We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Libertarians, be careful of the ‘A’ word

Josh Chafetz over on OxBlog has an interesting post about the nature of order, touching on Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith but mostly about Fred Hayek. He also brings up a useful point about a Pejman Pundit post ridiculing the idea of an anarchy club. In a later posting Pejman insists he does understand the definition of the word ‘anarchy’ and points out his first posting was mostly in jest.

There is indeed a useful point being made here and one I have made to several Libertarian Alliance members before: we understand what we mean when we say ‘anarchy’ but when the term is used in common parlance, it is generally a synonym for ‘nihilism’. For example when a bunch of scruffy self-described anti-globalisation protestors set fire to a MacDonalds in Paris and smash up a Mercedes parked near by, those so-called ‘anarchists’ are not doing those things because they want more kosmos (spontaneous or natural order) and less taxis (imposed order), leading to a morality based anarcho-capitalist golden age… no, they are mostly just nihilists whose vision of the future is little different from that of the bikers from hell in the movie ‘Mad Max’. The few of them who actually do have a semi-coherent idea of what the future should look like are Spanish style (circa 1938) ‘anarcho-syndicalists’… which is to say they are rather like meat eating vegetarians (see the ‘related article’ link below).

It is for this reason I usually urge libertarians to stay away from the ‘A’ word because it is so widely misused. Josh Chafetz also expresses his views about anarchy as an objective that shows he more or less does understand the true nature of what real anarchists are arguing for:

That is to say, there is nothing absurd about people organizing in favor of anarchy. What they are doing is stating a preference for absolute kosmos with no taxis. Again, I think this preference is folly. I think that it is neither possible nor desirable to do away with all taxis. I am not an anarchist.

I said more or less understand because taxis does not necessarily mean state imposed order: for example most of the rules within a stock exchange are ‘taxis’ rather than ‘kosmos’ and are analogous to the rules of a private club.. a few are imposed by the state but most are imposed by the exchange itself. No one is forced to trade in a stock exchange and thus in some hypothetical anarchist future, there may well still be ‘taxis’ intensive stock exchanges.

However like Josh, I too am not an anarchist. I am a minarchist but where I depart from Josh is that whilst I agree it is probably not possible to depart from a system in which there is a state, I do think it is desirable. In essence I believe in systems involving the one word conspicuous by its absence in this interesting but utilitarian discussion: morality. I believe in objective morality, albeit imperfectly understood and conjecturally proposed. That, rather than the force of state or vox pop, is the one and only source of legitimacy in any system.

Probably not what you had in mind

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