If Government is Banditry, Anarchy is Impossible

Within Kevin Williamson’s takedown of the mindlessness of bureacracy (And please, read the whole thing), lies this interesting nugget:

Over the years, economic success and administrative demands eventually transform bands of roving bandits into bands of stationary bandits. One popular theory of the state — one that is pretty well-supported by the historical evidence in the European context — is that this is where governments come from: protection rackets that survive for a long enough period of time that they take on a patina of legitimacy. At some point, Romulus-and-Remus stories are invented to explain that the local Mafiosi have not only historical roots but divine sanction.

This is a useful tonic against species of anarcho-libertarians. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. If anarchy is the natural state in man, anarchy fell to government via banditry. If the Roman Republic, for example, began as ancient mafiosi, then even if we were to achieve blessed anarchy again, there wouold be nothing stopping bandits from setting up new proto-states via violence.

But free humans would band together to resist such bandits. Indeed. And if bandits are a common problem (and why would they not be?) then regular banding together against them would lead to regular organization of force, and rules concerning same, and holy schneikes you have law and a state. For all we know, that’s how the Roman Republic really began.

If liberty requires virtue, anarchy requires sainthood.

2 thoughts on “If Government is Banditry, Anarchy is Impossible


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