Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anarchist Morality Null Hypothesis

An important strategy of anarchist argument is to question the morality of government coercion. The conventional countermove attempts to defend a version of the social contract or night watchman state that deflects the force of the moral attack.

But another option offers itself. What if human beings are incapable of acting morally with respect to politics? What if our chimp-with-a-bad-attitude nature views non-coercion as an intelligent house cat would regard vegetarianism - perhaps admirable and desirable, but impossible? So, not the moral perfectibility of the state, but it's inevitability, must the anarchists disprove.

The nation state has only existed in its modern form for a few hundred years, so this null hypothesis needs to tie the state to technological advancement. Make up some evolutionary story about scaling up hunter-gatherer instincts from small groups to large. Perhaps that game admits multiple equilibria, but we observe a fairly narrow range of variation.

How ironic, if true! Opponents attack and supporters defend the legitimacy of the state. But its illegitimacy gives it its strength.

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