Why I was an anarchist; why I am no longer an anarchist

Why I was an anarchist: Because I envisioned a beautiful, just society, in which the use of force was absolutely minimized.

Why I am no longer an anarchist: Because I realized that, in The City of Man, there is no possible avenue open for realizing that beautiful fantasy.

So, anarchists, it is no use telling me how lovely things are in your vision. That was my vision, too, and things looked just as lovely to me there as they do to you. And, in fact, those things still look just as lovely to me now as they did then. But now I see that I was looking at The City of God, which is, indeed, lovely, but that I was fantasizing that what I saw there could possibly be imposed upon The City of Man.

5 comments:

  1. So, anarchists, it is no use telling me how lovely things are in your vision.

    That's the thing: I'm not quite so sure if their vision is even intelligible/articulable. You've made criticisms of rationalism and property rights absolutism, but I feel like that there is more to it than that. I've just realized (like today, I mean) that Austro-libertarianism's style of argumentation seems very different from the style of every other political philosophy.

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    1. I'm now able to put my finger on what's so different about Austro-libertarianism's style of argument: treating every issue as a question of property. The only problem is that it really works the other way around since is what property is defined by these other issues. The trouble with this property rights reductionism becomes apparent when they get into matters of justice (i.e., Block and the rapist, the question of restorative or retributive punishment, etc.).

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  2. Gene,

    I was an anarchist too. I thought that the whole concept was fantastic - and a way out of the mess that man seems to always find himself in society.

    Then, I started having doubts. The libertarian NAP led to some laws and morally permissible (and impermissible) actions that my gut told me was wrong. You've probably touched on this with on your blog, but libertarians are some of the biggest proponents of Rationalism in politics; everything that was to be correct and "good" for this made up society had to be reconciled with libertarian theory. I have not yet read Oakeshott (it is on my Amazon to buy list, though) but I was already sensing the deep silliness of pretending that we didn't know answers to obvious questions unless they could be reconciled with theory.

    I'm glad to be out of that. I'm glad that you are, too.

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  3. The Augustine reference is perfect. The real question for politics and economics is not about the City of God (although this is a much more important question). Instead, the question is what do we do here in the City of Man? What system/society/institutions/whatever are better than what we have now? That focus is why I flirted with but never became an anarchist.

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  4. I was going to put this on my blog, but decided it would serve no purpose; an-caps would think it was brilliant, non-an-caps would think it was stupid. Anyway:

    WHY I OPPOSED MURDER; WHY I NO LONGER OPPOSE MURDER
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    Why I was opposed to murder: Because I envisioned a beautiful, just society, in which the number of murders was absolutely minimized.

    Why I am no longer opposed to murder: Because I realized that, in The City of Man, there is no possible avenue open for realizing that beautiful fantasy.

    etc.

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