3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Anyone who has spent time arguing the anarchist (or even minarchist or panarchist) position regarding societal organization is faced with constant “how would you…” questions.
- · How would you defend from invasion?
- · How would you ensure safety?
- · How would you be sure everyone played by the rules?
- · How would you make sure all people drove on the right hand side (or left hand side, depending on your geographic location)?
- · How would you stop a terrorist 10,000 miles away from carrying a loaded suitcase into your house?
- · How would you protect industry at home?
It is very easy to call into question the idea of a society without a central state – by state, meaning an entity with a legalized monopoly of initiating violence and coercion. Every fear – real or imagined – becomes a “how would you” question. As the knowledge (and philosophy) of such a condition has been virtually purged from human memory, it is difficult to provide answers that might resonate.
I have struggled with this "how would you" tactic every time that it is used – not struggled to answer it, but struggled to understand why the advocate takes this view. Inherently, the questioner sees some version of the current state as the best means to answer these concerns.
Why? The overwhelming evidence of the failure of the state (as defined above) should crush the spirits of anyone looking to this entity as the provider of salvation. The plank in the eye of the advocate for the state is blinding.
Consider only a few of the failings of the state:
The State is purported to be the best means to manage international relationships. Yet the last century exceeded all prior examples of failed diplomacy. Two world wars, a cold war, and countless (relatively) smaller conflicts. Deaths attributable to wars in the 20th century amount to more than 160 million.
The State has taken from the market the function of money. Many dates can be chosen for the major nail in this coffin, but 1914 is a useful and perhaps appropriate date, as it marked the end of the international gold exchange standard. While not a market-derived mechanism, this exchange standard at least provided for some system of maintaining balance in international accounts.
This date is also appropriate as it marks the beginning of the major wars made possible by the abandonment of this standard. Additionally, with the U.S. Federal Reserve introduced at the end of 1913, all major belligerent powers were now freed from even the most minimal market disciplines regarding money.
Since the inception of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the dollar has lost more than 95% of its purchasing power when calculated using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, and almost 99% when measured in gold.
The state has taken on the role of reducing poverty. Yet record numbers are taking some form of transfer payments, welfare, and food stamps from the federal government.
The state has taken over the function of educating young people, yet record numbers of children and young adults end their school experience unable to perform the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic; while critical thinking and logic are forgotten subjects, virtually ignored in the standard twelve year curriculum.
The state advertises itself as having the ability to create jobs and reduce unemployment; yet record numbers of people are out of work or have quit looking for work.
I could go one. Suffice it to say the list of state-run failures is exactly as long as the list of state-run projects.
In its failed state listing for 2011, Fund for Peace has identified only 12 states out of 177 as being “sustainable.” This is less than 7%; in other words, 93% fall into categories less than sustainable! The next lower category (below sustainable) is described as “moderate,” and includes such success stories as Greece, Argentina, and Spain.
To those who suggest life without some form of what is currently known as the “state” is not possible, I will suggest you read Matthew 7:3-5. It is true that those who suggest life with a vastly reduced if non-existent state may not have every answer to every “how would you” question; however, please remove the plank from your own eye before you worry about the sawdust in your brother’s eye.
You are blinded to the failures of the state by the plank in your eye. These failures are real; these failures have consequences to billions of people around the globe. Before you ask next time “how would you,” consider how well such a service is accomplished today. An honest appraisal would cause even the greatest skeptic to consider a stateless alternative.
Remove this plank before you criticize the sawdust in the eye of those who suggest a different path. Recognize the failure of the state, as demonstrated countless times; perhaps then you might be able to help your brother with the few specks of sawdust that exist regarding a stateless society.
I do not claim we can or will see a stateless society in our time. However, the burden of proof lies with those who continue to advocate some form of the current system. They advocate a system of death and destruction, of legalized theft and plunder, and a system with a failure rate approaching 100%.
When I run into those who aggressively argue that some form of the status quo is the best system, I think of Matthew 7:6.