Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does complexity necessitate theft and coercion?

Does a complex society necessarily sustain its complexity through theft and coercion or could you have an honest complex society?

I have read things that explain how complex societies "require" a State, due to their complexity.  That a monopoly of force is required to keep strangers from attacking and stealing.

The theory goes that simple societies, such as primitive hunter/gatherer societies, can get by without a State because of their small size (fewer individuals and less-complex connections between them), but once you get enough people in a society a State becomes "necessary" to keep people from attacking or robbing "strangers".

If that is true it seems more reason to revert (or advance) to simple societies again, rather than justification for The State and its requisite theft and coercion.

I hope it isn't true.  I like technology and don't think very many of the people I like would survive long (or well) without it.  Even though I also like primitive technology, too.

Of course, I can't really see how anointing some with special powers to rob and kill is better than letting the bad guys just take their chances with robbing or attacking people who might defend themselves.  A monopoly of force just empowers those most likely to abuse it.

And, as I have pointed out in the past, just because something might have been true in the distant past doesn't necessarily mean it is still true today.  Humans haven't changed, but their environment and their world has.  I think technology- guns, internet/communication, and so forth- changes the game in fundamental ways.  I think it puts people on a more even playing field and makes it harder for the bad guys to hide, once you remove the veil of legitimacy that the State seems to confer.

I would be perfectly willing to be a guinea pig and test the theory by living without a State keeping me or my enemies in line in a modern society.



  1. The argument for the state is that a monopoly on the use of force is required to maintain the level of complexity we have achieved in society. But, it is important to recognize that this increasing level of complexity was developed in society before and without the state. Obviously, since the state was not a pre-requisite to developing the goods and services that make up a complex economic system (division of labor) in a free society, then the state is superfluous, at best.

    Wealth is the only pre-requisite for developing a complex division of labor. The state is first sold to members of society as a means to protect the wealth of the wealthiest members of a complex society, after enough wealth has been created to generate enough fear of losing that wealth to those near and far. The state is advertised as necessary to maintain and further increase the complexity already existing in a free society. This is a contradiction: the state is necessary to maintain something it had nothing to do with creating.

    Further, the state is the opposite of freedom, nothing more than a parasite on the society it is supposed to maintain; thus it undermines the forces in a free society that did create the wealth and complex division of labor. Of course, society can and does continue functioning and even growing while the state parasite attaches itself to the bowels of society, but society immediately gets sickened by the scramble for the Ring of Power to control the state. The state immediately begins to grow in power and scope displacing the voluntary institutions that had originally fostered prosperity. Eventually the state grows to consume the host society, even as promoters of the state seek to give the state more power. They honestly, if incorrectly, believe that the answer to the subsequent diminishing of wealth and the devolution of the complex division of labor that is happening before their eyes is due to problems in society, not the state itself. This is why statists are so short-sighted in their view of organizing society. Thus, finally, they believe that since the status quo is as good as it gets and the problem (State) is the solution itself, that we are doomed without the state and society can’t function without the state. Circular logic on parade forever applauded by scared little statists. Breaking this cycle of violence is a monumental task as it becomes more evident that the system is broken, yet, again, the problem is believed to be the solution.

  2. Primitive hunter-gatherer societies had enemies. It wasn't all a peaceful paradise. Some tribes were allies others were not. It was okay to steal from or kill those who were your enemy. The excess energy of young men could be siphon away from inter-tribal problems that way.

    Take, for example, the Hebrew commandment (one of the 10): Thou shalt not kill. That only meant that you should kill anyone in your tribe. How do I know this, because shortly after Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 commandments, God ordered the Hebrews to go an kill all the people--and their animals--of another tribe that didn't want the Hebrews to pass through their lands.

    What everyone needs to think about is this: To govern means to control. How much control do you need from a bureaucrat or politician?

  3. Predation is not eliminated by creating a govt, it is institutionalized.

    Rather than making coercion wrong for everyone, there is now the state, which has the monopoly on legitimate coercion. How do we know it's legitimate? The state says so.

    Neither you nor I can legitimately use coercion against the other. We are both subject to the same basic rules.

    Nothing more is needed to eliminate the state than to remove the special status of "legitimate" coercion, and have everyone equal before the law.