I was listening to the bitcoin uncensored podcast and I they mentioned a very interesting idea which I want to explore a bit further. The idea was that a system based on full anarchy can never truly exist because someone will always take the lead as a governing body if there is no situation that dictates it and to an extent I do agree. I think the most important distinction is how you personally define anarchy. If you define it as non existence of a traditional government then I do believe that can be achieved, but if you define it simply just as the remove of a governing body, someone who makes rules , then I would have to say its impossible.
Before I get into why I think it is impossible, I want to ask what the difference between a rule and a law is, because governing bodies that are not governments create rules that need to be followed with negative consequences so essentially they are no different than a law. The laws our government make for us to follow and the rules that governing bodies in the absence of government make are essentially the same. Follow or else there will be consequences, with most real life cases leaning heavily toward much severe, often violent punishments that come with the breaking of rules vs the breaking of law.
What do I mean by governing bodies versus government ? Traditional government needs no explanation, we live under it, interact with it and abide by it every day of our lives. The real interesting thing that happens is the governing bodies that take over when the lack of government is apparent. One of the biggest cases you can talk about is how in areas that the police force refuses to enter or engage with, gangs and the mafia take over as a governing body. They may not have all the tricks a modern government has, but they do mandate a strict set of guidelines that must be followed or else negative consequences will occur.
In a traditional government you pay taxes and you expect the police force to protect your business, in the non traditional mob style of government you pay “protection” money and anyone who deals with your business knows that it is under their protection. Failure to do so in the first case will be jail time, while in the second case, the loss of your store or kneecaps. You as the store owner will abide by the rules of the stronger governing forces rather than the other one. To you as a store owner in the hood, paying protection money is much more important than your taxes, when the government barely acknowledges your stores existence.
Historically we saw some sort of governing body take over as well with tribes. If we look at the most recent tribes in Africa or some islands in the pacific, there is still a hierarchy that creates rules people must abide by. Tribes have a strict view on people pulling their own weight and performing a job that needs to be done or fears the removal from the tribe which in many places equals death. In fact there are some tribes that will even kill you if you aren’t pulling your weight at all, but they are the extremes. The fact is that when a government does not put humans into a hierarchy themselves, human beings tend to establish types of governing bodies by themselves as a defense mechanism for protection. We are tribal animals after all and most of us prefer not to be alone so we move towards governing bodies that assign us a place to be.
There really is not a good post apocalyptic reference we can use to refer to when thinking about the possibilities of self government in the real world, but I would assume that it would look similar to what we have had with tribes in the past or mafia government today. I would imagine many would fall into place and abide by the de facto governing powers that would arise in a situation to provide security while also getting back something in return.
Ultimately I think that the idea of a true anarchy, if we define anarchy as a complete exit from any governing body, is impossible. Maybe in the future I will be proven wrong, but it seems almost human nature for a governing body of some sort to step in while one is lacking and for human beings to let it happen out of fear of security. Governing bodies might not ultimately provide much benefit, but they will still try and move in on a situation regardless. I think it is interesting to look at what happened when ISIS took over certain areas and established new laws and unrecognized the ones formally in power. Out of fear for their lives or just being in agreement with the new power, people mostly fell into place. In my opinion this will happen almost every time.