Here’s a thing about anarchism.
Some anarchists claim to reject all political ideology, and to be the one group truly free from such things. Actually, I think it’s clear there is an ideology behind their ideas, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To claim that exerting authority by force over another human being is always wrong, and can never be tolerated, is an ideological position. On some levels, it’s an admirable one.
But as well as admirable, a lot of anarchist discourse and rhetoric seems to imply that this position is also trivially obvious.
I’ve seen a few videos like the above, and read a few essays making claims like “capitalism is wage slavery” and “taxation is theft” to describe the evils of coercion. It seems like it should barely even need to be explained that any authority takes people’s rights away, and so no government or state or individual should never be granted the right to exert such authority over others.
Here’s the problem: even if the moral principle is sound, and the wrongness of the state’s efforts to thwart this principle and impose their authority is trivial and obvious, there’s a good deal that’s not trivial and obvious.
For instance, what the fuck we’re supposed to do instead.
I’m not going to claim there’s no possible alternative to a system of state authority. I’m still hoping to be persuaded. The idea that appeals to me, and which I’d like to be true if it seemed plausible, is that statism has a comparable role in our society to religion: structurally vital to our developing civilisation in the distant past, and a previously necessary part of our species’s capacity to get organised and become great… but something which we can and should abandon once we’re sufficiently sophisticated, and once it’s clearly started doing more harm than good.
Right now, a centralised state is crucial for me to be able to live comfortably in a house I didn’t build myself, eat food for which I personally neither foraged nor hunted, and many other things without which my quality of life would take something of a dip.
Anarchists, of course, propose a system in which society still works together, and all these things can still get done. Assuming they’re sensible enough to see the value of a hierarchically structured society for certain aspects of human history, they nevertheless believe that we can get by just fine without it these days. But it’s not trivially obvious how we can actually make that happen.
Constructing a functional civilisation with no authority or coercion whatsoever is a seriously big ask, and drawing parallels between the government demanding taxes and you coming into my house to steal my stuff doesn’t actually address any of the reasons why most of us tend to assume that interferences like taxes are necessary.
I’m all for finding an alternative. But pointing out the trivially obvious injustice in the current system is only one step on a very long road.