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What is Anarchy?   26 comments

My conversation with Becky started easily enough — for me. I wanted to know —

What is anarcho capitalism?  Or better yet, what is capitalism? What is anarchy? And then what is anarcho capitalism?


BECKY:  Boy, she starts with the easy stuff!


LELA:  I didn’t realize that was a deep-end-of-the-pool question. It’s seemed like a good start, but it’s a big subject. Sorry.



BECKY:  Lela, I retaliated by heading for Webster’s—and I was pleasantly surprised: I can live with its definition of “capitalism”—

 an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

I doubt that I’m alone when I use “capitalism” as short-hand for “economic freedom and abundance” as opposed to the enslavement and poverty of socialism or communism. (And I would hope that contrast is beyond dispute at this point. Progressives’ infatuation with communism is no longer tenable, given the multitudes of corpses and accounts from eyewitnesses of mass murder, torture, famine, etc. If you continue to espouse communism, you not only condone those horrors, making you a menace to humanity, but you are probably an American politician.)


LELA:  That would be my understanding of capitalism (and readers are welcome to rebut if they like). So what is anarchy?


BECKY: Let’s head back to the dictionary for the definition:


  1. a state of society without government or law.
  2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.

Synonyms: lawlessness, disruption, turmoil.

  1. anarchism (def 1).
  2. lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination: the anarchy of his rebellious teenage years.
  3. confusion and disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

It was impossible to find the book I was looking for in the anarchy of his bookshelves.

Synonyms: chaos, disruption, turbulence; license; disorganization, disintegration.

Alas, this time I’m not nearly as happy, though my dissatisfaction is soon remedied by isolating the first definition and inserting the word positive before law:

 a state of society without government or positive law.



LELA: What is positive law?

BECKY:  Positive law, of course, is that set of man-made regulations, decrees, commands—any “law” beyond the Biblical ban of murder, theft, rape, and kidnapping (philosophers call this proscription on initiating violence against others “natural law”).


LELA: What would be some examples of natural versus positive laws?

BECKY: All of us recognize that walking up to a man and decapitating him is morally wrong because it’s murder, but few if any of us would agree that manufacturing incandescent light bulbs of 100 watts is a sin. Yet governments around the world, including the Feds, have made such production illegal. We designate such arbitrariness “positive law” though its effects are anything but positive.


LELA: I see what you mean. I’m quite irritated with the loss of 100-watt bulbs. I now have to turn on all the lights in the kitchen to read a cookbook. I wonder why they call it positive law.


BECKY: Anarchy, then, means living life without politicians and bureaucrats, without the taxes and poverty, war, diktats, cruelty and all-around misery they inflict as well as the obedience and obeisance they demand in return. In short, anarchy means living free of the State and its coercion. It does not imply the suspension of natural law so that the “big” crimes (such as murder and theft) that everyone, even criminals, acknowledges to be immoral are suddenly OK. Murder is still murder, theft is still theft, and both are still crimes under anarchy.


LELA:  We’ll return to that subject of crime later. What is anarcho-capitalism?



BECKY: Well, looking at definitions 2, 4, and 5 tells us why libertarian philosophers coined the term “anarcho-capitalism.” The State, always desperate to prevent its victims from realizing that it sponges off them while actively harming them, has long pretended that it’s the source of order and a peaceful society. It’s no wonder that politicians and bureaucrats—who declare and prosecute wars while picking our pockets to finance them and caging anyone who refuses to go along with their murder—insist on this self-serving lie. What’s baffling is that most of their subjects do, too. And uncritically, as well: tell the average American, let alone the average Christian, that government preys on him and that we should abolish it, and he’s so repulsed he’s dumbfounded. The few who can still speak usually bleat, “But—but what about the roads? Who’ll build ‘em?”


LELA: We’re going to discuss the roads too, I hope.

BECKY:  This bias in favor of the State underlies the second definition of anarchy (“political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy”). But why would “political and social disorder” prevail without government (by which we designate the group of people who claim a monopoly on the legal and moral authority to use physical force within a certain geographical area)? I’ve never started a war; have you?


LELA:  No!


BECKY:  Yet politicians do, all the time. I’ve never gone next door, held a gun on my neighbor and barked, “Hand over 33% of your income from last year!” I bet you haven’t, either.


LELA: I’m pretty sure they call that armed robbery, which carries a presumptive 20-year sentence in Alaska.


BECKY: Yet the bureaucrats at the IRS not only do so full-time, they further insult us by calling that “work” and keeping a percentage of what they loot from us as “pay.”

So how is it that if these organized and very large-scale crimes went missing, we would descend into “political and social disorder”? Wouldn’t just the opposite happen?



LELA: But private citizens commit crimes, too.

BECKY:  Sure they do. They steal. They rape. They kidnap and even murder. And their victims, refusing to see that bureaucrats and politicians have already preyed on them in exactly the same way, cry for the government to protect them. But how much harm do these private criminals wreak vs. the State? The notorious swindler, Bernie Madoff, cheated his clients out of perhaps $50 billion (the exact amount is disputed and may have been much lower). Contrast that with what a single bureaucracy out of the hundreds at the federal level thieves from us: “The FY 2016 Budget for DHS [Dept. of Homeland Security] is $64.9 billion in total budget authority…” Remember that government has no wealth but what it takes from us: every one of those 64,900,000,000 dollars, let alone the remaining trillions municipal, state and federal governments gobble, originated with you and me.

  • Madoff   $50 billion
  • Department of Homeland Security  $64.9 billion

Likewise, let us consider the murder and mayhem a private citizen can dish out: if you believe the official story of Timothy McVeigh, he killed 168 people. But one of the Feds’ more “limited” wars, the one in Iraq, has claimed 3,528 lives in combat (4,493 if we count other deaths, I presume from accidents, disease, etc. These figures are as of February 6, 2015). And if we look at a “big” action, such as World War II, the numbers absolutely shock: 407,000 Americans in the military died, thanks to Franklin Roosevelt’s finagling the country into a conflict many taxpayers abhorred.

  • Timothy McVeigh  killed 168 people
  • US War on Terror has killed 4,493 Americans
  • World War II killed 407,000 Americans

Does it make any sense to believe that life is safer or more civilized with the State than without this most organized and gigantic of all criminals?

LELA:  Looked at that way, not really. 

BECKY: Yet most people conflate anarchy with chaos and disruption—so much so that the dictionary lists those words as synonyms. Indeed, folks will often refer to a nation whose government has toppled, with competing gangs of displaced politicians now fighting for dominance, as being in a state of “anarchy.” It is in no such thing. Rather, it suffers from too much government—too many politicians battling to lord it over everyone else.

Even worse, Americans of the early twentieth century often spoke of “communists and anarchists” as Marxism conquered Europe while making inroads here. Confused babblers like Emma Goldman contributed to the denigration of the word “anarchy”: her ideas are basically recycled communism, yet she called herself an “anarchist.”

LELA: Why was this disingenuous?

BECKY:  Communism cannot possibly be anarchic, nor can it lead to a stateless society: since communism directly contradicts human nature, requiring us to put the “common good” ahead of ourselves and our families, it demands an extremely powerful government, indeed, a totalitarian one, to force us to act against our best interests.


LELA: My political science background is agreeing with this, but hopefully we can later discuss why socialists claim capitalists can be anarchists. But let’s stick with the subject at hand — anarcho-capitalism.

BECKY:  Hence the origin of “anarcho-capitalist”: to distinguish from false “anarchists” — those of us who truly crave a world without the State, without its political force and interference, who respect private property and the free market as the key to the most abundance for the most people, and who revere peace rather than politicians’ constant wars.

For Christians, anarcho-capitalism offers another huge benefit: it’s the only social and economic system consistent with the Bible.




LELA:  We’re out of time for today, but next week, Becky will explain how anarcho-capitalism is consistent with Christianity.


Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.

Posted February 10, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Anarchy

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