Heathian Anarchy

Anarchy is a tricky word it has a myriad of definitions most of which are completely dependent on the world view of the speaker.  To the right it means chaos, to the left it means justice (social, racial, class or other) or its mirror image equality.  This is a gross oversimplification but for the purposes of this post anarchy will be defined as the absence of taxation.  Again is a very simple definition but bear with me.  To put my bias out in the open I come at anarchy from an anarcho-capitalist perspective.  The problem of a lack of taxation is that free riding become an issue.  Under a normal government security is provided by the police, justice by by the legal system, defense by the military and some combination of those provide protection and guarantee of contract and property rights.  Side note I am well aware of the arguments against government’s failings in these areas you don’t need to convince me.  The problem with any given society where the government either has ceased to function, functions at a limited capacity or is completely absent is that the protection of property rights, law, order begins to erode.  To quote @Moldbuggery “Peace, Security, Law, Freedom. To advance order, always work for the next step – without skipping steps.”  When there is no law security erodes, when there is no security peace erodes. I remember reading accounts of peasants who survived during the civil war between the communists and the KMT in China.  During this period as things got worse there were less opportunities for young men.  As young men lost opportunities the began to form roaming gangs of bandits and in much of the country there was violence and no guarantee of safety.  This was unsurprising to the Chinese, their ancestors had lived through many periods of collapse, then warlords, then civil war, then coalescing. This collapse is the problem.  A collapse in government often means chaos not order.  Look at most failed states and you will see a breakdown in order.  There are exceptions and some societies handle chaos better than others, some have evolved social mechanisms to guarantee peace and security, but none the less these societies cannot maintain the sort of 1st world level of property rights in order to form a growing economy and most of these societies are still third world.  So how can societies provide first world peace, security, law and freedom without forcing people to pay taxes?  How can they prevent free-riding and maintain or increase social trust?  The institutions both business and social do not exist to maintain civilization with a lack of government. If such institutions did exist what might they look like?  

    “The Heathian goal is to have cities and large land areas owned by single private corporations, which would own and rent out the land and housing over the area, and provide all conceivable “public services”: police, fire, roads, courts, etc., out of the voluntarily-paid rent. Heathianism is Henry Georgism stood on its head; like George, Heath and MacCallum would provide for all public services out of rent; but unlike George, the rent would be collected, and the land owned, by private corporate landlords rather than by the government, and the payment therefore voluntary rather than coercive. The Heathian ‘proprietary community’ is, of course, in stark contrast to the scruffy egalitarian commune dreamed of by anarchists of the Left.”

—Murray Rothbard, “Fall Reading“, The Libertarian Forum, Vol. II #18, September 15, 1970 via wikipedia

   You can’t replicate community or social tradition but you can replicate a business model.  For this reason I’ve always thought that Heathian anarchy would be the most likely start to any sort of movement for privatization of government.  I could easily see this sort of community emerging as a means to establish order in the disordered.  Neo-Colonialism to gain access to markets or resources is not far off from the great lengths that Oil companies (perhaps a poor example) or the Chinese go to gain access to resources.  These sorts of investments regularly require building roads and housing and in the case of much of Africa also require private security.  Now these sorts of arrangements have typically been more rough and tumble than posh, but what might prompt a company to transition from building a temporary encampment to something more akin to a town or small city? Part of the issue (though not a bad problem to have actually) is that most regions which are worth investing in already have the amenities necessary for order and security.  Where there is stability money is soon to follow.  So why would a company build stability in the hopes that a rich populace would emerge?  It could happen after a collapse.  Not immediately, but as trade was restored and the need to protect larger and larger investments arose.  There have been a few cycles in history of collapse and renewal yet none have led to any sort of sustained period of privatization.  Eventually government takes over and for the most part this is good thing.  While some may argue that we can that we can or could have thrived without government, my argument is that we may yet still.  Social, economic and technological evolution will continue to push the boundaries of what humans can accomplish.  I’m not going to rush to overthrow the government, nor start a mass movement.  I’m content to wait and see the possibilities of human cooperation pushed and stretched to new heights.  Even in the period of decadence and decline the Autumn of humanity we continue to grow and I only seek to my slice of life a little more ordered, a little more civilized and a little more sustainable.  So what would Heathian Anarchy look like not at the end not after hundreds of years of development and evolution but right at the razor’s edge when they are the verge of viral growth when the first successes are happening?

   Imagine civilization is on the rocks.  Government exists but it is weakened severely and barely functions at all.  This is the west and there are still riches to be had but they are more expensive than ever.  Trade requires private protection, travel is dangerous and people have begun to go turtle.  A successful business has a great products but is having trouble expanding its markets because of limited access to the protection of its property.  In order to access new markets it builds a mall.  But not just any mall.  This mall is at least on the outside built more like a fort.  It screens who comes in and out but in exchange it provides a level of safety and comfort not often afforded in these troubled times.  It starts acquiring customers just looking for a safe space and soon other business start looking for space to sell their goods.  It might occur to them that now, whatever they were selling before, they are in the business of security and order.  The natural extension of this business is to provide safe spaces for sale, namely apartments.  Apartments already provide some basic levels security but they are not at the level where they could actually protect people in a crisis.  The company decides to buy up real estate around its mall.  Slowly it gains enough land and builds some apartments.  Much in the same style of the mall its first priority is to provide security.  Not the sort of the oppressive security that makes people uncomfortable but the sort that makes them feel at home.  They make sure the apartments are close to their mall.  They even provide a tunnel and sky walk to travel from the apartment to the mall in safety.  The tenets are screened thoroughly so the security is unobtrusive in the tunnels and sky walk.  As word of these safe-havens spreads small businesses who can’t afford spaces in the mall start operating out of the apartments.  As the business grows it begins to push out against the blight of decline.  Areas closer to their property become nicer and there is a clear disparity between their presence and their absence.  At some point their name becomes more synonymous with security than the vestiges of government.  They expand making deals with power plants and buying out the cities water system to make sure their tenants are guaranteed power and water.  This is the point at which private government could gain the foothold it needs the point where it could be expandable, where it could be as omni-present as Starbucks or McDonald’s.  If a business is successful it can be replicated and expanded.  Kings figured out a long time ago that there is money to be made in order and security and controlling large groups of people.  Maybe one day investors will be throwing their money into new cities and fiefdoms as often as they put money into new companies.

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3 thoughts on “Heathian Anarchy

  1. Pingback: Remember Fordlandia | vulture of critique

  2. The Heathian model as described here seems to avoid certain realities as evinced by history. Power attainment, power brokerage, monopoly, oppression through law and custom, control over supply and demand. While there are certainly issues relating to ‘big’ government. I do believe this model would accelerate inequities rather than rescind them. Overall it’s certainly food for thought, thanks for posting this.

  3. Pingback: Because we were allowed to fail. | One Irradiated Watson

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