Dear Anarchist*4

Article by Colonel Nogov on Mar. 18, 2015

I found this on a forum.  It’s an older forum.  I’ve snipped it so it’s word for word.  The questioner took a quote from a book by Steve Pinker.  I’m going to dissect and destroy Steve Pinker’s excerpt line by line, then I’ll destroy it as a whole.

Dear anarchist:

Colonel Nogov:  Line 1″When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out:  Looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing, and petty warfare among gangs, warlords, and mafias.”

All of those things happen when government law/legislation enforcers are out in full force too.  It’s not unique to law enforcement vanishing.  Unless it’s just my imagination, all the major cities in the U.S. and around the world have mafias, gangs, warlords, drug cartels.  Mafias, gangs, etc. are a product of the state.  Without a state banning items like drugs, prostitution, alcohol(once upon a time), etc.  gangs would not exist the way they do today.  They exist because of the state.  They operate the black markets. The black market is the cause of most of the violence he’s describing.  End the state, end black markets, end a whole lot of violence.

He’s sensationalizing to instill fear in the reader, the target of his propaganda.  Those things happen everyday with government and its enforcement mechanism in place.  The author wants you to think that it only happens once law/legislation enforcement is gone.

He’s also making an assumption here that is completely ignorant.  He assumes in a stateless society there would be no law enforcement mechanism.  He assumes people could just murder each other and no one would do anything about it.  It’s the basis for his entire argument, “When law enforcement vanishes”.  There would still be law enforcement in a stateless society.  There would be consequences for committing crimes, real crimes violence and theft.  There’s just no government law/legislation enforcers.

Line 2 “This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and parts of Africa in the 1990’s, but can also happen in countries with a long tradition of civility.”

This is his evidence.  He’s comparing stateless societies to collapsing socialist states.  When socialist states fail (they always do sooner or later), they collapse horribly.  He’s attributing to anarchy what was caused by the state.  Socialism leads to the outcomes that happened in countries listed above.  The governments of those countries taxed and regulated their people into poverty.  Of course there’s violence when impoverished socialist countries collapse.  The people are angry for what the government has done to them.  Also, there were still governments and government law/legislation enforcers in those countries.  Uprisings and revolutions are because of government, not a lack of government.

Anything CAN happen.

Is he saying those countries were uncivilized prior to their utopian socialist dream societies collapsing?  I don’t know what African nations he’s referring to, but as far as I know Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union were civilized societies.  Socialist lefties love supposed socialist utopian societies until they collapse, then they do everything they can to distance themselves and make every excuse under the sun for the collapse other than the obvious one.  The socialism.

Line 3 “As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960’s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism.”

Here he’s trying to set the stage for his reader.  Canada was peaceful.  There was no crime.  Everybody loved each other in the 60’s.  It was an innocent time.  He wants the reader to believe this fantasy so that when he says all hell breaks loose it’s shocking and appears there was a huge jump in crime and chaos.  All big cities, and countries, in the world have a certain amount of crime.  Some is more, some is less.  Not a dramatic difference.  It’s pretty hard to sell your bullshit if you say something like; Montreal had a certain level of crime, and when the police went on strike, it stayed about the same, maybe went up slightly for a day.  To sell propaganda it has to be sensational.

It’s not likely that he was an anarchist in any sense of the meaning.  People who understand anarchy philosophically and morally don’t revert back to being a statist.  It’s pretty hard to say taxation is theft therefore the state is bad to just one day reverse position and say taxation is theft, but I’m okay with that.  It’s more likely he was a rebellious teen fighting the indoctrination he was undergoing.  It appears he lost that fight and became fully indoctrinated.  A book denouncing anarchism is fairly reliable evidence.

Line 4 “I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose.”

Here is a standard literary device where the author tries to invoke the alleged wisdom of his older, wiser parents.  What this sentence is trying to convey is; I was just a dumb kid.  My parents were older and wiser.  I should have listened to them.  Age does not automatically bestow wisdom.  Wisdom is gained through thought.  Reflecting on the world around you and events that have happened.  His parents sound like they were just typical indoctrinated statists repeating what they had been told.  Why should I assume they have wisdom?  I know plenty of older people who are clueless.

Line 5 “Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 a.m. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike.”

Nothing’s really being said here.  It’s a segue.  The police go on strike.  It’s dramatic.  Let’s see what happens.

Line 6 “By 11:20 the first bank was robbed.”

This is due to the Montreal police strike how?  Montreal in 1969 had a population of roughly 1.2 million people.  Banks robberies are common in a city that size.  He’s trying to say that all of a sudden banks are being robbed because the police are on strike.  Ridiculous.  Childish.

Line 7 “By noon most stores had closed down because of looting.”

This is likely an exaggeration, but for argument sake, let’s say it happened.  Riots happen. looting happens.  Riots and looting happen for lots of different reasons.  When there’s a blackout looting happens.  Some people take advantage of every situation.  In this instance people thought they might be able to get away with it because the police were on strike.  This is failure of that government, not a stateless society.  The government’s enforcement mechanism failed.  Once again, a stateless society would have a mechanism for punishing crimes.  law/legislation enforcement doesn’t prevent crimes, it only establishes punishments and a mechanism for enforcement.  A stateless societies’ mechanism for enforcement couldn’t fail the way the governments did in this instance.  There wouldn’t be a standing police force capable of going on strike and strong arming a city for more money.

Line 8 “Within a few hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that had competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home.”

Scary and sensational, but let’s analyze it.  Crimes happen.  Anarchists are not saying that crime will just go away in a stateless society.  Let’s take a look at the reported criminal activity.  1 case arson.  1 murder of a police officer.  1 riot.  1 self defense killing of a home invader.  I couldn’t find crime statistics for Montreal.  The best I could do was find the crime statistics for a similarly sized city in the U.S. Portland, Oregon.  Canada and the U.S. are similar, so the comparison should be fairly similar.
254 cases of arson in a year.  So, almost daily.  Government police force in effect.
20 murders and manslaughter in a year.  So, it’s not outrageous that a murder occurred.  Police get killed.  It’s a stretch to say the police officer was killed on this day because of the police strike.  If you want to kill a cop, you’re going to do it.  The strike makes no difference.  It’s not likely they charged or even called the home invasion self defense act manslaughter or murder.
4,471 burglaries in the year.  So, approximately 12 per day.  This is with government police in effect.  So it’s not unreasonable to say the home invasion self defense killing could have happened any day, not just because the police were on strike.  The author is just trying to associate any bit of crime with the police strike.
It doesn’t list riots.  Riots happen for many reasons.  A football team wins or loses people riot.  Did people take advantage of a day when the police were on strike to riot?  Probably.  That doesn’t mean a stateless society would have more or less riots.  Why would you assume more?  I assume less.  Once again, it was the government’s enforcement mechanism that failed.  A stateless society’s enforcement mechanism couldn’t fail.  All in all, the reported incidents are a typical day in the life of a big city.  Crime didn’t skyrocket as the author suggests.  1 murder on a day without a police force in a city the size of 1.2 million.  It also happens that the murder was of a police officer.  People didn’t become wild animals assaulting and killing each other.

Line 9 “By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the mounties to restore order.”

Once again people took advantage of the government’s enforcement mechanism failing.  Let’s look at the statistics of this line.  6 bank robberies.  100 shops looted.  12 fires set.  40 carloads glass?  3 million property damage.  See crime statistics.  6 bank robberies.  A high number for a single day, but bank robberies are common and only 6 on a day when the police were on strike in a city of 1.2 million people.  Not a skyrocketing crime statistic.  100 shops looted in a city of 1.2 million.  There were more shops back then because the mega retailers didn’t dominate yet, so 100 is probably a small percentage of the total shops.  There was also a riot.  Most of the fires and looting were likely because of that.  Riots happen with or without a police force evident.  I lived through the riot in Los Angeles that happened after the Rodney King verdict.  The entire LAPD was on duty.  There was a lot more fires than 12 that day.  A lot more than 100 shops were looted.  A lot more property damage than 3 million.  It lasted for days, not hours.

Of course the city had to call in new enforcers.  Their enforcers were strong arming the city for more money.  This is what happens when you have a state.  The crime statistics didn’t skyrocket.  Only the 1 murder.  Some theft and arson.  The city politicians and the police wanted people to believe crime was skyrocketing.  It reinforces, in the minds of the people, the alleged need for the government.  It also scares them into handing over more money.  This author took it hook, line and sinker.

Line 10 “This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters…”

It should have, but not for the reason you think.  Nothing in this passage describes a stateless society.  The state always existed.  The state mechanism for law/legislation enforcement failed.  And, was it decisive?  One day where crime was about normal, maybe slightly high, and a riot.  I’ve seen a hell of a lot more riots happen when the government police force was on duty.

This is an indictment of the state, not a stateless society.  Whenever a state fails there is always a short period of chaos.  In this instance the chaos wasn’t even very bad.  The author is trying to compare anarchism to a day when the government failed.  He’s trying to say this is what anarchy is.  NO!  This is what government is.  Riots happen.  Robbery, burglary, murder happens.  The state does not protect us from those things.  It does not prevent those things.  The state makes those things worse and adds an additional layer of theft and violence committed by the state itself.

A stateless society would have a mechanism for law enforcement.  You can’t expect that mechanism to be in place the second the state fails.  People were accustomed to the government’s law/legislation enforcement.  A stateless mechanism for law enforcement would need to be established.  It wouldn’t take long.  Probably only a few days.  The Montreal city politicians weren’t going to allow that to happen.  Once people see that they don’t need government, politicians lose their money and power.

The author tries to associate “when law enforcement vanished”, with anarchy.  This is a common statist tactic used when trying to make an argument that can’t be made.  An absence of law enforcement and anarchy are NOT synonyms.  If you’re trying to denounce anarchism make valid arguments based on the actual subject, don’t substitute law enforcement vanishing and claim you’re denouncing anarchism. They’re not the same thing.  Learn about the subject you’re trying to denounce first, otherwise you just sound like an idiot.

To answer the forum posters final question, “What makes you believe that such violence will not occur on a massive scale in the type of society you advocate?”  Because the evidence as recorded by this incident shows that violence did not increase, society didn’t break down even when “law enforcement vanished”.  People did not become wild animals assaulting and killing each other.  Crime levels remained about the same.  Some people rioted.  How many people rioted?  We don’t know.  Typically, it’s a few thousand.  Out of 1.2 million people that’s barely any.  I wrote an article entitled “Without government wouldn’t there be Anarchy” that goes into much more detail.