Could an Anarchist Society Defend Itself?

In my view, the only valid argument against the anarchist position is the one David Friedman called “the hard problem,” i.e. the question of whether a stateless territory could potentially defend itself against external invasions by states. All the other arguments are merely special pleading on behalf of various political, cultural, or economic special interests, or based on a misunderstanding of the anarchist position. While I have certain disagreements with the speakers in this video, this is a great discussion.

Read a Ph.D. dissertation on the military defense of an anarchist society here.

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  1. Wow! FINALLY!
    It looks like somebody is ready to discuss my Assassination Politics essay. You see, I’m the one who solved David Friedman’s “Hard Problem”, which he posited in his 1973 book, “The Machinery of Freedom, reprinted 1989 and 2014.
    I was not aware of the existence of David Friedman in 1995, or the name “The Hard Problem”. I realized in 1975 I had always been a libertarian, having seen some literature at my uncle’s house that year.

    However, I WAS aware of the difficulty, or seeming impossibility of defending an anarchistic region from hostile external people or nations, the exact problem which Friedman called “The Hard Problem”. This is why from 1975 through 1994, I called myself a “Minarchist Libertarian”. Not an “Anarchist Libertarian”. I couldn’t claim to be an Anarchist Libertarian, because I was not convinced that it was possible to set up a stable anarchist society.

    It was in January 1995 that I was considering the question of how a society could get rid of a free-spending Senator, Robert Byrd, who was well known to bring a lot of “pork barrel” dollars back to his state, West Virginia. I realized, humorously, that the people of 49 states would be better off if Byrd “woke up one day dead”. Millions of people might want to pay, $1 each to see him dead, but how could you hire an assassin for $1?

    I had read an August 1992 article in Scientific American by cryptographer David Chaum, who showed how it was possible to implement “digital cash”, the 1980’s forerunner of Bitcoin. He explained how to do things with disclosing only a minimum amount of information possible. In 1995, I realized that if all of the millions of $1 desires of those people could be combined and offered (anonymously) to ANYONE, to “predict” the death of Byrd, that outcome would be quickly and efficiently achieved.

    The system presumably would allow each person to donate to an electronic fund, totalized, with the amount made public. Anybody considering making that outcome come true could “predict” that death, make it come true, and then completely anonymously collect the reward over the internet, in untraceable electronic cash. He would then collect, and the donors would be mathematically assured that their donations went to the person who correctly “predicted” the date of Byrd’s death. Nevertheless, nobody would know his name.

    I was amazed. But then I realized that if this system worked for one politician, it would also work for all of them. And all foreign leaders and politicians. And army staff. And other populations, elsewhere, could get rid of THEIR oppressors. This system would inevitably tear down every government on Earth. None could be spared.

    I realized that anybody daring to hold a nuclear weapon, anywhere, could be “predicted to death”. Anyone running a military, anywhere on Earth, could be “predicted to death”.

    So, I wrote my AP idea into an essay, 10 parts, and published it from about March 1995 through May 1996.

    So, I solved David Friedman’s “Hard Problem”. Anarchy, I believed then and I believe now, went from “impossible” and “unstable” to “Inevitable” and “stable”.

    I think it’s wrong that most people haven’t recognized the importance of my AP essay. Without it, anarchy would remain theoretically unstable and impossible to achieve.

    Jim Bell

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