Why I Am An Anarchist

December 28th, 2013   Submitted by Foo Quuxman


My family started as more or less standard evangelical-conservative, but with libertarian leanings, also with a large side order of barely restrained rage and control issues. Being early homeschoolers (though not part of the actual movement) we had a fear and paranoia of the government (mostly CPS). This background pointed me in roughly the correct direction, while also giving me first hand experience of what happens when you put someone in authority who can’t lead without controlling others, and can’t even control themselves.

I first heard of Anarcho-Capitalism from either the blog, or website of Eric S. Raymond (ESR). ESR’s essay Why I Am An Anarchist was an early influence pushing me towards Anarcho-Capitalism. This would have been somewhere in the mid to late 2000s (when NedaNet went up). I quickly realized that even though I did not think it could work in practice, the idea was a very useful tool as a thought experiment. I found that the creeping assertions of “X needs government support/control in order to work” were stopped in their tracks when I forced myself to come up with a way to do X without any government, let alone being explicitly state-sponsored. Many things which did not fit that mold turned out to not be necessary or desirable in the first place.

In late 2012 I began reading the book ESR had mentioned many times as the start of his AnCap journey, The Machinery Of Freedom. That changed things. Even though I was already aware of many of the things talked about in it; seeing them systematically set out and argued in a single document brought me to the 50% conversion point.

Soon afterwards I looked for more information and stumbled across the #mises IRC channel on freenode.net via www.reddit.com/r/libertarian. I also began absorbing the articles on Mises Daily which linked me to the Daily Anarchist. A month or so later someone pointed me towards the book Everyday Anarchy which helped to normalize anarchic thinking for me.

At roughly the same time another inhabitant of the #mises channel pointed me to information about a “Christian” cult from which he had escaped. From there I discovered what the “Christian” Fundamentalist Homeschooling Movement is really about: extreme control. Seeing this wiped out most of my reservations regarding Theocracy vs. Anarcho-Capitalism.

Soon afterwards I began analyzing the inherent logic of theocratic ideas which I had previously assumed could work, I quickly found that the Bible actually gives quite damning evidence as to how successful a theocracy could be. During this time I was also still reading the archives of the Mises.org daily articles and was converted against the idea of intellectual property, although I was already somewhat lukewarm to it.

At that point the only objection I had left was abortion. However, after reading “How I Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement” by Libby Anne I could no longer believe that the State could help, even with something that seemed so clear cut to me.

I am an anarchist because:

  1. Even under perfect conditions the State is utterly incompetent in economic matters.
  2. The State is built on numerous contradictions as in, “We need government because some people are evil.”
  3. The inherent logic of State power is to attract evil people, and it has no conceivable way to stop them from getting into power.
  4. On moral matters the State either implements a shoddy version of what market based law would produce, or it enforces victimless crimes which are at best insanely dangerous.

Why wouldn’t I be an anarchist?


14 Responses to “Why I Am An Anarchist”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    So you reason is based on utilitarian reasons. My reason is because the state violates individual rights. The state operates like a gigantic protection racket demanding financial contributions.

  2. NickNo Gravatar says:

    My reason is “there is no sufficient justification for the institution of a monopoly on coercion.”

    Also, perhaps HRearden should change ‘utilitarian’ to ‘consequentialist’.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      It seems to me that Foo was using utilitarian reasoning.

      • CzthNo Gravatar says:

        How do utilitarianism and consequentialism differ?

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          I think Foo sounds more like a Consequentialist than a Utilitarian. The two are similar and most Utilitarians are Consequentialists. Utilitarianisms focus is on maximizing happiness and minimizing pain. Consequentialism is focused on measuring outcomes to determine the greatest good. Nozick was a Consequentialist/Utilitarian.

  3. terrymacNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks! I think perhaps I was born anarchist – when I was 18, I read the opening paragraph of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, and he said “That government is best which governs not at all;” my reaction was “well, isn’t that perfectly obvious?”

    To me, it started with natural law, but consequentialists always demand more, so I spent some time looking for ways to answer their “practical” arguments. Some helpful resources (after Machinery of Freedom) included Order Without Law, an empirical study of how (some) people resolve disputes via informal social norms; and James Tooley’s books, including The Beautiful Tree, which show how a vast network of parent-funded government-free schools for some of the poorest people in the world has arisen through voluntary action, not coercion.

    Lastly, it comes to this: when observing the “core functions” of a minarchist government in a real-world setting – that would be police, courts, and defense – I have not been impressed with the State’s handling of those core functions at any time. They always morph into a combination of efforts to control the disadvantaged and to enrich the profiteers. “Baptists and Bootleggers” always conspire to rule the roost at the expense of the rest of us.

  4. MamaLibertyNo Gravatar says:

    No person, or any number of persons, has any legitimate authority over the life or property of another person. An individual can delegate authority over him/herself if they wish, but they own themselves first. One cannot give what one does not own.

    I own my life and my body. I am the only person responsible for that life or my safety.

    Not no rules… no rulers, and no slaves.

      • MamaLibertyNo Gravatar says:

        Could you tell me what that’s about, Rearden? I am deaf, so I don’t get much out of most videos. 🙂 Thanks.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          I thought what Jefferson said in the video is in a way relevant to what you wrote. The video is clip from the miniseries John Adams. In the clip Jefferson said to Adams and Franklin that he is increasingly persuaded that the Earth belongs exclusively to the living and that one generation has no more right to bind another to it’s laws and judgments that one independent nations has the right to command another. Also in that clip Adams tells Franklin that Jefferson’s pet topic is not the artful arrangement of political power but the cordoning off of a space in which no power exists at all. Thus claiming that Jefferson’s pet topic is anarchy.

  5. Foo QuuxmanNo Gravatar says:

    OK, I should have been much clearer* in the article. I don’t rely on utilitarianism / consequentialism except for showing the inherent problems with a system.

    Unfortunately great ideas are a dime a dozen, great ideas that also don’t have horrifying results lurking behind the marketing are much more rare.

    * I really should have put more meat on this one, oh well, next one will be better 🙂

  6. JacobNo Gravatar says:

    “Why I am an anarchist.”

    My first instinct reading this piece was to ask myself what it means to really be an anarchist, which had me see a big difference between anarchism in thought and anarchism in deed. I suspect most who believe themselves to be anarchists are primarily anarchists in thought, perhaps because being an anarchist in deed is so unbelievably difficult living within a forced collective which all societies are to one degree or another.

    I imagine one must first be an anarchist in thought before one can undertake the heartbreaking work of living as an anarchist. As Bastiat et al have remarked, living among other humans doesn’t require a collectively enforced “We.” So, I live in a geographic region that a consensus of others have deemed “city” and/or “state” and/or “country,” which they say requires my accession to organizational imperatives. Not submitting to those forced imperatives is heartbreaking work, which can’t get easier without more people of like mind. Good luck fellow travelers.

  7. johnNo Gravatar says:

    Too bad ESR goes fascist under pressure.

    I’m kind of shocked that you call yourself an anarchist when it looks like you’re just someone from the Liberarian Party or an old laissez faire capitalist. Anarchism is communism, or more contemporarily the ideal of anarcho-syndicalism, where production would be coordinated by worker cooperatives. Fundamentally, it has little regard for protecting private property except for individuals using it on a small scale.