I’ve been having a bit of discussion here, that turned into a bit of discussion on "utopia" and "fantasyland" vis-a-vis anarchy. The standard set of arguments — my interlocutors being unaware of how poor they are — for the "necessity" of the state issue forth.
Amongst other non-arguments, it is apparently "utopian" and "fantasyland" to imagine and argue for an eventual end to the monopoly of the state. But as I point out, it is the advocates of the state that are the utopians and those promoting a fantasy. They all use the same argument: the state is necessary because [blank], and they always, always insert some social or political phenomenon that the state doesn’t actually prevent, like predatory behavior by a few, or produce, like safety and security. It promises plenty, and when it fails — as it always does — the call is for more money and more power, and the cycle repeats. "If there is no law, what is to stop them?" (predators), one asks. The answer, of course, is that nothing necessarily stops them, including laws and the state. Bad people — predators — are largely unpersuaded by so-called "deterrents," whether they take the form of a state police force or an armed individual or private group.
You might argue that to what extend deterrents work, they work best in environments of high uncertainty — such as individuals being armed. I think that’s probably true, but it’s not true all the time and in all places and circumstance, so it’s not my preferred argument.
Back some years ago on an email list, I had been discussing John Lott’s book, More Guns, Less Crime, in which the author did significant research by state and county, and found that there was a small statistical reduction in crime where citizens could easily obtain ("shall issue") concealed carry permits. A friend of mine cleverly pointed out that the importance was not in the collective aspect of "less crime," but that it should really be viewed as: "more or less guns, more or less crime," which essentially means that no statistically significant increase in crime or accidents could be attributed to gun owners, so there is no practical reason to not permit it. Moreover, the importance in permitting individual self-defense accrues primarily to the individual, while society at large may benefit some (I’ll take it); and it simply cannot be shown that society at large pays any increased costs for allowing individuals to defend themselves (I’d be fine if it did, but that’s another discussion).
In other words: don’t stretch the point too much. It’s not necessary. Let the statists make the utopian arguments. Let them claim over and over how good it’s going to be to deny individuals the right to defend themselves. Let them make the utopian claims of how we’re going to get rid of crime and poverty, and how we’re going to have tremendously effective health care and wonderful education for all, and all the other grab-bag goodies the state is going to deliver by denying freedom to individuals while stealing half of what they produce, under threat of doing violence to them.
All of this is directly applicable to anarchy, i.e., to a decentralized social fabric of individualism and culture of liberty, where individuals defend themselves and those they care for and about, see to some level of justice from time to time, and keep for themselves and theirs everything they produce.
Such would not usher in utopia. There would still be predators, people would still starve to death, die of treatable diseases, get addicted to drugs, and grow up stupid. But it would accomplish one thing; the one thing I think is the most important. When bad people go after good people, everyone would know that it’s bad people going after good people. …While the health of the state depends on the notion that the state is by definition morally good, and whoever they go after is morally bad. In moral terms, it’s too often and increasingly the exact opposite, and that condition is a civilization killer.