On Anarchy: There are lots of ways to think about anarchy. I hope to suggest a few in the next few days. This is one: a moralist approach.

Is secession a right? I think so. It's what I think of when I hear the phrase "self-determination of peoples", and the phrase "consent of the governed". If people want their own government, they should have it. Given that the world is fully divided and ruled by existing states, that means that any new state must be created out of part of one of the existing ones. Many people would vaguely agree thus far, though holding out caveats that of course the Confederacy did not deserve its own government ('cause they were evil).

But now let us ask: what sort of right is the right of secession? I would say, it is a natural, individual right. States have it only because they proxy for their citizens. It springs from the fundamental moral equality of all human beings: to rule another, you must either have their consent, or else you initiate force. Yet nobody has the right to initiate force against another; in this we are equal. So Maryland can secede from the Union, if it wants to, and (morally speaking) the Union must let her go. People believe that this issue was settled in 1865, but it was not. Anyway, it was not settled morally. Rather the Union immorally aggressed and conquered the South. The test of arms tends to be decisive, but it only shows which side is stronger and more willing to commit war crimes, not which side is right.

This nation is a different place now than it was in 1865. One interesting thought experiment is to consider: what would happen if a state seceded today? Let's say, Alaska votes to pull out of the Union. Would Bush move in an army and conquer? Would he be willing to order the army to replace the judges, governor and legislature? Would this stand in federal court? Would he be able to allow free elections, and if not, what would happen? Would guerillas start sniping at federal troops, and if so, would the American people be willing to have their boys and girls dying to oppress Alaska? Would the American people be willing to require their boys and girls to kill children in Alaska to terrorize the Alaskans into accepting federal rule?

But now an anarchist thought experiment. Earlier I said it is the right of Maryland to leave the Union if she wishes. That's because Maryland as a corporation proxies the rights of her citizens. By the same logic, Baltimore city can secede from Maryland. And by the same logic, Charles Village (my neighborhood) can secede from Baltimore city. And by the same logic, my block can secede from Charles Village. And by the same logic, I, personally, can secede from my block. None of these entities has any "right to rule" its citizens outside of their individual consent.

We can skip the intermediaries. It is my right, as a human being, to pull out of all of the corporations that would rule me without my consent. Federal, State, County, City. Of course, that will not happen - in the test of arms, they would conquer me. Therefore I don't try, which is prudent. But again, the test of arms proves nothing other than who is stronger and/or more immoral.

Try to imagine a society where rules are imposed on peaceful citizens only with their consent. That is anarchy.

When they get this far, most people quit. They think: it's a warzone, criminals running free, somalia, mafia, war of all against all. Therefore something must be wrong. Maybe people are really not equal in authority; maybe the State really does have a right to rule that does not spring from the governed. Maybe self-determination is a crock. But some of us see anarchy, and see the problems that one would naively expect, and wonder: how could you solve those sorts of problems within anarchy? And having given the matter some thought, we conclude that while the world is never going to be perfect, anarchy would be able to provide good solutions to most problems. The society would not resemble the naive version of war of all against all. Rather, it would be an extremely moral, peaceful and profitable place: a place that is inspiring.

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