Whenever someone is exposed to the ideas of market anarchy, their first thought is “but what about the roads?” Soon after this, more interesting questions arise, mostly relating to security issues. How would the law work? How would an anarchist society repel armed invaders? Who stops the bad guys? What’s to stop a powerful gang from looting everyone else (as though that isn’t precisely the situation we have with governments)? And so on.
Unfortunately, there is no way to answer these questions in a way that would completely satisfy the skeptic. Society is composed of humans, which implies a degree of uncertainty. This is unavoidable, whether we are discussing how anarchy works or how democratic government works. People feel comfortable with the system they know, so to most people, government “works.” But many innocent people go to jail (or are executed), many crimes go unpunished, and for every “winner” of a war, there is at least one loser. If you are a skeptic, I understand – nearly all of us crazy anarchists were once statists too.
This post is intended to be a comprehensive resource (for libertarians and skeptics alike) on some of the basic questions of how security might work in an anarchist society. The key word here is “might”; anarchist (and quasi-anarchist) societies have existed, and they have handled security issues in different ways. As such, nothing here is guaranteed.
But guarantees aren’t the point. Rather, I want the reader to come away with the understanding that security issues can be handled adequately under anarchy. Furthermore, it is highly likely that security would be considerably better under anarchy than under any statist conditions.
- 1 Human Nature – Are Anarchists Too Optimistic?
- 2 How Do States Fare In Defense/Justice?
- 3 Transitioning To A Stateless Society
- 4 Anarchy – An Unknown Ideal?
- 5 Security Against Crime: Law In An Anarchist Society
- 5.1 Polycentric Law – How Does Law Evolve?
- 5.2 Okay, But What Would Law Actually Look Like Under Anarchy?
- 5.3 Catching And Punishing Criminals
- 5.4 Some Common Objections And Responses
- 5.4.1 Won’t protection agencies go to war with each other?
- 5.4.2 Wouldn’t these insurance agencies become states? Wouldn’t they collude and form a cartel?
- 5.4.3 How would the poor get access to the legal system? What about the uninsured?
- 5.4.4 Does this let people get whatever weapons they want, like nukes and assault weapons?
- 5.4.5 What happens when the arbiters make incorrect judgments?
- 6 Security Against States: “National Defense” Under Anarchy
- 7 Conclusion