Anarchism as a philosophy in varying contexts has existed since before the Civil War. The idea that all people should be completely free to do as they wish with no interference from anyone else as long as no aggression or fraud is committed is understandably appealing. Many philosophers on the right and the left have tried to analyze how this can be implemented, how states can be defeated, and more importantly, how to protect the precious jewel of freedom once it’s attained. They all miss one important detail though, how and why states came to power to begin with, and why there are almost no truly free societies today. For an ideology to have any chance at succeeding, the first step is to be humble and admit where the followers failed and why the philosophy hasn’t been implemented already. There is no progress without exposing and treating weakness.
There are many anthropological views on the matter of how states rose to power. Most people believe in a voluntary social contract theory– that states arose by people needing protection in early cities from gangs of looters that came to steal and enslave. Government provided protection, and religion helped keep order and give people guidance once the city was protected. Given the other option people had to go back to being easy meat, the choice to use state and religion to establish peace seemed obvious to people.
Most anarchists have an opposing view– that states were never voluntarily implemented. Anarchists believe there were marauding groups of thieves and slave traders that basically promised to provide security in exchange for goods, but were in fact simply looking to “automate” their practice of stealing. The fearful people gave up their resources, but not their freedom. The freedom was lost at the beginning of religion, where people began to use gods to endorse governments. In the ancient world, the “mandate of heaven” argument was common, and this is why states exist. Religion was the tool used to twist morality and turn the citizens against each other.
The truth is likely somewhere in between, and depends on individual views and circumstances. However, there is another unlikely place we can look to for the existence of states, and understand why they exist. Our evolutionary cousins, chimpanzees are a great place to look to understand human relations. Chimps exist in tribes, defend territory, and mating rights. There is an alpha male that is stronger than all the other males who is able to claim total freedom and sovereignty, while the other males must live lives serving the alpha male’s commands and give up their mating rights. In essence, the tribe is the city and the alpha male is the state.
Scientists observed this phenomena. Many times, there were many males that lived under horrid conditions beneath cruel alpha males. The males could have united to kill the oppressor, but continually chose not to. Scientists were baffled. Had the chimpanzees understood the mandate of heaven? Unlikely, considering upon old age, alpha males were routinely disposed of. A mandate of heaven would have allowed an alpha male to rule well into old age, by tricking the other chimps into believing that attempting to kill him was a sin and would unleash the wrath of the gods. The real reason involves a flipping of perspective. The beta-chimps can kill the alpha chimp anytime by uniting, but don’t because of how useful the alpha chimp is in case of attack by another tribe. The alpha male isn’t popular, but he’s useful in emergencies. Alpha males even go so far as to provoke conflicts with other tribes, to continue to keep tension and fear within their own tribe to make sure they’re never seen as unnecessary. Many anarchists know this sounds familiar to the United States’ “War on Terror”.
This is the real reason people want government. Government is an evil, but an evil which protects its own wealth (the citizens). Therefore, to convince the citizens to unite against against the state, anarchists must acknowledge this need from the common citizen and address it in a thorough extent. For anarchists, this means there is a monumental task ahead of them: a successful anarchist nation must be able to successfully defend itself against every state in the world to show people that the “alpha male” is no longer necessary.
There are a number of easy fixes that can make this task far easier, many of which were already outlined in Stefan Molyneux’s “Practical Anarchy”. Molyneux’s arguments rest on simply making it irrational for a state or states to invade. Most of the time when states invade an area they must destroy an army or forces, and then set up their own tax structure for extracting a return on investment. Every time a state invades another state though, most of the work is already done. The previous state already had a tax structure complete with identity information of the citizens, bank logs detailing current wealth, buildings, and the labor force to organize the taxes and accounts. In other words, a state invading another state is similar to a farmer killing another farmer, and then finding that the chicken coop is already set up to give a steady amount of eggs, the dangerous animals are penned, and the house is ready for someone to move into. It’s similar to cracking an egg; once the shell (or army) is broken, the contents inside are easy to get.
Anarchic settlements would be different, though. Even assuming no organized defense movement were started, anarchic settlements would be difficult to conquer and costly. Citizens would have ample access to guns and their markets would shift in anticipation of an invasion, there is no existing tax structure or means to established means to rob wealth, and citizens can also use things like digital money to hide their wealth in case of military defeat. There is no national treasury to loot or any government treasures either. This is similar to a farmer trying to go into a wild forest and attempting to set up a farm within it, by building it from scratch. If the state wanted to loot real items like iPods or computers, they would only crash the price of these items in their own countries and render their domestic producers bankrupt, reducing their own tax base. Even shipping off citizens of a free society for slave labor is unlikely, as slave labor can’t be taxed and would only grow unemployment domestically. Existing labor which is taxable is always preferable. Finally, if the invading country was completely led by bafoons who wanted to invade a free society because of some racial cleansing motive, Molyneux writes that nuclear weapons would be the ultimate deterrent, as they push the costs of war back onto the politicians, who can’t keep their families safe in nuclear attack like they can in a normal war that progresses slowly. Ordinary wars and the most vile statist initiatives are always at the expense of people other than the ones pushing for them.
The first thing that I would note is that nuclear weapons have been the single most effective deterrent to invasion that has ever been invented. Not one single nuclear power has ever been invaded, or threatened with invasion – and so, in a very real sense, there is no bigger “bang for the buck” in terms of defense than a few well-placed nuclear weapons.
If we assume that a million subscribers are willing to pay for a few nuclear weapons as a deterrent to invasion, and that those nuclear weapons cost about $30 million to purchase and maintain every year, then we are talking about $30 a year per subscriber – or less than a dime a day.
” – Stefan Molyneux, Practical Anarchy
Molyneux’s analysis misses two important details though. Not just one state but every state has an incentive to destroy the anarchist settlement before it succeeds, or else their own citizens may follow suit. This was witnessed by George Orwell in Catalonia, and he wrote about it in Animal Farm.
On my return from Spain I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages. However, the actual details of the story did not come to me for some time until one day (I was then living in a small village) I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart-horse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.
I proceeded to analyse Marx’s theory from the animals’ point of view. To them it was clear that the concept of a class struggle between humans was pure illusion, since whenever it was necessary to exploit animals, all humans united against them: the true struggle is between animals and humans.
” – George Orwell, Preface to Animal Farm
There is no reason to assume all the nation states of the world, or at least the UN, wouldn’t make an attack against a truly free society. Not to loot, but to squash the dream back into history books or worse, erase it from history books entirely. Any number of false excuses can be used for this, such as accusing it of being a lair for drug manufacturing (which will inevitably happen in a free society if it is illegal everywhere else), calling it a black market for dangerous weapons, or declaring for some reason or another it “needs democracy” and should be liberated. To make matters worse, such an event could be used to “refute” the idea of freedom and later libertarians of all stripes will spend years debating fabricated points of data by the state and other criticisms about the “failed anarchic settlement”. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a rash failure of freedom would set the freedom movement back even further than it is today.
Secondly, the use of nuclear weapons is extremely against everything anarchists stand for. Nuclear weapons do not discriminate between statist and infant, and there would be many causalities and lasting genetic damage that would bring hatred against anarchists forever. There is probably no better way to solidify the “anarchist terrorist” label forever, and this would be exactly what the rulers want, even if it means sacrificing their own tax cattle.
The situation painted may make the struggle for freedom look hopeless, but this is because most people only look at the struggle to obsolete the alpha-male from one direction. They look to remove the alpha male from power by defeating him (or should I say, all of them) in battle because battle appears to most to be the only way rights can truly be won. The other option is to simply change the battle, though. Instead of playing the game, anarchists can defeat the ruling classes everywhere by changing the rules of the game. In the same way bitcoin changed the rules of finance forever, anyone can change the rules of war. Coming out with a military breakthrough so fundamental it crushes the need for armies and protection from the alpha male. If guns had been 3-d printable and accessible by any peasant in the early part of the age of gunpowder, any civilian would have been able to buy one. If suddenly there were a distributed network of advanced weaponry the state still doesn’t know much about, the state can potentially collapse within minutes. Humans would simply feel no obligation to obey the police, if none of the police were better armed than the average citizen.
This is what we need today. An advanced weapon which can be quickly and cheaply made, available to all which makes riot police armor, tanks, guns, navies, and air forces irrelevant within just weeks or months of time for distribution. If today, everyone got hold of powerful magnetic manipulators that could twist and destroy guns, tanks, and all metal devices of the military rendering them all useless, ruling classes everywhere would likely give up without a fight. If we had government building infiltrators who fired “awakening bullets” that injected enemy officials with a chemical that triggered subconscious virtue processes to override their orders, no politician would dare start a war, fearful of high ranking officials suddenly switching sides in secret. This future can arrive sooner by the invention of other ideas which obsolete non-military functions of the state such as helping the needy, protecting property, rehabilitating and unfortunate children.
The most desirable outcome would be that the government simply embraces inevitable change and the same officials take their seats in some new, more open form of voluntary leadership (it is inevitable some people will still support them), complete with safety for the officials and accountability for all. The corrupt will not be killed but removed from office, and those somewhere in between virtue and corruption may have “awakenings” that bring them back to serving the interests of their people. There is no reason for a dictatorship of the proletariat or use of any guillotine. The ultimate sign of victory would be that the innovators never fired a bullet or hurt anyone to defeat those that did.
Rahul Kanwar was born in India, in 1990. At the age of 17, he became interested in philosophy. At the age of 18, he became a Ron Paul supporter after watching Zeitgeist. At 19, he became an anarcho capitalist. Since then he’s been studying crypto currencies, Austrian economics, psychology and history.