The truth behind Pete Leeson's assertion

At FEE one day, I heard Pete say something to the effect that, "If all states were like Switzerland, I would not consider anarchy as an option."

I think that is a sound way to look at this. But we should consider the reverse, too: If no states were like Switzerland, I certainly would be an anarchist.

Is certainly true in some states are really awful. And Pete's insight means that we shouldn't force the state on, for instance, the people of Somalia: the state they would get is likely to be a lot worse than the clan-based governance they enjoy at present.

But the reverse is true as well: If you live in Switzerland, be thankful for what you've got. Governance doesn't get much better than that, and certainly stateless governance has shown no evidence that it can achieve such a happy civil condition. Do not give up an actual bird in the hand for a brighter colored, but purely theoretical, bird in the bush.

(And no, I don't think Switzerland is heaven on earth: we live in the city of man, and should not expect to find the city of God on earth.)

10 comments:

  1. I find it odd that there are "anarchists" at FEE. It doesn't seem like anyone of them can be called anarchists.

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    1. Well, anarchocapitalists anyway. And there are plenty of them.

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    2. I think I've seen them. They sometimes manage to take very anti-liberty stances. It's the obsession with economics, I think, that gets them.

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    3. Putting aside the smugness, Mr. Corwell, does your commentary here even make sense? If an obsession with economics can lead one to (foolishly) be an anarcho-capitalist, why would you find it odd to find such people clustered about the Foundation for Economic Education? Are you surprised that there are people with goofy outfits at Comic Con?

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    4. Well, Bob, it's not so much an obsession with economics as it is an infection of economism. You don't succumb to it since you pay attention to news about US government torture and the like. The others, well, they usually pay no attention to such matters, unfortunately. I've examined anarcho-capitalism and I do not believe that it can rightly be called a form of anarchism or capitalism. The communities that Rothbard and others outline resemble corporate city-states.

      Now, I know that anarcho-libertarians typically say that a state is an entity with a monopoly on the legal use of force, but Max Weber's definition is of use in only a limited context. A state is really a polity, so "private property communities" will have some form of government whether libertarians realize it or not.

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    5. Apologies for the smugness, by the way.

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  2. "[W]e live in the city of man, and should not expect to find the city of God on earth"

    Oddly enough, this is my belief exactly, and the basis of my anarchism.

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  3. FWIW: As Gene doesn't want to force his way of life onto others, I really think, as I said already, that Gene in fact can only be an anarchist, which should be clear from this post:
    http://gene-callahan.blogspot.co.at/2012/10/would-you-secede.html

    And if that really is enough, I guess it makes me one too. At the moment individual secession was possible in the US (even if no single person did it) taxes are obviously voluntary. And if almost all people chose to still fund the then existing PDA called USG and play by all its rules then of course nothing would change much in the land of the now (truly) free...

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    1. If anarchy requires only that a state allow citizens to revoke their citizenship, then anarchy is actually pretty common.

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    2. Not really. Secession is not just revoking your citizenship. It means you can keep all your legally acquired possessions including the land you own that would not be under the jurisdiction of the USG anymore.

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