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Anarchy Theory FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Anarchy

Anarchist Theory FAQ
or
Instead of a FAQ, by a Man Too Busy to Write One

by Bryan Caplan

Version 5.2

I heartily accept the motto, - "That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe, - "That government is best which governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

--Henry David Thoreau,
"On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins ... Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.

--Thomas Paine,
Common Sense

They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship -- their dictatorship, of course -- can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up.

--Mikhail Bakunin,
Statism and Anarchism

In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says, "There should be a law about parish roads." If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile obedience and insults one of them, the insulted man says, "There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon the park-keepers." If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn- speculator argues, "It is protective legislation which we require." Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labor, the politician in embryo explains, "We must have a law to put all that to rights." In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.

--Peter Kropotkin,
"Law and Authority"

[W]hoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.: 1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called) puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. 2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future. 3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so?... 4. If a man wants "protection," he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to "protect" him against his will. 5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury. 6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.

--Lysander Spooner,
No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority

If we look at the black record of mass murder, exploitation, and tyranny levied on society by governments over the ages, we need not be loath to abandon the Leviathan State and ... try freedom.

--Murray Rothbard,
For a New Liberty

-1. What is anarchism? What beliefs do anarchists share?
anarchy FAQ: 1. What is anarchism? What beliefs do anarchists share?
-2. Why should one consider anarchism in the first place?
anarchy FAQ: 2. Why should one consider anarchism in the first place?
-3. Don't anarchists favor chaos?
anarchy FAQ: 3. Don't anarchists favor chaos?
-4. Don't anarchists favor the abolition of the family, property, religion, and other social institutions besides the state?
anarchy FAQ: 4. Don't anarchists favor the abolition of the family, property, religion, and other social institutions besides the state?
-5. What major subdivisions may be made among anarchists?
anarchy FAQ: 5. What major subdivisions may be made among anarchists?
-6. Is anarchism the same thing as libertarianism?
anarchy FAQ: 6. Is anarchism the same thing as libertarianism?
-7. Is anarchism the same thing as socialism?
anarchy FAQ: 7. Is anarchism the same thing as socialism?
-8. Who are the major anarchist thinkers?
anarchy FAQ: 8. Who are the major anarchist thinkers?
-9. How would left-anarchy work?
anarchy FAQ: 9. How would left-anarchy work?
-10. How would anarcho-capitalism work?
anarchy FAQ: 10. How would anarcho-capitalism work?
-11.a. "An anarchist society, lacking any central coercive authority, would quickly degenerate into violent chaos."
anarchy FAQ: 11.a.
-11.b. The Marxist critique of left-anarchism
anarchy FAQ: 11.b. The Marxist critique of left-anarchism
-11.c. The minarchists' attack on anarcho-capitalism
anarchy FAQ: 11.c. The minarchists' attack on anarcho-capitalism
-11.d. The conservative critique of anarchism
anarchy FAQ: 11.d. The conservative critique of anarchism
-11.e. "We are already in a state of anarchy."
anarchy FAQ: 11.e.
-11. What criticisms have been made of anarchism?
anarchy FAQ: 11. What criticisms have been made of anarchism?
-12. What other anarchist viewpoints are there?
anarchy FAQ: 12. What other anarchist viewpoints are there?
-13. What moral justifications have been offered for anarchism?
anarchy FAQ: 13. What moral justifications have been offered for anarchism?
-14.a. "X is not 'true anarchism.'"
anarchy FAQ: 14.a.
-14.b. "Anarchism of variant X is unstable and will lead to the re-emergence of the state."
anarchy FAQ: 14.b.
-14.c. "In an anarchist society in which both systems X and Y existed, X would inevitably outcompete Y."
anarchy FAQ: 14.c.
-14.d. "Anarchism of type X would be worse than the state."
anarchy FAQ: 14.d.
-14.e. Etc.
anarchy FAQ: 14.e. Etc.
-14. What are the major debates between anarchists? What are the recurring arguments?
anarchy FAQ: 14. What are the major debates between anarchists? What are the recurring arguments?
-15.a. The concept and uses of Pareto optimality in economics
anarchy FAQ: 15.a. The concept and uses of Pareto optimality in economics
-15.b. The public goods problem
anarchy FAQ: 15.b. The public goods problem
-15. How would anarchists handle the "public goods" problem?
anarchy FAQ: 15. How would anarchists handle the
-16. Are anarchists pacifists?
anarchy FAQ: 16. Are anarchists pacifists?
-16.a. Tolstoyan absolute pacifism
anarchy FAQ: 16.a. Tolstoyan absolute pacifism
-16.b. Pacifism as opposition to war
anarchy FAQ: 16.b. Pacifism as opposition to war
-17. Have there been any historical examples of anarchist societies?
anarchy FAQ: 17. Have there been any historical examples of anarchist societies?
-18. Isn't anarchism utopian?
anarchy FAQ: 18. Isn't anarchism utopian?
-19. Don't anarchists assume that all people are innately virtuous?
anarchy FAQ: 19. Don't anarchists assume that all people are innately virtuous?
-20. Aren't anarchists terrorists?
anarchy FAQ: 20. Aren't anarchists terrorists?
-21. How might an anarchist society be achieved?
anarchy FAQ: 21. How might an anarchist society be achieved?
-22. What are some addresses for anarchist World Wide Web sites?
anarchy FAQ: 22. What are some addresses for anarchist World Wide Web sites?
-23. What are some major anarchist writings?
anarchy FAQ: 23. What are some major anarchist writings?









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