A Force Much Fiercer

August 31, 2011

If an armed band of brigands is determined to take your land, or your crops, or your resources, or impress you and your friends and family into slavery, or establish some other kind of permanent control or direction over all of you, you can hardly prevent them from doing so just by ignoring them. You have to repel them and defeat them.

Now I suppose you can succeed here and there in repelling and defeating threats by adventitiously banding together temporarily into an organized, rule-governed unit for that limited purpose, and then dissolving back into a less organized form of existence. But the threats are persistent and many, and it’s both inefficient and ineffective to keep forming and dissolving units of organized power only when threats arise. For one thing, you will want to deter threats from acting against you in the first place, rather than continue paying the high price of only banding together and acting once threats have arisen, and have begun to do their damage. The practical thing to do is to preserve the band as an organized society; to debate, refine and improve the rules under which you live and organize your cooperative activity and common life; and to establish settled practices for keeping these rules and in place. And then you are a government.

Nope. This is the problem underpinning Dan Kervick’s whole line of thinking here (along with that of people like Gus diZerega and others in the state-as-self-organizing-network camp). He has convinced himself that anarchism is the lack of persistent institutions or organizations because he seemingly defines governments or states as any persistent institution or organization. Either that or he thinks this is the case in matters of large-scale defense. But why should we accept this? I find that to be a weird way to think of it.

If you’re going to tell an anarchist that they don’t really oppose the state if they support any kind of “organized, rule-governed unit” for defense (as Kervick suggests is prudent), then it probably helps to know what they mean by a “government” or “state”: Read the rest of this entry »


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