In Praise of Anarchy

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Happy Australia Day, dear reader!

Your editor and the rest of team at DR HQ are taking the day off to celebrate the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet in 1788.

We will fire up BBQs. Drink beer. And watch cricket.

But you’re not getting off that easy!

Below you’ll find a note from long-time friend (and Queenslander) Joel Bowman. Regular readers of the U.S. edition of the Daily Reckoning will know Joel from his many wise words and travel exploits. He’s based in Argentina now. But before that it was Taipei…and before that Dubai…and before that Laguna Beach…and before that New York City…and before that Baltimore…and before that…Brisbane.

You can take the boy out of Brisbane. But you can’t take the anarchist out of a good man…or good people.

In Praise of Anarchy

By Joel Bowman in from Buenos Aires, Argentina…

Left alone, good people tend to do good things. And, when free of coercion, force, violence or other tools the state employs to foster and maintain a more “responsible,” “socially conscious” citizenship, most people tend to be good…all on their own.

Nowhere was this better expressed during the past few weeks than in flood-stricken Queensland (and, more lately, in Victoria).

The rains inundated an area the size of France and Germany (combined!) across the Sunshine State and wrought havoc upon its people. Lives were lost. Property damaged. And industry was crippled.

And, when Mother Nature’s wrath subsided, Queensland residents were left with a massive clean-up job.

To their credit, these people, in the face of near-untold disaster, did what came naturally. Contrary to the patriotic rally cries of politicians, they didn’t do what Queenslanders do; they did what good people do. And it was beautiful.

The general feeling was perhaps best summed up by Wally “The King” Lewis – a retired national football hero – who spent the last week of his holidays helping fellow Brisbane residents prepare sandbags and bail rising flood waters out of their homes.

Speaking to National Nine News from the waterlogged front yard of a neighbour – whom he had never met – Wally said, “If someone’s doing it tough, I think it’s the right thing to do to put the hand up and ask them if they want any help.”

The interviewer then turned his microphone to another volunteer. “What was your reaction when Wally Lewis turned up?”

Typifying the laid back crowd, the young man said, “[Laughs] Yeah, I was a little surprised but…you know…people help out. It’s all good.”

The Australian people appeared perilously close to discovering something very important about themselves. Something, perhaps, they’ve always known. An instinctual tendency toward human solidarity; the natural urge to help a neighbour in distress, to lend a hand; in short, to volunteer.

Alas, barely had the first piece of debris been cleared away when the media lost sight of the bigger picture. Alongside inspirational stories of non-violent, voluntary cooperation, the local papers turned their attention to the state’s role in the cleanup. Should the state and federal governments focus on returning “their” budgets to surplus? Or should they use funds to help those in need? In other words, how “best” should the state spend its people’s money? As if the only just, honest option had not already expired when the government chose to steal it in the first place.

While sifting through the news reports and reading comments about what the state “should” do, we wondered how people who are so ready to do what is natural – to cooperate freely with neighbours and “mates down the street” – could miss the overarching lesson in all this tragedy. Why do hostages of the state turn to their captor when it comes to settling issues of freedom? Issues they are capable of resolving themselves?

It might have to do, at least in part, with the misrepresentation of the concept of anarchy; a misrepresentation that only serves the interests of the state. We are taught “anarchy” means violence, looting and the aggressive form of chaos that often rises in the wake of natural disasters. We are told this is what happens without state control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The state IS control. It is the incarnation of force and violence from which it purports to protect us.

As Murray Rothbard, the man credited with coining the term “anarcho-capitalism”, expressed in Society and the State:

“I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual. Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defence service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.”

We can expect nothing more from an agent of force than, well, more force. A mule is as capable of giving birth to a unicorn as the state is of “granting” freedom.

Last night, with all this in mind, your editor phoned his father. Dad lives about an hour south of Brisbane, where the post-disaster clean up continues. In the aftermath of the flood, volunteer posts were set up around the city where groups of concerned individuals could assemble to donate their time and/or resources to help get the place back on its feet.

“Sixteen thousand people turned up to help on the first day,” Dad told us. “They came with their own equipment and made their own way there. In the end, they had to turn people away.

“I put my name down to lend a hand,” he continued, before adding, with sincere disappointment, “but I haven’t been called up yet.”

Then, as a man who has spent his life helping people, he added, “but I’ve still got two more days of holiday left, Sunday and Monday. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to get up there and help out then.”

To those who would argue coercion is necessary to foster freedom. That force is a prerequisite for peace. And that the expropriation of individuals’ property on threat of violence is compulsory to fund an agency that, alone, is capable of guaranteeing safety and prosperity, we say: you don’t know the real meaning of anarchy. You don’t know what voluntarism is. And, until you do, you will never know what it means to be free.

Thank you to all the people in Queensland – and around the world – who understand these concepts and, through their fine example, prove statists everywhere wrong every day.

Regards,
Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Joel Bowman
Joel Bowman is managing editor of The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.
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36 Comments on "In Praise of Anarchy"

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Richo (the first)
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LOL. If we went became anarchic organised criminals would be running the show in a matter of months. I would rather have elected buffoons (even corrupt ones).
Don’t believe me? Look at Russia post communism.

nv
Guest
Peace and love to all. Typical pigs gloating on an imperial invasion a mere 200 years ago. Grow up delusional ones. Oztralia is the only country on earth to celebrate and gloat like pigs on such atrocities committed in the name of and on behalf a monarchy. I am embarrassed to be oztralian and oztralians are an embarrassment to the world but oztralians in general wouldn’t know it since they rarely travel outside the colony except the “I’ve been to Bali too” crowd where even in Bali we are disliked as disrespectful arrogant pigs. And queenzlanders are queenzlanders first and… Read more »
Ned S
Guest
Merry Invasion Day to you too NV! :D Seriously though, if you feel strongly about the issue then you can get yourself a job that is specifically aimed at assisting ATSI people maybe? Lots do! Though my best guess at this time is that you are way more into sitting on your arse pouring out vitriol that is fundamentally motivated by your personal feelings on what Oz has done wrong by YOU! And that you simply USE things like the ATSI issue as excuses to do so. As I’ve never seen anything you’ve ever posted that causes me to have… Read more »
Chris in IT
Guest
“I am embarrassed to be oztralian and oztralians are an embarrassment to the world but oztralians in general ” Renounce your citizenship and teach us a lesson! Where are you moving? “The Aboriginal Flag should be the flag of oztralia” I’m not Aboriginal? I completely agree however that Aboriginal SHOULD have a flag however, in fact we should stop treating them the way Israel treats Palestine, and give them their own land in which they can form their own government. Then, if they want to be ‘Australian’ they can line up with the rest of the foreigners. Symbolic meaning of… Read more »
Sky
Guest
As a constitutional law student, I must fully agree that behind everything the state does is the direct or implied threat of violence. Thus we try to place limits on its power (separation of powers, democracy, etc), so the violence is only used justly. But anacho-capitalism seems to imply a philosophy that assumes people are naturally good. This is a far cry from the traditional liberal philosophers like Hobbes who saw the lack of the ‘Leviathan’ state as a vortex in which the ‘war of all against all’ took place. An Austinian conception of state sovereignty is essential to prevent… Read more »
Greg
Guest
Australia Day celebrates the founding of a great nation and the creation of a civilised society. There was no existing nation to invade, only a sparsely populated wilderness inhabited by a bunch of disparate and nomadic stone age tribes, who had been constantly in conflict with eachother for thousands of years. There were no towns or cities. No cohesive society. No economy. No buildings. No technology. No common culture. No achievements. The wheel had not even been discovered yet, despite over 40,000 years of stagnated occupation. Nothing worth celebrating before 1788 at all. The pioneers brought the rule of law… Read more »
Ger
Guest
I thought the queensland floods where a wonderful (but very normal) story in comparison with New Orleans which sounded like a horror story of mis-trust. I especially loved the total indignation that someone would dare to loot. A Media hype I know but how great is it that this is all they had to hype. A bueatiful, gentle group of people. Hey nv – dont get so stressed about stereotypical views other nations have of Oz – a lot of it is un-reality – even Aboriginal history – as hard as it is – is a mild and lucky history… Read more »
nv
Guest
Comment by Ned S on 27 January 2011: “me to have anything but the VERY LOWEST of opinions of you as a human being.” Cheer up son, we’re not all supposed to fall for the psychological marketing spruik by the very lowest of human beings. Not at all nice of you and…… oh look, its bi_ker peat, beta roll over and grab ya favourite pillow Ned S. Me thinks yours is the only fat arse ‘ere. Comment by Greg on 27 January 2011: “Nothing worth celebrating before 1788 at all.” Sums you up, scumbag. BTW, nothing to really celebrate after… Read more »
Biker Pete
Guest

Ger: “…For a simple mental experiment…”

Well put. N V Prozak is both simple and mental.

Peace and love to all? What ludicrous bleating from _this_ dysfunctional pervert. Reattach the electrodes, team. The meds aren’t working…

Greg
Guest

Is that all you got nv?

A pretty pathetic comeback (I can’t describe it as a rebuttal) really. No argument. No substance. No supporting evidence.

Just another indoctrinated opinion, which can’t survive a gentle challenge, and is forced to resort to ad hominem schoolyard insults.

Maybe you should go to school, until you are ready to participate in grown up conversation. Run along now……..

Ned S
Guest
NV: “Cheer up son” – I found your comment amusing. Not that I need your comments to have a good laugh … But thanks anyway! Greg: “Is that all you got nv?” – There isn’t much chance of getting any real dialogue out of him. I just think of him as the site’s resident fruit cake these days. And quite enjoy a lot of his comments – Within that context. ;) PS: I thought he’d attack you and Ger over the two specific comments he did Greg. Just part of his modus operandi – If 95% of your comment is… Read more »
Ned S
Guest

I found this is a reasonable read:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/27/financial-crisis-avoidable-fcic-report

Doesn’t tell us anything we weren’t already pretty sure of I guess. But it is at least nice to see one side of Yank politics come to the obvious conclusions. Though the Republicans still don’t want to know about them apparently.

NK
Guest
The Aboriginals were happy in their country. Whether they had technology or not, this is subjective opinion to decide whether this is good or not. They enjoyed being without technology (lets assume they didnt know about technology – but it was their reality). If they didnt want to breed their country into over populating their lands, that is also their choice. Population, technology, democracy and guns… These were all imperialists inventions that the imperialists were happy with. “Borders” that define a country is also a thought that is subjective. The Aboriginals had a border made by a higher being on… Read more »
Chris in IT
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Umm… Ned. Maybe I’m missing something… Who was head of the Federal Reserve and _lowered_ the rates to the point that this madness could actually occur? RE moves in to a bull market when rates are low. As soon as the values start picking up you HAVE to turn up the heat to stop it bubbling over. Greenspan didn’t and price:income moved in to an unaffordable region. I double all those subprimes would have signed on at 8%. Think about it this way, a 30 year mortgage on a half mil property pays of 1.3k principal each month. Almost anyone… Read more »
Ned S
Guest
Chris: “Maybe I’m missing something” – I think you’ve got a good handle on it? As to your last comment about Greenspan and gold: It makes no great difference in practical terms from what I can see? As no country will ultimately be any better than its word. Which is worth nothing to any of them when truly pressured – Unless one has means of forcing it to be. Though some just may be able to acquire a decent lump of global GDP as an alternative? Which seems to be happening in the case of the US and China. (Though… Read more »
Chris in IT
Guest
” As no country will ultimately be any better than its word” If you have a commodity or gold redemption against your currency, essentially ‘backing’ it, you will have a very strong motivation to NOT debase the hell out of it :), else soon your backing is depleted, and your exchange rate in the can ;) A country that backs it’s currency by it’s word could easily get crushed by stepping out of line. Look at the Brazillian real. Ultimately, debasement occurs because politicians want to spend money to get more power. To do this they deficit spend. The deficit… Read more »
Ned S
Guest
Some sort of commodity backing for fiat currency? I like the theory. But can’t see why it should work in practice. Simply because it necessarily presupposes that governments will honour their fiat obligations (deficits?) in terms of the commodities backing their currencies when and if called on to do so. And I simply don’t believe that when they are in a bind, which is when they’ll most likely be asked for payment in commodities rather rather than fiat, that they will necessarily comply. In fact, it’s pretty much a given that they won’t in lots of cases. ” “Though with… Read more »
Chris in IT
Guest
“Some sort of commodity backing for fiat currency? I like the theory” I was just making the point that unless you tie number machines to a physical constraint, you’ll almost certainly end up with hyperinflation every single time. In practice, having the AUD backed by coal or steel would be terrible. Imagine having to store your reserves ;) Gold, really is quite a good reserve, it;s both a physical object and is difficult to grow (an AUD backed by steel may not limit our printing all that much really!). Gold is also quite useless in terms of the economy with… Read more »
Pete
Guest

Chris needs to read ‘FOFOA’ if he wants to understand how an effecting currency backing could work.

Ned S
Guest
I found the following comment from elsewhere interesting: “The principal force making hyperinflation a virtual impossibility in the U.S. is the dollar-oil link. As a consequence of this link, it could be argued that the dollar is not exactly a true fiat currency. At the same time, the dollar is not backed by a finite asset directly under its possession, although the Saudis realize that any threat to decouple the dollar from oil sales would be met with very severe and immediate consequences. Therefore, the U.S. has a good deal of influence in maintaining this vital economic link. Regardless whether… Read more »
Jim
Guest

On the subject of Aboriginals are you talking about the people in the towns and city’s that make up most of our prison population or the dead beats in the resevations so called settlements, well like the white man you have to work and prove your worth not think because you were born black that the country owe’s you a life

Pete
Guest
Ned, it’s really an oil-gold link, and US hyperinflation is not only possible, but inevitable. The US exports its dollars, and they are used all around the world for trade. What happens when those dollars are not intended for use anymore? They ‘repatriate’ or basically go home. What happens to a country when your local money supply grows suddenly and almost exponentially…whilst at the same time knowing that it is valued less by overseas trading partners? People lose confidence in the currency to hold it’s value. And that, is hyperinflation. And for anyone who thinks that the US currency will… Read more »
Ned S
Guest
Pete, I don’t see it as any more (or less) an oil-gold link than an oil-copper link or an oil-wheat link – As two examples. (Whilst also bearing in mind Ross’ recent comment about soft commodities.) When you say USDs repatriate – The hot money certainly does. Whenever the markets get a fright/decide to take profits. But then flows back out again. As to the USD reserves of the surplus nations (China as an example) – It seems, to me, that they are far more stable and are basically just continuing to grow over time. Which seemed passing strange to… Read more »
Pete
Guest

Enjoy that PoV Ned.

May I suggest buying some US treasuries. There’s plenty for sale.

Ned S
Guest

USTs? Not my bag Pete. Or stocks. Or gold. Or other commodities. With there being plenty of ALL of them for sale.

I’m just not into trading to make a buck I guess? Though good luck to those who are …

Lachlan
Guest
“When another group invades to forcibly change another population’s reality, that is an evil.” However it be deemed, it was an inevitable. There really are no absolute rights in a world where we gain and lose in random fashion. Where is the firm footing to base our right on? A state or power can grant a right, however they can revoke it also. Then the state or power could cease to exist. And who can guarantee rights won’t be infringed upon? Over a reasonable time frame we appear to be in chaos. The best the aboriginals could hope for was… Read more »
Lachlan
Guest

Hi Ned. Maybe those winners (nations) could be a little like those of us who are trying to make hay while the sun still shines..under the current system. However there will be a limit to the amount of inflation these guys can handle before mayhem breaks loose. That’s the problem with the status quo. Its very unstable and becoming more so.

Lachlan
Guest

Wait there, I forgot. The Davos crowd gonna fix it with 100T in new credits. Not sure what currency units that comes in.

Ned S
Guest
It was pretty much a matter of whether the Frogs or the Poms grabbed the joint first I gather? With the Poms just maybe being a bit more motivated given that the US didn’t want the the Poms’ convict rejects any more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_colony Either which way it apparently wasn’t a joint that any of the numerous European national powers of the day had especially rushed to lay claim to. Or even the Macassan traders from Indo? Not an especially attractive prospect at all from the ‘civilized’ viewpoint of 200 yrs ago perhaps? With it all just being a bit fortunate… Read more »
Lachlan
Guest
Gotta hit sack now Ned but before I go I found this related piece in my inbox from Casey Research. Its not often we get a mention around the place. We’re mopping bucks while emergings are printing. Anyhow I was quite pleased to see our little centrally planned, socialist island included in the “more prudent” group. Making the best of it Ned ;) Dear Reader, “A few countries, such as Norway, Australia and Canada, have been wisely raising their interest rates. I wouldn’t include China, India and other emerging markets in this group. Yes, they’re raising rates, but not because… Read more »
Ned S
Guest

Jeez, even some of the more recent Kiwi and Brit and Yank immigrants seem to be able to make a go of the place? ;)

“I’m just not into trading to make a buck I guess? Though good luck to those who are …”

If I was into trading (stocks anyway), I’d be cashing out right about now. In view to buying back in after a 10% decline just maybe? But, as stated, none of that stuff’s my bag.

Ned S
Guest

“Its not often we get a mention around the place” – Yeh, makes it difficult when all the info is so US-centric. And more recently the Europeans getting a few by-lines.

“Making the best of it Ned” – Ditto Lachlan. Well we hope so anyway hey! :D

Lachlan
Guest
Ned I was briefly bearish on stocks after the GFC initially broke. After the last major shake-out (May 2010 flash crash) I watched the US indexes in particular bottom out over a long period forcing regular short squeezes as it did. I realized the Fed could get what it wanted as it’s superior muscle bent the market back into shape. The Fed is determined to inflate. We can study the nature/causes of debt based currency deflation, credit freezes etc but it does not take into account the desire of the Fed to monetise new debt and produce the results it… Read more »
Ned S
Guest
“My position is just small, a buy and hold but upside potential very large. I’ll either make a killing Ned or lose most of it” – My accountant did something similar Lachlan. He saw things turning bad and was out of stocks during the crash. And had basically stayed out last I heard, except for 10% of his assets he threw into stuff he reckoned could have a very high return. Knowing full well the stuff was risky. On the logic that if he lost it he’d live and there was very significant upside potential if things worked out better… Read more »
Monk
Guest

The problem isn’t so much the absence of anarchy as citizens’ dependence on debt in order to purchase a middle class lifestyle. Ultimately, we have to realise that the problem lies in capitalism of any sort, where increasing credit is needed to fund increasing production and consumption of goods in order to maintain that lifestyle.

Josh
Guest

I loved this article that much that I had to make a video about it.
Thanks Daily Reckoning! you guys are the best.
Check out my video “In Praise of anarchy In Praise of Anarchy, The Australian Floods and Hurricane”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTvr_PRRDvk

wpDiscuz
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