"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
Let Us Prove That Anarchy Can't Work
Column by Paul Bonneau
Exclusive to STR
In my recent Facebook escapades, this challenge came up: “My longstanding challenge to create a society larger than a commune or a small town that functions well without any government is still open. Create one, and you'll shut me up quick. Until then, I'm going to refer to your notions as ‘unproven theories’ at best, and ‘utter fantasies doomed to a horrible outcome’ at worst.”
This came up in a discussion where the original poster claimed governments were supposed to protect rights. I thought it amusing the agency that would bring about the horrible outcome he worried about, was the very same government he was depending on to protect his rights.
I said there were 3,000+ counties in the US, and that we only required one of them to prove or disprove the paranoid fantasies of the anarchy paranoiacs. After we failed, then he might have a leg to stand on with his argument. It’s funny to be challenged for something, then to not be permitted to take up the challenge . . . .
Still, it’s an interesting idea to entertain. Imagine a letter-writing campaign was gotten up. Write the papers and the legislatures in a few selected states (e.g., Wyoming and New Hampshire). The letters might go as follows:
Dear Senator _____,
I am tired of hearing all these anarchists saying they don’t need government, aren’t you? Please designate one county in this state as an “anarchist-friendly zone.” This would mean that anyone who moves there and declares himself an anarchist shall no longer be taxed for services, and shall get no services other than what he wants to pay for on a per-use basis, and that he can’t vote. Anarchists would flock there, buying out most of the non-anarchist population (who can still be taxed and served). Then we can watch things just fall apart. I think we really should do this so we can shut those anarchists up. Don’t you agree, Senator?
I’m sure all those folks who are anarchy-paranoiacs would like to have a real arrow in their quiver rather than mere assertion that anarchy can’t work. I think we should help them get it, don’t you?
Of course, there is one fly in the ointment: anarchy might work after all.
We should downplay this possibility. Agree with them that there is no chance of that, but tell them how much happier they will be once it’s actually been proven with a real test case.
We don’t even need a good county; just some crappy little one somewhere. Let’s prove anarchy can’t work.