Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The following is a response to the article, "DO WE EVER REALLY GET OUT OF ANARCHY?"
by Alfred G. Cuzan [Department of Government New Mexico State University].

Alister Cyril Blanc of @Alisteratwork (twitter) asked me for my thought on the above article found in pdf form here:

Cuzan argues:

"A major point of dispute among libertarian theorists and thinkers today as always revolves around the age-old question of whether man can live in total anarchy or whether the minimal state is absolutely necessary for the maximi- zation of freedom. Lost in this dispute is the question of whether man is capable of getting out of anarchy at all. Can we really abolish anarchy and set up a Government in its place? Most people, regardless of their ideological preferences, simply assume that the abolition of anarchy is possible, that they live under Government and that anarchy would be nothing but chaos and violence.'"
"The purpose of this paper is to question this venerated assumption and to argue that the escape from anarchy is impossible, that we always live in anarchy, and that the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market anarchy or non-market (political) anarchy. Further, it is argued that political anarchies are of two types-hierarchical    or plural. The more pluralist political anarchy is, the more it resembles market anarchy. The performance of hierarchical and plural anarchies is evaluated in terms of their ability to minimize the level of force in society. It is shown that plural anarchies are much less violent than hierarchical anarchies. We conclude that the real question libertarians must solve is not whether minimalism or anarchy, but which type of anarchy, market or political, hierarchical or plural, is most conducive to the maximization of freedom."
 Cuzan essentially makes the very astute point, that while within the geographical confines of the territory claimed by a State who attempts to coercively-monopolize the "legitimate" means of force within that territory, those that are "ruled" live under rulership, but the political-class, that set of persons operating the political-machinations are still, themselves, in a state of "anarchy" to one-another; Cuzan calls this a "political anarchy".  [Of course, the ruling-classes/sets of persons among all of the various political States, also operate towards one-another in a state of anarchy as well.]

Cuzan draws some figures to demonstrate the idea that within a minimal-State (a state that does only "essential" political things, like arbitration of disputes, i.e.: courts) the net violence/force within a society would be less than in a State-less society (what Cuzan calls "natural anarchy").

I reason that Cuzan's assessment/demonstration of violence/force/coercion exerted in the "minimal-State" ultimately exempts or ignores (whether as "necessary" or "legitimate" use of force) the violence/force/coercion by the "minimal-State" itself.  Necessarily, the force/violence/coercion exerted by the "minimal-State" would have to be greater than that of "natural anarchy" or else, the "minimal-State" would be overpowered by the violence/force/coercion of the "natural anarchy".  Therefore, it is necessarily the case, that the "minimal-State" would have to exert a net-level of violence/force/coercion greater than that of "natural anarchy" in order to suppress those within the "natural anarchy" who would oppose the claim of ultimate arbiter in the "minimal-State".

The force/violence/coercion necessary to maintain "minimal-state" above the level of force/violence/coercion of the "natural anarchy" would therefore externalize costs of force/violence/coercion as a strategy for conflict-resolution and therefore would incentivize the ultimate/net use of force/violence/coercion as a conflict/dispute-resolution strategy.  Because "minimal state" en-forces restitution for damages against injuries/breaches-of-contract, the costs for force/violence/coercion are externalized from the actor, to those that maintain the "minimal-State" and therefore provide a disincentive for other peaceful resolutions.

Under conditions of "natural anarchy" force/violence/coercion as a conflict-resolution strategy would have very high-costs/risks associated with it and therefore, under conditions of "natural anarchy" there would be incentive to minimize/avoid resort to force/violence/coercion as a conflict-resolution strategy and therefore other strategies for conflict-resolution would be incentivized.  In "natural anarchy" reputation-reporting and insurance against risks of injury/risk/loss/breach would provide less costly/risky strategies for damage mitigation than force/violence/coercion.

A comprehensive graph of force/violence/coercion not exempting the necessary force/violence/coercion of the "minimal-State" in "anarchy" would have "natural anarchy" at a "minimal" level, which would incline towards the "minimal-State" and maximize at the level of governance/dominion experienced in the world currently.

[Alister requested clarification as to how the "minimal-State" would externalize costs of force/violence/coercion]

Let us say that in a "minimal-state", George and Barak have a dispute or conflict, if Barak predicts that the "minimal-State" courts of ultimate-arbitration the rules of the "mimimal-State" would favor Barak's case; therefore, Barak, under a "minimal-State" is incentivized to pursue that avenue above all others, and to ignore other possible conflict-resolution options.  Barak knowing that the "minimal-State" possesses force/violence/coercion superior to the force/violence/coercion posessed by George or the rest of the anarchic-society, Barak may employ the "minimal-State" to force/coerce George to appear in the courts of the "minimal-State".  While in a "natural-anarchy" Barak would be disincentivized to pursue these means, as Barak would have to bear the costs/risks of such a conflict-resolution strategy himself and therefore Barak would be incentivized in a "natural anarchy" to pursue less-costly/risky means, in the "minimal-State" Barak is actually incentivized to employ the "minimal-State" to effectively externalize those costs upon those that maintain the "minimal-State".

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