THE FALLACY OF ANARCHY

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

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6 comments on “THE FALLACY OF ANARCHY
  1. Bart says:

    This argument is predicated on the assumption that in a free-market system what’s good for one party is bad for the other, an idea antithetical to capitalism. The key to a successful business is to satisfy the needs of others, but in your pessimistic view of the market, corporations and business people will not pursue this route, only to their own detriment. All transactions require at least two parties where each perceives they’re gaining something of value. Order actually lets one person point a gun at the other’s head and say “pay me now.”

    Order did not inspire great inventors and titans of thought to change the world, but ingenuity, demand, and creativity did. Edison knew a demand existed for a more reliable and predictable form of lighting, so he eventually developed the light bulb. Back then, regulations were scarce, so he proceeded relatively unopposed to develop his ideas. The lack of rules didn’t create a haphazard “chaos” where cruel, bloodthirsty human beings relentlessly tried to crush one another.

    All people being so bad is an idea that is an overreach. Most people, I think, would rather live in peace, just like thieves would prefer a safe place to live so no one steals from them. Most people are actually decent, its the minority of us who are the predators, sociopaths, and the insane. To create an order based on the fear of the skewed behavior of a small minority is irresponsible and naive.

    Long live anarcho-capitalism.

    • CHE Sadaphal says:

      I will have to agree and disagree.

      “The key to a successful business is to satisfy the needs of others … All transactions require at least two parties where each perceives they’re gaining something of value … Order did not inspire great inventors and titans of thought to change the world, but ingenuity, demand, and creativity did. Edison knew a demand existed for a more reliable and predictable form of lighting, so he eventually developed the light bulb. Back then, regulations were scarce, so he proceeded relatively unopposed to develop his ideas. The lack of rules didn’t create a haphazard “chaos” where cruel, bloodthirsty human beings relentlessly tried to crush one another.”

      I AGREE.

      If my post persuaded you to think that I am totally against the free market, then I did an improper job in my writing. The free market is a powerful and beneficial tool, but even though the market is “free,” that freedom needs some rules to guide its operation. In effect, no free market is actually completely free. It’s the total absence of some set of rules (in an economic sense) or order (in a political sense) that leads to chaos.

      For example, economics is field that tends to be observational, and thus makes predictions and analyses based on quantifiable facts, uninhibited by morality, bias, or subjective opinion. So, if women tend to buy more clothes, economics would say this is a logical conclusion based upon the facts and never a commentary that either women are spendthrifts or are more materialistic. However, this same of lack of morality could also be used to justify a detestable sex trade with child prostitutes (a capitalist meeting demand with supply). Economics in general is amoral, so some set of basic guidelines need to be instituted. Anyone who would dare say that in this instance “the market will figure it out” or “the regulators shouldn’t be involved” purposely and intentionally ignores the reality of all the potential perversions that a free-market system creates, justifies, and validates in the name of profit.

      So, to all the anarcho-capitalists, or free-market disciples, I agree that innovation and ingenuity is best cultivated by the self-motivated ideas, thoughts and creativity of free individuals. But, when this freedom is used to exploit the innocent, rob the poor, and exploit the unfortunate, who will open their mouth for the oppressed? Who will speak on behalf of those with no voice? Who will rise to acknowledge that the advancement of one to the purposeful detriment of their neighbors will only, ultimately, lead to the collapse of the entire system that was used to promote and encourage said advancement in the first place? Order.

      • Bart says:

        Had I not read the post beforehand, I would be led to believe you’re a Marxist.

        Using extreme examples of very rare instances of what could happen is unfair and biased … yes, there are sociopaths in this world but society has done a very good job from the beginning of marginalizing the deviants as dysfunctional members of our culture. The market may not have morals (and doesn’t need them) but always finds a rational equilibrium amongst parties engaging in voluntary transactions.

        • CHE Sadaphal says:

          Marxists think utopia can be engineered on Earth. I believe in no such fantasy.

          You underestimate the power of the minority. Were monarchies imposed by the power of many or the power of few over many? Does the government compose most of the USA’s 300 million citizens or a small fraction of our population. In order for a small group to be in control or to assume power, they don’t need numbers … they just need leverage, control over force, and the power of the law.

          Take for example, human trafficking, the third largest profit-making international criminal enterprise that generates more than $15 billion annually (https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/Trafficking_in_Persons_2012_web.pdf). Of the victims, 3/4ths are female and more than 1/4th of all victims are children.

          You may then say that in a free society this is all a violation of natural law and therein unjust, but the law (at best) can only attempt to limit behavior. Real life is actually a better gauge of reality and what people actually do than ideology, and it is from this recognition that I have to stray away from any philosophy that strives for a more perfect order without order itself.

  2. The1Percent says:

    “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.”

    Consider the current GM fiasco. Had someone not stopped in and called the corp. bluff, GM never would have voluntarily taken responsibility. It would have hurt their bottom line.

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