Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Questions on Anarchy

If anarchy works, why does every sport require umpires, referees, and line judges?

Now, I know a friendly game between pals doesn’t “require” an impartial authority for settling dusputes, but disputes occur even between the most amiable opponents. “Do-overs” don’t work with real life problems, either. Sure, the umpires and refs make mistakes, but there is greater success in settling disputes accurately (and peacefully) with them than without them.

If anarchy works, why hasn’t a country started a war that no one showed up to fight?

This seems the most damning. If every human being was a self-sufficient, independent-thinking individual, why are we so easily led? Why would people go out and die for the wishes of the wealthy? Because they were tricked, or guilted, or made to feel it was honorable? I suspect one may imagine it might be coercion, but government has no monopoly on threatening people to do something… or else.


  1. 1. i'm not aware of any anarchists advocating a society in which arbitration, or dispute resolution services were banned. in fact, banning such voluntary services would be inconsistent with anarchy. umpires and referees are great examples of how disputes are voluntarily handled when two or more parties agree to play by rules that will be enforced by a known third party process.

    2. i'm not sure how this is a criticism of anarchy. sounds more like a criticism of statism. i don't know why people are easily fooled into supporting governments, even in unnecessary wars. i also don't know why such a great number of americans once thought it common place to own other human beings based on their skin color. fortunately, this atrocious practice has almost entirely come to be regarded as morally reprehensible and downright disgusting. in time, i believe the same kind of revelation will expose the state for what it truly is.

  2. You're talking about pro sports I reckon?

    Because sports can be played without refs and linsemen. We use to play soccer and hockey for high stakes and we governed ourselves pretty well. And those two sports can get pretty damn heated on any level.

    I would love to see an experiment at the pro level where games take place without refs.

  3. JL: Regarding #1, how does one "agree to play by rules that will be enforced by a known third party process?" I'm only curious, because I don't understand the logistics. I thought this was what "government" is, but apparently not.

    Regarding #2, what I mean is that... suppose we manage to attain anarchy. What's stopping someone from organizing their own state and taking over the unorganized masses? It seems like the natural order of humanity that there are enough gullible fools to fight and die for just about anything, so I would rather funnel this behavior in some organized fashion. I would change a lot of things about government, but I don't see how anything good comes from attempting to abolish government. Questioning, criticizing, fighting to change the government... this I can get behind. Anarchy (aka "a power vacuum") doesn't appeal to me at this point.

    TC: High stakes? Like... million dollar contracts and billion dollar merchandising deals? I think you'll find that as the stakes go up (and as disconnected the opponents are from each other socially), the more likely the system will result in irreconcilable disputes.

    Only a game without rules would work. Pankration, maybe. Even then, you could be disqualified for eye gouging or biting. Hmm... unless we allow eye gouging and biting... I'd pay to watch it.

  4. Hey, T.C., great comment!

    Bret, you ask how does one "agree to play by rules that will be enforced by a known third party process?" What don't you understand there? Did you not get the part about agreeing to rules voluntarily? And no, that's not what government is (a "government" is not synonymous with the state itself, by the way, but in this case I'll use it in that sense), government is force, where everyone within its claimed jurisdiction is subject to its "rules" (laws) whether they agreed to them or not.

    Questioning, criticizing, fighting to change the government... this I can get behind. Anarchy (aka "a power vacuum") doesn't appeal to me at this point

    It's not a "power vacuum". You seem unable to think outside the box for even 5 seconds. You're still thinking that the natural order and only possible situation that must result is some ruling over others, and if there isn't such a hierarchy, there is a "power vacuum" that needs to be filled some way or another. But as JL pointed out, for millennia it was assumed that slavery was a natural part of the human order too, and if you had seriously proposed its abolition in say, ancient Rome, most people could not have even imagined how society could exist without it.

  5. What don't I get? Okay, here's a scenario:

    Suppose I "voluntarily" chooe to pay some security force to protect me, and suppose my neighbor pays some other security force to protect him. One morning, while making breakfast, his security force barges into my house, grabs me, and imprisons me for something. How did I voluntarily agree to this? Moreover, what gives any of these security forces the right to enforce anything on someone who refuses to even be a part of any of these voluntary services?

  6. How did I voluntarily agree to this?

    While I'm certain a theologian may have a different answer, nobody voluntarily agrees to be born, it just happens. The security forces in your example have no "right" to kidnap anybody, they merely have the means of doing it. You seem to conflate the two. Anyway, what is the difference between your theoretical security forces and the very real U.S. military that does this exact sort of thing? In other words, how is horrible people behaving horribly a flaw of anarchy?

  7. Bret,

    Next time, you should choose to pay a security force that doesn't allow things like that to happen. Also, a lot of these questions have already been answered elsewhere. From Wikipedia:
    "...a private defense agency would be unlikely to engage in aggression, as it would not only become a target of retaliatory force, but would become the subject of severe business ostracism. Honest and productive individuals would dissociate themselves from it, fearing that it might use its aggressive force against them in the event of a dispute; or that they might become accidental casualties when retaliatory force is used by one of its other victims; or that their own reputation would suffer due to their ties to it. Moreover, the private defense agency's reputation would suffer and it would be regarded as a poor credit and insurance risk, the latter due to the high risk of claims resulting from its involvement in aggression. The employees and leaders of such an agency as well could face personal civil liability for their involvement, and the agency would not be shielded by sovereign immunity. High-quality employees would presumably be less willing to be involved with such an organization."

  8. i think the questions asked of me were answered quite well. if not, let me know, so i can expand on it.

  9. I hit a nerve, obviously, by pointing out that anarchy is not different. Very amusing...

  10. No, Bret, what's very, very amusing is that you actually think, in your obvious ignorance, that you've made such a point.

  11. they are most certainly not the same. anarchy just faces the threat of devolving into government as long as a vast majority of people being governed, with or without their consent, share your sentiment that they are best served by a monopoly on such services as "defense" and dispute resolution. but, as mentioned before, slavery was also once the norm. fortunately, over time, humanity is capable of moving beyond such barbarous practices.

  12. What's to keep slavery from occurring in an anarchy?

  13. Nothing. What is to keep it from occurring in a representative democracy?

  14. Enforcement of anti-slavery laws? Granted it happens, but it is prevented when discovered. but no law can "abolish" something, only outlaw it.

  15. @Tweedboltmegacorp:

    This is basically an attempt to invoke the mythical "invisible hand of the market," which doesn't exist. If this is how capitalism "worked," then no company would abuse its customers for fear of losing them, but in fact nearly every company cuts corners and many knowingly endanger their customers without any concern for the consequences.

  16. "the invisible hand of the market" is only a generalized observation of how a free market operates. no one knows what a free society would look like or how close we will come to being completely free. coercion will always exist in one form or another, but for the life of me i cannot understand why people not only want to guarantee that it will exist, but also put that coercive power in the hands of a monopoly organization, and then glorify it as our only hope to minimize coercion. in the end, the burden of proof lies on the person who wishes to deny others the right to freely exchange and associate.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. I didn't like the grammar in my original post.

    Bret, high stakes aren't just tie to endorsements. Our stakes, for instance, aside from being humiliated, was the loser had to dish out cash.

    But it's not the money, it could have been something as simple as a case of beer.

    We always agreed to abide by prescribed rules where the captains would determine the punishment for infractions and usually without a problem. The simpler and clear the rules the better.

    The greater stake, however, was pride which usually comes along with the competitive spirit.

    I've been in sports all my life and I can tell you the intensity level in Pee-Wee is the same as in the pros. Athletes WANT TO WIN at any level in any organized league.

    Or else they're not athletes. Personally, I was the absolute worst sore loser; I was so intense. I've been known to break a squash racket or two. I was like McEnroe - hey, we lefties have to stick together.

    You think Kevin Garnett or Roger Clemens only exist at the pro level? I beg to differ. Moreover, that their infamous intesity is solely driven by money?

    I betcha money is the last reason why these guys compete. The money is more for the crime syndicates and owners.

  19. Right... they don't play because of the money... that's why there has never been player strikes for more cash... even though they make more than brain surgeons for doing what is essentially the exact opposite.


If the post you are commenting on is more than 30 days old, your comment will have to await approval before being published. Rest assured, however, that as long as it is not spam, it will be published in due time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails