Anarchism Cannot "Eliminate Politics"

Except at the price of civil war. Contrary to the claims of someone like Anthony de Jasay in Against Politics, eliminating the state does not in the least eliminate the need for politics.

Witness this blog discussion -- if I have misread someone's view, excuse me, but the point stands: if the real Tom and Curt don't have exactly these views, there are plenty of others who do have them:

Curt: "'Not taking' is exactly what [Tom] is supporting."

Gene: "Who is Tom to use force to prevent these workers from taking over the factory that they believe is rightly theirs?"

Tom: "What makes you think I would do, or advocate, any such thing?"

Curt, an anarchist, believes that workers taking over a factory would be stealing it, and it is legitimate to use force to stop them.

Tom, an anarchist, believes the factory really belongs to the workers already, and it would be criminal to stop them from taking what is rightfully theirs.

So, eliminating the state tomorrow would leave Curt and Tom with a terrible dilemma. One of them regards as theft what the other regards as taking back what has been stolen. There are two things they can do at this point:

1) Begin discussing this with the idea of reaching an arrangement with which they both can live. In other words, they can begin engaging in POLITICS.

2) They can each violently defend their view, in other words, have a CIVIL WAR.

Those are the alternatives, folks. So why not stop decrying politics, and admit that Aristotle was correct?


  1. obviously Gene they would just each hire a champion. then the champions fight and whoever wins gets the factory. whoever is willing to pay more for the factory is willing to pay more for the champion. anarchy is efficient and ANARCHY IS PEACEFUL

  2. Begin discussing this with the idea of reaching an arrangement with which they both can live. In other words, they can begin engaging in POLITICS.

    De Jasey wrote a book opposing discussion? Holy cow, that guy's an idiot.

    1. "De Jasey wrote a book opposing discussion?"

      Very amusing Bob. "Discussion" covers chatting about baseball, deciding where to go to dinner, debating whether universals are real, etc. But when discussion is a process by which it will be decided what laws are binding on the discussants, that is politics. And de Jasay certainly is opposed to politics, thinking that "the market" can largely (entirely?) take its place. In point of fact, he is not alone in holding this damaging view: there are, in fact, recently I saw that there are some people running a whole seminar online trying to convince people that "free markets" will "provide law."

    2. For instance, Bob, as a way to avoid war over this issue, the Curtocrats and the Tomicans might find it very helpful to set a basic framework within which their discussion would proceed, how it will be decided when a resolution will be reached, etc. At that point, they will have a constitution. And they might not want all of the supporters of each position to have to sit in on the discussions at all times: they will appoint legislators.

      And so on. You know, exactly the stuff anarchy is supposed to be eliminating.

      Or, they can have civil war, i.e., what happens in the real world when you "achieve" anarchy.

  3. Though you won't read this, I actually sympathize here with your exasperation about the constant retreat to "the market will ...", because that was exactly what I was going through with Bob on the carbon cap/trade issue.

    There, the conversation was more like:

    Bob: The government shouldn't have these stupid carbon caps; the *market* should price in harms to the environment.

    Me: But markets need tradeable property rights first.

    Bob: Right, so there need to be tradable rights here.

    Me: But that's what the government is trying to do! Make use of the atmosphere a tradable right so it's not overused!

    Bob: No, the market should do that.

    1. Silas, we're getting better at this: it only took us a week to make up this time!


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