In his article Government is Better (For Some) Aaron Bachman observes that there are a privileged few in the United States that benefit greatly from government programs. The article makes a sound point that not everyone would be better off with anarchy, but people have a tendency to lose sight of the larger picture while focusing on a small part that they are working on, and vice versa. Whether or not claims that the US is the best or freest place in the world are true, what is true is that the US enjoys a unique strategic position in the world. There are things that activists may not realize while engaging in their operations.
It is not a coincidence that the US is a super power, able to project influence across the globe. During the 19th century the US engaged in imperialism, and through diplomacy, and warfare was able to secure the entire breadth of the North American continent. Manifest Destiny gave the US access to warm water ports on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico.
The recent situation in the Crimea demonstrates the importance of warm water ports in geostrategy. The Crimea is strategically important to Russia because of the warm water ports there. Without Crimea the Russian Federation would be restricted to ports on the Pacific ocean.
On a planet where 70% of the surface is covered in water, it should come as no surprise that naval power is important for military and economic reasons. The numerous year round ports available to the US give it the power to trade and to support a large navy.
In terms of nation-states North America has three: Canada, the US and Mexico. These nation-states enjoy large amounts of trade. Canada has supported the US consistently in the 20th and 21st centuries, and Mexico has been friendly with the US since its sound military defeat in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
So, the US is friendly with its neighbors, is an economic powerhouse, and enjoys the benefits of a strong military. The fact that there are so few nation-states in North America directly contributes to this stability. The fewer players there are, the easier it is to maintain balance. In contrast, Europe with its many nation-states is far less stable, and has been the sight of numerous wars. Central and South America have been similarly torn by conflict, and Africa and Asia are still suffering from widespread conflict.
Geopolitically North America is an exception to the norm. Further, the long reach of the US is made possible by the stable domestic peace that it has enjoyed for the better part of a century. This peace has allowed the US to flourish economically, and has lead to the development of a trusting society.
However, new challenges present themselves. In Mexico an internal conflict rages. Alphabet agencies in the US have been assessing the significance of the cartels to national security, and some elements are suggesting military intervention as the cartels are powerful enough to challenge the Mexican State, and are destabilizing the country. Cartel operations in the US are numerous and continue to expand beyond border states.
Geopolitics affects anarchists as well as Statists. We need to consider the movements, motives and actions of nation-states in order to help us determine what actions we want to take. Additionally State action can create opportunities for activists to make progress.
Whether libertarianism and anarchism are a political movement or not, political events shouldn’t be ignored. The question is, do we stick our heads in the sand, or do we pay attention and formulate strategies to bring about our desired ends?
The geopolitical implications of anarchism are interesting, and there are risks to consider. One major pitfall is the decentralisation that would result from the dissolution of States. Decentralisation can be a good thing from an individual’s perspective as it gives a person more choices, and power over their life. However a potential consequence of decentralisation is stratification of communities. Isolationism is a precursor to war. Should differences between individuals become too great the risk is a refusal to trade. Could AnCaps and AnComs trade? Yes, but in life nothing is certain.
The US enjoys a stable geopolitical position allowing for the accumulation of wealth and investments, which increases global influence. People in the contiguous US can travel for thousands of miles, always speaking English, and only dealing with slight cultural alterations. This security allows for greater economic growth, which in turn leads to longer lasting peace. Per capita the rate of travel may be on the decline, but goods must be moved, and it takes workers to do this. They must travel and when they do having one currency, and one language, and one culture makes this easier.
Though having a single nation-state is no guarantee. When a European speaks of international events what they have in mind is much closer than what an American imagines. Liberty activists in the US should not lose site of the privileges that the government and the State have secured for us. Ultimately the Statist system is detrimental to individual liberty, however we shouldn’t ignore the successes that system has accomplished. Learning from these successes, and the way the means were connected to the ends, could grant us insight in how to conduct our struggle.
Today Russia is an emerging superpower, but it’s contained by the US and NATO to operating near its borders. China faces a similar situation in the South China Sea. The US is using its influence to contain potential competitors. They do this for their own good, but the action of the political apparatus, the power of the State and the stability it has brought, give activists better options and more opportunities than those available in weaker nations.
This position isn’t an accident. For two centuries intelligent men have been planning and executing operations designed to turn the US into a superpower. Regardless of the morality of the State, it has benefited us. We shouldn’t lose sight of this while attempting to create a free and voluntary society. Ultimately the ability to do violence is a key source of power, and power is required to secure rights. What we need is trade and cooperation.
Even if you find nothing of use with the State, learning about your enemy is the key to defeating them. When the State is gone we don’t want chaos to replace it. When we look at a State we need to look at both its success and its failures. What exists and what we want conflict. Our means inform our effects.
Ports are key for fiscal success. When people trade they don’t fight. Are States necessary for the maintenance of ports? That is the question. States accomplish their goals by threatening, “or else.” If we reject the, “or else” by what power do we protect our ports?