No State

The consent theory of government is “The universal demolisher of all governments, but not the builder of any.” Josiah Tucker

“…no man is good enough to govern another man, without the other’s consent.” Abraham Lincoln

Abe didn’t get it, unless he agrees with Robert Nozick and the idea that you can sell yourself into slavery– meaning once you consent to be governed you are a slave to the “good” men as Abe says.

“The only reason, I believe, that a free man is bound by human law, is, that he binds himself. Upon the same principles, upon which he becomes bound by the laws, he becomes amendable to the courts of justice, which are formed and authorized by those laws.” Wilson, J., Separate Opinion, Supreme Court of The United States, Chishom vs.Georgia

Lysander Spooner:

“…two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two. A man’s natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.”


“What, then, is legislation? It is an assumption by one man, or body of men, of absolute, irresponsible dominion over all other men whom they can subject to their power…to make all other men their slaves; to arbitrarily dictate to all other men what they may, and may not do; what they may, and may not, have; what they may, and may not, be. It is, in short, the assumption of a right to banish the principle of human rights, the principle of justice itself, from off the earth, and set up their own personal will, pleasure, and interest in its place.” excerpt from Natural Law, or the Science of Justice: A Treatise on Natural Law

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:

“To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so . . . To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorised, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolised, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown it all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.” General Idea of the Revolution, p. 294

“The Contract is Equality, in its profound and spiritual essence.—Does this man believe himself my equal; does he not take the attitude of my master and exploiter, who demands from me more than it suits me to furnish, and has no intention of returning it to me; who says that I am incapable of making my own law, and expects me to submit to his?


The Contract is Equality, in its profound and spiritual essence.—Does this man believe himself my equal; does he not take the attitude of my master and exploiter, who demands from me more than it suits me to furnish, and has no intention of returning it to me; who says that I am incapable of making my own law, and expects me to submit to his?”

What is a state?

Most market anarchists argue that states are coercively-imposed territorial monopolies for the provision of defense and dispute resolution services. More plainly, they are protection rackets with good PR.

The most basic function of any state is to protect the lives of its citizens. However, individuals are not given the ability to choose who they will have protect them. They are forced to purchase this protection from their local monopoly who will take their money for the service whether the individual wants it to or not. If they resist, they will be jailed or worse.

One of the ways market anarchists approach this issue is to ask, “should a service ever be forced upon someone at gunpoint?” We, of course, oppose such acts of brutality on ethical grounds and also assert that such forcible interference with consumer choice creates horrible incentive problems. Why should a state treat you nicely if they can get away with not treating you nicely?

A state is not governance based upon the consent of the governed, but conquest under a false pretense of legitimacy.

According to Chuck Munson: As much as the state may change its form it still has certain characteristics which identify a social institution as a state. As such, we can say that, for anarchists, the state is marked by three things:

1) A “monopoly of violence” in a given territorial area;
2) This violence having a “professional,” institutional nature; and
3) A hierarchical nature, centralisation of power and initiative into the hands of a few.

The main function of the state is to guarantee the existing social relationships and their sources within a given society through centralised power and a monopoly of violence. To use Malatesta’s words, the state is basically “the property owners’ gendarme. This is because there are “two ways of oppressing men [and women]: either directly by brute force, by physical violence; or indirectly by denying them the means of life and thus reducing them to a state of surrender.” The owning class, “gradually concentrating in their hands the means of production, the real sources of life, agriculture, industry, barter, etc., end up establishing their own power which, by reason of the superiority of its means . . . always ends by more or less openly subjecting the political power, which is the government, and making it into its own gendarme.” [Op. Cit., p. 23, p. 21 and p. 22]

What will a stateless society look like?

We envision a world without privilege, exploitation or domination. A world without institutionalized coercion, slaughter and injustice. In short, Liberty.

However, the specifics of how a society without centralized political authority will look are far more difficult to predict. One of the major arguments for freedom in the classical liberal tradition was originally put forward by F.A. Hayek in what has become known as “the knowledge problem.” He argued that no single individual or group of individuals has all of the economic information necessary to centrally plan an economic system (or potentially any social system for that matter). To assume this pretense of knowledge is to commit the fatal conceit of rational constructivism.  To work most effectively and safely, systems require a decentralized approach — economically speaking, this means individuals making decisions for themselves and exchanging their legitimate produce voluntarily for mutual gain, which results in the price system.

Since market anarchists recognize that consensual institutions will inevitably be shaped by market and other social forces, we can say that Hayek’s knowledge problem will, in a stateless society, even impact “governance” in the sense of how enterprises provide dispute resolution and security services. We can’t predict the details of how free people will choose to organize provision of these services. The forms of such organization would be an open-ended matter, subject to free experimentation and resulting diversity.

Moreover, Anna Morgenstern’s Anarchism: Necessary but not Sufficient and Charles Johnson and Roderick Long’sLibertarian Feminism: Can This Marriage Be Saved? make the case that even once the oppression of state rule is over, cultural forms of oppression unconnected to the state will still  linger which desperately need to be challenged and overcome.  Statism is the biggest hurdle but not the only one which we will need to confront in a stateless world.

Why are anarchists opposed to the State?

Howard Zinn:

“I am an anarchist, and according to anarchist principles nation states become obstacles to a true humanistic globalization. In a certain sense the movement towards globalization where capitalists are trying to leap over nation state barriers, creates a kind of opportunity for movement to ignore national barriers, and to bring people together globally, across national lines in opposition to globalization of capital, to create globalization of people, opposed to traditional notion of globalization. In other words to use globalization — it is nothing wrong with idea of globalization — in a way that bypasses national boundaries and of course that there is not involved corporate control of the economic decisions that are made about people all over the world.

I think what lies beyond the nation states is a world without national boundaries, but also with people organized. But not organized as nations, but people organized as groups, as collectives, without national and any kind of boundaries. Without any kind of borders, passports, visas. None of that! Of collectives of different sizes, depending on the function of the collective, having contacts with one another. You cannot have self-sufficient little collectives, because these collectives have different resources available to them. This is something anarchist theory has not worked out and maybe cannot possibly work out in advance, because it would have to work itself out in practice.


If you work through the existing structures you are going to be corrupted. By working through political system that poisons the atmosphere, even the progressive organizations, you can see it even now in the US, where people on the “Left” are all caught in the electoral campaign and get into fierce arguments about should we support this third party candidate or that third party candidate. This is a sort of little piece of evidence that suggests that when you get into working through electoral politics you begin to corrupt your ideals. So I think a way to behave is to think not in terms of representative government, not in terms of voting, not in terms of electoral politics, but thinking in terms of organizing social movements, organizing in the work place, organizing in the neighborhood, organizing collectives that can become strong enough to eventually take over — first to become strong enough to resist what has been done to them by authority, and second, later, to become strong enough to actually take over the institutions.”

Thomas Paine:

“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” except from “Common Sense”


“Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It had its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished…


Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that everything which government can usefully add thereto, has been performed by the common consent of society, without government…

There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resources, to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security…governments, so far from being always the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it.” excerpts from “Rights of Man”

A Proclamation of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, January 23rd, 1776:

“No effectual resistance to the system of tyranny prepared for us could be made without either instant recourse to arms, or a temporary suspension of the ordinary powers of government, and tribunals of justice: To the last of which evils, in hopes of a speedy reconciliation with Great-Britain, upon equitable terms, the Congress advised us to submit: And mankind has seen a phenomenon, without example in the political world, a large and populous colony, subsisting in great decency and order, for more than a year, under such suspension of government.”

“…in modern society, with its religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, it would be much harder for any single group to demand allegiance — except for the state, which remains the one universally accepted god.” Roderick Long

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