Saturday, April 30, 2016

Realism v. Fantasy

It's been trendy for some time now to say that the old left-right axis is inadequate to describe politics, and that what we need is the Nolan Chart, which has two axes, which evaluates both personal freedom and economic freedom. And some time back, I came up with a half-joking idea for a Venn diagram instead of either [link].

But now I'm wondering if maybe what we need is a chart that is based on realism v. fantasy. I'm considering that because of a lot of net discussions I've witnessed with two groups that overlap a lot, open-borders libertarians and anarchists.

It's kind of obvious to me that open-borders advocates, whether they're nominally libertarians, liberals, or neocons, are simply unrealistic, because they blind themselves to reality: an open-borders policy will change the country into a hodgepodge of people with no coherence, a situation that isn't good for any of the three ideologies, at least not good for what the ideologies say they're in favor of, but actually inimical to them. To put it another way, advocacy of open borders on the part of believers in any of those ideologies is really self-destructive.

And that goes double for anarchists, whom I've been talking to a lot lately. They keep telling me that a society without government — which will, BTW, certainly be an open-borders society — will be peaceful and prosperous, because it will be based on self-ownership and therefore very capitalistic and antiwar, which is very starry-eyed and blind to historical reality.

My point is that nature abhors a vacuum, and that an absence of government is a vacuum, and will attract every variety of nutty ideological notions, old and new, which will most certainly not be mutually respectful, and will not lead to peace and prosperity, but rather to competition of the violent sort, not the free-market sort.

Am I wrong? Now, I've read plenty of theory, Rothbard and all, about private police and insurance companies providing fire departments, etc., and it all sounds very plausible and persuasive. Then again, if you read other theorist, communism sounds plausible and persuasive. But as we know, communism has had some trial runs, and the practice of it is not like the theory at all. But anarchy, you might say, hasn't been tried, so it might work. Actually, though, I believe it has been tried. Whenever a government has collapsed in history, you get anarchy by definition, until another government develops. And what that tells me is that anarchy is not sustainable, that as soon as you have it, for whatever reason, government or governments start developing. And if you start an organization of some sort to prevent government from developing, that soon becomes a government.

As the quibcag says, that's the kind of animal we are. We are a social species that has a natural tendency to form hierarchies and, however formally or informally, governments. That's human nature, and ideologies that don't take human nature into consideration are not useful ideologies.
Quibcag: The first illustration is actually from some wallpaper I found at The second is illustrated by Shampoo and her panda companion from  Ranma ½ (らんま½)


  1. I think that your analysis is exactly right. A minarchist solution would work--the anarchist one is romantic fantasy. Every anarchist I've ever heard sounds like he spends all his time in a sci-fi novel.

  2. An true anarchist society is a complete fantasy. In very short order humans would aggregate into groups so they could, if nothing else, have someone keeping an eye on the group in the next valley while the rest of their group slept.

  3. Dear Ex-Army:

    an attempt at rebuttal takes more than 1000 words, which you can find at:

    In short, I think your sample of anarchists is skewed with the nonviolent hippie type of pseudo-anarchist, and I discuss certain violent varieties of anarchist subversion.