Anarchy Without Bombs

Cooperation Without Coercion

Anarchy In One Lesson

Here is the practical case for anarchy in a nutshell (well, most people think anarchists are nuts, don’t they?):

“The use of aggression in a particular situation will, on average, make matters worse, and it is not possible to know in advance when the general probability doesn’t apply nor to create institutions that will limit their use of aggression to when the general probability doesn’t apply, so a policy of completely rejecting the use of aggression or institutions of aggression is the optimal strategy in the real world.”

The rest is elaboration and commentary.  For those who can’t wait for the next installment, I suggest you begin with Friedrich Hayek’s 1945 essay, The Use of Knowledge in Society, available at the excellent Library of Economics and Liberty here.


Written by Less

November 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Philosophy

3 Responses

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  1. I think the Illegalists, if there are any out there, and traditional anarchists would disagree. Doesn’t mean they are right, just tossing it out there.


    December 23, 2008 at 7:21 pm

  2. You’re right, but the first man to popularize the term anarchist, Proudhon, rejected the “propaganda of the deed” excuse, and so do I. Those who opposed institutions of aggression but practiced it themselves didn’t, in my view, advance the cause of liberty, but set it back greatly.


    December 24, 2008 at 12:04 am

  3. Your “case for anarchy” is merely a case for passivity. The two are not synonomous. It is easy to conceive of a hierarchical system characterized by passivity; and if a hierarchical system’s malcontents are morally required to be passive, that’s exactly what you have. (I assume that by “aggression” you don’t mean the more familiar “initiation of hostilities”, in which case responding to “institutions of aggression” could not possibly be “aggression”).

    Interestingly, Hayek’s quoted assertions, unlike the usual Austrofascist blather, could be construed as falsifiable. Hayek admits that “aggression” sometimes works, but makes two claims:
    a) it usually doesn’t, and
    b) its success is impossible to predict.
    (a) is a rather weak premise, even if true, which explains the immediate addition of (b). I wonder what makes “aggression” so special among human interaction that its consequences, unlike consequences of “non-aggressive” human interaction, cannot be predicted. But it would be quite easy to put Hayek’s assertion to the test: put people who disagree with it to the test. If Hayek is correct, the specimens will–over time–be no more accurate than if they were to predict failure every time. Of course, “makes matters worse” would have to be pre-defined; if it cannot be, then then we’re back to Austrian hot air, but it would still be a useful experiment for observers who are still in the deliberative stage.

    Besides all that, (c), that complete “non-aggression” is the optimal strategy, does not follow from (a) and (b). Betting on Black at a roulette table fails most of the time. But if it pays out 10-to-1, it’s optimal. Given that anarchistic “aggression” pays immeasurable dividends when successful, betting on Black (literally) is good advice.

    Of course, Hayek’s “aggression” is nothing like any of its literal meanings, and I think you’ve misinterpreted it (Hayek’s fault, not yours). Hayek’s condemnation of “aggression” that is not really aggression, amounts to approval of aggression that really is. An example would be Proudhon’s mutualists becoming true to their philosophy and conceiving the absentee “owner” as something less than the authority figure he imagines himself to be. If the “owner” becomes hostile, Hayek sees it only as self-defense, though the “offenders” may be pacifists. There’s already a word for Hayek’s “aggression”: anarchism.

    Tomb Like Bomb

    December 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm

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