Posted at The Daily Bell
It seems clear that the government model – certainly the one practiced in the last 100 years – is an obvious failure. Anyone living in central and eastern Europe or East Asia (as two examples) would gladly have taken much less formal government during this time.
One of the (many) interesting insights I drew from Scott’s book was the idea that where people had a choice, they stayed out of the government controlled areas and stayed in the areas of so-called anarchy. The state never turned away willing volunteers, and few voluntarily rushed in to be co-opted by the state. Was the purpose of the Great Wall to keep invaders out, or to keep the captured slaves (for that is, after all, one of the main methods by which such regimes were populated) in?
One other era from which I have drawn interesting insights on this matter is during the early middle ages in Germanic Europe – the dark ages, another time period we are supposed to ignore. This time and culture offers an interesting take on the relationship of king, vassal, and law. To make a long story short, the law was above both king and vassal, and every vassal had a veto power over the king – as long as he could show his reason for veto in the law – law being that which was “old” and “good,” custom and culture based, if you will. If there is any interest, I offer a few posts based on the work done by Fritz Kern in Germany and published in 1914.
(They appear newest to oldest, but I would suggest reading in date order).
What seems certain is the process of centralizing nation-states is failing. The USSR, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia all have broken into component parts. The EU? Even tiny Belgium, or Spain? As promises of the nation-state are breaking, the faith will fall away. Take away the faith and there will be little support.
Two authors, with infinitely better credentials than I have, see the breakup of the nation-state model coming. Jacques Barzun, “From Dawn to Decadence” and Martin van Creveld “The Rise and Decline of the State.” Their credentials are impeccable. They come at this from different angles, and reach similar conclusions. However, we see this crumbling before our eyes. I need no further evidence.
Gary North has written a review of these two books. They are the second and third books covered in this article (although the entire article deals with this subject).
I don’t fool myself into believing that anarchy (meaning self-rule or no-ruler) will come into being anytime soon, and likely not ever. However, I am certain it cannot if we keep discussing “better regulation” or the possibility of choosing “good leaders” as the solution. My view is simple: by aiming (with ideas) for the target with the least monopolized coercion as basis for organizing society, there is at least some chance of coming close to the bulls-eye. By aiming for some muddled version of status quo, there is only the certainty of achieving some version of the status quo.
I believe I have mentioned this here previously, so apologies in advance: every major religion teaches some form of the golden rule. It seems to me that there are billions of people who have some version of this in their DNA. It suggests that there is, perhaps, a good foundation upon which to build.