Quick Clarification, What is Government?

February 3, 2008

[Response to Thomas, Part 2 of 3]

Don’t make the archist‘s mistake of conflating “government” with “any system of rules for society.” As any good anarchist will point out, a society without a government does not have to be a society where there are no organizations whatsoever and the only way to get something is by force, the famous “war of all against all.” All kinds of organizations can exist under anarchy, from corporations to police forces, but all interaction with and membership in these organizations would be purely voluntary. An organization becomes a government if it has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given area, as well as the right to finance itself through coercive taxation.

So, in the argument that “government can’t solve problems,” I would easily cede the ground that organizations and property rights make us better off than a state of total chaos; I would not agree that any organization is equivalent to a government. Government, in my discussion, will be restricted to the anarchist’s definition.


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