I always learn from you, man. Thanks. I pick up my ideas at thrift shops mostly. Below may explain why i like my aquaintance group small and manageable. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Expand full comment

A nitpick: the "belief that all coercion need[s] to be justifiable and justified to be valid" is shared by pretty much all political theories from Plato's Republic onward. The debates have always been over what kinds of coercion (if any) can be justified (property rights? patriarchy? religious conformity? free and equal citizenship?) and how they can be justified (appeal to divine authority? appeal to the equal rational autonomy of citizens? justification in terms of overall utility? justification via natural rights?). This is one of the central questions of political philosophy. Anarchists have no special claim to it.

I don't really have any sympathy with anarchism myself, at least as a view about how to organize groups of more than a few dozen people (so maybe "anarchist" coffee shops are viable and desirable). The coordination and assurance problems -- even among people who *want* to be fair and just with others (i.e., aren't looking to exploit or free ride on the efforts of others) -- simply are insurmountable. Hobbes's Leviathan effectively shows what things look like without a rule-making and rule-imposing authority, even among people who *want* to get along and be peaceful (the "state of war" is caused by uncertainty and fear far more than ill-intentions or desires for power over others). I'd say that history, psychology, and contemporary decision theory largely vindicate Hobbes's central thesis. (And even theorists who present more benign visions of life without authority, e.g., Locke and Rousseau, concede the great problems people encounter once large numbers start interacting, including those of coordination and assurance.)

Some things require common rules (e.g., whether to drive on the left or right side of the road, whether people should be allowed to carry AR-15s around wherever they like, whether I can use land that you claim is yours, etc.). Those rules, in many cases, will need to be enforced in order to ensure compliance and assure (even well-intentioned) persons of the compliance of *others*. The key question is how to ensure that any authority to which such power is delegated acts responsibly and is accountable to those over which that power is exercised. To my knowledge, some version of liberal democracy (not the version we have now) remains the best answer.

Expand full comment