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Tsekung asked, Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life? Confucius replied, It is the word shu - reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
Analects 15:23

Anarchistic theory

From point of view of moral theory, the rejection of the state follows immediately from the application of the Golden Rule to organizations: A state has (by definition) legal monopolies, but every legal monopoly is a violation of the Golden Rule – the state forbids others to do what is done by the state. Thus,

the state is an organization which violates the Golden Rule

and therefore amoral by definition.

But it is not enough to reject something as amoral if one cannot present something better, a workable alternative which meets the moral standards. One needs to understand the problems solved by the state, to find a better solution for them, and, last but not least, to think about a strategy for transition.

Network-based society

One extremely important problem is how one can cooperate with a stranger: One would need information about him to trust him. The state solves this problem in some way: Instead of the stranger, we trust that the police will enforce the law if the stranger breaks it. But this solution is inferior, and new information technology allows a better solution: a network-based society.

Market failures and state failures

The classical justification for the state in economic theory is that it allows to solve problems where the free market fails – so called market failures. In particular, there are public good problems and problems related with natural monopolies.

But does the state really solve these problems? Is what is done by the state really better than the market failure? This is highly questionable.

Are government-paid political scientists neutral?

In many circumstances, it is not problematic if scientists are paid for their research by the government. Politicians usually do not have much interest in particular scientific questions. The state-based support of science nonetheless has negative consequences, forcing the scientists to follow the mainstream even in a completely speculative domain like fundamental physics (where this leads to a monopoly position for string theory). But the problem is different in those parts of political science where the very question of the necessity of the state is considered. Here, we do not even need a politician who wants to influence the scientists – here the scientists have a straightforward own interest: Without the government, who will pay them?

So it is quite obvious that the state is necessary – at least the necessity to pay for scientific research about the necessity of the state is obvious for everybody working in this domain.

On the other hand, while scientists are usually not heroes, they nonetheless do not like to tell a lot of lies. If their position is sufficiently safe, they may be even tell truths which are uncomfortable for the state. As a consequence, we can find a lot of good arguments against the state proposed by government-paid scientists.

Public good problems

One important type of market failure are public good problems. A public good is something which, if you provide it, is useful for others too, but you are unable to make them pay for this service – you have a free-rider problem. The problem is not the moral one, that the free rider receives something without paying for it. The problem is that the optimal solution differs from the market solution: The optimal solution would be the solution which would appear on the market if the free-rider would have to pay for the service too.

But most of the things monopolized by the state are in no way public goods, or they have only some small public good component. Some examples:

Thus, the claim that the state is necessary to solve public good problems is in a large part a propaganda lie: Most of the things done by the government are not related to public goods.

There are some other goods (in particular use of roads and bridges) where the question if they are public goods or not depends on the payment system. For the use of a bridge or a road it is possible to require payments. With modern information technology, such payments can be organized for many things where it was difficult in the past.

Therefore the proposal is not an utopia. The only utopian aspect is that it has not been realized yet successfully in a large modern society (we do not want to discuss historical examples).


Note that we define anarchy as the rejection of the state with legal monopoly rights, not as the absence of rules, structures, institutions: the base of our proposal is an ethical rule - the Golden Rule.