once asked columnist Joe Sobran if he believed government was a
necessary evil, or if he thought it might be an unnecessary one.
He paused to think it over then said, very gravely, "I have no idea."
A few months later, he rejected in one of his columns the labels
"conservative," "libertarian," and "anarchist," choosing instead
to call himself a "reactionary utopian." He defines that as someone
who wants to "go back to a better world that never quite existed."
reckon I am in the same boat. I need a new name for myself. For
years, I have argued that government should be limited to only a
few basic functions, most notably the common defense. Now, as the
events of the past year have unfolded, it has become clear that
government is just as incompetent at protecting people as it is
at all the other things it tries to do. The "war on terrorism" predictably
is turning out to be as big a flop as the government "wars" on drugs,
poverty, and racism. And all at the expense of the average American's
ability to live his life freely and peaceably.
what does someone call himself when he has no confidence in the
state, but still cringes at the term "anarchist"? Even if anarchists
are no longer Chesterton or Tolkien's "whiskered men with bombs,"
are they not often in our day libertines, drug-addled activists,
and other assorted moral misfits? Of course, the truth of a proposition
is not dependent upon the nature of its adherents, so perhaps the
more important question is can a stateless society work?
jury may still be out on that question; however, examples of such
societies apparently do exist. A few years ago, anthropologist Spencer
MacCallum reported on the condition of Somalia following the disastrous
U.S. military invasion. That country, he noted, operates as a "kritarchy"
(or "rule by judges"), with society organized around organically
developed bodies of tribal law called the Xeerada.
essence," MacCallum noted in a June 1998 article for The Freeman,
"the Xeerada are alike in protecting freedom of movement, free trade,
and other individual freedoms, and forbidding the contrary including
taxation and legislation." According to MacCallum, the Somalis have
tried, with some success, to attract people and commerce "by opening
areas within their tribal lands for development, inviting businessmen
and professionals the world over to come take advantage of the absence
of a central government or other coercive authority.
this way," MacCallum adds, "Somalia's statelessness might prove
to be a uniquely valuable asset in the modem world." He concludes
that the Xeerada promise to become "one of the great bodies of customary
law, like Anglo-American common law or Jewish traditional law .
. . . . These legal codes are flexible, responsive, and can be maintained
without a large central state or legislative apparatus."
I guess we'll see. Given the current situation in America, where
state functionaries are daily warning us to be on Double Secret
Alert against more death and destruction of an unspecified nature
while making new enemies for us abroad and abrogating our freedoms
here at home, it certainly seems high time for more of us to consider
alternatives to the state-dominated society.
I have more reading to do. Triumph,
Harry Crocker's recent single-volume history of the Catholic Church,
notes the Church's 19th-century opposition to the creation of centralized
states in Italy and Germany. No one needs to be reminded of what
those states did in the 20th century, but certainly the fact that
monolithic government is a recent creation and not the natural
and normal order of things deserves to be more widely recognized.
"anarchist" really isn't such a terrible label. Mr. Sobran, whose
work I admire, more recently concluded, "The force-system we call
the state is worse than superfluous. It interferes with and frustrates
the natural urge to cooperate; at worst, it embitters human relations.
The paradigm of state-behavior massive organized force is war."
if current events don't validate this conclusion, I don't know what
writer David Bardallis [send
him e-mail] maintains
a web site at www.thought-crimes.net.
© 2002 LewRockwell.com