I suppose it could accurately be said that all anarchists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are anarchists.
But I believe anarchists are to libertarianism what socialists are to Democrats. They are the extremists of the wing, and by no means the norm.
In my experience, most libertarians, including the Libertarian party, believe in the rule of law, and a government designed solely to protect rights, such as those enumerated in the United States Constitution. Anarchists of course, want no government nor laws whatsoever.
There are anarchists I’ll call the “Chaos Wing” who just want to “burn it all down, ” take whatever they want, kill whomever they want, etc.
Conversely, there are also anarchists I’ll call the “Utopian wing,” who are more practical. They think if we’re all free from any rule of law enforced by government, that we’ll all peacefully coexist.
As with anything in life, there are two sides to an opinion, and then there’s the middle ground that is likely closest to the truth. While I feel both anarchists are misguided in such beliefs, let’s explore the two sides, and what I believe to be the actual truth.
The Chaos Wing think it would be great to just steal whatever they wanted, but let’s think about this. Imagine you steal some rich guy’s Corvette, for instance. At first, it’s great, you have a free Corvette. But with a little critical thinking, it starts to display its problematic logical outcomes.
- Why would anyone buy a Corvette if they knew that it was just going to get stolen, and they’d have to risk their life in an act of vigilantism to recover it?
- Why would Chevrolet build cars at all if they knew no one would pay for them or buy them because of the above?
- Why would oil and gas companies dig oil out of the ground if they knew people would just steal it so you could drive the Corvette or any other car?
- If you get shot or harmed in some way while stealing the car, where are you going to go for help? There won’t be hospitals with doctors in them, because they won’t show up if they aren’t getting paid.
- Why would people go to work to earn money at all if stealing it were the path of least resistance?
- If no one is working, who is going to build the things you want to steal?
Eventually, there would be no nice things to steal, no technology to enjoy, we would essentially be living the lives of cavemen.
While that seems silly, look at some third world countries that are largely defunct of any government. That’s effectively how they live, like modern day cavemen. The idea of such violent anarchy as a Utopia, is truly an delusional idea. I rarely take the chaos wing seriously, they lack the vision to understand the implications of their ideas. Many are simply violent psychopaths desiring to be unobstructed in life.
But more importantly, I think they are the more delusional of the two wings, because the evidence clearly shows that human nature is such that we’re typically not sociopaths like that. Humans are pack animals who have arisen on Earth as the most dominant species, in large part because of our inherent social nature.
Don’t believe me? How do you think democratically elected governments arose in the first place? It’s literally part of mankind’s natural evolution.
The more serious anarchists however, are of the Utopian wing. They are at least more thoughtful in their ideas, but I fear they are still eronious when considering the actual outcome compared to their desired and predicted outcome.
These folks believe that if people were free to do whatever they wanted, humans are inherently good and won’t harm others due to our genetic predisposition to be social creatures.
They rightly point out that many violent acts towards our fellow-man are because of government laws against things like drugs and prostitution, which encourage people to lash out because of the oppression of such laws, and to defend themselves violently against those who might infringe on their ability to do them freely.
They feel that if you get rid of victimless laws, certainly drug use, prostitution, gambling, etc., will occur, but will occur peacefully between two consenting adults.
In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized, crime rates did indeed go down, despite the adamant belief by prohibitionists that the other would occur. It’s as if these folks forgot we had Alcohol Prohibition from 1920-1933. Not only did it not stop the consumption of alcohol; it drastically increased crime as well.
If you look at the number of violent crimes and people in jail because of marijuana consumption and distribution, the parallels to alcohol prohibition are so obvious, I can never fathom how any reasonable person could suggest that repealing alcohol prohibition was the right thing to do, but ending marijuana prohibition isn’t.
However, if I agree that humans are inherently kind to one another, why do I support a government to protect rights versus the rational anarchist system?
Because there are victimful crimes like murder and theft that occur all of the time, for one. And I don’t think the average citizen is capable of processing a crime scene for another. Again, let’s apply some logical thought to this theory.
- If someone were to steal from me, I may be carrying a gun and shoot them. But what if I come home and my stuff is just gone? Are you really OK with me grabbing my gun and perusing the neighborhood, breaking into homes until I find my stuff? Because that’s the only way I can get justice in a governmentless community.
- If I were to come home to a murdered relative, do I have the ability to process the crime scene, do a DNA test, and all the other staggeringly expensive investigative processes the police do? Maybe rich people could afford a private investigation, but most couldn’t. So do we want the poor having to resort to vigilantism where they just go after the person they think is guilty?
- If there is no government to enforce contracts, how many businesses will willingly do business with another knowing there’s no recourse in case of a breach of contract? Most of the goods we have today are because companies have such contracts, so there is no doubt, we wouldn’t enjoy most of the technological advances brought to you by the cooperation amongst vendors.
In America, our government was established by the people and for the people. We have essentially agreed to pool our resources collectively for the purposes of protecting all of us from those who would do us harm. There are non-elected governments who oppress people, but by design, ours is supposed to essentially be an extension of our social nature.
Libertarians like myself, have a decent understanding of the ramifications of passing victimless crime laws, but we also understand the ramifications of anarchy. We want our rights protected honestly and fairly, something government is generally pretty good at in this modern technological era, and certainly better at it than your random individual. But we believe government would be better if it weren’t distracted by all the victimless crimes it’s currently far too involved with, which is why we non-anarchist libertarian fight our fight.
4 thoughts on “Anarchy versus Libertarianism”
Mankind’s original, natural state, whether you believe in creation or evolution, is without government. That’s not to say early humans were without a societal structure, but it wasn’t a small group of mainly self-appointed people telling millions what to do, pay for, believe, how to speak, etc.
I would argue that needing a ‘ruler’ is not an evolutionary advancement. If it were, then the monarchic period would have been the pinnacle of human achievement. It was when we forced the monarch to loosen their grips on the subjects that the human race advanced the most. The industrial revolution and the abolition of slavery are the prime examples of said advancement.
Socialism, or ‘shared-responsibility’ (agreeing to pool resources) is a step backwards into the empirical era.
I am confused as to why you think people could not organize to form businesses more effective than government at processing crime scenes? As a libertarian, i assume you think every other function of government could be privatized, why should the most important aspect of government remain monopolized?
The rule of law exists inherently, and predates humans. It is generally understood that a wolf invading another wolf’s property will suffer death, or at least mutual destruction, and therefore generally do not violate the other wolves’ rights.
All the incentives absent of government lead to peace. That does not mean there is always going to be peace, it means there will be peace more often than there is with a system predicated by the idea that force, violence, and inequality are necessary to promote peace and equality.
I feel like I covered this well enough in the post. I don’t care to rewrite my whole opinion. But there are historical examples of anarchy in the human population, and I personally feel that the most peaceful and beneficial to all involved were where govt existed only to protect rights.
“And I don’t think the average citizen is capable of processing a crime scene for another.” Why would people suddenly lose the power of market demand without a government? There would be advanced companies to handle this, and the cost would be kept low through crime insurance. Right now people process crime scenes for other people, and do a terrible job because everything the government does is sub-par (you being a libertarian, I’m assuming I don’t have to get into the incentives that stop government from performing as well as private industries).
The poor would have plenty of money to pay for crime insurance if the government didn’t steal at least 50% of it every year. And without government to waste our time, consumers and the market would be the ones enforcing contracts.
And government existing in and of itself violates rights. A government forces its control over a particular area, without asking for consent of the governed. Then it steals their money by force with the threat of violence and imprisonment (taxes). Government inherently violates rights, so the idea of having a government protect rights is silly.
And I would call your idea of minimal government utopian. We have never had limited government. The closest we came was just after the American Revolution, at which point George Washington marched on the Pennsylvanians rightfully ticked off about the unfair, unconstitutional, whiskey tax.