Why a slum is not an example of anarchy

Anarchy, at least of the type that most anarchists would like to see, requires a complete lack of government interference. In the case of a slum, while many may think there is little or no government involvement, there is in fact quite a bit.

For example, even if some people may be able to get away with carrying a gun in public for protection, this carries a huge risk that one will get caught up in misguided government attempts to "get guns off the streets." Cops in slums have a tendency to search people at random, so you'd have a bigger chance of getting thrown in jail (or killed) for carrying a gun than you would of protecting yourself with that gun.

Many people in slums are also probably living off of welfare. And of course there are housing projects. Neither of these could be considered lack of government intervention.

Keep this in mind the next time someone says "Anarchy is bad: just look at slums!"

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In addition, you have to

In addition, you have to consider what circumstances are involved with how those people arrived in the slums to begin with:

  • Narcotics laws make it more profitable to engage in the drug trade than "legitimate business" and are subsequently used against those traders, ruining their lives and the lives of their friends and familes.
  • Minimum wage laws increase unemployment at the margins for the least-skilled.
  • Local and state business licensing regulations hurt slum-class people by making it relatively expensive and difficult to start their own businesses.
  • Taxes of all varieties impose a regular and difficult burden on the individual attempting to earn, save, and invest wealth.
  • "Social order" nusiance laws and "three strikes" mandates throw the lives of violators into chaos, even if their acts resulted in to victims.

Also, if the critic of anarchism points to the squalid living conditions slums have, the point should be made that result is likely a breakdown of clear property ownership. If the slum is considered "community-owned" then all the problems of a collectively-owned resource arise.

Anarchy is bad; just look at

Anarchy is bad; just look at the modern world.

Didn't the world that we know and love today emerge out of anarchy? Why would the same world not simply re-emerge if anarco-capitalsim were to be brought about?

I don't mean this rhetorically. I'd really like to know! :smile:

Tanner, You are absolutely


You are absolutely correct. The current order of liberal democracy did indeed evolve out of a state of nature. It did so because it has the overwhelming support of a large portion of the population. Ever since Hobbes, man has strived to purposefully create institutions to escape the state of nature. Hobbes could think of nothing better than totalitarian monarchy. The classical liberals created a better system in liberal democracy, though there's very little liberal about its form today.

I always hesitate to use the term "anarchy" in describing my preferred institutions that allow man to escape the state of nature. I prefer a polycentric legal order like that espoused by Randy Barnett and David Friedman. Just like modern democracy and monarchy before it, it will need the support of a substantial part of the population before it becomes a stable system. I don't expect it to happen in my lifetime.