Questions for Anarchists That Are More Difficult To Answer Than We’d Like To Admit

One article type I’d like to spend time exploring are those questions that people commonly throw at Anarcho-Capitalists as critiques of their system. Sometimes those “critiques” are invalid, or based on ignorance or mistakes in logic. Questions like “Isn’t anarchy chaos?” These are not very good critiques, and with the most minimal of effort, even the most ardent of critics of Anarcho-Capitalism (or Anarchy, generally) can find satisfactory, factual, and well-reasoned responses. And I think it is because of the commonality and persistence of these kinds of questions that Anarchists often end up brushing them aside with simplistic (not necessarily a bad thing, but if “simple” comes off as “platitudinous” or “high-horse,” we do a disservice to ourselves, and our philosophy) answers, perhaps not even willing to consider the points made by the other sides in the discussion.
I’ve noticed these types of responses too, ever since I got involved in politics, with every ideology I have ever subscribed to. It isn’t just Anarchists or Anarcho-Capitalists, but that’s the ideology I am subscribed to currently, and because of my faith and belief in it, I think it’s important to take some time to answer these kinds of questions. Also, I think it’s important for me here specifically because my intent is to illustrate how a real Anarchist society can be built and ran. Questions pertaining to justice (another post on that coming soon), law, persecution “under the law,” etc…are real issues that need responses. This post – as are most others – are my attempts at wading through waters that are a bit murkier than Anarcho-Capitalists give them credit for. So, on to some context!
Germany Considers Law Invalidating Underage Marriages With Refugees
The link above is an article from FOX News describing how Angela Merkal’s government is looking into a law that would invalidate marriages of refugees to those who are “underage” – marriages to children, to be blunt. It is a CDR response to the growing alt-right movement in Germany (and Europe and the United States and elsewhere…) to try and (too little, too late…?) assuage Germans who are angry at a government seemingly more concerned with foreigners than its own people.
I posted the article to an Anarchist FB page I am a part of and have been active on for years. These are people I respect, admire, and in some cases, even work for (kind of). When I post these kinds of things, they, more often than not, go ignored by the majority of members, but occasionally I’ll catch the attention of one or two, and this post was no different. The post itself, and their answers were the catalyst for this article.
In the post, I asked the question “Wicked punishing the wicked? Statists interfering with freedom of religion? Tyrannical religion oppressing children? Thoughts?” The page is filled with active LDS, former LDS, inactive LDS, and LDS of all varieties, and the line “Wicked punishing the wicked” is taken from the Book of Mormon, and infers that God’s justice sometimes comes by wicked peoples destroying, or raiding, or somehow assaulting other wicked peoples. In this way, good people have no need to go to war, and it is seen as a valid way for God’s justice to be had. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword, after all. Similar concept. So I posed this question, and without naming names, here are some summarized versions of answers I received.
–          Not my marriage, not my problem (word for word)
–          No sweeping laws fix things
–          What about other marriages?
–          What if the girls are conditioned to obey?
–          Use social shaming and education for the men and women instead
–           Cultural differences – Mary was married to Joseph at 14
–          Cultural differences justify a non-universality of application of principle
–          Abuses of liberty to one may not be so for another; culture determines that
Keep in mind, the thread is ongoing, so answers from people may change, and new ideas could be put forth. But as it stands right now at 9:47am Pacific time, those are the answers I have received.
I can’t speak for anybody else, but none of those answers are satisfying, and are full of the platitudes (at least in my mind) that I spoke of earlier. These are girls – children – being married off to much older males, who have every intent of having sex with (i.e. – in this case, raping) these girls. So I would like to go into the broader issue at play here, and maybe try to find a reasonable, non-statist, answer to these questions, and maybe even respond to these answers along the way.
Of course, the broader issue is immigration. In America, the phrase is “illegal immigration.” I know of no one who is against immigration, only the kind they view as “illegal.” Statists of the conservative and alt-right persuasion view it as a property rights issue. America is their home. The people voted on certain laws to protect their boarders, and by extension, their homes from people who want to come here and live off of the government, or commit crimes. If you don’t want to do those things, do it legally. (My wife – from Germany – is a legal immigrant.) Like the immigrant crises in Europe, Germany especially, the issue also revolves around the concept of entitlements. Illegal immigrants in America are some of the most well-treated and taken care of in the world. According to some estimates, Texas alone spends 1.9 billion a year in for Medicaid and other healthcare programs. College campuses across America are declaring themselves “safe-zones” for illegal immigrant students, in a deluded response to Donald Trump’s presidential election. E.U. nations are well-known for their lax attitude towards immigrants – illegal or otherwise – even to the detriment of their own populations and peoples.
Illegal immigrant crimes are often reported with the line “…was deported 8 times….” Or some such idea. The American media has made a habit of, when reporting crimes of “illegals,” making the tagline “was an illegal immigrant.” Citizens often call for harsher penalties against illegal immigrants, but those calls are often ignored in the interest of not exceeding in punishment the crime, which is a constitutional mandate. Citizens argue that the constitution was meant for citizens, not illegal immigrants. The back and forth, and confusing media narrative serves only to divide (and conquer), and stir hatreds in people that likely wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Of course, that’s the whole point, but it is also all the more reason people should get a straight and reasonable answer on this issue. And while I do not believe the answers above from some of my fellow Anarcho-Capitalists are good answers, I do believe the philosophy of Anarchy I embrace here can provide those answers, and does, and I think it speaks to the heart of how I would like to see an Anarchistic society come about and be sustained.
The Foundation for Economic Education has done a fantastic job at describing the economic benefits of immigration, and economic penalties of stricter laws. For Anarcho-Capitalists, there is no such thing as “illegal immigration.” Immigration is a fundamental human right. And immigration is more of a net good than it is a net bad. I want to be clear from the get-go – I believe this to be true, myself. Period. No “but.” I just believe this to be true.
The existence of a state, however, makes this position difficult to sustain if you have laws which limit immigration in the first place. Especially if there is some sense that the government wants to enforce those laws, which people then depend on. And when those laws are no longer followed, or well-meaning Americans who simply wish to see those laws respected, see the same government call them racist for demanding that, we can see the beginnings of a major culture war brewing. Which is why education must first happen before hard anarchy principles can be fully adopted. But liberty, always, must be protected, first and foremost. If people are dead, they don’t have liberty. Protecting liberty protects lives. This must be first.
So, in regards to the article I posted in the beginning, let’s go over those answers.
–          Not my marriage, not my problem. This answer is bad for a number of reasons. Firstly, it falls into the trap that many Anarcho-Capitalists fall into, and it serves to give detractors ammunition. It tells the world that Anarcho-Capitalists are cold, and don’t care about anybody else. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this article and the philosophy I espouse are proof of that. More than that, an attack on the liberty of one is an attack on liberty, period. And an attack on liberty attacks the liberty of all. It may not be your marriage. It may not be your problem, but the attack on liberty via the forced marriage and rape of a child is. Liberty is congruent to natural law. And there must be a response. Those who are innocent, and have their liberty violated must be protected. Violations of liberty demand justice and that justice can come in a variety of forms, but seeing as we’re currently relegated to a world of Nation-States, our options are limited. In this case, let the wicked (Government) punish the wicked (Pedophiles). We keep our hands clean, and justice is served. But in no way is this “not our problem.” In my anarchist-society, justice would be (especially if the liberty violation was rape) up to that given society to decide, but no doubt it would be swift, and market-determined.
–          No sweeping laws fix things. What about other marriages? What if the girls are conditioned to obey? If children are being forced into marriage, sexual or otherwise, do we protect them by making laws dissolving them immediately, or wait to educate? When does protecting those who are innocent come into play? If education (which we support here) comes AFTER someone’s liberty has been violated, do our principles really support or sustain liberty? Sweeping laws may not fix things. Especially man-made laws. And it is true that education must happen. But how can we educate about the greatness of liberty when we do nothing to protect and sustain it simultaneously? At that point, our “education” is just lip-service. Protection of and education of liberty must happen simultaneously. If we educate about it, but don’t protect it at the same time, we come off as platitudinous. Liberty is real. Not a platitude or a nice word we can just throw around.
–          Use social shaming. I am a big proponent of this tactic. It has worked wonders for the left in the last few decades. But while I do see it as a valid method of winning in the market place of ideas, it’s not sustainable as the only method, as the American Left seems content to believe, especially in the media. It needs to be backed up with exposition on our principles. Contrarianism is not the goal, especially if no intellectually honest descriptions of our own beliefs are given as a valid alternative. Progressivism has failed. Progressives know this. But they have nothing left but ridicule. And their time has come. They are losing the political war. Let’s not follow in their footsteps. We can use the tactic, but we cannot stop there. Our ideas must be backed up with intellectual honesty, and an insistence on being critiqued, so that our ideas can come back stronger, and more solid than before. In other words, we cannot be the “progressive” American left.
–          Cultural differences – Mary was married to Joseph at 14. Cultural differences justify a non-universality of application of principle. Abuses of liberty to one may not be so for another; culture determines that. Should culture supersede abuses of liberty? The principle of gravity applies everywhere. If it is a true principle, shouldn’t it be universal? Liberty is a true, universal principle. When it is violated, something stirs within us to defend it, and right the wrongs done to it. There is a natural response to violations of liberty. Also, one thing I am specifically dedicated to is defining liberty, and detailing specifically when its abuses have actually occurred.  Cultural ignorance does not supersede the universality of liberty, just like ignorance of gravity does not save the life of one who jumps off of a cliff with no rope. Liberty is to Anarchists what gravity was to Newton. Like the apple that drops when it is tossed, a natural response happens when liberty is violated. The market of a given liberty-based society determines that. In a society where liberty is not the prime virtue (such as in a Nation-State), justice still demands a response. In this case, allowing the wicked to punish the wicked may be our only recourse. All the more reason to educate about and defend the principles of liberty, to hasten that society’s creation.
Liberty is not merely a buzz-word. It is a real principle, with real reactions when it is invoked or attacked. Liberty always has a response. It’s our job to focus that response into something that is just. When there is no anarchistic society to do that, justice will take what justice can get. Sometimes, that is the wicked punishing the wicked. But make no mistake – justice and liberty will claim what is theirs. We can either live according to that, or we can fight it. But if we fight it, we are essentially saying that we can jump off of a large cliff with no rope, and walk away from it. This is absurd. It is as contrary to natural law as pretending gravity doesn’t exist. Living in harmony with the principles of anarchy will allow us to thrive. But if we cannot protect those of us still innocent, then teaching them about the virtue of liberty after theirs has been violated is dishonest, demeaning, irresponsible.