Can society function without the state?

The members of the Liberty Discussion Group sat down at Gaia Restaurant and Coffee Shop, Thamel on the 25th of November to discuss the article ‘Society without a state’ by Murray N. Rothbard.

The author of the article claims with stream of reasoning and evidence that state is not a “necessary” evil required to be submitted by the society to maintain security and justice. Defining state as a body with monopoly rights to enforce defense, policing, and courts to the society by forcefully retrieving income from the people, author sees the possibility for the society to hail anarchy by enabling such privilege to the privates of the free market.  Author further argues that State hasn’t been necessarily efficient and objective in providing police and justice while being on a monopoly advantage. Instead, he convinces anarchic society of enabling free competition among providers of police, arbitrators, and courts to be rather effective in building better policing and justice mechanism in the society. Meanwhile, in speaking of enforcing commercial contracts till criminal justice, author regards the idea of social ostracism in an anarchic society to be more influential than direct enforcement of a state.

The discussion started with criticism by one of the participants who regarded anarchy as the foolish idea to regress back to the primitive era of undisciplined society. Another participant also supported this argument by specifying that statism is actually the representation of development of the society. And, deciding to create a government is inevitable as a society progresses. On the other hand, other participants discussed the tendencies of the countries towards democracy away from monarchy or authoritarian regime in the present context as the choice of the people towards anarchy from state-control.

Likewise, participants also questioned the idea of preserving justice in an anarchic society where direct reprimanding of the guilty is not featured. Discussing its negative implication in criminal justice where notorious criminals have no direct punishment to fear of, participants questioned the sustainability of anarchic society in general. To defend this charge, the participants favoring anarchism could only speak of power of social ostracism and ability of the victim or his/her heir to charge the guilty as the mechanism to instigate criminal justice.

Furthermore, the possibility for only particular group or community to practice anarchy in midst of statist international community was also debated among participants. The debate was mostly centered on idea of preserving territorial defense, economic progress, and threat of being excluded from rest of the world. Though the participants couldn’t come to a reasonable conclusion from the debate, at least it was agreed by the participants that people need to be convinced to arrive at anarchy.

As, time was limited members could not discuss more on these issues even though they desired to. But as always, members can always continue their discussion on the Facebook group. To follow the discussions on this issue and more, click here to send a request to join the group.