Dear Catholics and all people of good faith: Why aren’t you an anarchist? Have you ever thought about it? If that word – ANARCHY – conjures in your mind images of chaos, masked men breaking windows, scenes from The Purge, that might be the main reason. But nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchy is the only true order – the only true society.
Anarchy does not mean no rules. In Greek it means no rulers. And what is a ruler? What makes the tyrant, the president, or the congress different from any other leader? It is their perceived ability to control that over which they have no legitimate authority. You are not a slave. The rulers of the earth do not own you any more than your next door neighbor does. If your neighbor were to attempt to force you to do something against your will, you would most likely try to defend yourself. What more a claim over your personhood does a ruler hundreds of miles away have than your next door neighbor?
The difference between the leader and the ruler is the same as the difference between the customer and the thief, between the surgeon and the torturer, between the lover and the rapist. Consent, or more the point, voluntary cooperation, is the difference between society and the state of nature, it is what separates peace from violence.
And this goes to what the core of libertarian anarchism is: the Non-Aggression Principle – the position that it is immoral to initiate violence against a person’s life or property. Lots of people, especially Catholics, get too caught up in the bad things they think will happen if we free ourselves from the need for rulers. We allow ourselves to be duped by the stereotypes associated with libertarianism. I’m speaking now especially to orthodox Christians who hold traditional moral principles and societal ideals. Libertarianism is not “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”. It’s not a license for immorality, or unrestricted abortion and same-sex marriage.
Libertarianism is not “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”. It’s not a license for immorality, or unrestricted abortion and same-sex marriage. Do not confuse liberty with libertinism. It is not even an economic or political theory per se. No, Libertarianism has precisely one axiom, one tenet, one necessary belief: the Non-Aggression Principle – the 5th and 7th commandments, don’t kill and don’t steal. These rules do not magically disappear because a so-called “necessary” evil named government declares itself the only defense against chaos. Fundamentally, Libertarianism is an ethical position.
And furthermore, it’s a position which practically everyone in society accepts. Everyone knows that it’s wrong to hurt people and steal from them. Libertarians just apply this principle consistently. So this article is I suppose and invitation to Catholics and all people who believe in anything resembling morality. There are some members of society who are strict utilitarians, and really don’t care at all about truth and goodness. But you are better than that. You know that the ends never ever justify the means (Catholics, see the Catechism #1789). No amount of good intentions will ever make a morally evil action good.
So you see, what choice do we have but to be anarchists?
The government is the government because of its ability to initiate violence against people – to threaten to kill them or steal their property. If you support government, you are an apologist for violence. Period. But most of the people I know are above that. Most of us are taught by our parents and by school that violence is an appropriate solution to our problems, but deep down we know this is not the case. And all practicing Catholics know that we aspire to something greater. Blessed are the peacemakers. We welcome the return of the Prince of Peace.
Anarchism is simply the belief that we are all better off when we solve our problems without threatening each other and without hurting each other. For civilized, moral people, there is no other option. For those of us engaged in the culture war, this means we have to be better at our jobs. We don’t get to use the force of the government to get what we want. It will be harder, but we will be better off because, in the end, a social order without principles will never last.
So join us. Be consistent. Be an anarchist.