Re: poly: Anarchy and Empiricism

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Tue May 05 1998 - 13:48:53 PDT

Damien R. Sullivan writes:
> I do find it interesting that Perry can be simultaneously a purist anarchist
> and a purist empiricist, considering the absence from the record of any
> successful anarchy, and particularly of any anarchic society as complex as
> ours. Iceland may have been close, but I"m sure Perry will agree there are
> many differences between Iceland and the US, and who knows how those might
> affect things?

I'm very strongly *inclined* towards anarchy. I favor the system and
believe that there is good evidence for it, but I don't think the
evidence is by any means good enough -- I will fully admit that I'd
prefer to have better evidence for it. Given that the evidence for
anarchy is better than that for political control, I choose anarchy,
but I would be prepared to change my mind if we got better evidence
and it contradicted anarchy. Given the current (highly imperfect) data
it is the best I feel one can choose.

Part of my disappointment with the economics field is the fact that,
in spite of the fact that many fundamental questions about the impact
of political control on the economy could have been definitively
settled by now, there is still vast amounts of fundamental
disagreement in the field and much of the public discourse on
important topics grinds down to competing groups of economists making
diametrically opposing claims -- something that one does not see in
more empirically solid areas of study.

> I would be happy to advocate the creation of a disgoverned area,
> such as Montana, subject only to federal law or a proper subset
> thereof. Then anarchists could go there and try to build a society
> without the chaos of Albania, post-Imperial China, or any other
> place where government collapsed to be replaced by warlords.

I would tend to support such an experiment, were it properly
conducted. Unfortunately, I doubt the government would permit it to be

> But I wonder how any empiricist can strongly advocate the absence of
> government in the absence of any data in support of such an
> extraordinary theory.

Again, I feel the evidence is better than that for government,
although I agree that the matter has been woefully insufficiently

Received on Tue May 5 20:55:24 1998

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