Politics And Democracy
Anarchism is a lack of government. For anarchists, the state represents what is bad about society. Rousseau’s famous quote “Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains” highlights one of the major problems that anarchists have with governments. That is, governments have substantial control over the people that they rule. Such control can corrupt individuals and limit the freedoms that people have. On the other hand, people need some form of order. Otherwise, cooperation will be difficult to achieve and people will be free to harm one another. Thus, the question becomes whether the order that governments bring to people is worth the loss of freedoms that governments require.
Order is a society’s ability to function together without serious and frequent disruptions. Cooperation is the ability of the people of a society to work together, leading to an improved society. Order and cooperation are each requirements of a good, functioning society. Because a stateless society cannot maintain both of these conditions, and, in fact, cannot maintain either of these conditions, a stateless society is both dangerous and not preferable to a government-ruled society.
Anarchism is defined as a lack of government for a particular group of people or for a particular area of land that is occupied by people. A stateless society, insofar as a society can be stateless, is anarchy. Often anarchy is used to mean a society in which the laws are not being enforced. That is, one might say that a particular state has “descended into anarchy”, even though the government is still standing, but the police are not enforcing the laws. For the purposes of this project, a state of anarchy is a condition in which there is no government, whether the government has been destroyed or never erected in the first place.
The question of whether a stateless society is preferable to a government-ruled society hinges on whether a stateless society can maintain order and cooperation without a de facto government. Cooperation is necessary for technological progress and the improvement of the society. Cooperation is required for specialization and the efficiency production of goods. Without cooperation, people must depend on themselves for providing food, water, and shelter. But with cooperation and specialization, people can become efficient producers of food, water, shelter, and other goods, which can be traded, bartered, or sold between people. If a stateless society cannot maintain cooperation, then a society is preferred.
Order, too, is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy society. If people are allowed to harm one another with no consequence, then people will be in constant danger. Additionally, without order, the most powerful people in a given area will be able to kill others to take over land from others and steal the resources of others. In many ways, people living in a particular area without order represents the Hobbesian “state of nature,” a condition in which individual self-interest led to constant strife and the strong killing the weak to make the lives of the strong better. If a stateless society cannot maintain order, then a society is preferred.
Two necessary conditions have been identified for a stateless society to be preferable to a government-ruled society: order and cooperation. Because neither one of these necessary conditions can be met in a stateless society, is far too dangerous to be preferable to a government-ruled society. In addition to objects to the anarchy model being an accurate description of international politics, anarchy in international politics has proved dangerous for many individual states, as a number of weaker political states have been invaded by stronger states. This strife points to a major problem for the anarchy model; anarchy creates a “might is right” rule of law, in which order is difficult to achieve, given the constant conflict.
Additionally, the idea that order can be achieved in a stateless society requires that there be a group of people to keep the order. Yet, for such a group to be able to actually keep order, a government is required. After all, what is a government if not a group of people with the authority to keep order? From this logic, a stateless society cannot achieve order without itself becoming a state. This logic requires two mandatory assumptions to hold: first, that order requires a group of people to keep the order and, second, that such a group must be a government.
Effectively arguing against the second of these assumptions, there are some strategies that people can employ under anarchy for an anarchy to maintain a certain degree of order. This is especially true, in the modern state, in which strong social establishments and organizations have already been created. However, such strategies are unlikely to be employed by individuals in an anarchy society, given that they require either such strong social order that only a government can provide or such individuals to act against their own self-interests. It seems, then, that order in a stateless society is very unlikely.
Not only does order in a stateless society seem very unlikely, but cooperation, too, in sufficient levels seems very unlikely as well. Anarchy necessarily limits how much cooperation can be achieved. Although the scholar in this argument is applying anarchy in an international context, the concept of anarchy that the schools is relying on is not fundamentally different from the definition used throughout the current paper. Self-interested individuals will only choose to cooperate when it is in their best interests, and without government the choice to cooperate is not one that aligns with individual self-interests very often. Thus, cooperation in an anarchy would not be nearly as common as it is in a government-ruled state.
While the anarchy found in the international context can be applied to the concept of a stateless society, anarchy found among unregulated internet networks can also be applied to the concept of a stateless society to determine the common characteristics of human behavior in such contexts. In anarchic networks individuals act entirely selfishly, taking up resources as much as possible with little to no regard for others. The high costs of anarchic networks were independent of the specific characteristics of the network structures. Applied to the concept of a stateless society, it may be the case that regardless of the preexisting conditions of the state upon entering anarchy, individuals will behavior selfishly, considerably reducing the prospects for cooperation.
Furthermore, anarchy leads to a gross unequal distribution of property. After all, the people in an anarchic state who have the means to claim or take property will do so. Such uneven distribution of property suggests that little cooperation was achieved. This theoretical argument become a reality in Ireland in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when Ireland could often be considered in a state of anarchy. During this time, conflict was frequent and property was taken over by the wealthy from the peasants. This historical reality, along with the previous network-based and international-based evidence, suggests that cooperation would not be at sufficient levels for society to not be dangerous in a stateless society.
Anarchy is a government-less society. While some may argue that a stateless society is safe enough and gives increases freedom enough to be preferable over a government-ruled society, the question is whether a stateless society can have the order and cooperation required for a safe and well-functioning state, or whether a modern stateless society would necessarily be far too dangerous. It is argued in this paper that a stateless society today would be very dangerous and certainly not preferable to a government-ruled state. Two necessary conditions have been identified in order for a stateless society to be considered safe and preferable to a government-ruled society: order and cooperation. Neither one of these necessary conditions can be met in a stateless society. Therefore, it is the well-supported conclusion of this project that a stateless society is far too dangerous to be preferable to a government-ruled society.