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Objections to Anarchism

From the archives of The Memory Hole

Individualist Anarchism: Razing Objections

The following was originally published in serial form in the dandelion between Summer 1977 and Summer 1979. Back issues of this small magazine can be obtained from the publisher:

Box 205
Cornucopia, WI 54827-0205

And, by all means, do visit the publisher/printer’s very dapper web presence here.

Objections to Anarchism

The principles of anarchism are timeless truths

By Michael E. Coughlin

From time to time we will deal with some of the more common objections to anarchism, giving both the criticisms and our answers. Neither critique nor answer can be comprehensive or exhaustive, but they will attempt to outline the problem and suggest an anarchist's approach to answering it. Readers are invited to contribute both critiques and answers.

    Index to Objections

  • Objection #1: In a state of nature man lived in ruthless and uncontrolled competition with his neighbors. Government was formed to combat this destructive tendency, to bring order out of chaos, to provide the minimum order required for social stability.

  • Objection #2: There will always be disputes between people. This is the nature of man. We need someone to arbitrate those disputes and peacefully and justly reach a settlement of them.

  • Objection #3: The use of force, even retaliatory force, cannot be left to the discretion of individuals. Peaceful co-existence is impossible if people have to worry constantly about their neighbors clubbing them at any moment.

  • Objection #4: Anarchism must ultimately lead to violence, to a war of all against all. Without some institution to define the rules of social life and enforce those rules, there will be chaos.

  • Objection #5: If you propose private protection and defense agencies, as some libertarians do, then what is to keep them from becoming coercive governments themselves?

  • Objection #6: What will we do with criminals in an anarchist world?

  • Objection #7: We grant that government has grown too big and with that growth has come admitted problems. But the answer lies in limiting the scope of the government, not eliminating it. We must make it our servant, not our master.

  • Objection #8: You anarchists are utopians. You don't really understand the nature of man. You put too much faith and trust in him to do good. Your dreams are fine, given perfect men, but in a real world they just won't work.

  • Objection #9: I have appreciated getting the dandelion from time to time, and I must say I feel a bit guilty for not being able to subscribe to it. It's not for financial reasons, it's just that I find libertarian views upsetting. Maybe it's because without a government such as the one in this country I'd be a miserable hunchback, out of work, or, perhaps worse than that, I'd probably be pushing daisies in a cemetery somewhere.

  • Objection #10: Some libertarians have defined libertarianism as based on the premise that it is illegitimate to engage in aggression against non-aggressors. As far as it goes, this is fine, but you can do all sorts of damage as well as intolerable annoyance without any physical aggression whatever.

  • Objection #11: The trouble with anarchism is anarchists. They are verbalists, voluntarists, and romantics. They do not understand the problem and they don't want to. They do not know how to solve the problem and they don't want to. They are dreamers, not doers.

  • Objection #12: Because of the length of this Objection to Anarchism and the several points was necessary to divide the objection into parts--each of which has been assigned a number. In responding to the objection these numbers will be used as reference points. [Please follow the link to see the objection—editor]

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