Order is, in fact, a good thing. One would only need to consider the destructive, consumptive, and unpredictable nature of chaos to arrive at the same conclusion. However, in the political arena, order taken to an extreme, at the expense of the freedom of the people, all of whom are endowed with certain inalienable rights as a function of natural law, is a bad thing. Any form of an overreaching central authority is malevolent, but that authority is not evil in and of itself. Accordingly, the government is an institution molded in the image of its creators, or human beings, and it is those same human beings who are inherently predisposed toward evil, intrinsically corrupt, and marred in selfishness. Government, then, is not fundamentally bad, but is fashioned into an instrument of evil by the sinful citizens that comprise them. Therefore, in the long run, little good could ever result by empowering groups of evildoers so that they may yield their power against others. However, on the other extreme, why would one ever assume that leaving people to their own nefarious devices would yield a better collective result than with some form of order? The fallacy of anarchy is that selfishness acting alone will not prove more beneficial than selfishness acting together. This is why anarcho-capitalism, or any of its derivations, will inevitably fail. It is a philosophy that is only attractive in the fantasies of the disgruntled, or plausible in the ideology of civil intellectuals.
Governments do not self-assemble, nor do they enact judgment or coerce without distinct human hands behind their diabolical machinery. And unfortunately, the summative destructive power of human-made command far exceeds that of the individuals alone. The corrupt will of humankind permeates all facets of society and often finds its most treacherous outlets of expression under the banner of “committees,” “organizations,” “bureaus,” and “agencies.”
If the corrupt form a spontaneous order (meaning in the absence of or with a strict limitation of government power [e.g., anarchy, libertarianism, or anarcho-capitalism]), then what more favorable benefit exists for society at large? Certainly, select individuals will reap the benefits of limited oversight, but society is not intended to be disconnected individuals working against each other—it is a collective whole that seeks to live in peace and harmony. What is the free market but conceited people engaging in market transactions? What is voluntary cooperation but self-interested parties seeking to secure the most favorable outcome for themselves? What is the nonaggression principle (NAP) but a means of simply ensuring the permanence of the self and its property from society at large? What then is the absence of government but simply the transfer of unrestrained desire and carnal libidinal impulses to do evil from behind the anonymity of bureaucracy to the confines of an individual soul, now less impeded by a formal central power? Would not a spontaneous order of individuals, each driven by self-interest, quickly establish an equilibrium where the “freedom” of those most eager to engage in predatory aggression dominates over those with more admirable intentions? In the struggle between private and interest and conscience, the former overwhelmingly triumphs, and in that triumph, morality is thrown aside as a burdensome and costly extravagance.
Consider, for example, the subprime mortgage crisis, which did hurt banks (before the bailout) but hurt many homeowners even more. This all happened with regulation and a big government influence. Imagine what would have happened without any restraints on the banks at all.
It is foolish to think that any human being can prescribe the correct formula for a utopia on earth, and it is even more dangerous to attempt to create such a paradise. Cognizant of this fact, would an ideal anarchistic society not attribute many of life’s imbalances to the nebulous “free market” and simply substitute the dangers of bureaucratic authoritarian intervention with community apathy?
Natural law, liberty, and freedom are necessary and fundamental characteristics of a healthy human existence, and the pillars of a successful society. Yet to assume that said liberty in and of itself would ameliorate the malevolence of an overbearing state is also wrong. Relatively, it simply creates a scenario that is ideologically more desirable but practically venomous.
As Reinhold Niebuhr said in Love and Justice, “For absolute liberty always turns out in the end to be the liberty of the strong to take advantage of the weak. Liberty can never stand alone.” To suggest otherwise would be to simply switch the attributed root cause of failure—from the state picking winners and losers to the “objective” and “unbiased” market “sorting things out”—while conveniently dismissing any and all individuals of responsibility.
One recognizes that mankind being what it is—thieves, liars, con artists, rapists, and murderers—will invariably not act in adherence to the rule of law. Hence, at a bare minimum, the law and central authority must exist to deter and punish evil.
Classically, the state has served one of three unique functions: maintaining law and order, being the final judge in decision making, and being the only entity with the legal rights to impose taxes. Hence, the state has a monopoly in these arenas, and from an economic standpoint, all monopolies are to the detriment of the consumer. While the law bars competitors, the quality of products goes down while prices invariably go up. The taxpayers pay an enormously high price for abysmal service from the U.S. government.
In the end, if we were to look at all forms of government on a sliding scale with anarchy on one end and complete control by the state on the other, I think the least harmful scenario would rest somewhere in between anarchy and the scale’s midpoint. I was very careful not to say ideal because the first step toward totalitarianism is to believe that your prescription for the construction of a society is the ideal. Instead, one must make such a decision cognizant of the fact that each and every choice has its inherent downfalls. As such, the choice is really between which systems are less evil and least likely for abuse—there can be no “best” or “better” because all systems must rely on the corrupt men and women who work for them. There can be no absolute solution because it is impossible to rid man of his pride, and it is equally irresponsible to frighten people with the perils of “Big Government” without also considering the destructive capability of unrestrained individuals.
In fact, anarchism would only work in a fictional society where there was no scarcity at all. With unlimited resources, there would be no need for competition, and no need for social cooperation or conflict. Once any resource becomes scarce, conflict will invariably arise, shifting the equilibrium to favor those who are stronger or, more likely, those who aggress against their neighbor.
As Niebuhr said in Radical Religion (1937), “Anarchism is a dangerous doctrine. Its conceptions of human nature are purely romantic. It imagines that if it can only destroy the present instruments of power and greed, humanity will naturally and inevitably express the innate goodness of human nature, thus securing the blessings of both liberty and voluntary co-operation. Pure anarchist doctrine is dangerous because it confuses the political realities and prompts men to chase phantoms and illusions . . . . It does not know that the same power that is the source of injustice in a society is also a sine qua non of its public order and peace . . . . Anarchism is, in short, a disease. It is the psychosis of infantile idealists who do not know what kind of a world it is in which we are living, what human nature is really like, and what the necessities of government are.”
Martin Luther erred when he declared his greater fear of anarchy than of tyranny—I think he should have feared both equally. To fully invest or to place unquestioned faith in either extreme is to walk in the path of fool who chooses to ignore reality and dedicate himself to a fantasy. Faith only yields true dividends when placed in the divine and not the corrupt.
In developing a political philosophy, the first step is to recognize that whatever is proposed will fail; it just depends on how much. After all, the government is made to serve people, and it’s only a matter of time before that formula is altered to serve the people in the government.
Pride certainly is a powerful force.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal