Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I Am an Anarchist

A few years ago I summed up the reasons why I am an atheist and I thought it would be a good idea to do the same for why I am also an anarchist.

I was first exposed to anarchism in February of 2005 after being given a copy of my friend Bob Clapp's book Every Man and Woman an Island as a gift. At the time, however I hadn't yet met Bob. I first met him about nine months later after wanting to begin weight training and I heard he was an excellent trainer. And from the five years or so I trained with him I can confirm that.

I read a chapter or two each night before going to bed and I enjoyed the book. What he said made a lot of sense, though at the time I was doubtful about how realistic the idea of an anarchist society would be. It was over a period of a few years as I talked with Bob and researched the idea of anarchism that I came to believe that it might be possible. The many examples of societies functioning just fine (and oftentimes even better) when government intervention is replaced with privatized firms was the big argument that convinced me.

His concept of Prime, however, was one aspect of his book that for some reason I just couldn’t wrap my brain around at first. It took a while of talking with Bob between sets while at the gym for me to understand it. According to Bob, I am only one out of I believe three or four people who have been able to fully understand it.

The concept of Prime is Bob’s underlying principle and is (I believe) why he is an anarchist: because governments are anti-Prime, or in other words, they do harm to individuals through violence and forces them to bend to their will without their consent. If governments simply helped people without infringing upon their rights and harming them he would be fine with government (and I probably would be as well). Unfortunately, throughout history that has never been the role of government, even though that’s what it was created for.

As I read through Bob’s book for that first time, I was shocked at the stories he told of police and government misconduct and just plain stupidity. It really opened my eyes and made me think. Bob’s philosophy has surely shaped the way I view the world and society at large, though even before reading Bob’s book I have for a long time had a bit of a dislike of authority which, honestly, is one reason why I believe I was perceptive to the idea of anarchism. Though that does not change the fact that government wrongfully violates human beings’ rights on a constant basis and that should be considered wrong no matter who you are.

I agree with some of my critics that anarchism, as a system, has never been tried on a large scale and it would require a complete reworking of society [Actually, anarchism has been tried on a large scale. I just wasn’t aware of it when I wrote this post.], but I believe that would be to the benefit of all individuals. I believe that government should just let people live and let live and not force them to live under their rule, and/or a large section of society would have to uncondition themselves from the indoctrination that the government force feeds its citizens on a constant basis; it’s claim that it must exist or anarchy will lead to strife. However, if one looks at this objectively we already are living in a world of strife because of the government’s pointless campaigns to torture us into submission; it’s theft of what rightfully belongs to us; it’s murdering and harming of innocent (and not so innocent) individuals who do not deserve such treatment; and last but not least, it’s unethical spying campaigns. This cycle of abuses will never end until we do what the founders of this country did: tell the government to go fuck itself and start anew - this time without repeating our past mistakes.

While thinking about and researching anarchism, and at the same time researching religion, I began to see the similarities between government and religion and how the apologists for government often use similar arguments as religious apologists. I reasoned that if the arguments for religion was faulty and the arguments for government are similar in many ways, then it stands to reason that the arguments favoring government are illogical as well. I’ve written about this issue here and here.

This sums up why I am an anarchist, and as always feel free to write to ask me any questions you may have.

See Also: My Deconversion: From Statist to Anarchist

The Tao of Arizona Atheist


  1. Hi, AA-

    Let's try just for openers to ask what the BP leak situation should be in your world. There should be no government rules about drilling safety, no inspections, and no legal system to account for damages after a blowout occurs. There should be no governmental response in the form of authority to put out skimmers, booms, and whatever other mitigation they are attempting on the gulf, and no legal financial responsibility by BP for harming others.

    Is that a fair representation of what you would like to see?

  2. Mr. Braun,

    Thanks, as usual, for the comments, unfortunately, as usual, I don't think you even read what I'd said. Privatization is one method of organizing society and these organizations could over see any shady practices. Companies could contract with a board of environmental watch dogs for example and if they break the contract and violate the terms action can be taken. Besides, I don't see how government could be much better in that situation. The oil spill that still hasn't been contained in two months of efforts sure isn't a very good example. I'm glad you didn't try to use Hurricane Katrina as an example of our supposed wonderful government in action:

    "Within days of Katrina's August 29, 2005 landfall, public debate arose about the local, state and federal governments' role in the preparations for and response to the hurricane. Criticism was initially prompted by televised images of visibly shaken and frustrated political leaders, and of residents who remained stranded by flood waters without water, food or shelter. Deaths from thirst, exhaustion, and violence, days after the storm had passed, fueled the criticism, as did the dilemma of the evacuees at facilities such as the Louisiana Superdome (designed to handle 800, yet 30,000 arrived) and the New Orleans Civic Center (not designed as an evacuation center, yet 25,000 arrived)."

    So, no that's actually an immense distortion of what I'd like to see, along with your usual misunderstanding of my views.

  3. If there is no State their is no BP.....corporations are based upon State charter and require state largesse and protection to exist....

  4. who would give authority to the board of environmental watchdogs?

  5. Hi Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

    As I said in my earlier reply it’s all based upon the social contract. The companies contract with environmental watchdogs. That is where they derive their authority, but only if the companies are willing to contract with them. A way to go about forcing their hand if consumers feel protecting the environment is a necessity then they will not do business with those companies and they lose money, therefore their hand is forced if they want to keep their business and they will do both the environment and the consumer right or risk going out of business. A variation of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” at work.

  6. You do a disservice to real anarchists by calling yourself an anarchist and supporting capitalism. Never have anarchists supported capitalism, because of the inherent authority and hierarchy of privately run corporations. You "anarcho"-capitalists and "libertarians" (another word that is abused by the anti-government capitalists) need to get your terminology straight.

    If you are legitimately interested in anarchism, you should check out the Anarchist FAQ:

  7. Hi Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

    I don’t understand your harsh tone just because you see no value in capitalism. Now, to be clear I do not mean the government run capitalism we have now, but laissez-faire capitalism where the role of government is completely taken out. The book A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall describes very well what I, and other anarchists like me, propose:

    “The anarcho-capitalists would like to dismantle government and to allow complete laissez-faire in the economy. Its adherents propose that all public services be turned over to private entrepreneurs, even public spaces like town halls, streets and parks. Free market capitalism, they insist, is hindered not enhanced by the State. Anarcho-capitalists share Adam Smith’s confidence that somehow private interest will translate itself into public good rather than public squalor. They are convinced that that 'natural laws’ of economics can do without the support of positive man-made law. The 'invisible hand’ of the market will be enough to bring social order.” (559)

    I’ve explained my positions on this issue here.

    Just because I do not hold to a view you do does not make me less of an anarchist. Anarchsits are a diverse group, who share many different ideas about how to best organize society without government. We share the same ultimate goals. I suggest you not let disagreements come in the way of that goal and focus on the real enemy. The state.

    By the way, I’ve read the whole FAQ a few years ago. It’s very interesting, though I disagree with their views that anarchists can’t value private property. There is more to anarchism than its socialist branch.


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