A friend of mine (Eddy Miles) recently wrote a short note titled "Rebels and Reformists". In short, it was a brief summarization of his reasons for being a Minarchist (believing in a limited State) as opposed to an Anarchist (the negation of the State). The note reads as follows:
"I\'ve been adding an interesting assortment of anarchists, communists, and others to my friends list lately, so I thought it might be entertaining and enlightening to briefly reiterate my own views on government and see what discussions I can generate.
I recently posted this summary on a friend\'s wall:
I personally don\'t think anarchist societies can last long once created (not because crime and disorder would tear the society apart as some would claim, but rather) because segments of the population would immediately seize control and create a government to their own personal liking.
That\'s why I\'m a minarchist, someone who believes there should be minimized, limited government, not a complete absence of government. Leaders and the established institutions in which they serve should first and foremost protect freedoms, and maybe provide a few public goods on the side (such as a military and system of roads).
Besides, if you think about it, thousands of years ago, ALL societies were anarchist societies before the development of governments. If anarchies were so self-sustainable, they never would have been abandoned for tyrannies, theocracies, democracies, republics, and empires.
Aside from the apathy of our fellow citizens and the ambitions of politicians, political philosophy is what\'s causing the American republic to fail and turn into a social democracy; most people care more about equality than they do personal responsibility, so they are willing to exchange their individual freedoms for social services, looking to the state to smooth out inequality rather then to eliminate it themselves."
Now to avoid any vagueness, I’ll quickly go through specific areas of interest within this testimonial.
One vicinity I found error with was in the first sentence of the second paragraph. The sentence reads “I personally don’t anarchist societies can last long once created”. Now before carrying on any further, I want to address the latter part of that sentence. The word \'created\' is grossly misplaced here. For the exact definition of ‘Creation’ is as follows: the bringing of something into existence; a product of human imagination or invention.
Essentially a ‘creation’ necessitates a ‘creator’ or ‘creators’. But, in fact, Anarchy, by definition, is not a creation. It is rather an undoing of a certain creation. An abolition of something invented or imagined. The negation of that which was brought into existence. Therefore the word creation, when applied to the central ideal of Anarchy, is a misuse of proper language.
Another part of interest lies in the word ‘government’. Again, to look at the exact definition: “the management or control of something”. One would be hard-pressed not to find the act of government incorporated throughout human nature. We govern our effects. Our brains govern our bodies. Parents govern their children. People govern, or manage, each other under voluntary basis (the employer and the laborer). Self-government is the de-facto state of being for all creatures of a volitional conciesness.
So, what manner of government is the author referring to? Well, I would imagine the egregiously inhuman act of involuntary government (enslavement). That is… the State. In fact, to make it easier, I will not refer to Government as a noun in the rest of my remarks, but rather to the State, to ensure understanding of what I am actually pertaining to.
Another area I should comment on is that regarding order vs. disorder. Order is desireable to all peace-loving individuals. But liberty is the mother, not the daughter of order. The natural order of reactionary law will replace the divisive and chaotic arbitary law that the State lives by.
The final area of criticism I have with the technicalities of this note is in the declaration that all societies began in Anarchy, but naturally evolved into State structures. Indeed this is the case, but hardly a rallying point for the necessity of the State’s existence. Indeed slavery evolved naturally throughout the course of human history, but recently found itself entangled in controversy in relation to the theory of individual and inalienable natural rights. Slavery, then, has fallen out of favor with the Western world. However, the State has not, though the morality of both should be under the same scrutiny.
The argument that something is, and has been, is not a legitimate claim that it will always be… or that it should be at all.
Now for the body of my response.
Politics has always been a dividing force in the world. It divides not only among already promulgated groups (such as religious, sexual, racial, cultural, regional, etc.), but also creates a new categorization of ideology that pits one faction against another. We have Communists, Fascists, Socialists, Democrats, Republicans, and a myriad of hybrid philosophies born out of the minds of politicians, professors, and ideologues.
Each and every one of these groups seek one thing… power. They seek the power of the State in order to enact their individual goals and ideals upon society. To them, society is no more than an experimental entity on which they wish to test their theories. Very few stand on principle as the absolute of their ideology.
But the greatest way in which politics has divided us is the most obvious. Despite Marxist rhetoric, natural classes will always exist as part of human nature. We are all different as individuals and groups, and each take divergent paths in social and economic life. However, the advent of politics has created a class separate from that of the natural factions and hierarchies. It has created a class the pits itself against humanity, and all their classes. It is the parasitic class, those we refer to as the “Elites”. Those who do not produce, but steal. Those who do not trade, but force. Those who do not act peacefully and voluntarily, but violently and coercively. It is the Political Class... the Rulers and the Ruled.
The State is a legal monopoly on the service of defense, on the violence, and therefore crime, over a designated area. All states, no matter how limited, no matter how “democratic”, holds to this definition… if it does not, it cannot be properly called a State. The State must take by force that which it needs to survive and to act, as opposed to every other organization which must offer services and receive funds voluntarily (either through trade or charity/gifts). The State also manages to permeate other sectors of social service as well, and apply it’s legal monopoly on force to them.
There is no way to escape this binding definition. This is no subjective opinion on the matter, it is a cold hard fact that the State monopolizes it’s service on defense, and it’s use of violence. It is a cold hard fact that what we define as crime in the private sector is somehow deemed otherwise when perpetrated by beauracrats and politicians to sustain their continued existence as the political class. The political class, unlike the fictitious boogey-men fabricated by Marxists, actually does commit murder, extortion, and enslavement of the masses. There is no way to elude the fact that taking without permission is theft, and to call private robbery by that name without applying it with equal measure to the actions of involuntary taxation and fees for a service forced upon the people to begin with, is an act of moral dishonesty. Is a rose by any other name so sweet? Is theft by any other name less destructive?
As Murray Rothbard correctly said: “The State is a gang of thieves writ large.”
Though through the use of propaganda and mystification, the masses have been subjugated without much more than a whimper. And so the State has received it’s faux legitimacy and fiat authority through the lack of knowledge and the dearth of action. This does not true legitimacy make, for the gun is still held to the victim’s head, whether the victim believes the gun to exist or not.
As true as it is that all political ideologies strive for power, it is equally true that the left/right paradigm is a completely illogical, inconsistent, and an absolute mess of a fraud. The only real separation is between the Libertarians and the Statists.
What separates, essentially, the Libertarian from the Statist, is the understanding of this flawed thinking that has saturated modern culture. The Statist believes that political interest is somehow independent of human nature, so that selfishness, greed, corruption, power-lust, and deprivation only applies to the private sector. It is even ignored that man is still fallible upon entering public office. To what extent it is recognized, it is not treated with the same mistrust and disdain that criminals and malcontents outside of the State receive.
This great double standard is the foundation of the doctrine of statism. That the common man is depraved, but the public man is not. That the common man is evil, but the public man can cure that evil. That the common man is prone to corruption, but the public man is altruistic. This failure of logic, this fallacy of thinking has led to the legitimacy of organized crime in social order. Tradition has caused us to believe it is for the common good. Mystification (whether by the religious clerics of old, or the intellectuals of modern day) has made us accept it as an inevitability. If an evil, a necessary one.
There is also the issue of exceptionalism. There is national exceptionalism, which states that all acts done by one State is fine, but if the same acts are perpetrated by another State it is a crime. There is also period exceptionalism, which is the ideal that in the particular time period (modern day) people have become more civilized and more socially responsible. The evils of the past are overlooked and pointed to only when it benefits the State’s motives. Human Nature, unfortunately, has not changed and will not be perfected or bettered with the further concentration of power in the hands a few.
The Libertarian rejects these notions. The State is not good, and by it’s nature can never be used for good. It is legal crime, perpetrated by fallible and corrupted men. It is the organization of force, and monopolization of violence, the legitimization of coercion. The State is altogether an evil.
Minarchists, of the Libertarian persuasion for the most part, have come under the impression to limit the State and it’s evils. Thus was the purpose of the American Revolution, born out the Enlightenment and discovery of natural rights, and the reformation of the Western world. They have imposed Constitutions to form the State to the people‘s ends, to limit it’s evils, and to separate it’s powers. They have instructed for democratic process… in some cases pure majoritarianism (which is no better than mob rule)… to keep Leviathan under the watchful eye of the public. It was a wonderful inception, a noble cause. Yet it was still flawed. The Minarchists still think of the State as a necessary evil. They, unlike the other political ideolouges, do not want to use power for their own desires and ideals for society. They believed in Human Liberty, but they made the mistake of trusting the protection of it to the State. They held to the inaccuracy that the State could be limited, and that there could be such a thing as a necessary evil.
The Constitutions, no matter how limiting, can not preserve themselves. The concept of social contract is an overstepping of logic. If a contract is made, in order for it to be legitimate it must only involve those who have explicitly consented (not implied). The Constitutions, however, do not follow this rule. They imply that each individual in society accepts the terms, but only a few have written it and actually expressed their consent.
No matter the legitimacy, eventually the State will break free it’s bonds. Any voluntary organization cannot do this… but the State does not operate under the same rules as other organizations. They automatically are given the use of force, the ability to steal, and the monopolistic control over society in all it’s pursuits.
To answer the age old question asked by Juvinal (“who watches the watchmen”) democratic process was introduced into the equation. (which brings up the contradiction of allowing people who "need to be ruled" to choose their rulers) Yet this ignores the Iron Law of Oligarchy that is set in social order. No matter what groups individuals cumulate into, the Iron Law of Oligarchy still applies. In short, it is the social theory (a theory proven more than once) that a few people will eventually take the center of control and attention. This is not always a bad thing. Celebrities are to be admired, CEO’s and entrepreneurs are to be praised for their successes and contribution to society, and even within the current freedom movement, de-facto leaders like Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Adam Kokesh, naturally arise in a voluntary and peaceful fashion.
The Iron Law of Oligarchy becomes dangerous once the State is put into play. For even if the majority chooses those who enter the State’s offices, they are the ones who control the elections. They count the votes. It is their parties, their laws, their rule is still in effect. They no more have to answer to us than they have to answer to an Iraqi citizen. They steal our money, they are put in charge of our freedoms, they have the sole ability to commit violence without recompense, to enact force without any legal repercussion. Sure, they fear revolution… but they have the tools of secrecy and mystification at their side. The Elite (intellectual, financial, political) always foam to the top of the glass. The corrupt among men always are drawn to the temptation of power.
The fallacious ideal that the State can be separated is another hoax. That they are called branches is no accident… do not branches all flow back to the same plant, the same root? They are indeed all part of the exact same organization. There is no competition but that which is staged by the two party duopoly of political associations and the Oligarchial Elite that control the destiny of the State. Federalism is a much more noble and realistic attempt at separating power… yet power is by nature a uniting force, not one of separation.
Now to summarize and conclude this rebuttal.
My friend is certainly no Statist. I suppose he is as much a freedom-lover as I. Yet, and more to the point of what I want to convey, the mindset of his note (and that of all Minarchists) is a flawed ideal. As is his conclusion on Anarchism.
The fear most present in the note was that of new States arising in the event of a vacuum. But to say that by negating the State, we risk a State, is quite the unconvincing argument. We must not kill ourselves for fear of dying. However, I suspect my friend was more afraid of a State more tyrannical than the current one (his minimalist State) taking charge.
The reasoning here fails to recognize one problem with that logic.
There is no such thing as a lesser evil.
Certainly a small State is superior in some ways to a large State, but it is a State nonetheless. Would I be happy if a Minarchist State took the place of what is currently in power? Of course I would. Will I support Minarchy? No I will not.
To put it very simply… the State, as it is defined and as it must exist, is evil. I am of the mindset, and cannot be of any other mindset, that no evil is necessary or acceptable. The limitation of evil, no matter how preferable to the original degree, is still evil… and I will oppose it.
Slavery, murder, theft… while I’m sure any person with common sense would be thrilled to see any of these decreased and restrained in their magnitude and effect, you would have a difficult time finding anyone who would support the ideal of having a limited state of murder, a limited state of theft, or a limited state of slavery. They are against it entirely, and if there was any way to end it completely and immediately, they would take it. Though it may not be realistic to think this will happen tomorrow (or at all), you will not find any sane man supporting their legality or continued perpetration… no matter how minimal.
The State, being the organization that regularly commits the act of theft and slavery (and must if it is to remain a State by definition) as well as murder, should be seen no differently. To have any enthused supporters of this organization is bad enough… but to have those who would claim to be against these evils simply take the “moderate” view of limiting the State to “serve” the citizens, is mind-boggling.
Do I think the State will be eliminated tomorrow? Absolutely not. Do I think it will ever be put to rest? Maybe, it is not an impossibility. The acts the State commits will probably never be entirely ended, as human nature is prone to evils (as much as it is to good). But to be rid of the one organization that has lived parasitically off of society, that has committed the most crimes against humanity, that has curtailed the most liberties, killed the most people, started the most wars, bankrupted the most economies, and enslaved the most individuals in the history of planet Earth… should not be seen as an entire possibility.
Though I accept the realities of the world around me, and the incredible unlikelihood of the State going anywhere soon… I still stand against it. I do not take a middle-ground on the issue. I am not interested in reforming the State, I wish to abolish it. I will take every step I can to lessen the evils of the State, but I will not support that limitation as the ends. That the State remains, and must be limited as much as possible, is a reality that must be recognized. But the end goal should never be to make moral concessions. That the State will be abolished immediately is not practical, that it ought to be is the very essence of what I and all Libertarians believe in.
Until that time comes to pass, we must continue to fight tyranny, as we who support natural rights must fight against all violations and infringements. Utopia will never be reached, but the State (the greatest of perpetrators against the rights of man) must be stopped. Anarchy is not about some visionary ideal for society, some great social order that will make all our lives better by being put into action… it is about ridding civilization of the parasitic evil that continually plunders, steals, murders, enslaves, and oppresses… and it is a goal we should all embrace if ‘Libertarian’ is what we wish to call ourselves.
Of course I believe Anarchy will produce a voluntary, peaceful, and prosperous society in the absence of the State, and I believe freedom will flourish. But that is not the point, and to make it the point is to embrace the same political utilitarianism used by the Communists, Fascists, and Socialists. That Libertarianism is an a-political and principled movement is of utmost importance.
And that is really what separates Libertarians. It’s not Minarchy vs. Anarchy, Left vs. Right, Rothbardian vs. Randian. It is between those who hold the principles of human liberty and stands with unwavering conviction against the evils of the State, and those who simply theorize about political organizations that are more pragmatic and economical. Those who hold that evil should be vanquished at all costs, and those who think we should make concessions to keep the costs as low as possible. Those who are radical and those who are moderate. Even non-Libertarians have shown to have disdain for the abuses of powers that in-name Libertarians have shrugged off. There are even Minarchists who have shown more hatred of tyranny than those who would consider themselves Anarcho-Capitalists.
I stand against the State because I know it is evil, and I am unwavering in that conviction. I am a radical abolitionist, not a moderate who makes deals and compromises between good and evil. I will take what I can get, but I will never accept it as final. I am gladly an enemy of the State.
The real difference, as my friend entitled in his note, is between the Rebels and the Reformers.
Well, I don’t know about the rest of you… but I’m damn proud to be a Rebel.
-Justin T. Buell