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  1. Pat
    Pat November 29, 2015 10:30 am

    WOW! That’s powerful. The antidote to P.C. (Political Chaos).

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 29, 2015 10:33 am

    You are more than welcome! I have not even tried to use the world “anarchist” in a number of years, but this may serve to explain it to any who might ask in the future. This is a masterpiece. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Brunette
    Brunette November 29, 2015 1:09 pm

    Claire, wow — coming from you, that’s high praise indeed! Thank you SO much. ๐Ÿ™‚ You too, Mama!

    And Pat — thank you, also! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I felt drawn to re-post the piece after all these years … I think/hope it speaks to a lot of the political and cultural craziness going on around us.

  4. Jorge
    Jorge November 29, 2015 3:49 pm

    A really fantastic piece. Many thanks.

  5. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner November 30, 2015 10:55 am

    Anarchism is a wonderful ideal, but I don’t see it as practical in the real world outside of small handpicked communities. Anarchism is utopian in the assumption that everyone is well-intentioned and is willing to play by the rules, and we know from experience this is not the case.

  6. Jimmy
    Jimmy November 30, 2015 11:08 am

    RustyGunner, you need to check your definitions. A “utopia” is impossible to achieve. Liberty is not. All we have to do is to declare ourselves free and remove our consent. Take a look at this:

    Also, there are lots of examples of anarchist societies throughout all of history. Take a look here:

    Also, I can highly recommend reading Murray Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty” and “The Ethics of Liberty.” Both are available for free download at

  7. Claire
    Claire November 30, 2015 12:06 pm

    Anarchism is also an approach to life that a person can adopt without waiting for or expecting the whole rest of the world to fall in line. It seems Cat has done that — and eloquently, to boot.

    I’m a theoretical anarchist and I (and very nearly all my non-anarchist neighbors) live in a mini-anarchist society without even thinking about it. But I sure don’t expect everyone to be well-intentioned. That’s what good old anarchistic self-defense and watchfulness is for.

  8. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner November 30, 2015 1:08 pm

    Jimmy – I wish it was that simple. Anarchism is the state of having no ruler, and in your immediate circle, among like-minded folk, that may appear to be the case, but there are people who consider themselves your rulers, and have considerable force at their disposal to back their claim, and they aren’t interested in what you declare and what you withdraw. Unless you are ready for a civil war, the very best you can hope for is to evade their notice. You go right ahead and blow your trumpet. I’m a rat in the walls, and accept that my freedom is in some measure an illusion, and dependent on fast footwork and good camouflage to maintain. I am not satisfied with that, but changing it is beyond my meager power.

    Claire – I’m not dishing on your friend, she’s very eloquent and correct on a local, interpersonal level, and so are you. My issue with anarchism is that it doesn’t scale, and is vulnerable in ways that a minarchist approach is not. You can’t have a society without rules, and the more people in society, he more you need some structure that devotes its full attention to enforcing those rules. Minarchism isn’t perfect, either; you have to watch it like a hawk, which America failed to do, with the results we see around us.

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 30, 2015 1:41 pm

    RustyGunner, you seem to be swallowing the camel while filtering out the gnat. Nobody said there should be no “rules.” There should, however, be exactly one RULER per person… that person – a self owner. From that basis, then, individuals can and DO form voluntary associations and cooperate for mutual defense. They choose the rules under which they will live, and retain the authority over their own lives. We see that daily, all around us, and far too few people recognize it for what it is. Each person retains the authority to withdraw and form new associations whenever they please, not depending on a “majority” to implement it. Why do you think that works wonderfully at the grocery store, a church, a private club and a thousand other places every single day? Why does it not happen in our “public” and political life?

    Now, there will always be some people who don’t want to go to the effort of ruling themselves and taking responsibility for the consequences of their choices and actions. They would be perfectly welcome to choose any sort of ruler or dictator to take care of them – and them alone.

    So, what prevents that now? The false belief in government “authority” as some legitimate thing that binds them. Most people honestly (or even dishonestly) grant their individual authority over themselves to some people and some form of government, believing that such centralized “authority” is both necessary and inevitable. The false belief that theft and coercion by government is consistent with compassion and wise policy.

    Anarchy, rather than being a condition of no rules and no direction or discipline, requires stringent self government, self control, and self responsibility for all one’s thoughts, words, choices and actions. Individual liberty does not mean witless, directionless license to do anything one desires. It requires that people own their lives and are prepared to accept the natural consequences for their choices and actions, rather than forcing others to take care of them.

    Anarchy: Not no rules, no rulers and no slaves.

    No, there are no guarantees about outcomes with true freedom, but we’ve all seen plenty of the guarantee of death, destruction and tyranny when some people are given power over other people, against their will.

    Don’t know about you, of course, but I choose life and liberty as a self owner.

  10. Claire
    Claire November 30, 2015 2:36 pm

    I agree with what ML says about rules but no rulers. But living here in the grubby real world as we do, I’m perfectly happy to be on the side of both minarchists and anarchists — all moving in the same direction, if not always harmoniously. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Brunette
    Brunette November 30, 2015 4:41 pm

    ML and Claire, what you (both) said … ๐Ÿ™‚

    Who makes the rules?
    Who enforces them?
    Who has to comply, and who’s exempt? And who decides?

    RustyGunner, I’m sure you’re a great guy — a fellow freedom lover– and we’d get along fine at a party (the quiet one in the corner, that might be me). As Claire said, we live in the grubby real world … and I sometimes live in a world of my own (hermits do that.) That piece felt straight from the heart when I wrote it, and if it doesn’t speak to yours, that’s OK … I value your feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But on a personal note, right now I need to chose between my keyboard and hot pizza … so bye for now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Laird
    Laird December 1, 2015 8:32 am

    In a choice between hot pizza and a keyboard I know which one I’d choose!

    Cat’s essay was indeed eloquent, and I fully understand what ML and Claire are saying. But I agree with RustyGunner here: anarchism doesn’t scale (a great turn of phrase). Self-defined rules “works wonderfully at the grocery store, a church, a private club and a thousand other places” in part because there are over-arching rules imposed on us all (i.e., no shoplifting or shooting the cashier, etc.). Not everyone respects others’ property rights or individual liberties. In a small community such people can be kept more-or-less in check, but in a large, diverse and highly mobile society I don’t see how that can be accomplished without some measure of external force. Which is why I remain a minarchist (although, like Claire, I have a soft spot for true anarchists: they help keep us focused on the right goals).

  13. Pat
    Pat December 1, 2015 10:31 am

    “…true anarchists: they help keep us focused on the right goals).”

    But wasn’t that the purpose of Cat’s piece? (And who determines the “right goals?”)

    Minarchy has no place in an anarchist’s mindset. An anarchist can function better in a minarchy than a minarchist can function among anarchists. A minarchist looks for rules and leadership, whereas anarchists under self-rule are not concerned with what’s accepted or approved, but with their own ethical behavior.

  14. Brunette
    Brunette December 1, 2015 11:02 am

    Laird, the way I see it … you and Rustygunner have a point — but don’t those problems (of people unable or unwilling to govern themselves) ultimately spring from within, rather than without? Sure, our systems are corrupt … but I don’t see how we can heal or fix them from a top down approach.

    The scale that concerns me here is the human heart, the human spirit … if the source of our woes as a species begins there (as I believe it does), then we’re sunk, and that’s a depressing thought. Unless we can remedy them with a bottom up approach; my job is me and my own shortcomings, of which I have plenty — and that’s a big enough job for me. Your mileage may vary, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d like to believe there’s hope yet for humanity. Humans are gifted with conscience, after all — in some it seems to atrophy from lack of use, and that’s deplorable, but what’s the solution? More rules?

    Perhaps a quote from one of my other vintage pieces is appropriate here: “like love, the higher law dwells within man; the lower serves as a cage to confine him.”

    Pat, I just refreshed the page and see you beat me to it … I’m short on time so will just go ahead and post this. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2015 11:14 am

    “Minarchy has no place in an anarchistโ€™s mindset.”

    Oh, I dunno about that. I started as a minarchist and eventually realized (with a little push from L. Neil Smith) that anarchism was the more consistent libertarian position. But even as a person who holds anarchism as my theoretical ideal and my ruler to measure against, I recognize that we live in a world where minarchism would be a HUGE improvement over what we have now. So minarchism is in my mindset, very much so, even though it’s not in my mind as a philosophical ideal.

  16. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 1, 2015 12:42 pm

    I’d love to hear from a “minarchist” how any set of top down “rules” solves the problem of people who will not govern themselves. Name a “law” on the books that actually prevents the behavior ruled against.

    People who self govern don’t have any need for top down “laws” and rules imposed by others. People who refuse to govern themselves don’t pay any or much attention to those “rules.” The only purpose of the top down rules -under the very best and most reasonable system – is to punish those who refuse to obey, since they do nothing to prevent problems.

    And, unfortunately, there is no rational way to limit the rule makers to the best and most reasonable. When some people are given power to steal from and coerce others, however altruistic the original intentions, ultimately only tyranny and death result. There is no such thing as “limited” involuntary government.

  17. Pat
    Pat December 1, 2015 1:51 pm

    “But even as a person who holds anarchism as my theoretical ideal and my ruler to measure against, I recognize that we live in a world where minarchism would be a HUGE improvement over what we have now. So minarchism is in my mindset, very much so, even though itโ€™s not in my mind as a philosophical ideal.”

    Improvement over the current situation, yes. But my thinking is that to *philosophically* accept minarchism as a tolerable given is to automatically replace that “space” in debates of this kind, which will compromise the ideal ultimately. E.g, in explaining (to one who doesn’t understand either minarchism or anarchism) why minarchism is better than what we have now, the person has to defend minarchism. And that compromises his own position, and often sets the stage for slip-sliding back into positions he never espoused before.

    I’ve read a number (too many, in my view) of libertarians, beginning in the 60s, who have become compromising conservatives over time just to be heard. Reason magazine, for one; the Libertarian Party for another; and several individuals who have just grown tired of the battle.

  18. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2015 2:01 pm

    “Iโ€™ve read a number (too many, in my view) of libertarians, beginning in the 60s, who have become compromising conservatives over time just to be heard. Reason magazine, for one; the Libertarian Party for another; and several individuals who have just grown tired of the battle.”

    Oh, that’s certainly and sadly true, but whether it’s because they failed to embrace anarchism, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I agree it’s because they desperately wanted to be accepted and their principles were shaky enough to think they could do that by selling out.

    My position on trying to argue for anarchism is (partly) that nearly everyone is hostile to the concept, either because they’ve gotten a “mad bomber” image of it or because, like Laird and RG here, they simply don’t think it’s practical. And whether it’s practical in the long run or not, it doesn’t make for a winning or persuasive argument.

    Now, if we were all just having a dorm-room brainstorm over a large jug of wine, sure I’d argue for anarchism. Absolutely it’s the more consistent philosophical position. But as a practical matter among real-world freedomistas, I’d rather just accept that we’re all headed in the same direction along the same road and be content with the good company.

    I loved what Cat wrote because it was beautiful and true, but also because it was nothing more (and nothing less) than her statement of belief. Personal. Her own approach to life, not something to hammer on.

  19. Laird
    Laird December 2, 2015 9:10 am

    Brunette, no argument from me with any of that.

    @ Pat: “(And who determines the โ€œright goals?โ€)” I do. Next question?

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