Sunday, October 26, 2008

Veritas omnia vincit

I didn't always believe that the government was the problem, and eliminating it the solution. While shunning party affiliation, I began as something similar to a small government, socially conservative republican. Over time, as I began to think and rethink my positions, and more importantly, my justification for those positions, I came to some realizations.

Government is inherently inefficient, and lacking competition, has only altruism to compel it towards efficacy. Because of this, private industry is capable of doing everything better, at less cost, and with greater consumer influence. If I am truly free, then I have the right to my body, my property, and my actions, so long as those actions do not directly cause provable harm to others, even if they do cause provable harm to me. Because of this, no one has the right to use force to protect me from the consequences of my own actions, similarly, I have no right to use force against others except in my own immediate defense.

Believing these things to be true, and I do to this day, I gradually moved away from a belief which had been instilled in me since childhood. That government was inherently good. That it had my best interests at heart. That it was made up of kind hearted, well meaning individuals who wanted to make my life better. I began to describe it as a “necessary evil.” I began to say things like “the government which governs least, governs best.” I began to support less taxation, and more personal responsibility. But I still believed that we needed some government. So I became more of a constitutional libertarian.

But as I continued to analyze my beliefs, and the arguments which supported them, I could not help but face the inconsistencies on which I relied. Taxation is theft, so let us only do it a little, when absolutely necessary. No one has the right to use force against others, except in immediate self defense, but let's allow police to arrest people who don't have driver's licenses. I am responsible for the government I elect, but they should be able to keep important secrets from me which may affect the decisions I make on election day, because we don't want our enemies to know. Something can be somehow “evil,” yet “necessary” at the same time. And more and more, I thought that government was not the answer, so we needed less of it. So I became a minarchist.

I understand the temptation to turn away from the truth. I understand the temptation to willingly believe a lie, because I was. And when I was confronted with the illogical position that government was the problem, so the solution was simply less, I would just change the subject with myself. Because I was still emotionally wedded to that belief. And every day, with every news broadcast, and radio show, and political campaign, that belief was reinforced. But eventually I had to listen to the truth. Because I couldn't respect myself knowing I was living a lie. So I became an anarchist.

But even then, I had questions. Questions which, I came later to learn, are not uncommon to anyone who honestly explores this idea. You see, we are born into government, we must grow into anarchy. And so no one who is today an anarchist “came by it honestly.” Questions which I feel we, as anarchists, must be willing to explore if we have any hope of convincing others of the nobility of our cause. A friend of mine said, “it isn't enough to prove their points wrong, we must present them with a vision of how great the alternative could be.”

He's right. So, in the coming days, I will seek to address what I believe are the most common questions about the idea of anarcho-capitalism. I call them the six great challenges.

Without government as a stabilizing force, wouldn't whoever had the biggest gun always be in charge?

Without government to build and maintain the infrastructure, where would basic utilities and services such as water, electricity, and roads come from?

How does a society without government law enforcement address evils such as rape, murder, theft, fraud, and arson?

How would an anarcho-capitalist society provide for the education of children?

How would a society without an established social welfare system adequately see to the needs of the poor, sick, disabled, and mentally challenged amongst us?

How would an economy devoid of fiat currency, issued, backed, and enforced by a central authority operate?

It is these questions which will be asked of anyone professing a belief in anarchism, and it is these challenges which we must be willing to address.

To some degree, the answers are unknowable. Just as no sports fan can predict the super bowl champion of 2020, and no computer science professional can predict the power of microchips fifty years from now, no anarchist can accurately describe the future. We can however make some predictions based on current trends, existing technologies, and natural laws. And it is those ideas which I will hope to present. Understand, no answer will suffice for the committed ideologue, but if you are intellectually honest, seek always the truth, and divorce yourself from prejudice, you may find my approach to these challenges provoking. Veritas vos liberabit? Perhaps.

Perhaps someday it will set us all free.

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