“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
I've often thought this was too simplistic, because it doesn't examine the flip side. If men were devils, then no government would be possible, and if devils were to govern men, no controls would be sufficient. Obviously, people are flawed, and one of their most well known weaknesses is the lust for power. Everybody wants to rule the world. The question then becomes one of alternatives. Which is better, a system of systematized, centralized power, where the truly evil can rise to the top, or a social system of decentralization and distributed power, where the evil can only hurt those around them?
Here's Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute stating it better, in a beautiful and radical essay: The State Threatens Mankind
Every time you speed, jaywalk, shop a garage sale, or smoke pot, you are engaging in Anarchy. You are deciding for yourself how to behave, regardless of the government's opinion or the legal status of the activity. How hard is it to believe we could all live our lives this way? How do they get away with taxing us to enforce rules we all break?
Government begins by enforcing the rules society has already created, but ends up taking your life and property for its own ends. It exists only as long as enough people choose to follow its rules.
Detroit's recent bankruptcy announcement, (Finally. Seriously, who didn't see that coming?) the high profile bankruptcies of Jefferson County, Alabama, Vallejo and Stockton in California, and the long list of cities with majorly distressed balance sheets has me wondering: why can't we just buy freedom? Why can't we, the supporters of the free market, constantly explaining the virtues of a free society, since in addition to being morally superior, it also creates greater wealth and prosperity, why can't we get enough purchasing power together to buy ourselves out of slavery? This should in no way denigrate movements like the Free State Project, but why spend years and constant frustration ekeing out small electoral victories towards freedom? Could we, instead of blistering our fingers pressing the button, cramp our hands writing the check?
What if we, the lovers of liberty, found a suitable municipality, fresh from declaring bankruptcy or nearing the brink, and made them an offer they couldn't refuse? What if we walked into a meeting of the city council with a suitcase full of cash and offered to solve their budget problem, on the condition that we be exempt from all zoning restrictions and development limitations? What if we declared that no city services would be needed or accepted? What if we bought off, err...lobbied the state to just leave us alone?
I know this is hopelessly idealistic, but what if they agreed?
This may make you angry, or raise cries of "too soon!", but it is so critically important to be aware, especially when the emotions are still raw...
There is a well-known reflexive response after a governmental failure to give the government more power to "keep us safe". Remember the Patriot Act and the Iraq war? Obama has already shown himself to be just as bad as GWB on civil liberties and war, and this will only ratchet up the intensity, moving us one step further down the road to a total police state.
I know this will sound paranoid to some, but look at history and tell me I'm wrong. They are not fighting for your freedom, they are taking it.
Having recently come out as an Anarchist to the world via Google+ and Facebook, and hopefully shocked at least a few, (because, let's face it, isn't attention the main reason to do anything on facebook?) it's probably opportune to put some people's minds slightly at ease, and describe some "normal" things I support.
- Police: I love order. Nothing pleases me more than being able to go about my day without the threat of assault, and to be reasonably confident that my stuff will still be in my apartment when I come home. I pay a bit of attention to world events, and the day-to-day ugliness of some parts of the world is truly scary.
- Education: Obviously, I like to read, to learn, and to engage in argumentation and the battle of ideas. What would the world be without teachers? Society can not continue without promotion of useful ideas, and abandonment of destructive ideas.
- Medicine: Having someone who can do something for me, when I finally give up and go to the hospital, is a beautiful thing. The incredible technology that allows us to detect and treat previously unknown diseases gives me confidence that the cure for any illness is within our reach.
- Roads: Getting from place to place...need I say more?
So, with all these services I like, that are all more or less provided by Government, how can I possibly be an Anarchist?
Simple. I am convinced that it is possible to provide any good or service on the market, without the involvement, or even the existence, of the monopolist of force, Government. Moreover, I believe that I can make a convincing case that it would be preferable to have these services delivered by the market, by combining a legitimate critque of the problems Government creates and a plausible description of how they might be provided in a Free Society.
I wanted to call it a Beta, because it still has a long way to go, but why not? The game is launched! Originally conceived of as something like "Settlers of Catan" with explicitly Free Market themes, limitations of both time and ability have whittled it down to this tagline: "Solitaire, for Fans of the Free Market". Hopefully, it will be fun and educational, though I would settle for either one!
Remaining big unfinished items:
Money - How could you possibly have an Economics game without Money? Somehow, I overlooked the "universal resource" until it was too late. This should be fixed in a day or two.
Mobile - The code is already in place to run the game in a mobile browser, but I haven't tested it in any way...it might work!
Resizing Popups - I've spent a lot of time fighting with the best way to present the in-game popups, so that they're readable at a small scale, but they don't overflow the popup background. Sadly, they still don't work the way I'd like, and I'll continue to try to get them there.
Game Resource Page - Currently, this is just an alternative way to read the content of the in-game popups. I'll be adding to this as time goes on, to include links to relevant articles, that will flesh out the concepts I've had to cram into a tiny amount of space.
Labels are useful things, in that they help us organize our thoughts, giving us a way to assign semi-permanent "thought buckets", so that we don't have to analyze every minute detail of every observation every time we encounter it. I don't need to think "that's a dog" every time my wife coos over a local four-legged, tail-wagging, leash-wearing animal. There are, however, problems with labels. Due to the limits of human perception and communication, you simply can never know whether your definition is the same as someone else's, or answer "How do I know the color blue is to you is the color blue is to me?" unless you're Dennis Miller. (From his classic HBO special in Aspen, I think. I couldn't find it on youtube, though.) So instead we generally keep the labels where we think they belong, until new information comes along and we're forced to re-evaluate.
I'm an anarchist.
To be more-precise, I'm an anarcho-capitalist, because I believe that peaceful cooperation can achieve any desirable end without resorting to force and coercion. I believe that government is an inherently violent and destabilizing force, and that it cannot be otherwise, no matter how carefully constructed.
So, why, then "anarchist" and not "anarcho-capitalist"? Because I would like to see the label taken away from those who have made it synonomous with violence; from the hooded, masked thugs who smash windows and advocate the elimination of private property, those who really espouse revolutionary communism, a system that can't exist without a massive totalitarian state, and which is rightfully blamed for close to 100 Million deaths over the past century.
On this blog, I'll continue to explain myself; how I became an anarchist, how I think anarchy might work, how likely it is, and other related ideas. Hopefully someday, instead of chaos, anarchy will come to be associated with those who merely want peace, who want trade without force...those who merely want not to be ruled.