A Nagging Little 7-letter Word

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March 21, 2013 by bradcharlesbeals

gadsdenBefore I even say the word, I’ll qualify my use of it.

First, I do not mean that I am opposed to the existence of government. Men are fallen creatures. We do bad things to each other, and we need a sword-wielding civil magistrate to punish the wrong-doer. I’m on board with that much at least.

Nor do I use the word in its common connotation of chaos and lawlessness. As a Christian who worships the only true God who brings order out of chaos as a matter of course, I am opposed in every way to chaos, and I’m zealous for God’s law because it reflects his character.  Amen.

Finally, I have no desire to overturn cop cars or protest world-trade events, and I have no desire to occupy anything.

The word is anarchy, of course.

So what do I mean by it? And why am I thinking of it?

It’s a Venn-diagram thing. My circle (libertarian) has a big overlap section with the anarchy circle. We both believe some of the same things:

1. That the State-Citizen relationship is a lop-sided one (it should be lop-sided, but the poles reversed long about the time of Lincoln)

2. That the State’s role is entirely based on coercion (just try not paying your income tax)

3. That this coercion is based on the threat of physical harm (the State arms itself while disarming the citizens; Mao was right about one thing: power does proceed from the barrel of  a gun)

4.  That the only movement open to the State is expansion (it cannot contract anymore than you could bite off your pinky), which means that barring a cataclysmic event, the State will exert more and more power on its own behalf at the cost of less and less freedom for you and me

5. That most of what government does, because of points 1-4, should be eliminated (Headstart sounds like a good idea, but it’s funded through theft, so it’s a terrible idea)

6. That private enterprise can and should take over most of whatever’s left after point 5

That’s a pretty big football-shaped piece of the diagram, and there’s probably more depending on how you pare out the particulars. So what’s left on the crescents? Here are a few points where our circles don’t overlap:

1. I do believe that gov’t in some limited form has a (tiny) place in our lives (it should defend our borders and guarantee protection of private property). Anarchists believe we can do without it.

2. I don’t believe that man is inherently good. Some anarchists believe we are and that we only become tainted by power. Some, like anarchy’s elder statesman Murray Rothbard, see man as a mix of good and bad.

3. Anarchists don’t seek lawlessness, but a society where laws are unnecessary. That sounds attractive, but I know that given our fallen natures, it can’t happen, so I don’t believe that anarchy can actually work. That’s a pretty fundamental difference, I’d say.

But I do believe that anarchists (the thoughtful ones anyway) have a lot to say about the evils of the State–namely, that the State is evil.


It’s not what I once thought it was. Maybe that’s why it nags me.

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