Dispelling Anti-Anarchist Myths

by Paul Charnetzki IV

In debating with a wide variety of individuals with a wide variety of beliefs, I have encountered a few very popular myths about the need for and legitimacy of government, and the total evil that would exist if it weren't for the politicians and their thugs. This essay began as a little guide I could use in internet debates at three in the morning…you meet up with these arguments all the time if you're a market anarchist. Many of these arguments I will not even bother to logically prove untrue…I will merely display their absurdity.

The Social Contract

A very popular myth, especially among more intellectual state lovers, is the "social contract." The idea is that all members of society are contractually obligated to obey the laws and edicts of the state. In America this is supposedly verified by the signatures of the Founding Fathers, who were elected by the population of America at that time. Indeed, there are many problems with this rendition of the "social contract." First of all, no current citizen of the United States has signed anything binding them to obey the Constitution. Do you think it is possible to be bound by a contract signed hundreds of years ago, by old men you aren't even related to? The wigged old men didn't even have justification to sign for the people at the time, as you'll see below.

To avoid unwitting theft of anarchist ideas, I'm going to credit Lysander Spooner for his stroke of genius in making social contract theorists look like monkeys. See his excellent piece "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority."

Another rendition of the "social contract" is even more absurd. This theory states that merely being born in, and participating in society, we agree to abide by the laws laid down by society. The big trouble with this argument is that it argues that any act by the government must be justified. If someone makes this argument, and has any complaint about any government that has ever existed, they are contradicting themselves.

The Need For "Leviathan"

This, or a modification of it, is probably the most common argument against anarchism. Thomas Hobbes wrote that people are naturally evil and selfish, and without a government to push them around, everything would disintegrate in to chaos and perpetual warfare. For a more vivid illustration of this, picture the "Mad Max" movies.

But if people are naturally evil and are brute animals who want to kill each other, why are they magically transformed when they become a politician, or begin working for the government?

A more modernized modification of this argument says that without the government, there would be no private property and total chaos would rule. This argument assumes that police, courts, and law cannot be provided by the free market. I will address that below.

Consent Of The Governed

Consent of the governed seems to be a popular one taught in public school. This argument states that because a majority of individuals under a government vote to elect a certain government official, all of that official's actions (hence the entire government's actions) are legitimate. Indeed, I could agree that everyone who voted for George Bush to rule them should be able to be told what to do by George Bush. But what about everyone that voted for Al Gore, and all the anarchists/people with better things to do who didn't vote?

It's absurd that I have agreed to what a politician does because somebody else voted for him. Other people cannot agree to things for me, unless I agree to let them do so. I haven't authorized any Repooplicans.

Courts, Police, And Law Cannot Exist Without The State

This is the only real argument against market anarchism that I have some respect for. The individual arguing that police, courts, and law could not

exist without the state is merely ignorant, and not stupid. This topic has been written on exhaustively by market anarchists everywhere, which makes sense, because this is what market anarchism is all about.

This is just a quick debate guide, so here is a link to Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Private Defense article.

The Cult of "Government"

Perhaps the most bizarre idea out there is equating the government with some type of higher power. Coming from brute force, or "society" through some totally obscure means, the government has the "authority" to do anything it wants, right or wrong. I'm not sure if this is an argument, it's just sort of an attack. It's sort of like when Christians smugly smile and say "don't believe in god? When you're in hell, you'll be sorry!" This "argument" ignores that authority is a delusion, and when people behave like others have authority they are doing so voluntarily. When I say "authority is a delusion" I mean authority that one person has over another. Yes, the State has the power to put a gun to my head, or throw me in jail. Is this authority? Not according to the dictionary.

"2 a : power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior" –Merriam Webster.

The government cannot control my behavior. They can make it in my rational self interest to do what they say by threat of physical punishment. But this is just bullying, and not "authority."

I will go further. Authority doesn't exist, and neither does "government". Again, Merriam Webster:

"the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it."

As you can see, authority is integral to the definition of "government." If you tried to define "government" without "authority" it would just be a group of people that point guns at people and take their property. This would make the Latin Kings (a Chicago gang, for those who don't know) a "government."

You could take all of this as semantics, but if you think of it many people will say in daily conversations that they "have" to pay taxes (i.e, the government has authority). Many people actually believe that the government

possesses godlike powers.

I hope this small essay of mine will help y'all smash some Statist myths. February 7, 2002