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August 1, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

The Ethical and Practical Case Against Anarchism

Here are 15 criticisms of anarchism (actually not all criticisms per se–for instance some address the issue at the heart of the question from a different perspective and there are actually 27 to 29 arguments with the extra updates):

1) Law is imperfect executed by imperfect individuals. The best way to fix it is from the inside. You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have 200 years of history….and a history thats improving over time as the basis for these claims in the US.

2) Not all coercion is the same. US vs. dictatorships. Also, not al instances of freedom invasion are bad. Grouping all coercion together is really, really unhelpful from a utilitarian or truth perspective.

3) When I’m asked not to infringe on the rights of others–that doesn’t infringe on my rights. I would imagine that form most people this is fine. And I seriously question those who think this is a real infringement.

4) Clear expectations and lack of extra-stress is incredibly helpful.

5) Anarchism would experience rather difficult issues in the realm of national security.

6) Law deters vigilantism which risks cycles of violence.

7) Private security forces risk arm races and cycles of violence.

8) Other forms of power and coercion would likely fill the gap. Plus the unpredictability of such a situation would create the risk of misperception…along with arms races and violence.
If we all started from an exactly equal place, it might make sense. But thats not the case due to class, educational differences, etc…. I think those at the bottom would be expected to gamble (i.e. be irrational) even more so than they are now.

9) Perfect rationality doesn’t exist in human form. People sacrifice the long term for short term interests. We need the force of the law. Humans are emotional, make decisions based on imperfect knowledge, and even some based on pleasure seeking in the short run.

10) Many of the reason why relativism is a bad idea seem like reason–seem like the same reasons why anarchism would experience similar problems.

11) Even Rand wrote a short indict of anarchism (I think its in Virtue of Selfishness).

12) Also, you can always vote with your feet. You have the freedom to choose the types of freedom that are most amenable to the types of freedom you want or desire.

13) If anarchists want more freedom in society, the way to do so is to is to help reform our prison system or other specific manifestations of injustice. That is a far, far more viable form of effective social change.

14) Debating the areas where government should be reduced is much more helpful on a case by case basis. You more accurately and concretely target the actual issues you have with government and its policies.

15) I would suggest that many of the issues outlined here also at an underlying level provide significant problems for anarchist type configurations: What are the best arguments against efficient market theory?

• Reputation management systems for judges wouldn’t work–because the losing person in the case almost always has a reason to spike the judgement. Moreover, judges have a reason to be lenient to get reputation for both people in the dispute.

• The time and efficiency issues associated with not having judges would also be a massive drag on productivity and time.

• Poor people would likely be priced out of the market.

• In some cases government + informal arrangements don’t solve problems–why would removing one of these possible solutions “help” the situation:

• Anarchism amounts to the Old West where justice was problematic and real security was in short supply. Moreover, native american cultures who have been said to be anarchic….got overrun by settlers….but even beyond this had significant problems beyond their borders.
Small failures can be potentially catastrophic. When issues of justice and security are undermined……freedom and efficiency suffer.

• History and human behavior dictate that getting rid of the state will re-emerge due to the need for a justice system and protection of individual rights. But in the mean time…..we will endure cycles of violence and injustice while the state re-emerges.

• The history of utopian community experiments like Anarchism in the US are’t particularly good. I think most that went as far as anarchism or very close….died out. And those people self-selected and had a very short time of existence to draw from.
The economic value of the speed of trust….you know what shared values to expect from the majority of people you encounter. Imagine this parallel scenario: if the person you were talking to at any point in the day were randomly assigned a language (1 in 25)….the number of calculations and additional brain power which would make this. Either….people will be incredibly insular….or won’t and will have sooooo much extra time devoted to managing expectations in order to maintain freedom, justice, fairness, and not getting beat up for no reason.

Gut checks/Update 2:
One that I didn’t fully develop though deals with human irrationality or even semi-rational calculation.

1) Almost any risk of irrationality on the part of 5%, much less 50% of the population seems to be a reason to favor. If you look at a bell curve….what percentage of the time are our decisions “irrational”?

2) At a minimum…..perspectivalism and/or phenomenology means that we don’t have. Not everyone agrees on what rational is. Multiply this times of number of decisions per day X number of people.
This is still a problem for a state based rational actor model….but at least some of those actors have trust in the law as semi-fair to resolve disputes and to provide accountability if those disputes end up being unjust/biased.

3) The basis of the elephant-rider model which comes from behavioral economics. Irrationality is baked in. I tend to think state-based systems have more “safety nets” for us to make irrational decisions.

I don’t have the theory to back it up, but shared goods and commons areas (aka tragedy of the commons) is probably better solved via.

The foreign policy problem….this becomes incredibly massive as the number of anarchist communities increases because these are now countries that you have to have relationships with (based on their power and geography). The empirical problem of outside invaders that are still states is also a problem.

I simply trust reformism as a means to change the abuses of the state in a just, predictable, and accountable way. This seems more consistent with an experimentalist model of government–which has enabled us to reform over time.

Don’t think we get the ROI on government now….or we could get better ROI….apply Six Sigma, so you don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater….and you can optimize for what the society does best.

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