“My political opinions,” J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control, not whiskered men with bombs).
“The most improper job of any man,” Tolkien went on, “is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”
“A consistent peace activist,” philosopher Roderick T. Long wrote, “must be an anarchist.”
“Anarchism,” said Edward Abbey, “is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.”
Anarchism, I’m sure you know, has a bad rap.
In fact, I’m sure most people would be appalled at the above quotes… and the mere thought of anarchism being a “good thing.”
(Especially when they find out that the Lord of the Rings mastermind considered himself an anarchist!)
The collective consciousness holds the belief — with the help, of course, of the media and Hollywood — that anarchy is synonymous with chaos, destruction and terrorism.
More and more, however, despite that big red flashing sign from the mind-molders which reads “STEER CLEAR,” we find ourselves dipping our brains into the philosophy…
There are two sides, we realize, of any story. And anarchism, at least this week, is sunnier than most think.
Which is why, of course, we are in Acapulco… to attend the one-and-only “Anarchapulco” and hang out in the sun with the anarchists.
Anarchapulco, according to its website, is “the world’s first and largest international anarcho-capitalist (ancap) conference.
“Held yearly in Acapulco,” the website reads, “ancaps from around the world gravitate to Mexico for three days of speeches, presentations, panels, debates, musical acts, parties and networking with the intention of creating a freer world and seven billion governments on Earth.”
So… what is anarchism?
It’s derived from the Greek anarchos, which means to “have no ruler.”
For that reason, says Doug Casey in an interview with International Speculator, “Anarchism is the gentlest of all political systems.
“It contemplates no institutionalized coercion. It’s the watercourse way, where everything is allowed to rise or fall naturally to its own level.
“An anarchic system is necessarily one of free-market capitalism. Any services that are needed and wanted by the people — like the police or the courts — would be provided by entrepreneurs, who’d do it for a profit.”
In free-market anarchy, says Casey, all usual functions of the state (yes, all) would be run privately, including police and courts: “the police would likely be subsidiaries of insurance companies, and courts would have to compete with each other based on the speed, fairness, and low cost of their decisions.
Bomb-throwers and chaos inflictors, says Casey, are not anarchists: “Chaos is the actual opposite of anarchy. Anarchy is simply a form of political organization that does not put one ruler, or ruling body, over everyone in a society. Whether that’s actually possible is a separate matter. This is what it means. And I see it as an ideal to strive for.
“But,” he concedes, “I never said a truly free, anarchic society would be a utopia; it would simply be a society that emphasizes personal responsibility and doesn’t have any organized institutions of coercion. Perfect harmony is not an option for imperfect human beings. Social order, however, is possible without the state. In fact, the state is so dangerous because it necessarily draws the sociopaths — who like coercion — to itself.
“What holds society together is not a bunch of strict laws and a brutal police force — it’s basically peer pressure, moral ‘suasion, and social opprobrium. Look at a restaurant. The bills get paid not because anybody is afraid of the police, but for the three reasons I just mentioned.”
[What’s your take? Could we survive without a state? Is the complete absence of government superior to limited government? Are you, as they say, a “minarchist” who believes in limited government? Or do your sympathies lean, like Tolkien, to the anarchist? Email it: Chris@lfb.org.]
On the plane, we were reminded of our first introduction to the ideas of anarchism.
It was in Baltimore at a French restaurant named Marie Louise down the street from our HQ.
Sitting across the table from yours truly, talking a mile a minute about the virtues of “anarcho-capitalism,” was Mr. Gary Gibson.
Gluttons for punishment — that is, long-sufferers of our daily missives — will know Mr. Gibson well. If you don’t know him, Gary was editor of Whiskey and Gunpowder — the newsletter that transformed, before my time, into Laissez Faire Today.
Today, for your viewing pleasure, we’re going to provide you with a throwback from that era. Partly for nostalgia’s sake, and partly because, when we Googled Gary Gibson as we made our descent into Acapulco, we were struck by serendipity.
The first article that popped up in our feed was Gary writing from, as luck would have it, Acapulco. If you’re not familiar with Gibson’s bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred style, you’re either in for a treat… or are about to be terribly offended.
Either way, it should be fun.
We’ll tell you more about our foray into anarchism in tomorrow’s show. For now, though, here’s Mr. Gibson…
Slavery, A First World Tendency
By Gary Gibson
Traveling grants perspective. We can’t be sure, but we think this must be especially true for Americans…
Americans long ago settled for convenience over freedom: Paved roads and more commercial space per capita than any other nation on earth… to go along with various prohibitions on personal behavior, expanded domestic spying by police, the TSA and the biggest prison population per capita in the world.
Why be concerned with the prison population? Because the state is caging a lot of people who have neither killed, nor raped nor stolen. According to Wikipedia:
Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national “war on drugs.” The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges.
But don’t drugs get to the end user by criminal means that often involve violent cartel conflict somewhere along the line? Absolutely, but only because the state makes drugs illegal, resulting in extralegal black markets. The state says it’s for own good, but we can’t help but notice that it also serves to increase the power of the state to monitor and to police.
It’s bad enough that inflation-fueled nationalizations have become the norm in the U.S., that the government crowds out real job growth by stifling small business while bailing out failed big ones.
But what about the other legal indignities, all the other ways the authorities remind you that you and your property aren’t really yours?
Why can’t we drink on the sidewalk? Or smoke in bars? They manage to do it in other parts of the world without civilization collapsing around their ears…or even an increase in violence or cancer rates!
In Acapulco at night the streets are crowded both with parents, their young children, the elderly and tipsy young men holding bottles of Corona. It is lively but peace reigns. Perhaps people are just nicer when they aren’t constantly stressed out by being over-regulated.
People smoke in restaurants and as long as the air is circulating, no one else seems to be bothered.
Since 2006 it has been legal to possess varying amounts of “hard” drugs for personal use — though, comically, selling these drugs technically remains illegal.
Prostitution is also technically illegal, but pretty open. Every strip club doubles as a bordello, and of course there are the actual bordellos!
A mark of true civilization is civility. The people peacefully seeking their own enjoyment are able to mingle with people raising their families, all without discomfort or conflict. Sure their officials are all probably thieving criminals — this is still Latin America — but the people of Acapulco themselves live blissfully free of the state’s heavy handed interference in their personal goings-about.
“All well and good for the rest of the world,” says the American conservative who claims to love “freedom” (as long as it’s done his way), “but I don’t want to be surrounded by drug use and prostitution!”
But, dear conservative control freak, you already are! This stuff goes on all around you anyway. It’s probably going on in at least one house within a couple miles of yours as you read this. And it manages not to bother you because it really isn’t any more your business than other habits and pleasures your neighbors may have.
No amount of “war” on the arbitrarily declared vice crimes (alcohol is okay, but marijuana is not?) by the state with your blessing will end practices you don’t like… unless maybe you turn the joint into a theocratic tyranny of the Middle East variety.
Criminalization just drives the behavior underground while giving the state the authority to regulate more and to seize property and cage any of us in an effort to fight “wars” against personal practices. Such laws are just prejudices backed by guns.
And in the U.S. we get it with both barrels, both financial and personal interference a la the state. They overtax us, steal from us by means of inflation and then tell us what we can do with willing partners and with ourselves. The liberals cheer on the seizure of property for redistribution while the conservatives cheer the government’s ownership of our bodies.
Yet Americans are still convinced that they love freedom. Personally we scarcely know anyone in the States who has a clue what that particular word means. And most of that small number who do are heading for the exits so they can experience it.
When they leave they leave the white, white world of Western Civilization entirely. They head for Asia…or Latin America. The latter seems to be especially popular.
Maybe it’s something just basic to the essence of the West. It’s the West after all that prides itself on being the birthplace of democracy. As if that’s something to crow about!
Democracy is just a system of mass mutual slavery. Everybody owns everybody else and this power of ownership is represented by the vote. Woe be to the people — and their property — in the minority group when it’s time to count those votes.
Maybe it’s genetic. The typical American comes from European stock and though he reflexively yells “liberty” and “freedom”, he has a hard time letting go of slavery. He stopped thrusting it on imported Africans, but seemed to miss it so much that he started inflicting it on himself and his kin.
He enslaves the unborn to debt, the worker to the unproductive, the hedonist to the moralist, and so on.
Yet it’s this same set of hypocrites who gave us a higher standard of living due to technological innovation in robust free markets. It was their European ancestors who gave the world most of the advances in the hard sciences in the first place.
We’re not entirely sure what to make of it. It warrants further consideration. We suspect this would best be undertaken on beach somewhere south of the U.S. border.
Managing editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder