?”The Case for Ordered Liberty Without States”

by Tom Palmer on January 8, 2012

My opening remarks from the debate at Freedom Fest, Las Vegas, July 8, 2010: http://tomgpalmer.com/wp-content/uploads/FreedomFest-debate-on-the-state1.pdf

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Henri Hein January 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Interesting. Did you get into the process of how anarchy comes about? What I mean is that the nature of an anarchy seems to be to be dependent on how, or under what conditions, the state disappeared. For instance, there are anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-socialists. How do we know whether removing the state leads to capitalism or socialism? It seems to me the answer depends on the process, or conditions, leading up to it.

Tom Palmer January 10, 2012 at 12:23 am

In general, societies without any state didn’t have one to begin with, or were peopled by refugees from states. Thus, Iceland, the regions of “Zomia” studied by James C. Scott in “The Art of Not Being Governed,” pre-conquest Ireland, etc., etc. I see stateless order all around me, in that most of the order is not enforced by agencies of the state. That said, there are societies that have been so structured by state power that horrifying chaos, rather than “anarchy,” is the result when the states disappear.

I find “anarcho socialists” a bit puzzling, as they think that the state is evil for defining and protecting property rights. That seems like a positive benefit to me, albeit one that might be provided in other ways. I have never read one or had a conversation with one in which I could discern a coherent argument; they seem blind to the importance of institutions and incentives, for example.

It certainly doesn’t follow that the absence of a state entails the presence of liberty; far from it. But I think that liberty without the state is possible. What is necessary is an institutional structure of law and property; without those, one is almost certain to end up with chaos, rather than social coordination with liberty.

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