A typical first reaction to the anarchist proposal — society without the state — goes something like this: “You can’t be serious! That couldn’t possibly work!”
A lot of ink’s been spilled explaining how it could work, has worked and even how it works every day for most people, but I’d like to take a run at this from the opposite direction:
You there! Yeah, you, the one who just told me I’m not serious and that a stateless society couldn’t possibly work — turn on your television and take note of the next few political stories you see. For the sake of argument, I’m going to throw out some examples of what’s likely coming through the tube at the moment:
- In New York, the State Senate is deadlocked into two bodies of 31 senators each. Each body claims to be the real Senate and refuses to acknowledge the other. Each body is one short of a quorum to legally pass bills. Last week, a Senator from one faction wandered across the other faction’s floor territory looking for a soda machine. The other faction declared the existence of a quorum and hurriedly passed 100 bills while he tried to hunt up his cold beverage. No dice — the lower house of the legislature declined to recognize bills passed by the Cola Quorum.
- In California, the state is issuing IOUs instead of checks to cover tax refunds, payments to vendors, etc. After the electorate rejected several tax increase proposals, the legislature deadlocked on a budget. The main activity on the floor of the legislature seems, at this point, to be referring to the public as “terrorists” for refusing to hand more of their earnings over to the politicians so that said politicians don’t have to make “tough decisions,” i.e. spend only within their extremely substantial means.
- In South Carolina, the biggest political issue of the moment seems to be whether or not the governor should resign because he has a mistress in Argentina.
- In Alaska, the governor has resigned. Why? Who knows? It appears to have something to do with dead fish and basketball and Jesus, but until her speech is re-released with English subtitles it’s anybody’s guess.
Now, two things:
First, get “serious.” Go back over those stories above and then try to tell me, with a straight face, that the state “works.” Admit it: 90% of what the state does looks like a deleted early pilot of “Different Strokes” — same cast, only with Joan Crawford as the adoptive mother.
Second, look around you. Despite the state — despite its complete dysfunction, despite its inability to get much of anything right, despite the huge percentage of your time and money that it steals and throws down the rathole of its own collective incompetence …
… things aren’t so bad, are they?
The crops still get grown and the cows still get milked, even with the huge overhead burden of the state.
You can still go to the grocery store and get everything you need to grill out for the 4th of July, even with Barack Obama in the White House and Sarah Palin running off to go fishing or join the WNBA or handle snakes or whatever the hell it is she’s doing.
In most places, at least in America, you can still walk down the street without getting mugged — and the places where you can do so with the least fear of that happening are the places with the fewest police officers per capita.
What I’m getting at here is this: Anarchy works. If you look around you, the best parts of your life are probably the parts where it has the most room to work, and the worst parts of your life are the places where it’s been partially or completely displaced by the incompetence of the state.
The burden of proof as to what “works” isn’t on the anarchists. It’s on those who claim that the state is necessary — because every last crumb of available evidence says that it’s not only unnecessary, but an abject failure by any pragmatic standard.