Further Reflections on Anarchy
Over the last four weeks, I’ve offered a series of critiques on anarcho-capitalism. I believe anarchy is an unworkable concept because it is self-refuting; in practice it cannot operate within its premises consistently. I’ve attempted to show that it assumes conformity to an unproven principle and that it cannot deliver its promise of better, more effective justice. In this last installment I’d like to make a few more observations.
1) Christian anarchists deny the nature of God’s courtroom.
In the opening chapters of the Bible, God sets up angels at the gate of the garden to prevent sinful man from eating from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). The use of force is specifically described: God drove man out of the garden and if man tried to enter he would be killed. Adam was to be the guard of the garden but he failed. The angels were sent to do what Adam didn’t. This is relevant to our topic because it shows that God gives judicial authority to humanity. Later on in Scripture, the elders at the gate of each city were the judges with authority to punish and execute (Deut. 22:13-21, 25:5-10). This creates a parallel between earthly rulers and heavenly rulers. To deny it is to ignore how the Bible is written.
God makes humanity stewards of creation to rule and reign. Jesus is the Gardener, he makes us gardeners. Jesus is the Shepherd, he makes us shepherds. Jesus is the Judge, he makes us judges. As images of God, this is the foundational way we mirror his sovereignty. The institution of civil government is set up by God to reflect his courtroom, his government.
2) If anarchy is true, then Ron Paul is an evil crook.
It is odd that many self-professed anarchists support politicians like Ron Paul. Some falsely claim that Paul is a closeted anarcho-capitalist based on his advocacy of “self-government.” But if all civil governments are criminal institutions, then all politicians must be criminals themselves. Consider the following syllogism:
1. All tax-funded services are inherently immoral.
2. Political offices are tax-funded.
3. Therefore, Ron Paul’s political office was inherently immoral.
An anarchist should actually have disdain for Paul because his salary was funded through taxation. If all government is immoral force, then Paul is just as guilty as the rest. You have to view Ron Paul as an evil statist. A lesser evil, to be sure, but an evil statist nonetheless. He wasn’t trying to abolish the government. Paul thinks we should obey the Constitution; he participates in elections and the voting process; he wanted to send a tax-funded military into Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden; he even wanted to be president. All of these things are anathema to anarcho-capitalism. If Paul is an anarchist he is the most inconsistent anarchist alive.
When an anarchist lends any type of support to a minarchist like Paul, he is promoting the continuation of what he thinks is evil. He is furthering the violation of the non-aggression principle. He is praising Paul for his service yet condemning the legitimacy of his service at the same time. This is an internal flaw that lurks within anarchy. Thankfully, biblical minarchists can consistently admire Paul and those like him who work within the system to achieve progress. Paul is a man of integrity because he sought to uphold the proper role of government. I invite my anarchist readers to do the same.
3) Even under the premise of anarchy, not all taxation has to be involuntary.
Imagine if John and Jim and their wives settled on a private island to start their own stateless community. After so long the island needs maintenance (landscaping, pest control, etc.) They pick John to be the exclusive maintenance man and they agree to pay him a certain amount from a collective maintenance fund. Pooling money together to pay for a common service may not be the wisest decision, but it is a free decision. No coercion has been committed, therefore it is a legitimate option.
Now imagine that a shipwrecked crew ends up on the shore of the island. They say, “Wow, we really love what you’ve done with the island! We’d love to live here with you.” The original four tell them that if they want to live on the island they must abide by the rules, including giving to the maintenance fund. All agree and all are happy. No one has been coerced. As the community grows, more needs become evident and they set up various funds to provide labor and materials. They even appoint someone to collect the contributions from the families.
This anarchist society has practically formed its own IRS. But everyone has consented; Rothbard can’t complain. The complaints start a generation or two in the future when someone says, “Hey, I didn’t choose this! How dare my parents and grandparents place me in this situation. It’s my natural right to be free!” The irony, of course, is that he could not make this complaint without his parents first placing him in his situation of natural freedom. By no choice of his own, he is a sovereign individual who must make his own choices. Yeah, right. The futility of such thinking should be abundantly evident.
Civil governments are not usually formed through coercive means. They begin with voluntary individuals deciding on the role and form of government they wish to have. If a citizen decides to leave because of tyranny or some other reason, they should have the freedom to do so. In my analogy, if any of the shipwrecked crew fail to hold up their end of the bargain, the island owners could legitimately exile them. But disliking the situation you’ve inherited doesn’t negate the voluntary nature of its origin. It doesn’t mean that the system is inherently aggressive, it just means that you aren’t God.