The State’s Borders, Our Cage

Through a referendum in January the southern region of Sudan resolved to separate and form its own, independent political entity. Already largely autonomous, nearly 99 percent of the region’s population favored secession, and the Republic of South Sudan is to ascend to full and distinct statehood in a matter of weeks.

With Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir accepting the results of the referendum and the birth of the new state, the country seemed to be prepared for a smooth and peaceful transition. But, alas, when the nebulous border territory between the country’s stands on a plentiful oil well, a seamless transition is probably too much to ask for.

For decades, the areas now disputed by the north and south, in particular the small region of Abyei, have been seedbeds for violent conflict, putting them at the center of various peace deals devised to put an end to long-running wars. Now, BBC News reports, “The UN has accused the Sudanese government of carrying out an ‘intensive bombing campaign’ near the north-south border.”

In the unified Sudan, wealth and political power were concentrated almost exclusively in the Arab, Muslim north, and Bashir has insisted that Abyei “is northern and will remain northern,” adding that northern recognition of the new southern republic turns on Abyei’s status. For market anarchists, who urge an end to systematized violence within society, Sudan’s present state is a foreseeable repercussion of the state’s introduction of capricious, aggressive authority.

“[T]he present-day boundaries of nations,” wrote Murray Rothbard “are purely historical and arbitrary, and there is no more need for a monopoly government over the citizens of one country than there is for one between the citizens of two different nations.” The political system, one of borders and coercive rather than consensual bonds, is necessarily divisive, rooted in the idea that we need the rules of masters to delineate our relationships.

But all the time, every single day, we deal with our neighbors without oversight, in nonviolent, mutually beneficial relationships governed by nothing but our agreements. If you’ve ever so much as sold something at a yard sale, you’ve seen what market anarchists mean by “anarchy.”

To counsel a society without masters and their borders, then, is not to invite mayhem or injustice, but is simply to turn both the geographic and social cartography over to the aggregate of individual judgments. Over the centuries, political leaders have refined the oratorical wiles used to persuade us to fight their battles, to regard the perimeters they have drawn amongst themselves as a source of unity and pride in society.

So instead of looking on the “nationality” of the state as it really is — as something opposite true community — we have been trained to identify with our captors. Where language and culture have evolved freely and spontaneously without central, hierarchical direction, the state is an inorganic power structure manufactured by the ruling class out of a desire to loot and exploit.

The flags of governments should not motivate us toward the battlefield, but instead should fill us with a deep, moral indignation. Quite contrary to the prattle of the corporate media, the starting point of the conflict between Sudan and Southern Sudan is not ethnicity in and of itself.

Instead, the very existence of the state, as a mechanism for aggressively gaining control over valuable resources, inescapably pits neighbors against one other. Even if most are naturally inclined to trade peacefully, for some the opportunity to brandish the power to despoil society of its natural wealth proves alluring.

A small, warlike few has, under the aegis of the sacred state, been able to condemn the vast, productive majority to an unbroken civil war; that war is made conspicuous by inter-state armed conflicts and situations like that in Sudan, but it rages everywhere, even intra-state.

It is the war that the state wages on its own citizens, and it won’t — and can’t — draw to a close until the natural harmony of the marketplace succeeds the alienating aggression of government. No new borderlines can solve the underlying problem in Sudan because political solutions are the problem.

Only work and free, equal exchange, a stateless system of market anarchy, can decide who owns scarce resources. When the world realizes that fact and loses faith in the state, it won’t matter what we call it — we’ll have anarchy.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory