If Two Men Go Into the Woods Without a Police Officer, How Many
Will Come Out Alive?
by Mark R. Crovelli
by Mark R. Crovelli: Cops
Should Act Like Firemen in a Free†Society
A few weeks
ago, I was lounging on the edge of a beautiful corn field in Eastern
Colorado having one of the most interesting conversations of my
entire life, although I didnít realize it at the time. My friends
and I were in the field that day in the hope of doing some dove
hunting, but there were virtually no birds flying. As a consequence,
I was sprawled out in the hot grass with my shotgun tossed out in
the dirt. My friends and their shotguns were similarly situated,
which left us completely unprepared for the two or three birds that
did show up.
We had plenty
of time to chat, since there was nothing to shoot at, so I eventually
managed to bring the conversation around to anarchism, as is my
habit. A few of them were not aware that I am an incorrigible anarchist,
so I took the opportunity to explain to them why I think free-market
anarchism is ethically
superior to every other conceivable social arrangement.
to my arguments, unsurprisingly, appealed to the Hobbesian idea
that men would act like barbarians or beasts in the absence of government.
Without cops, everyone would be running around robbing, raping and
killing one another until the species died out completely.
aside the fact that anarchism does
not imply an absence of law or defense,
and setting aside the fact that Hobbesí ideas about the state of
nature are completely ridiculous, just consider how interesting
their claim was in that particular situation. Five armed men sitting
in a field dozens and dozens of miles from a police officer having
a civil chat about anarchism without any one of us trying to rape,
rob or kill any of the others is a rather remarkable thing if Thomas
Hobbes is right about human nature. Equally interesting is the fact
that none of us feared or even contemplated the possibility of being
raped, robbed or killed by anyone out there in the wilds
of the Colorado plains that day. Like
Coloradoans of the 19th century, we met scores of
armed men over the course of the day, none of which we personally
knew, and yet it never even crossed any of our minds to be concerned
for our chastity, our wealth or our lives.
What is more,
none of my friends grew fearful when they learned that I was an
anarchist. If Thomas Hobbes is right that men are wolves, one would
think that my friends would have sprung to their feet, seized their
shotguns, and slowly backed out of the field upon learning that
there was a man who despises government in their midst. If government
is necessary to keep men from butchering one another, then how could
my friends have ever turned their backs on a savage like me who
despises cops, detests politicians, and thinks government judges
are below contempt? How could such a man ever be trusted Ė especially
out on the lawless plains of Colorado, where cops are about as scarce
as doves were that day?
Yet, my friends
did not bat an eye when they discovered I am an anarchist. Itís
true that they found it intellectually startling, but we all nevertheless
continued to laze and chat in the hot prairie grass, sipping cold
beer and looking for birds that never arrived.
starkly illuminates the fact that Thomas Hobbes is wrong about human
nature, and he is wrong about what keeps men from robbing, raping,
or killing one another. It is simply absurd to think that what keeps
thousands of heavily armed men on the Colorado prairie from raping
or killing one another is fear of some hick police officer fifty
miles away eating grits in a diner, or fear of the politicians in
the Colorado State Capital Building who are busy writing legislation
to pad union pension plans. What keeps the men on the Colorado prairie
from raping and killing one another is the fact that men are by
nature cooperative and peaceful, for the most part. If this were
not so, no quantity of hick cops and corrupt politicians could possibly
keep the hoards of armed men on the Colorado prairie from butchering
government, including Thomas Hobbes himself, seem to intuitively
understand this, because they intentionally avoid talking about
real government actors. They talk about government only in
the most abstract terms, as if they know instinctively that their
argument would be transparently absurd if they allowed real
cops and real politicians into the debate.
They use terms
like "government," "police," and "courts"
only in the most abstract and evasive sense. They never point to
real politicians and say things like "Man, without that
Nancy Pelosi in Washington telling us what to do, we would all be
raping and killing one another." They never point to real
police officers and say things like "Well, itís pretty obvious
that without Larry Ė heís the heavy-set guy in the blue costume
with the mustache eating grits over there Ė you and I would probably
be fighting to the death right now." And they never point to
real government courts and say things like "You have
to admit, Mark, that the judgments handed down by government courts
in Colorado are always as fair and just as can be humanly imagined.
No judicial arrangement could ever be better than what we have right
you live in a city, as I do, and you are surrounded by cops giving
speeding tickets, government teachers "educating"
your children, government regulators with their hands on the throat
of your business, and slimy politicians hassling you for your vote,
it is understandable that you might come to accept and rationalize
the existence of these parasites. They are so deeply embedded in
the life of the modern American city that it almost seems impossible
to conceive of life without them.
it is so important for a manís mind to get out of the city from
time to time with a posse of his friends carrying guns. There is
nothing more freeing than sitting in hot prairie dirt with a shotgun
and a cold beer hundreds of miles away from smarmy politicians,
government teachers, corrupt cops and judges, and, worst of all,
tax collectors. Itís not just the sense of physical liberation
that this engenders, but the mental freedom that comes with it.
To be able to look back at the tax collectors, politicians and cops
with a free mind and ask whether such parasites are even necessary
is a spectacular thing.
Give it a try,
and see if it doesnít make you an incorrigible anarchist too.
Crovelli [send him mail]
writes from Denver, Colorado.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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