Friday, July 01, 2011

Is Anarchy So Bad?

Say the word "anarchy" and all kinds of negative connotations come to mind. While many of these associations are rightly feared, I say that, ideally, it isn't so bad. In fact, we are already teaching it in our schools.

To many, this is the face of anarchy. Punks, criminals, and low-lives post them in books, on walls, and everywhere else that can hold the paint from a spray can. It was denounced in the French Revolution, used against people in the Cold War if they couldn't be proved Communists, and overall has been used to describe detestable people. Ladies and gentlemen (and everyone inbetween), I would like to show you the real face of anarchy.

I would like to introduce Adam Smith, one of the early pioneers of economics, and main influence in economics today. Now, ask anyone and they may not see the connection immediately. And no, Smith was not an anarchist. But if a few connections are made, the reasoning behind what I say will be clear.

I like the short and skinny personally, so here it is: Adam Smith put forth the idea of the Invisible Hand. In essence, this states that in the absence of government (and therefore, without regulation), businesses will provide the best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. Sound a bit complicated? How about an illustration?

I wake up one morning and decide to sell sandwiches on the side of the road. I gather up my supplies to make sandwiches, load up a cart, and set up my stand. There are other sandwich carts on the same road I'm making food on, and I have to be mindful of that. Following the idea of the Invisible Hand, I will keep my cart clean so that I will not make my customers sick and seem more attractive. I will make great tasting sandwiches to get return customers and spread the word about my business to their friends. I will also have a great price, covering my costs and making a little money for myself, but the price will be VERY reasonable. After a successful day I go to bed, and the next morning I wake up and decide to be a doctor.

We'll get to that last part in a minute, but this is basically what the Invisible Hand theory states. The best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. I do the best I can do to be successful, and if I'm good I succeed. Conversely, if I'm bad at what I do, then I no longer have a job in that field. This applies to that last part about being a doctor. No barriers to entry means exactly that: no barriers. Average Joe can wake up and do brain surgery. However, following the Invisible Hand, he won't be in business for long. More experienced, trained, and educated brain surgeons
will put him out of business quickly. All this is only achievable without a government to make you get licensed, certified, and regulate what you do. In short: perfect anarchy.

This brings up an interesting question, however. Knowing all this, could we, as a society achieve this perfect anarchy, be led by the Invisible Hand, and become much more wealthy because of the perfect economy that would be created (by most accounts, a completely free market is the "best" market)? The realistic answer: No. The optimistic answer: Yes, but with many bumps along the way.

Sounds nuts, right? But follow me here, it'll make sense in the end. Let's say that all of a sudden the government disappeared overnight. For the sake of simplicity, let's also assume world peace was achieved overnight too, just so this example doesn't get overly complicated. There are suddenly several thousand people out of a job because they worked for the government; police, fire...people, paramedics, and schools suddenly have no funding; the military is S.O.L.; and there is chaos in the streets. Skip ahead a few weeks. Vigilantes roam the streets, businesses practically enslave workers similar to the industrial revolution, and education was a thing of the past. Not good at all, is it? Things would get very rough quickly. But eventually equilibrium would have to be achieved, and that equilibrium would be anarchy/the perfect free market. Vigilantes would still roam the streets, but with an agreed upon sense of justice that would be upheld. Education would be held in high regard so that positions like doctor and brain surgeon could be filled, but they couldn't necessarily be as important as they are now. Business owners would pay their employees fair wages because the workers are also the consumers. Innovation and invention would be very important. The next best thing could mean the difference between a short lived business and a huge market share. It would be a peaceful and profitable time to live.*

To summarize, we go along, have social World War III, and then achieve total peace and prosperity. Ideally it could work, right? Not exactly. Corporations, war lords, crime ring leaders would find a way to gain control. Human greed, the need for guidance, and humanity's propensity for violence and cruelty would make this almost completely unachievable. Not to mention the huge booms and busts in the economic cycle that would make the current recession and the Great Depression seem like the good ol' days.

So, to wrap all this up, is anarchy so bad? Ideally, no. Anarchy is equitable to a perfect free market, which in itself is almost perfect. While this would normally be something to strive for, generally people suck, meaning that even in the long run it could never be achieved, with an oligarchy much more likely. Therefore, realistically, anarchy is indeed a bad thing. Still, by just philosophizing about it, some interesting discussions can be had.

*I would like to put a special note here. You would have to pay for everything. Even the vigilantes and the most basic education. So, while ideally many people would lead profitable lives, there would be absolutely no free rides.

What do you think? Did I just waste your time? Or did I bring up some good points? Is my final conclusion correct? Or do you think differently? No matter the case, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! Leave a comment below or contact me to share your thoughts! 


Anonymous said...

I see what you are saying, and i agree with you. Anarchy in theory is awesome, just like communism. In practically and the actual event of this ever occurring, it would be a total riot, and world peace would be turned into an all out blood bath for every day needs like water. but i still believe in a way for people to be free from governmental restraints without killing eachother.

Anonymous said...

Eu sou anarquista!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Seu Idiota. Eu sou anarquista!!!