Why I am an anarchist

circle a anarchy symbol

Edit edit, 2/7/17: This post no longer reflects what I believe. I am still an anarchist but I have come to understand why anarchists are so opposed to capitalism. Please see this blog’s most recent posts if you are interested in how I think.

Edit, 17/12/13: The post below was written two and a half years ago. My views have changed considerably since then, and I noted these changes in the second edition of my book, available here for free. Unsurprisingly, my opinions have evolved since this last attempt to enshrine them, and I would be glad to discuss them on this blog or on Facebook.

This is the first post of the Rule of Freedom, a blog about why anarchy and voluntarism are preferable alternatives to democracy and statism. This first post is about how I became an anarchist, and some of the reasons why it makes sense to me.

It’s hard to know exactly why we believe what we do, because there are so many large and small influences on our opinions and what we choose to read and believe. But it is possible to trace the trajectory of our beliefs. I have been studying politics and government for about 9 years now. My degree is in political science; I still study it. I had some vaguely socialist tendencies in university, but after a while I started  realising that freedom was more important than forced equality. Freedom seems to me the best way to achieve equality of opportunity, and equality of wealth and power is more or less impossible in a world where each individual is so different from the next. I started reading economics, and began to believe that the freer the market, the more fairly goods are distributed. By that time you could have called me a libertarian. But I was still a democrat, which means I still believed we needed government, because I hadn’t been exposed to other ideas.

One day I was on a Facebook forum for libertarians and someone wrote something to the effect that libertarians should look into anarcho-capitalism. I might have just scoffed but the next sentence was something like “Scoff if you like, but you can’t really call yourself open minded until you read about other ideas, can you?” That made sense to me. I wanted to continue to call myself open minded, so I checked it out on Wikipedia. At the bottom of the page it listed a few people I could go to for further reading. One of them was a guy named Stefan Molyneux, a name some readers will be familiar with. I read Stefan’s book Everyday Anarchy, and every page made sense to me. I realised that everything he wrote was the logical extension of what I already knew and believed about politics and government. I came to the conclusion that, not only could we be better off without government, government itself is an inherently immoral institution.

I remember one day in kindergarten, I hit my friend, and my friend started to cry. And my teacher said to me, why would you hit other people? Would you like it if they hit you? No, of course not. Since then, I realised something that I think most people can agree on: that the initiation of force is immoral. Using force in self-defence is understandable and moral, as long as it is just enough to end aggression, but initiating force is immoral. Most anarchists believe what they believe, that government should be replaced with voluntary institutions, because they understand that government is based on force and coercion. That is the most important thing for anyone reading this to understand: government is based on violence. Here’s why.

Governments could not exist without taxation. Taxation is forcing you to pay for whatever it is the government wants to do. You have no choice but to pay. If you do not pay, you go to jail. If you resist going to jail, they shoot you. Taxation is a gun pointed at your head. Similarly, you have to do everything the government tells you to do, like a bad boss at a job you can’t quit. That is called the law. If you do not follow the law, you go to jail. And hey, people who persistently or maliciously hurt others should be locked up somehow. But what about people who do not hurt anyone else with their actions? You can’t sell sex to a willing buyer. The government, in its self-declared wisdom, has decided that you can only have sex if you do not pay for it. As a result, the entire sex industry has been driven underground and it is much harder to prevent violence against the women involved. You can’t do drugs, even though they do not hurt other people. Oh, sorry, I mean, you can’t do those drugs the government has deemed illegal. You can smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or pop pills as much as you like. If the government made riding your bike illegal, you could go to jail for that too. Whatever this small clique of decision makers decides, you must follow. They know better than you, and if you think otherwise, you’d better be a fast runner.

Now, it is sometimes argued that, despite a few bad laws, the government represents the will of the people. If the purpose of government is to represent the will of the people, how about the people represent themselves? But that is not the point of government. It never has been. The point of government is to consolidate power in the hands of a few, who do not need to listen to all the people, so that the few can control society as they see fit. If that is not true, why do they have to use force for everything? Why can’t they just suggest?

The competitive party system could not possibly represent all the people, because only a few win. An election is when people who think their views are right vie for power in order to impose those views on everyone else. An anarchist will not try to impose his or her views on anyone. An anarchist does not mind what you do with your money and will not try to take it away from you by force and call it taxation. An anarchist will not turn a gun on anyone for smoking some herb that does no one else any harm. He only hopes that you will give him the same respect.

Your life, if you think about it, is mostly anarchic. You do most things without being forced by government. Government doesn’t decide what food you eat, whom you marry or hang out with, which job you take (with some exceptions), which car you buy or whether you should take your bike instead. Now, we are capable of making those decisions without being forced into them. Why would we want the government in on any of them? But statists think that there are many things, like schools, hospitals and our own safety, that we are simply too stupid or selfish or disorganised to decide for ourselves. We must let this other group of people, whom we just have to hope are smart, selfless and efficient, tell us what to do.

Anarchy is really about freedom. Democracy only allows as much freedom as the people on top are willing to give you. Anarchy means you do what you think is right. Freedom brings many more benefits than just the ability to decide your own path. It allows economies and the arts to flourish. It means scientific advances and technological innovation. And it forces responsibility on those able to handle it while still allowing for us to help each other. In a democracy, we help each other, but not as much as we could, because we have less money, because it’s taken away from us, and because we expect and rely on government to take care of people on our behalf. We feel better when we vote for left-wing parties that promise more money for the poor, letting us sweep the poor under the rug of our consciences and pretend government has solved one of society’s problems.

I think most people living in our society can agree it is simply naïve to believe that politicians, bureaucrats, the police and the military are looking after your best interests. They just don’t have to. The only real mechanism for accountability in government is elections, and no matter how many you have, it is really hard to escape the corruption of human beings that comes with power. If you believe that, because you vote, they have to listen to you, I suggest thinking very critically about your beliefs. Has any party or politician you have ever voted for truly represented you? If it has never gained power, it cannot represent you. If it has gained power, did it do what it said it would? My answer is, represent yourself. You don’t need a violent institution that does not care about you.

Government cannot and will not eliminate evil, but it does provide the tools of its perpetuation through the initiation of force, the concentration of power, the taking of other people’s property, opaqueness and secrecy, the ability to dole out favours with someone else’s money, control of education and the ability to make war. We will deal with all of these subjects and more in coming posts on this blog.

  1. October 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Hey big guy,

    Me again. Great blog, I think it’s a great idea as you will be able to express your ideas better and at length here, it’s better than Facebook.

    To me anarchy is just like communism, a great theory in which everybody loves each other and lives in a fair/equal society. I just don’t see how it would survive reality.

    “But statists think that there are many things, like schools, hospitals and our own safety, that we are simply too stupid or selfish or disorganised to decide for ourselves.”

    If we get rid of our governments, we’ll be living in a tribe system, like many other countries with weak or no centralized power. I’m yet to hear of a peaceful country with a tribal system btw. Look at Afghanistan, perfect example of a tribal system, the locals just can’t fight either the Talibans or the allies and they get ruled by both and killed by both Talibans and allies.

    And here’s my question, anarchy is a great theory, but how do you make anarchy work in the real world? My neighbors won’t even pick up after their dog, how are we supposed to believe these people will gather and freely provide the services we need and help each other if no one forces them to?

    Communism proved one thing, we’re more interested in ourselves than our community. That means people will always try to benefit from the system (use the power, so here think armed criminals stealing and killing in an anarchist society) and people won’t do shit if they don’t have incentives. Why would I give my neighbor $15,000 so his son can undergo a life saving operation? Yet I pay more than that in taxes every year…

    Considering human nature I just don’t see how this would work. Looking at the world right now and history, there is nothing that supports it could work. How do you make it work?

    • October 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      I think that if communism proved anything, it is that people cannot be trusted with power. The more they have, the less accountable they are. Governments democratic and authoritarian alike prove that to us every day, whether they are stealing money from people and giving it to their friends, beating innocent protesters, jailing people for smoking some herb the pharmaceutical companies don’t like, and passing the bill on to us. And the reason all these things can happen is because of the existence of centralised authority. There is no reason to think things would be nightmarish without governments, as long as we do not suddenly destroy government but replace it with voluntary institutions over time. We already have various such institutions in society; after all, businesses and charities, which do not require any government intervention, operate fine.

      The reason it seems like a fantasy is not because of human nature or history. History shows that it has happened and has worked, at least until a more powerful empire has come along and crushed free people. There is nothing that supports that it could not work, except for closed mindedness and ignorance. Human nature is what makes it moral and reasonable and possible. It is important to base our understanding of human nature on science, rather than our impressions from our communities, which is why I wrote this post –>theruleoffreedom.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/we-need-to-be-forced-human-nature-and-the-leviathan/. The reason it seems like a fantasy is because we have never considered it, and have been consistently fed reasons why we need government our entire lives, from “we need government to feed the poor” to “without government, we would be running around killing each other”. All of these nightmare scenarios are easy to get around by creating voluntary institutions while building a more peaceful, free and prosperous society. The ideas are out there. We just need to put them into practice. This blog has some of the answers, and it will have more in time. Other writers, such as Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, Stefan Molyneux and a thousand I have not even read, have more answers.

      I will address two of your points here. Sorry to be brief, but I go into greater length elsewhere on this blog. First, Afghanistan has a very specific history, like all countries, and we cannot compare it with our society. One reason it has the problems it does is because war has been imposed on it for so long. –> https://theruleoffreedom.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/war-part-5-afghanistan/. Second, in a stateless society, there would be no countries in the modern sense. –>https://theruleoffreedom.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/nationalism/. Countries are all part of the problem. If you feel association with a wider community, great; but why is it necessary to impose things nationally? The further the government is away from you (however many local “representatives” you have), the less representative, caring and understanding it is.

      Second, your point about picking up after one’s dog. There are ways to deal with people who do not pick up after their dogs without resorting to violence: you could start by talking to them, if necessary shame them publicly, and at the extreme, ostracism. But think about what it means to involve the government. Do you really think we should use violence against someone who makes the sidewalk dirty? Because that is what it would mean to have someone arrested for it. People can think of better ideas than violence for everything they want done. Every answer people have to problems is lazy thinking: get the government to do it, fine them or throw them in jail. We’ll have to pay for the jails and the courts anyway, so we lose either way. How about we don’t use violence and sort things out for ourselves? We do it every day. We need to get rid of the gun in the room and start finding real solutions.

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