The biggest stumbling block to anarchy is a linguistic one. What causes the average person (and hell, let’s admit it, the above-average, the intellectual and cultural elite, just about 99.9 percent of all thinking humans on Earth) to view Anarchism as being in the same category as Satanism in terms of respectability is that the word is taken to be a synonym for chaos. Of course, the only thing one has to do to dispel this notion is to read almost any actual anarchist writer from Proudhon on, but still the conflation continues.
This thought came to me when I spotted this 1967 novel by Donald E. Westlake (under the psuedonym Curt Clark) in the Science Fiction section of my local used book store, Ken Sanders Rare Books. One description from Amazon.com describes Anarchaos as a place “where the government is based on a philosophy that combines anarchy with corporate greed.” Hmm . . . uh . . . okay. How would the government combine the philosophy of anarchy with anything? I guess you might say this is a bit like the approach of the Libertarian Party, but not even in science fiction could you imagine them being in power. Of course, the idea that government is actually a kind of anarchy was introduced by Alfred G. Cuzán in a notorious paper in the 1979 Journal of Libertarian Studies, where he insisted that “we always live in anarchy, and the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market or non-market (political) anarchy.” And the late paleocon writer Samuel Francis coined the term “Anarcho-tyranny” for a government that is both negligent and out of control with power.
Of course it’s clear that the dystopia of Anarchaos is supposed to be of the market variety. Here’s a more lucid description:
Anarchaos is a planet, inhabited by humans, where anarchy is the only law; where each man protects himself as best he can; and where the weak are soon dead. Malone’s brother had died that way, and Malone has come to Anarchaos, carrying a small arsenal of weapons, to find the man who killed him, knowing that he is facing an entire planet of enemies.
In other words, it’s pulp Hobbes. If Anarcho-Communism usually brings to mind molotov cocktails being thrown in the street, then Anarcho-Capitalism brings to mind a world run by Goldman Sachs and Blackwater (never mind that their “customer” is the world’s most powerful government). Anarchy will make no headway until it drives a permanent wedge between it and chaos. Proudhon’s phrase “Anarchy is order” should be more well known, and it should be clear that by “order” we mean not the conservative sense of compulsory adherence to traditional values and behaviors, but rather the reign of liberty, prosperity, and peace.