What the State Produces


 

In anarchist literature, one often finds the contention that the State produces nothing, and is entirely parasitic on the rest of society.
This claim is false. Of course, it is true for some things that modern states do, such as the provision of welfare. But it is false applied to the state as a whole, because there is one service that is highly productive, and that only the state can provide: the service of being the final arbiter for all disputes between its members. This service must, logically, come from a monopoly provider: if there are multiple providers of arbitration at the same level, then none of them are final. (And that is why, if a network of ancap defense agencies can provide this service, they will, in fact, compose a state. And if they can’t provide it, then we will have “anarchy” in the bad sense of social chaos.)
Once one focuses on this service, one can easily understand why German barbarians would fight to get inside the Roman Empire: both productivity and security go up in the presence of such a final arbiter. And that is why we have never seen any wealthy, stateless societies.

What the State Produces
Gene Callahan
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:10:00 GMT

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One response to “What the State Produces

  1. That is definitely a non sequitur.

    Honestly, the argument that ‘it hasn’t happened/existed before’ is one of the most terrible arguments someone could make to justify something.

    Either way, the entire purpose of what anarchists say, “produces nothing”, is that because everything that state has it has taken from someone. That also means things such as the military and legal system.

    Additionally, just because people are working in contingency does not make them a state. The State is something that takes against other people’s will. People working together out of free will is something else entirely. Call it a society, community, whatever, it’s not a state.

    Polycentric law is a viable concept. It has been used before and with moderate success all through history. Anglo-Saxon law is actually an example before the rise of a strong and prominent state.

    The reason people advocate for it is because the current system, which as you highlighted is a monopoly, is extremely prone to corruption and abuse as a result of being unchallengeable. This is what happens when you have this monopoly that is ‘just and final.’

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