An Anarchist State
Debate Rounds (4)
ANARCHISM: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.
ANARCHY: Absence of government; disbelief in, and disregard of, invasion and authority based on coercion and force; a condition of society regulated by voluntary agreement instead of government.
I conclude this initial round by clarifying that I am not proposing initial universal anarchy. I am only proposing that an anarchist state be created in which citizens come under fully informed consensual agreement to live in a state in which the liberty of the individual is preserved to its most full extent, with all retribution occurring only in the event that the autonomy of another individual has been violated and only to the extent that this violation of autonomy occurred. I do not propose that this system would immediately become an absolute Utopia, only that it is a desirable alternative to the current political structure (specifically in America) and the retributive system of criminal "justice". I look forward to this debate.
1. An Anarchist state could functionally exist
2. An Anarchist state is ideal (i.e., the best way for a society to operate)
Pro's job is to show compelling, logical evidence for both of these claims. If they cannot, or if they can only show compelling evidence for one claim, then their argument has failed. My job is to disqualify the evidence that Pro presents. I do not have to defend an alternate solution. I will address each claim in order.
1. Functionality - An Anarchist state as defined by my opponent cannot functionally exist. Pro defines Anarchy as the absence of government and disregard of authority based on coercion or force. Yet, my opponent also says that Anarchy will have a justice system by "awarding individuals who violate the autonomy of another with an equal violation." These two ideas are incompatible.
If there is no government, then how can such a justice system function? Who decides when a violation has occurred, and who administers the punishment? Who mediates disputes over personal autonomy violations? Punishing violators with an "equal violation" sounds a lot like "an eye for an eye," so I assume that if a murder occurs the culprit must also be killed. This is a coercive system that involves violence - it keeps people in line through threat of proportional retribution (coercion) and, by definition, inflicts harm on those who harm others (force). Therefore, this so called "Anarchist state" violates its own definition with a justice system that involves coercion, force, and governing decision makers.
2. Anarchy is Ideal - My opponent illustrates Anarchy's ideal nature by contrasting it with America's government. Pro claims the American system is "unjust" and therefore less ideal. To substantiate this claim however, Pro must explain why it is unjust - what definition of justice are they using? Where did that definition come from and why should we accept it? By what authority is Pro's concept of justice more correct than anyone else's? Pro must offer more than a personal opinion in order for this evidence to be considered compelling.
If Anarchy is ideal, then we must ask why organized government formed in the first place? Before the rise of civilizations, all early humans operated in a state of basic Anarchy - bands of hunter gatherers with no real rules other than survival. Yet, for some reason our early ancestors rejected living in a state of Anarchy (nature) and formed governments. They willingly abandoned the unrestricted state of nature to live under state rule - why? More importantly, if Anarchy is ideal then why did those early humans not return to it after experimenting with state government?
I'll stop there for now. Looking forward to the next round.
This leads to the questions raised by my opponent in his first contention. In a system in which punishment for violations of autonomy is precisely dictated by "eye for eye" ethics, then a formal government is unnecessary. My opponent overlooks an important fact when extracting coercion and force from my above definition. The full phrase reads "disbelief in, and disregard of, invasion and authority based on coercion and force; a condition of society regulated by voluntary agreement instead of government". This isn"t to say that force is intrinsically negative when used in situations such as the violations of autonomy that I propose, but rather that it is harmful when this coercion and force produce invasion and authority. A government is corrupt when it uses coercion and force to violate autonomy, and an anarchic state is better suited to provide truly just freedom for those within it.
Pro seems to be using two, incompatible ideas. They define Anarchy as the "absence of government" while simultaneously admitting that a governing force is necessary to preserve basic order and justice. Pro says that FORMAL government is unnecessary in an "eye for eye" system, but that's only half the equation. Anarchy, by Pro's own definition, necessitates the absence of ALL government. Non-formal government is still government.
Pro still has not addressed the main contradiction of their "eye for eye" justice system. Such a system still requires judges and administrators - who decides when a violation has occurred, and who administers the punishment? Isn't this one of the main functions of "formal" government? Even if everything is decided collectively by the group, that is not Anarchy - it's Democracy.
Pro admits that early government formed to preserve peace among "primitive societies." But now, supposedly, we humans are much more sophisticated and civilized so we no longer need governments to keep the peace..... right?
Wrong. Pro admits in Round 2 that human nature would probably not significantly change under Anarchy. So we must then briefly explore what modern human nature is. What do we see in situations when government temporarily dissolves (Hurricane Katrina, Ferguson Missouri, 2003 Iraq, etc....)? Does everyone band together in mutual harmony and cooperation? No - we see looting, violence, murder, and mob rule. Pro must provide compelling evidence to support their claim that base human nature is now more "advanced."
For Anarchy to work as my opponent says, human nature would have to fundamentally change. Unfortunately, there is a mountain of evidence to suggest this has not happened. Humans overwhelmingly devolve into self-serving, competitive, and violent behavior when government dissolves. In any case, Pro has already admitted human nature would not change, so this is a moot point.
I cannot help but feel that Pro isn't really arguing for Anarchy at all. My opponent says justice requires a balance between liberty and limitation - neither total freedom nor total restriction. Yet isn't that what all but the most repressive governments provide - allowing people to exercise certain freedoms in certain ways? I fail to see how Pro's vision of Anarchy differs from an informal liberal government. How can there be any real restriction if Anarchy's definition is "liberty unrestricted by man-made law?" If man doesn't make the laws, then who/what does? Is there any law at all?
== Challenges ==
To these many questions Pro has given few answers and even less evidence. For clarity, I will list each of my challenges to Pro for the final round. I look forward to the answers.
1. If Anarchy is the absence of all government then who/what preserves order and justice?
2. How is an "eye for eye" justice system not coercive? Isn't it simply intimidation through the threat of retaliation?
3. Who settles disputes and who administers justice in an Anarchist system? How is that different from a basic government?
4. If Anarchy is a balance between freedom and restriction, then how is it different from the concept liberal government?
5. If Anarchy rejects man-made laws, then who/what authoritatively prohibits autonomy violations? Is this prohibition not a sort of "law?"
6. What evidence is there to support the claim that governments are no longer needed to maintain peace?
I eagerly await Pro's response.
I submit that Pro did not provide compelling evidence for the functional possibility or ideal nature of an Anarchist state.
Thanks to my opponent for a good debate - I would look forward to debating you again any time.
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