Anarchy Without Bombs

Cooperation Without Coercion

The Obviousness of Anarchy

Many sincere limited government libertarians object to market anarchism because they’re unable to imagine how a free market could provide law, security, and defense. But this isn’t just a theoretical claim by anarchists: it has already been achieved both in the past and the present:

Law – The commercial code of the United States and most other developed countries derives from the Law Merchant, a purely voluntary legal system set up in the Middle Ages by international merchants dealing in contracts their governments were unwilling or unable to enforce. Virtually the entire body of law advocated by all libertarians, whether anarchist or minarchist, was present in the customary law and early common law systems of England and other countries, which originated and were operated without central planning.

Security – Professional police are a relatively recent invention in society, spend the majority of their time enforcing victimless crime laws or raising revenue for the government through traffic regulations that have never been shown to produce safer streets and highways, and are now outnumbered by a factor of 5 to 1 by private security personnel hired by businesses and homeowner groups who no longer see the point of relying on the police for protection.

Defense – Volunteer militias, essentially equivalent to National Guard troops but without the obligation to fly overseas, defended this country effectively for most of the history of the US. To this day, the Swiss “military” consists almost entirely of the able-bodied male population of the country, learning basic techniques of local defense but not offense, and threatening no other country, allowing it to remain untouched by 2 world wars in their backyard and all terrorism. Costa Rica has no military in a very dangerous neighborhood, and does just fine. True, it is unlikely that a voluntary defense force will be able to maintain a worldwide empire: this is one “service” that an anarchist society probably couldn’t provide.

John Hasnas contributed an excellent essay entitled “The Obviousness of Anarchy” to a recent book, Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Party of a Free Country, edited by anarchist Roderick Long and minarchist Tibor Machan. The book costs a pretty penny, but Hasnas’ article only costs a mouse click.

Anarchists take seriously all the concerns expressed by people who think it is impractical. Hasnas’ article is not the last word on the subject, but is certainly a terrific first word. Take a look.


Written by Less

September 4, 2009 at 4:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. “Anarchy is a sweet word, but we all need furniture”
    – from “Anarchy” by Nobody Can Dance

    Of course the last place we look to for political guidance is musicians, but it is a breath of fresh air when you can find a song that actually says something worthwhile.

    Because the idea of Anarchy is such a staple of punk music, the song “Anarchy” by Nobody Can Dance takes on an ironic, but serious, poetic assessment of its simple impracticality.

    I share it because many people interpret the song, and that line in particular in different ways.


    September 15, 2009 at 11:04 am

  2. It’s a great lyric, and people who have not studied the theory of anarchism (including, sad to say, many people who call themselves anarchists) often believe that anarchism rejects private property, which it does not. In fact, the only thing anarchism per se rejects is “authority imposed through the hierarchical power of the state” ( ). Even the broader definition of anarchism, opposing all imposed authority, doesn’t directly address property.

    All anarchists, communists included, support property rights. The differences are in matters of prediction, in evaluating the bases for claims of decision-making control over property, especially capital goods, and in the determination of what action or inaction means someone has chosen to abandon their property claim. Many of us believe the free market will comfortably address those issues without any overall planning, just as it does in the production of shoes and computers and … well … furniture. 😉

    “Property is Theft” was a terrific rhetorical device when introduced by Pierre Proudhon, but is no more the last word on anarchism than his later assertion that “Property is Liberty.” Your comment deserves more than a brief response, and I hope to put together a useful article on Anarchy and Property shortly.


    September 16, 2009 at 2:05 am

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your blog is very enlightening and I look forward to reading your thoughts on Anarchy and Property. I hope especially that you will address those seemingly contradictory Proudhon ideas. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. For the website box, since I do not have my own, I included the band’s website at which you can download that song in question for free…just in case you were interested.


    September 16, 2009 at 9:24 am

  4. Thanks a lot man

    flashy Mc loop

    December 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

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