- Sep 15, 2008
In London the network of cameras is so extensive that the government can literally track the movements of any vehicle in the city by license plate.
A small, self sufficient community.
Citizens are free and independent, and individual rights are respected.
People earn what they are worth, and keep what they earn.
They barter for what they need.
Nobody is forced to do anything they don't want to do.
People can expect total privacy, without the presence of a "big brother" government behind them.
And everyone is happy.
One day, when, late night after a party, a young person who feels confident they are only a little buzzed, runs over a cyclist on the way home.
Since there are no laws, there is no insurance requirements, and no consequences for avoidable, negligence induced accidents.
He feels guilty, but that isn't enough for her widower, who is devastated.
He is able to track down the driver, and takes revenge into his own hands.
The friends of the driver feel this murder was unjustified, since the crash was an accident for which he felt regret.
And they gather together and go after the husband.
One man has a home with a very healthy garden. He grows most of his own food. His neighbor also try to grow his own food, but he is just downhill of the man, and much of the limited well water is used up. The neighbor can not grow quite as much. The man insists that his neighbor simply is using poor techniques and plant choices. The neighbor maintains he has a worse site and further that the man uses more than his fair share of water. One especially cold winter the neighbor can't quite grow enough to feed his family, and when the man is away, he harvests some of the vegetables from next door.
In the past couple centuries human productivity per worker, especially in the first world, has risen many times (I believe it is 20 fold, and I know I wrote about that before, but I don't feel like looking it up).
A disproportionate amount of that has gone to a small fraction of the population, but it has none-the-less been correlated with a significant increase in standard of living for all of us.
Much of what has facilitated that is directly or indirectly related to technological advances which have allowed for greater commerce and communication.
It has always been the role of government to build and maintain roads, without which commerce becomes all but impossible. Roads, even toll roads, are simply not profitable. In general, most infrastructure, water and sewer lines for example, utilities, commerce hubs such as seaport and airports, bridges, and (aside from the US) healthcare, are all at least subsidized by the government because they contribute significantly to individual quality of life, yet are not in the best interests of any one individual, or even corporation, to create.
In the idyllic Utopian society with no government, aside from the potential for crime, the disabled, the elderly, and abandoned children are entirely dependent on family or generous strangers for their survival. If they have no family, or for whatever personal reasons have lost their family's sympathy, they starve. Most people are naturally caring and decent and moral and care about others. Unfortunately, not all people. The weak are at the mercy of the strong, (or, with technology, at the mercy of those with better weapons).
Democracy can be described as majority rule with protections for the minority.
Mob rule is essentially majority rule too - but with the loss of the very important protection of minorities.
We can find examples anywhere people were not bound by the rule of government for any number of reasons - the old Western frontiers or any land yet to be fully settled, a country undergoing a major government change over be it revolution or coup, criminal syndicates with as much firepower as the police, or places where the officials are extremely corrupt and either look the other way or participate in activities we as a society would prefer to discourage themselves.
Anarchy by its very nature may encourage the best in people, bring out community spirit, and of course allows unrestricted personal freedom. It also means "justice" via the lynch mob.
The major "vice" crimes not-withstanding, laws are all to the benefit of every individual.
Our freedom of choice is restricted when we have to stop at a red light.
And it means that when we have the green, we can feel reasonably safe that we won't get killed by someone who is running a little late and didn't quite notice you.
Protection from ourselves can be patronizing, but protection from each other doesn't have to assume the worst from others, only that we are sometimes have poor judgment combined with a lot of power.
Laissez-faire, French for "Let Do".
In short, economic anarchy.
The only government protection in a hypothetically pure free market is protection of property rights.
To see the direction that goes, look to the modern US, where restrictions on corporations have been diminishing over recent decades.
When the laws preventing it were relaxed, corporations quickly consolidated and expanded.
Wal-Mart, Microsoft, AT&T, GE, Citigroup, Exxon, all have reduced government oversight to thank for their growth and profits. Of the 65 "high income" countries (average GDP per capita of $11,000 or more), only Hong Kong has a higher income disparity than the US.
Any activity that a corporation does that we might find objectionable is an argument for government oversight.
Without the property rights protection which distinguishes libertarians from anarchists, a disparity such as ours would still be maintained, just by armed security instead of police. Without the income distribution provided by public taxation and social welfare programs, income disparity would grow considerably, and when downward transfers did take place, it would likely involve violence.
Given the choice, why wouldn't people form groups, coalitions, corporations, and grow and consolidate power and influence if it is to each individuals advantage?
But then, all of these ideas are moot.
There is a reason a pure anarchistic system has never happened on a large scale.
Humans are fragile and fairly helpless on their own. Plus, we are naturally social. We live in groups, dependent on those around us.
Inevitably, a community will need to synchronize activities in some way. A nomadic society must decide which direction in which to travel. Some method of dealing with conflict must be agreed on. If everyone in a community comes to a consensus, that's democracy. In order to function as part of a group, sooner or later someone has to do something which isn't what they would have wanted on their own.
Be they chiefs, kings, or elected representatives, societies cede decision power for the group because someone has to make the decisions, and in the end, even when individuals are coerced in some way, it is to the overall benefit of all.
At the same time, in a leaderless society it would only be a matter of time until someone took control via one means or another.
Costa Rica, which does not have an army, still has a government, as well as police and military security services.
Even the Amish - no police or violence, strong sense of community, morality and service, mostly separate from American society - have clearly defined leadership.
While anarchy may be as much a fantasy as any other similarly simplistic solution, I have heard so many people speak out in favor of it in principal recently, I thought I'd consolidate the points I've been making.