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Without a centralized, involuntary taxation power be sustainable?

  1. Dec 4, 2008 #1
    Would a society without a centralized, involuntary taxation power be sustainable? (eg. an anarchy?) Could people be happy without having to rely on a system that uses force to mandate policies? Would economics work? What problems would an anarchy have?

    I was interested in this topic after writing an essay on the effects of government regulation, and a curious thought-experiment of a society without a government. I was curious on what your opinions and theories were.
     
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  3. Dec 4, 2008 #2

    Ben Niehoff

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    Re: Anarchy?

    There would be an unstable power vacuum, and someone would rush in and become Despot. Most likely this someone would be whoever happened to have the most weapons at the time. It wouldn't be pretty.

    Essentially, you can't have an anarchic society, because there are always people who want to control things, and they will take advantage of the situation.
     
  4. Dec 4, 2008 #3

    LowlyPion

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  5. Dec 4, 2008 #4

    russ_watters

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    Re: Anarchy?

    You may want to research a good fraction of the countries in Africa. Somalia is one excellent example.

    For the purpose of the paper, you should differentiate between "anarchy" and "anarchists". Anarchists aren't really after anarchy - what they are after looks a lot more like communism (but varies a lot). The label basically just means they are anti-existing government. I'd be very careful about using self-proclaimed "anarchists" as sources. There is no single definition because it isn't a real/coherent political theory the way "Democracy", "communism" and "monarchy" are.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  6. Dec 4, 2008 #5
    Re: Anarchy?

    Well the general definition is that anarchy means "without a state."
     
  7. Dec 4, 2008 #6
    Re: Anarchy?

    Anarchy works on the presumption that people are generally good and smart.

    Neither of those is totally true and it takes a small minority of bad people to ruin a society, and enough stupid people and the entire society will collapse as well.
     
  8. Dec 4, 2008 #7

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: Anarchy?

    See: difference between "anarchy" and "anarchists" and which one russ was referring to
     
  9. Dec 4, 2008 #8
    Re: Anarchy?

    I wouldn't be surprised if Anarchism, like Communism, came about as a reaction to industrialization.

    Except that perhaps whereas Communists decided (officially, at least) that industrialization was an inevitable and an essential progression of history, Anarchists probably originally thought it was a temporary fad or something. It seems like they thought that if they could destroy the societal structures that gave rise to industrialism, industrialism and the miseries it had brought to the world of Victorian America and Europe would just go away.

    Without some centralization of power it seems to me that economics could not work the same way, no. There would be merchantile activity moving small amounts of good around and small-scale production of goods but commerce on a large scale simply wouldn't be possible, without roads, shipping facilities, etc. The business environment would be completely unstable, like in the 1980's China or in 1990's Russia where business was half-legal and half-illegal, so everyone at every point would always be squeezing a business enterprise and siphoning off whatever they could.

    Famines and epidemics and environmental destruction would run rampant without any central authority to prepare for and prevent them. There are many problems that we just don't see and don't think about today because our society is geared towards having centralized authority and standardization. I mean, look at that cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in the last few days.

    Or, do you know how many diseases used to be spread entirely through food, because there were no centralized public health authorities until the 1910's - 1920's? You know how most people usually caught tuberculosis in the 19th century and before? From drinking milk. You'd drink a nice, tasty glass of fresh milk, and a few months later die because your lungs were filled with potato-like tumors. Bovine tuberculosis is communicable to humans. Even once they knew this was the cause it took decades to eradicate it because every U.S. state and European country had to form centralized health authorities that would force farmers to maintain proper sanitation and inoculate their cows for tuberculosis and other diseases.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  10. Dec 4, 2008 #9

    russ_watters

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    Re: Anarchy?

    Well, there is more implied to me, and it shows up in the dictionary:
    My preference is for the first definition, a condition of absolute lawlessness. I prefer it because it is a starting point for discussion, and used by Hobbes for that purpose. Any report on anarchy must start with Hobbes:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_nature
    The entire book is available here and if it isn't required reading, it should be: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-contents.html
     
  11. Dec 4, 2008 #10

    russ_watters

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    Re: Anarchy?

    Since they are largely developments of the same school of thought, yes.
    Stalin may have embraced industrialization, but that doesn't mean that he and Marx didn't still think industrialization was a major cause of the problems that communism was designed to fix. Communism most certainly was a reaction to the growing pains of the industrial revolution. Ie:
    Yep.
     
  12. Dec 4, 2008 #11
    Re: Anarchy?

    Same. A lot of anarchists seem to base their argument on faith. They have faith that our transportation systems will be maintained. They have faith that the people will prevent some company from taking other businesses out of business or exploiting consumers. They have faith that fire departments and hospitals will still be vital. It's just as faith-based as a religion.

    They also seem to think that people who state anarchy means chaos is just a misconception based upon people's ignorance of anarchy. I really wish they would debunk that with a good argument instead of just saying it's a misconception because they don't want to hear their philosophy is flawed.
     
  13. Dec 4, 2008 #12
    Re: Anarchy?

    "Same. A lot of anarchists seem to base their argument on faith. They have faith that our transportation systems will be maintained. They have faith that the people will prevent some company from taking other businesses out of business or exploiting consumers. They have faith that fire departments and hospitals will still be vital. It's just as faith-based as a religion.

    They also seem to think that people who state anarchy means chaos is just a misconception based upon people's ignorance of anarchy. I really wish they would debunk that with a good argument instead of just saying it's a misconception because they don't want to hear their philosophy is flawed."

    If people wanted transportation systems, wouldn't they work towards maintaining them?
    If they wanted to prevent a company from taking over other companies or exploiting consumers, wouldn't people prevent the companies from exploiting them, or the companies prevent being taken over?

    If people want fire departments and hospitals, would hospitals and fire departments not be profitable for people who provided them?

    Anarchy frequently causes chaos, mostly due to peoples' previous conditioning by government, but anarchy does not necessitate chaos.

    If people want something, they are willing to work for it or pay for it.
    The simple premise is that people are greedy.

    How is the philosophy flawed?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  14. Dec 4, 2008 #13
    Re: Anarchy?

    Without a government, law enforcement would be private, the military private, emergency services private, and etc. It would boil down to who had the most money, or who had the most guns, and they would end up being a dictator of an entirely capitalist society. This would not be a place you would want to live in. The dictators might end up taxing the people if they want any protection, or they may slaughter who ever they want. They may end up enslaving most of the population, and while it may have started out as Anarchy, it would begin to model a corrupt dictatorship that would classify as a government.
     
  15. Dec 4, 2008 #14
    Re: Anarchy?

    Let me make absolutely sure: Your argument against anarchy is because you believe anarchy is unsustainable, and anarchy would collapse. Is this correct?

    Just want to make sure so I can effectively argue against it.

    How would the company with the most money get the most money? Are you saying nothing would prevent them from getting money, would prevent them from getting an army, would prevent them from taxing people?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  16. Dec 4, 2008 #15
    Re: Anarchy?

    They would hire guns and control all the resources. Maybe there wouldn't even be a currency, only control of land and resources. The dictator may or may not share any of it with the people. Probably only enough to have a work force and hired guns to maintain control.

    They may not be organized enough to control all the land, and so other warlords may control other areas. They would then fight each other and come through pilaging and stealing when possible. Some people might be able to survive in tribes hiding from warlords, but they may at any time be caught and slaughtered.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  17. Dec 4, 2008 #16
    Re: Anarchy?

    Again I ask, how would the companies get the money to hire guns? Why would guns allow themselves to be hired? Are you saying nothing would prevent them from getting money, would prevent them from getting an army, would prevent them from taxing people? Why would, in short, people fund a system which will only benefit a few, and obviously not all that fund it? To fund a military conquest is extremely risky and difficult; after all, if you fail, your life is most likely destroyed. Plus, it takes time and advertising to construct a military force; those who oppose you will not want to fund you, and those who think that even if they succeed, nothing guarantees that they will benefit will not fund you. Even the companies that fund you will face difficulties, because people would be alerted of such a military organizing, and people would want to be protected, and thus would willingly pay a company large sums of money to protect their way of life. The people would, of course, make sure that the company can not then turn around and use the resources to oppress the people after winning the war.
     
  18. Dec 4, 2008 #17
    Re: Anarchy?

    You would be forced to fund it as they steal everything you own and dump you in a ditch.

    If you don;t work for the warlord, then the warlords men may slaughter you. Plus the warlord may be the only provider of food, so it is do as told or die with the rest. Disobeying would mean execution.

    The people who are quickest at the draw gathering weapons and recruits would prosper. The way to the top would be ruthless brutality and would most likely guarantee that the ruler would not be compassionate. Many would want to live in peace, but one band of killers could easily exploit their weakness and take over. If not one, then another, but some will surely try, and the most ruthless would most likely succeed.

    Because there would be no legit law enforcement, looting would end up being the most successful business, and that business would grow and strive for monopoly. In which case you would have essentially a Mafia run country, however, in a country of no law, the mafia would not be sufficient at protecting people from most criminal activity.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  19. Dec 4, 2008 #18
    Re: Anarchy?

    If looting were the most profitable business, wouldn't one make a killing by providing a company that said that they would provide against looters?

    You have to realize, a LOT of people have to gather and say "okay, let's try and take everyone over" in order to have a remote chance of succeeding. A lot. They would have to be numerous enough in every form of production to be able to out-produce every other company combined, and with all people who do not like military conquests funding the other companies, the other companies could, quite probably, stop the military conquest. It's not just speed, it's also quantity. People would realize that if a dictatorship arose, their businesses, in all probability, would not exist, and peoples' livelihoods would, in all likeliness, not exist, and would strive to prevent it from arising.

    Again, where would the warlord get the men to slaughter people for him? Where would he get the money to pay the people? You're assuming that the warlord has the resources to control the people, which would allow him to then be able to, uh, control the people. The assumption that people would be too afraid to compete against the warlord if the majority were for the warlord is a valid assumption; the problem is simply reaching majority.

    What do you mean by "legit" law enforcement? Most people do not want to be stolen from, murdered, raped, or otherwise harmed, so there is a huge market for protective services. There would also be endless applicants to be an employed protector.
    What would happen to a murderer? I doubt the majority of people would want to do business with a murderer, and so the murderer would have extreme difficulty financially and socially.

    "You would be forced to fund it as they steal everything you own and dump you in a ditch."
    This is assuming they already have the power to force you to fund it. How do they gain the power to force you to fund it?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  20. Dec 4, 2008 #19
    Re: Anarchy?

    If that is the case, then why, in a world of governments trying to stop organized crime, is organized crime so big.

    In Russia after the collapse of the USSR, the Mafias took over, and now control directly or indirectly 80% of Russia's banks. Mafias systematically extort and kill those who resist their control, and eventually the most ruthless rise to the top.

    The mafia would own the companies, and they would protect their interests, which may be having a lot of people working for you, but it would no doubt be an ugly world.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/1998/03/98/russian_mafia/70095.stm
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  21. Dec 4, 2008 #20
    Re: Anarchy?

    Are you arguing a hypothetical where man started from scratch, like if a bunch of small children washed up on an island, or are you talking anarchy in modern society. Because the guns are already here and built, and the organized criminals already very powerful.
     
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