Sunday, February 21, 2010


In the book The Socialist Tradition, Alexander Gray states (pg 3):

An anarchist society is conceivable only if all concerned are the embodiment of reason and restraint. Not merely therefore should an anarchist be a man of reason; he should also combine with his own reason a wholly unreasonable belief that all others are equally reasonable.

I would agree with this quote in the context of an anarchism that expects certain values, like abstract concepts of justice or equality, to be universally held. However, as a free-market anarchist I suggest that a society in which people hold many different values is possible, just as we live in a society in which Fords, Chevrolets and Toyotas, among others, address the values of a wide spectrum of car buyers. See my blog entry, "Competition as a Discovery Procedure or Ethics" for thoughts on that subject.

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Richk5 said...

Brian - I enjoyed meeting you at the Mises Scholar's Conference and discussing your ideas with you in person. You articulate them very well in your blog. I was wondering if you have read "The Age of the Unthinkable"? His thoughts on unstable order or the 'sandpile effect' are interesting and I would like to hear your comments on the book if you have any. Rich Kirkham

Dave Scotese said...

Does Alexander Gray compare his concept an anarchist society with that of a non-anarchist society? If "all concerned [must be] the embodiment of reason and restraint", how much moreso must they be in a society that isn't anarchist? What is the essential element that distinguishes anarchy from non-anarchy? Isn't is the acceptance by the majority of society of a coercive force? I submit that any addition of coercive force would require more reason and restraint in order for all other things in the society to remain the same.

Brian J. Gladish said...


The argument is often made that if man is inherently good then government is not necessary, but if he is inherently evil then a government of men is to be avoided at all costs. Sadly, this logic has generally been rejected.