Part of the point of freedom is that there are no rules, as long as no one has been victimized. When someone becomes a victim can be a point of contention, but I trust the parties involved to solve these issues better than an entity whose only tool is force. In anarchy, things would not be centralized unless the market demanded it, and as such it is impossible to imagine the many countless ways that anarchy could manifest itself. But it is natural to desire an example of how things would play out without the state. So let me give you my vision, which is certainly not the only vision, but one that I would create with the likeminded, to realize in a society without government.
But part of the point is that there is not one way for things to happen. You can choose from hundreds of restaurants with dozens of types of food, and various methods of service, wait times, and quality of food, all within a half hour of where you live right now. We don’t have to understand how each restaurant came to be, who their main cliental is, and where their supplies come from to understand that the market has shown a demand for these restaurants. And magically the market has supplied that demand.
My Anarchist “Utopia”
Personally, my idea of an anarchist utopia would include enough people to have safety in numbers. It would start as a group of very like minded friends and family, so that there would be agreement on how to run things, and there would not be a struggle for power from the beginning. Some people would want to establish a governing structure immediately, but that would not be necessary for the market solution types I associate with.
We would want either one large tract of land to all buy into, or many individual pieces that are adjacent: probably the latter to avoid any issues. Then each with our own little area, we would begin to specialize and trade amongst ourselves. In the initial group of, say ten families, there would be vegetable gardeners, fruit growers, craftsmen, builders, soap makers, hunters, brewers, foragers, and medical personnel. Every able bodied man and woman would be happy to own a gun, meaning most likely at very least two guns per household in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. With a group that size of like minded people, the community could come together to solve any disputes—accusations of force being initiated.
Keep in mind that there is plenty of uninhabited land owned by the USA, so any inequality in land ownership could be righted by simply allowing people to settle and maintain uninhabited land in order to claim ownership.
This would be a good start, but obviously we would need more protection to be secure, and cannot sustain an advanced economy with only dozens of people.
If our own land was vast enough, we could sell off little lots on the outskirts to similarly likeminded people, possibly writing into the deeds any rules which we find necessary for people living in close proximity to us. Remember, they do not have to buy the land, and therefore do not have to agree to the rules, if we felt any were necessary.
But even if we did not have enough land, we could alert people to the type of community we imagine. The incentive to settle nearby would be a community of people already working and creating many necessities.
Once our land was exhausted, we would have enough people to have developed some type of economy in the area. People who are attracted to the type of structure that springs up would be drawn to the area to start their own businesses, or get a job with an existing business, and join the community. They could settle on the outskirts of the land owned by the original group, and do their thing.
In the end I imagine a group of a few thousand people living within a town sized area. We could still trade with outside groups. Perhaps 30 miles away there is a group of mostly scientists. They make advanced medicine and technology, and trade this for necessities like food. And since they create so much value, they also trade some of their medicine for security from a different group of people whose main expertise lay in protection. They have found another group which finds and processes the raw materials they need, and this group likewise trades for protection from yet another group.
Our area is safe because of our militia style protection. The scientists’ area is safe because they can buy protection. The routes in and out are also safe, in order to allow safe trading among the groups the scientists wish to trade with. (And the scientists trade to another group who maintains roads so that trade with the scientists will be easy). The security group is happy because they trade their services for medicine, which they can also trade for other necessities. The security group cannot become too powerful, because they do not have a monopoly over protection: there is a militia in our neck of the woods, and another security company protecting the manufacturers who trade with the scientists.
Since trading is not always efficient, a guy with an empty barn near the road comes up with a great idea for a business. He begins by offering a farmers’ market style clearing house for goods and products. People can come to this location to trade, and a percentage goes to the man who started the business, provides the location, and organizes the trading.
With his portion, he sets up his own trading station. Due to the amount of activity, he can trade for many different things, and not necessarily need the thing he is trading for himself. Say one person had tons of extra apples, and needs some ammo for hunting. Not needing the apples himself, the trader still takes them and gives away the ammo, knowing that many different families will want a few apples, and possibly one food preserver would want a lot of apples. So now his booth has apples to trade, and someone takes a few apples and gives a gallon of whiskey. A portion of the whiskey is traded for some baby chickens, etcetera.
The value created is that now there is a streamlined process for trading, so one person does not have to go around to all 100 of his neighbors, and waste 2 weeks trying to sell all his apples. It is a one stop shop to sell the apples, and due to the convenience and time saved, he can sell the apples for a lower price. Due to the lower price of the apples, the trader can profit on these when trading for things of more value. His value is that of a middle-man, organizing and streamlining the process. People see this work, and imitate the same business model in other areas. He cannot “gouge” his customers because they have other options for trading facilities.
But even that can become more efficient. The tradesman decides to start issuing credits in case he doesn’t have anything on hand that someone wants to trade. For transparency to keep his customers happy, he publicly states how many credits are in circulation at any given time, and creates a small accounting department to keep track of the credits, and inventory his warehouse of goods. Now he has created even more jobs, and a currency that people can use in place of tangible goods. If someone has a dozen eggs to trade but doesn’t need anything at the moment, he issues them 5 credits. He charges 5 credits for 3 pounds of root vegetables, or a small jar of honey. Other traders see the benefit in a credit system, create their own, and compete for whoever offers the best currency—most transparent, highest value, holds its value, not easily forged etcetera. The currency is backed by the value of the business and goods the trading house has.
From there the society would continue to advance, due to the extra goods created from the system which rewards production. An arbitration company may offer their services to the security companies, so that if they need to arrest someone, there is a third party system for determining guilt or innocence. There would soon be a market for education, so that your kids could be trained while you bring home the bacon. As the quality of life rises, more skilled people come to the area to enjoy it, and inject their expertise into the economy.
It grows and grows, due to competition, and the absence of one overarching group that would take a percentage of production by force, or favor some business at the detriment to others. People stay peaceful because everyone still likes to carry their gun, and because the quality of life is high enough so that there is no desperation. People moved to the area in the first place because of the high quality of life, and they will maintain it, or a market demand for peace will be supplied.
Competing Anarchist “Towns”
But that would just be one little society. Although they certainly would trade and associate with others, it is hard to put a number on the society, since they are so interconnected through trade with all those around them. Maybe about a million people all live within the area, but since someone imports citrus fruits from another area, you can’t really say it is just the million people. And isn’t that what we are after now? Not excluding people based on arbitrary borders.
Everyone may not agree on how a society should be run, but they don’t have to. They just need to agree on their business transactions, and the rest is organic. They can influence their own society by choosing where to live and who to do business with, but they cannot force others hundreds of miles away to live their life a certain way.
Remember, force is the only no no, and since it requires a victim, this means the victim or an advocate of the victim would necessarily accuse the suspected wrongdoer. This does not preclude the possibility of agreeing to other rules. For instance, many people want benefits to be bundled for a low price. It is appealing to send off one check to the government, and get all these goodies in return! Now in reality, the goodies are not worth the money. But in a for profit town, you would get incredible bang for your buck.
But it might require agreeing to some rules. This is not force; you don’t have to live there if you don’t want to, and all the land was private in the first place. So whoever owns the private land would be able to rent or sell this land with stipulations included in the contract, such as speed limits on the “town” owned roads.
And what you agree to is paying a certain price for trash pickup, plowing, and schooling. Some towns would even let you choose which services you want, and only pay for those ones. Don’t have kids? That’s fine, you don’t have to pay for the schooling portion. Or a town may offer a type of insurance structure, and sell you health, life, home, or whatever insurance in your package. Perhaps a town offers a set of benefits that you cannot opt out of; you benefit from the police keeping the town safe, and even though your house never burns down, others benefit from the fire department.
And to get back to the restaurant example, this would create some quality towns! Because what do you do when a restaurant gives you bad service? You stop going there, and write a nasty review online. I don’t know about you, but I check out the reviews before going places. And think of all the options! Want a fast food, bad but cheap, sort of town? That’s fine, maybe that’s all you need! But I think I will stay out of that town…
I prefer a steakhouse type town. A little more expensive, but better quality. Perhaps you do like quality, but can’t quite afford the best steakhouse. Well there just so happens to be chain restaurants (towns) that are not quite as good as a single steakhouse, but a hell of a lot better than fast food! Seriously, there are so many choices for restaurants because they must compete to attract customers! Friendly’s always made me feel sick. The government says their food is fine, but my stomach says it is crap. I don’t go to Friendly’s anymore. And luckily, the government has not yet mandated that I patronize Friendly’s, though they claim the authority to do so.
You want Mexican food, Chinese, sushi, fish, burgers, Indian cuisine, steak, Italian, hot dogs from a cart, subs, pizza, a breakfast cafe, a diner, five courses, a dollar menu, tapas, fondue, ice cream, or baked goods? I bet most people could find every single one of those within an hour of where they live. I don’t have to know the intricacies of the restaurant business to know that the food I want is going to be available, as long as no one forces them not to be (i.e. government).
(And on a side not, this is not an unregulated market: there would be even more restaurant and food choices if the government did not regulate them. For instance, an ordinance in one town shut down a young boy’s hotdog cart because surrounding restaurants had paid off the government to create a food monopoly on the block.)
Freedom of Association
Why are we all forced into groups that we may or may not want to be a part of? There is no conceivable reason that 300 million people need to agree on the best type of healthcare, or on one person to make executive decisions for the group, or even to protect themselves from outside threats. It is unnecessary! There is strength in numbers, and there is a point to being apart of groups, but those groups need to be of our own choosing to leave and join. We should have the freedom to associate with who we want, and the freedom to cut ties with those whom we do not wish to associate.
It is insane that I am forced to join 300 million other people in deciding if we will fund the next round of bombings in the middle east, or be forced to pay for contraceptives for someone I don’t know, and can’t possible know if they “need” or are just lazy. But when I can choose to join a group or not, I can decide whether or not I agree with the decisions the group makes. If there is someone that we all know who needs financial assistance, I can decide if they actually need it, or are just leeching. Then I can act accordingly if I want to stay in the group, fund this enterprise, and be afforded the same safety net, or leave the group in favor of saving my money, and not have the social insurance.
So great, if 300 million people all get together and have the same exact ideas about everything, let them! But it will not happen; there are so many different interests, alternatives, life styles, and world views. And that is fine! In the end the world would be united by trade, not by force.
As long as one group is not hurting another, people need to be free to associate or disassociate with whoever they want. And refusing to be forced to provide for another group is not hurting them. But that is the attitude of our government right now, that if you refuse to be a slave to your fellow man, it is the same as aggressing on him.