May 11th, 2015
If you follow me on social media, have read several other posts on this blog, or are friends with me on Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen some of my posts and began to wonder. Is he, you know, one of those? Well let me confirm your fears:
I am an anarchist.
Unlike other closets, coming out of this closet hasn’t become fashionable, and likely won’t be for quite some time. (Although it’s certainly more socially acceptable than it was when pioneers like Lysander Spooner, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Murray Rothbard came out.) There aren’t a bunch of political pressure groups demanding that society be forced to treat people like me a certain way. (Wouldn’t that be ironic?) And it isn’t like my coming out of the closet won’t cost me anything. It’s probably a bad career move. Employers Google prospective employees, and there aren’t many firms that are willing to hire an anarchist.
There are other more potentially dire consequences of me outing myself. I actually took the Ron Paul bumper sticker off the back of my car several years back because it increased the chances of my young children getting shot by cops. (See here, here, here, and here.) If the state were to come and take me away some day, all it would need to say was that I was a suspected anarchist. No further explanation or justification required. So why would I reverse course and put it out there on my indelible permanent internet record in my own words that I am an anarchist?
My journey hasn’t happened suddenly. I certainly wasn’t born this way. As late as my junior year of college (where I was studying music education and planning on working in a government school), I was a friend of the state, not an enemy of it. I initially supported the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I voted for George W. Bush. Twice. (I know; I threw up in my mouth a little when I wrote that.) The fact that I wasn’t born this way is one of the reasons why I’m coming out. If I were persuaded that I was wrong about the state; then maybe others can be too. People are propagandized in the ways of anarchophobia (fear of anarchy, not spiders) from a very young age. Anarchophobia is proclaimed in the schools, the news, the churches, talk radio, the movies, and just about everywhere else. Because of all this misinformation and indoctrination, it’s important to define and clarify what I mean when I say I’m an anarchist.
When the average person thinks of what an anarchist is, the image that comes to mind is probably one of “whiskered men with bombs” assassinating some 19th century political figure. This is not what I’m advocating. My concise definition of anarchism is the belief that the use of coercive force by the state is not a legitimate means to solve any given problem. To be more specific, I would label myself an anarcho-capitalist. By implication, anarchism calls for an abolition of the state altogether, believing as Tolkien did that “the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”
Think of all the problems that you encounter in your own life. How many of them do you actually solve by using coercive force? Not many, unless you work as an enforcer for the state. Nearly your entire life is already anarchic. The United States of America have been officially anarchic regarding religious practice since the adoption of the first amendment. Irrespective of your religious beliefs (or non-beliefs), do you think things would be better if some bureaucrat were dictating them and using coercion to enforce conformity? How about some state central-planning board decreeing whom you could date or marry? Don’t all jump at once. If you think a date costs a lot now, just wait until it’s free. And think of the waiting list!
In project management and business analysis, there is a concept known as net present value (NPV). To simplify, you anticipate the costs and discounted future revenues of a project. If the NPV of a project is negative (costs exceed benefits) you don’t embark on the project. I assert that the state has a negative NPV. It does more harm than good, and you are better off without it. Think about yourself, and the people you know. No matter how screwed up your lives are, you can still run your own lives better than the state can run them for you. And the problem grows worse on a larger scale, not better. This same problem of distributed knowledge and expertise is why central economic planning can never work.
Pragmatic arguments are all well and good, but they’re not enough. The moral arguments against the state are more important. If the initiation of force is wrong for you and me, does it become right if 21% of the population (65.9M/314.1M voted for Obama in 2012) authorize it? Does the morality change if you increase it to 50% plus one person? Even if everybody else in the world got together and unanimously agreed on a decree to kill you and take your stuff, it would still be wrong.
There’s a lot more to say regarding anarchism (answering objections, how it harmonizes with Christianity, strategic considerations, further arguments against the state, etc.) but these topics will need to wait for future posts. I just couldn’t continue to pretend to be somebody I’m not and decided that now is the time. Maybe some people dealing with similar inclinations in the future might read this and be empowered to speak up themselves. There may be different reactions among my friends and family, ranging from support and tolerance to shunning or staging an intervention. I don’t expect you to understand me, but hopefully those who care about me will learn to accept me for who I am.
I’m out and I’m proud.