Defining Anarchy

Anarchy is a functioning society free of government controls. That is individual persons operating together in harmony based on freely reached agreements concluded between individual members and groups of a society. Anarchy is simply a free society. Anarchy is not the result of a statist-government failure; that would be chaos. The chaos in New Orleans is not due to anarchy, it is an example of the failure of statist-government.

People have said and written to me that: "See, anarchy can't work because look at what happened in New Orleans when there was no government." To define anarchy as statist-government failure is such an obvious distortion of the concept of a free society that it is hard to decide where to begin to dismantle such thoughtlessness. I like to begin by simply pointing out that at least four layers of statist-government agencies still claim jurisdiction over the area known as New Orleans (city, parish, state and federal). The undeniable fact is that they all four failed to provide the services they had promised to provide when they were justifying the theft of individual resources called taxes.

It boggles the mind how one can point to obvious failure to live up to political promises as a way to abdicate the responsibility of politicians to live up to those promises. Of course statist-governments never have and never will provide what they have promised. They simply return promising more and more if only they could have more power and more money. Next time, politicians promise, things will be different, better. Politics is just a show, and the curtain was pulled back in New Orleans.

The main problem is that in spite of a long history of failure living up to its promises, so many people still see the statist-government system as the only available method of organizing society. When one government fails, statist drones can't wait to revive it or start another one. The problem is perceived to be that it was the people who ran the system that failed and not the system itself. The blame game gets heated up as the bureaucrats immediately start pointing at each other. The sheep line up behind their "leaders" who "did all they could do" so that when the dust settles and the checks spending taxpayer monies get distributed, their loyalty will be rewarded. But these knaves are but a small band of thieves; it is the dupes who make it all possible.

The lure for those educated in statist-government indoctrination centers and informed by media misinformation organs to equate the failure of statist-government to a state of anarchy is overwhelming to what little logic remains in their thought processes. When someone truly believes that society cannot exist without a central authority wielding a monopoly on the use of force to keep order, then it is easy to fall into this illogical mire. Getting out of this mire takes a level of desire for the truth that most sadly lack. So try undisputed facts that most people already know of to counteract this tendency.

First, the catastrophe in New Orleans was not caused by the hurricane, but by the flooding that followed the failure of the dikes. Were these dikes built and maintained by private organizations, as they would be under anarchy (if built) or by statist-government agencies? The Army Corp of Engineers built and maintained the dikes after politicians decided it was a good idea to build a city below sea level. The failure of the Army Corp of Engineers to build dikes that would withstand a commonly known potential risk as well as their failure to maintain these dikes is not anarchy.

Second, when the water started flooding into the city, who escaped: those who relied on self-initiative or those who relied on statist-government assistance? This is about as clear-cut an example of the contrast between vertical command structures based on central command authorities (statist-government) and horizontal command structures based on individual responsibility (anarchy) as you will find. People conditioned over a lifetime of waiting on the statist-government check to arrive are probably still waiting for someone from the government to show up and save them from their own inaction.

People with a sense of self-government easily made the decision that it was time to go. Of course, most of these people had already left. So was the fact that many people were trapped in their homes during the flooding due to anarchy or statist-government policies? That statist-government officials asked people to rely on their own resources (anarchy) to do the obvious (leave) does not mitigate their failure, but only points to where people should have been focused to begin with.

Third, after the statist-government security agents either abandoned whole areas or were completely ineffective in accomplishing their stated purpose (to protect persons and property), was the looting due to anarchy or the failure of the statist-government security system? Was the complete lack of respect for the property of others due to a culture that respects private property (anarchy) or a culture that believes in the redistribution of private property (statist-government)? Either coming or going, it looks like another failure of statist-government, not anarchy. Further consider what would have happened if a property owner had stayed to protect his property and shot a looter. Who do you think would have been arrested: the looter or the guy who challenged the monopoly on security?

Fourth, after the floodwaters had done their damage and people needed help, was it the effort of statist-government agencies like FEMA that came through, or was it the friends, families, neighbors and charitable persons and organizations (anarchy)? The statist-government agencies not only stumbled, fumbled and bumbled about focusing on irrelevant issues like trying to figure out who was in charge, but they hindered the recovery efforts of free-society (anarchy). Here in Central Florida at least, one local airboat club was loaded up with water, chainsaws, blankets, food and fuel ready to hit the road the day after the flood, but made the mistake of calling FEMA to allow the pathetic bureaucrats to tell them where to go. They were told not to go.

Instead of ignoring the official statist-government idiots, they obeyed like good citizens. When even big-hearted good 'ol boys in the home of the brave and the land of the free ask bureaucratic weenies for permission to do the right thing and then obey those orders even when they know that the fools are wrong, America has slid too far down the slippery slope of statism.

The response of private individuals and businesses including doctors was immediate and overwhelming to the central command authority that was inherently unable to deal with the scope of the problems involved. Over 50 countries around the world offered to respond immediately to help but were told no thanks or at best, wait. Wal-Mart sent some trucks loaded with water to the area and were told it wasn't needed. So in the recovery phase, was it anarchy or statist-government that helped or hurt the most in New Orleans? The answer should be clear by now.

The more freedom a society has, the better the living conditions of that society will be during good times and bad. Only elite lever pullers behind the curtains benefit from statist-government, not the masses who religiously worship at the statist altar praying for help that will never come. To be brainwashed into equating anarchy with chaos to the point where obvious government failure defines anarchy is unacceptable to people who wish to be free.

People ruled by a fear of not having Big Brother take care of them will never be free. The pertinent question then is how many people in America are ruled by their fears and wish to trade their liberty for the illusion of security based on empty promises? I fear too many are blinded by irrational fears but hope enough brave souls may still be able to rationally think about it when presented with the facts.

Government failure is not anarchy. Anarchy is a society that functions without government control, a free society. Society can continue to function somewhat with limited government control, but that doesn't mean government control is required to have a society. When government control obviously hinders the efforts of society to function efficiently, it is time to remove those controls. A society can function better with no government controls. New Orleans should be a case study educating Americans and the world of this simple fact.

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Mark Davis's picture
Columns on STR: 65

Mark Davis is a husband, father and real estate analyst/investor enjoying the freedoms we still have in Longwood, Florida.


Samarami's picture

In doing research for a comment at another site I ran across this essay by Mark, written nearly ten years ago -- and which elicited no STR comments whatsoever.


This was an excellent overview of anarchist observation. I obviously read it, made no comment myself at the time (I must have been brand-new to compooterization in general and this site in particular in 2005), so certainly am not entitled to hurl insults at anybody for ignoring the important in this case.

So many "anarchist" comment sections end up with driveling and sniveling commentary over pablum ("religion", "science", "sex", and such-like detritus) -- while allowing the meat and spinach to go by the wayside (the "stuff" of libertarian and anarchist thought). I suspect none of us have good call to wail or gnash teeth over the non-acceptance of anarchy out there in the mainstream where all the little fishes swim.

Just sayin'.