has no effect, then there’s no reason it should be done. Doing things that have no discernible effect, even in theory, except to occasionally slow or halt Social Progress, and at best simply “don’t get in the way,” we’re creating waste and burning resources on irrelevant actions that have no impact and no bearing on reality. It requires time and resources to pass laws, to work out homogenized sentences, to defend the homogenized sentences against the ACLU and other organizations who argue that normalized sentencing is contrary to the principle of Liberty, and all of these resources could be better spent elsewhere, especially since burning them as we’re now doing on things that have no positive benefit, even in theory, is doing nothing but wasting resources.

Brief Summary

Since there are only three things which Society needs to protect and since those three things are Life, Liberty, and the right to pursue happiness, we only need, ultimately, one law:

Each Individual has the right and freedom to do whatever he or she desires and own whatever he or she may acquire, so long as he or she takes no action that impedes negatively, with malice or intention, the ability of another to do as he or she may desire or own whatever he or she may acquire.

That one law takes care of everything, and it wouldn’t even be a “law,” since there would be no Government which would pass it. It would be a Social Agreement, built on the principles which we all hold dear to our heart. It does not allow for any action to be labelled as a “victimless crime,” yet it adequately handles the Big Three: rape, murder, and theft, as well as other things such as torture, coercion, inhibitions of free speech, and violations of privacy (since privacy is an extention of the right to private property, including oneself). Nothing else needs to be addressed, and anyone found to have violated any part of the above Social Agreement can and would be apprehended by Society and given a trial by a jury of peers who weighted the evidence and delivered a verdict, and who then weighted the circumstances and the motive to deliver a sentence. Everything is handled. Everyone is free.

With national defense already protected as outlined previously and further elaborated here and with criminality and criminal behavior adequately handled by a Free People acting within their rights to protect the Life, Liberty, and right to pursue happiness of all Individuals, then there is nothing left for Government to even do. We’ve rendered Government pointless. We’ve taken the primary roles which our Government performs and we’ve demonstrated that all of these roles would be filled and served better by a Free People. What is our reason for surrendering our rights, powers, and responsibility to handle these things ourselves to a Government when the Government could never be as effective, as just, or as devoted?

* Well, when radical lobbyists within the Society turned against…

** Marijuana, after all, is thousands of times superior to alcohol… It’s non-habit forming, it doesn’t cause men to beat their wives, it doesn’t cause parties to erupt in violence, it doesn’t cause thousands of vehicular deaths each year, it’s natural…

The idea that we can have a Government which protects our Liberty runs contrary to common sense, logic, and reason. Government exists only to destroy Liberty–we are charging with protecting Liberty an institution whose primary function is to destroy Liberty.