A Few Reasons I Am Also Not An Anarchist
Apparently this post by Austin Petersen at The Libertarian Republic angered a lot of anarchists – though to be fair, that isn’t very hard to do. He gives five reasons he is not an anarchist. I agree with some of them… others not as much. I’ll give a few reasons of my own here.
1. States are inevitable. The minarchy v. anarchy debate is an academic and abstract one, and even then it is pointless. In a perfect world, I would be an anarchist. I am a minarchist not because I reject anarchism’s basic underlying principles, but because I believe a minimal state is the only possible alternative to large, intrusive states. Anarchists often say that minarchies always become big oppressive states in the end; but then, anarchy always become minarchy in the end as well. The difference is that some minarchies last a very long time and generate an enormous amount of prosperity (think Switzerland, Venice, America during the 19th century, Hong Kong), while many of the examples put forward by anarchists are either short-lived, impoverished, or both (think medieval Iceland and Somalia; and I’m not even including left-wing anarcho-communist examples here). I’d rather live under the unholy, intolerable tyranny of a commercial city-state with a small but efficient government than the glorious liberty of a squalid medieval village – but that’s just me I suppose.
2. States are inevitable. Wait, didn’t I just say that? What I mean this time is that even if one area of the planet were liberated along anarchist lines, much of the rest of the planet would not be. Without sovereign institutions, it isn’t clear how Anarchostan would interact with the rest of the world. Who represents it in diplomatic affairs? Does every single property owner send a delegate to the United Nations? How are vital strategic interests determined and protected? The demands that minarchies place on the property and wealth of its citizens to efficiently decide such things are worth the benefits they bring. On the other hand, I can see no rational justification for insisting that one be exempt from contributing to them.
3. Some of the greatest classical liberal/capitalist minds have been minarchist. This is not a crude appeal to authority. It doesn’t “prove” anything. It is worth considering though. Ludwig von Mises, the founder of the Austrian school that so many anarcho-capitalists are affiliated with today, explicitly rejected anarchism in favor of minarchism. So did F.A. Hayek. It was Murray Rothbard who popularized anarcho-capitalism. But even Rothbard, in practice, never saw anarcho-capitalism on the horizon. He supported Pat Buchanan’s presidential run in 1992. But Rothbard was virtually a Leninist in his political realism. The average an-cap appears to think voting is a sin or at least something only suckers do, and supporting a political campaign as completely selling out.
Frankly I don’t care what people believe. I care about what they do. Be an an-cap. But be like Murray, at least, and be smart about it.