This post is part of the series Why Government?
Other posts in this series:
One act of entrusting the common good of humanity (as applied to the many) to some within that many creates both a country and a government. But anarchists must believe that such an act is not necessary. For anarchism to be a viable theory, it must be possible for an anarchist to exist in a society. If the only possible way to live in anarchism is to be a hermit, then the philosophy is not viable.
Governments have two features that anarchists dislike. The first feature is that membership is not voluntary. One cannot be excused from obeying the law or paying taxes and one did not opt into the system either. Although we may be able to leave a particular government, there is no way to leave the system of laws and taxes entirely. The second feature is that force will be applied to make sure that the laws even the positive laws are obeyed. For example, those who wish to drive on the road prior to being 16 years of age will be punished with a fine. But there is nothing intrinsically immoral about driving a car while being less than 16 years old it is even legal on your own property! Furthermore, the fine will be taken even if you do want to pay it.
Both of these features are found within families. When two people are married, their marriage is voluntary. But the membership of children within the family is not voluntary when a particular child is considered. The child did not decide to join the family and the parents did not decide to have that particular child. Furthermore, the parents are responsible for the children the have regardless. Until the child is an adult, he is required to obey his parents even if the particular command is a matter of positive law. For example, the child may be told to arrive home at 6pm for dinner. But there is nothing intrinsically immoral about arriving for dinner later than 6pm. So as far as a child is considered, the same features that are found within governments are also found within families. So if they are intrinsically objectionable, even if only when found together, then parents ought to never take responsibility for children.
This only deals with the negative argument found in anarchism itself. A positive argument for the impossibility of anarchism itself is found in the nature of crime itself. Let’ s consider a distant land in which there is no formal government of any kind. If such a land can exist for more than a short while without a formal government, then anarchism is possible. Since the problem of crime will exist as long as human beings have moral flaws, this land will have crime. Therefore, criminals will need to caught and punished. It is possible for individuals to punish those who inflict crimes against them, but it is also possible for others to disagree with the punishment. For example, a starving man may steal food. Some (including myself) do not believe that this necessarily needs punishment. In fact, there are cases where the person who punishes the ‘ thief’ would be punished by me for punishing him. Such cases do not have to be common, but they will exist. Since we form a society, we must resolve such disagreements. We might resolve them by force and the victorious person may legislate his opinion. He is the government. The only other option is some kind of negotiation. We might resolve them by negotiation, and legislate either negotiation or the result. As such cases accumulate, it will be natural for someone to specialize in handling them. That person is the government. Since a government results no matter what the choice is, government is inevitable. I would also add that trying to avoid force entirely is not plausible some people will either refuse to negotiate or will break their word after negotiation.
A careful examination of a common human problem shows that anarchism is not possible. Governments exist of necessity. It does not matter what justification is given for a particular government some government or other must exist because human nature does not allow another option.
Continue reading this series:
Is Government Good?