Anarchism Isn’t the Answer


Faced with repeated governmental failures, coupled with the success of voluntary cooperation in picking up the slack, it’s easy to come up with one simple solution to the world’s problems: get rid of the state. Without the government getting in the way of all that is holy and good, all things will spontaneously come to order, virtue and prosperity, right?

Wrong. Anarchy is not the solution.

Well, let me clarify that: anarchy isn’t the whole solution. Autrement dit, it isn’t the fact of having no state that causes a better world to magically happen. It’s what a society can accomplish through hard work, dedication and perseverance once a coercive government is out of the way.

Roads still need to be built. Communities kept safe. Poor and hungry fed. Not by the mystical power of the black-and-gold flag. Not by a society’s statelessness. Not by fervent belief in the Non-Aggression Principle. But by people. By individuals, companies, associations etc. who roll up their metaphorical sleeves and make their world a better place. Of course, they are most free to do so without a coercive government to stand in their way. But it still needs to be done. The reduction (and eventual dissolution) of government must go hand-in-hand with a concentrated effort to build up the voluntary sector to tackle all of society’s many challenges.

Anarchy isn’t the answer. It’s the precondition. Eroding the power of the government is a worthy endeavor. In the meantime, though, we have a lot of work to do.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • Vanmind

    Thanks for this article. Some might say you’re picking nits, but I agree that the distinction is important.

    Ideologies do nothing. Individual people do things.

    Another example: a Voluntaryist isn’t obliged to volunteer for anything let alone everything. The “Voluntaryist” part of a civilized society doesn’t relate to actual Human Action (a term from Mises). The “Voluntaryist” part inspires a general confidence within civilized society that any Human Action will involve the least possible peradventure intercourse with fraudsters.

    In other words: each “official” step away from anarchy institutionalizes fraud that much more. Enough of those steps engenders a Bastiat-esque failed society in which each individual strives, through government, to live at the expense of all others.

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  • Sandy

    I agree with your statement, ” it isn’t the fact of having no state that causes a better world to magically happen” – it’s the absence of a state that makes the attainment of a better world even possible. A free society isn’t for slackers – it’s going to mean a lot of hard work for all of us. Many people aren’t going to be used to living at that level of self-responsibility, but I see no reason to think that we won’t be up to the task.