Historical Examples of Anarchy without Chaos


The Abolitionist Adventure
by Wendy McElroy
"Abolitionism was the radical wing of the American anti-slavery movement. It demanded the immediate cessation of slavery on the grounds that all men are self-owners. That is, every human being has a natural right to his own person and property, which no other moral or practical consideration outweighed. This emphasis, along with strong ties to Quakers, who denied the government moral authority over men, meant that abolitionism emerged as a libertarian movement."

Alternatives to Public Libraries
April 1987
by J. Brian Phillips
"One of the advantages of data bases is that they provide the user with round the clock access, enabling information to be gathered when it is needed. And of course, the user—not the taxpayer- -pays for the service. Just as the first libraries evolved out of mutual needs and voluntary associations among individuals, these electronic libraries are providing non-coercive means of resolving common problems. As technology improves, and competition increases, the cost, availability, and range of these services will also improve."

An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West
by Terry L. Anderson and P. J. Hill

"Beyond the Wit of Man to Foresee": Voluntaryism and Land Use Controls
by Carl Watner
"Columbia, Maryland, the planned development of The Rouse Company of Baltimore, Maryland, is one of the finest examples of a contractual community in the United States."

Chaos In The Air: Voluntaryism or Statism in the Early Radio Industry?
by Carl Watner
"In the United States, the laws regulating the radio industry eventually became some of the most severe, the most drastic, and most confining of those affecting any American business. Nevertheless, the history of the radio industry is an interesting example of voluntaryism at work."

The Choctaw Revolution by Peter J. Ferrara
reviewed by George C. Leef
"Ferrara relates the intriguing story of how the Choctaw tribe of Mississippi improved their lives not through political coercion, but by freeing themselves from paternalistic, enervating federal policy. It is a story that might just open the eyes of those who always proclaim their compassion for the oppressed, yet clamor for more government intervention to help them."

The Colonial Origins of American Liberty
September 2000
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
"What the colonial period has to teach us, then, is that the truly American sentiment is not Andrew Jackson’s famous toast, 'Our federal Union—It must be preserved!' but John C. Calhoun’s reply, 'The Union—Next to our liberties, most dear!'”

The Culture of Violence in the American West: Myth versus Reality
Fall 2010
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"Contrary to popular perception, the Old West was much more peaceful than American cities are today. The real culture of violence on the frontier during the latter half of the nineteenth century sprang from the U.S. government’s policies toward the Plains Indians."

The Dutch-American Guerrillas of the American Revolution
May 1, 1983
by William Marina
"The British never entertained much hope that New England would be an initial area for pacification. Connecticut, for example, had only six percent Loyalists, and no British army ventured into the New England countryside after the losses at Lexington and Concord. Late in the war, it was in the South that the British sought to establish the pacification program, but there, too, the image of a vast reservoir of Loyalists in the interior, waiting to be liberated, proved illusory."

Education in Colonial America
September 1983
by Robert A. Peterson
"Armed with love, common sense, and a nearby woodshed, colonial mothers often achieved more than our modern-day elementary schools with their federally-funded programs and education specialists. These colonial mothers used simple, time-tested methods of instruction mixed with plain, old-fashioned hard work. Children were not ruined by educational experiments developed in the ivory towers of academe."

Friendly Societies: Voluntary Social Security - And More
March 1990
by John Chodes
"Working class families had a "safety net" long before Uncle Sam became involved. Our grandparents and even great-grandparents had benefit plans that protected them when they were sick, injured, out of work, or too old to work. Millions of workers belonged to 'friendly societies.'"

"Hard Money" in the Voluntaryist Tradition
by Carl Watner
"Both voluntaryists and "hard money" advocates need to be aware of the monetary history related in this article. Not only is the moral case for private coinage laid out, but its very existence just over a century ago proves that such a system was functional and practical."

A History Lesson for Free-Market Pessimists
March 1997
by Lawrence W. Reed
"By an overwhelming vote of the citizens, a new Michigan Constitution took effect in 1851. It emphatically took the state out of economic development and gave wide berth to free markets and entrepreneurship. Industries then arose in lumber, copper, and furniture, which would open the door to a thriving trade in carriages. Later, Michigan - where government had failed so miserably in the transportation business-would ironically become the world's leader in the private ownership and production of automobiles.
Yes, indeed, people can learn from their socialist mistakes. That should make optimists of all of us."

How Gold Was Money--How Gold Could Be Money Again
April 1995
by Richard H. Timberlake
"Until the time of the Civil War in the United States, banks routinely held gold and silver as redemption reserves for their outstanding notes and deposits while the federal government held just enough to expedite its minting operations. Congress had the constitutional power to "coin money," but that power did not presuppose that it keep any stock of gold and silver beyond the inventory requirements of its mints. Indeed, even though Congress had the power it was not required to coin money at all. Private mints flourished until the Civil War, often minting coins of slightly greater gold content than government mints. "

How the Western Cattlemen Created Property Rights
March 2005
by Robert Higgs
"The cattlemen's associations also organized efforts to keep rustlers at bay 'by patrolling the range and hiring stock detectives who tracked down thieves.'"

The Libertarian Heritage: The American Revolution and Classical Liberalism
by Murray Rothbard
"The libertarian creed emerged from the “classical liberal” movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Western world, specif­ically, from the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. This radical libertarian movement, even though only partially successful in its birthplace, Great Britain, was still able to usher in the Industrial Revolution there by freeing industry and production from the strangling restrictions of State control and urban government-supported guilds."

Liberty in Perfection: Freedom in Native American Thought
September 1999
by Amy H. Sturgis
"The five nations of what is today the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York—the Onondagas, the Senecas, the Mohawks, the Cayugas, and the Oneidas—had ended their intertribal warfare and formed a federal union in approximately 1200. The constitution uniting the nations was called Kaianrekowa, the Great Law of Peace. Recorded and preserved in wampum, this document codified laws for each nation, rules for the confederacy, and consistent rights protection for all citizens. National membership remained open, and other peoples joined the confederacy. The northeastern body eventually became known as the Six Nations after the formal addition of the Tuscaroras around 1714."

Lodge Doctors and the Poor
May 1994
by David T. Beito
"There was a time, however, when fraternal societies could not be so easily dismissed. Before the rise of the welfare state, they were rivaled only by churches as organizational providers of social welfare. By conservative estimates eighteen million American men and women were members in 1920 at least three out of every ten adult males. While fraternal societies differed in ethnicity, class, and gender, most shared a common set of characteristics. In general, this included a decentralized lodge system, some sort of ritual, and the payment of cash benefits in times of sickness and death."

Miners, Vigilantes, and Cattlemen: Property Rights on the Western Frontier
April 2007
by Andrew Morriss
"As Americans moved west over the course of the nineteenth century, the property-rights institutions they brought with them from the east evolved to meet the demands of the new conditions. The western frontier experience both changed and strengthened those institutions. The story of property rights on the frontier is captured by the experiences of three groups: the miners, the vigilantes, and the cattlemen."

The Not So Wild, Wild West
by Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill
"The purpose of this paper is to take us from the theoretical world of anarchy to a case study of its application. To accomplish our task we will first discuss what is meant by "anarchocapitalism" and present several hypotheses relating to the nature of social organization in this world."

The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier by Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. Hill
reviewed by Lee J. Alston
"I commend Anderson and Hill for writing a tremendously readable account of the role of property rights in the American West that should have an impact on academics, policymakers, and interested lay readers."

The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in America
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Colonial America did not set out deliberately to be the land of the free. On the contrary, it began in a tangle of tyranny, special privilege, and vast land monopoly. Territories were carved out either as colonies subject directly to the English Crown, or as enormous land grabs for privileged companies or feudal proprietors.
What defeated these despotic and feudal thrusts into the new territory was, at bottom, rather simple: the vastness of the fertile and uninhabited land that lay waiting to be settled. Not only relative freedom, but even outright anarchist institutions grew up early in the interstices between the organized, despotic English colonies."

Our First Thanksgiving
November 1955
by Sartell Prentice, Jr.
"Our first Thanksgiving should, therefore, be interpreted as an expression of gratitude to God, not so much for the great harvest itself, as for granting the grateful Pilgrims the perception to grasp and apply the great universal principle that produced that great harvest: Each individual is entitled to the fruits of his own labor. Property rights are, therefore, inseparable from human rights."

The Paradox of Carnegie Libraries
October 2001
by Chris Cardiff
"This is the paradox of Carnegie libraries. Using his own fortune, Carnegie was able to establish a comprehensive public library system throughout the United States. Yet despite his ability to leave these libraries in the private sector, he essentially used them as a massive bribe to overcome the public’s resistance to financing them through taxes."

Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment: 1681–1690
by Murray N. Rothbard
"If for most of 1684–88 there was no colonywide government in existence, what of the local officials? Were they not around to provide that evidence of the state's continued existence, which so many people through the ages have deemed vital to man's very survival? The answer is no. The lower courts met only a few days a year, and the county officials were, again, private citizens who devoted very little time to upholding the law. No, the reality must be faced that the new, but rather large, colony of Pennsylvania lived for the greater part of four years in a de facto condition of individual anarchism, and seemed none the worse for the experience."

Private Highways in America, 1792-1916
February 1994
by Daniel B. Klein
"As we enter the potentially new era of privately managed highways, the historical experience with toll roads offers some important lessons. First, private operation is more flexible, creative, and motivated to serve than government control. In the nineteenth century, private road companies consistently out-performed their public-sector alternatives. Second, private roads will not be constructed without the prospect of private gain. If governments over-regulate or renege on their promises, private road development will not occur. Finally, infrastructure is an economic good best left to private action."

Private Idahoes
by John McClaughry
A review of three books about residential community associations (RCAs). "RCAs obviously meet an important need for millions of people. In a society where government all too often proves unable to defend public order, assure personal security, prevent destruction of property values, spend tax dollars wisely, deliver high-quality services, and refrain from misguided social engineering, RCAs offer an attractive alternative. If one believes it is everyone's solemn duty to remain, suffer, and sometimes perish in the midst of over-governed but under-served urban disaster areas in the name of civic altruism and economic justice, then the RCA is a cowardly escape. On the other hand, if one believes in using one's resources to acquire the ownership of a decent home for one's family, or for one's retirement years, in safe and congenial surroundings, even at the price of some intrusive regulation of private choices, then the various forms of planned communities will remain an attractive option. Whether governments will allow themselves to be replaced by a RCA federation remains to be seen, but it's far from the worst idea to come down the pike."

The Real Thanksgiving Lesson
November 24, 2004
by Benjamin Powell
"Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner."

Reciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition of Law
by Bruce L. Benson
Examples from American history of non-state-backed legal systems.

Revolution and Social Change: The American Revolution As a People's War
by William Marina
"Our essay seeks to set the mass of recent scholarship of the American Revolution within the unifying paradigm of the sociology of revolution—of revolution as a people's war. This paradigm will permit a better understanding of the nature and meaning of the American Revolution. It will invoke as a leitmotif the tensions among inequality, equality, and egalitarianism which both inspired and divided the human actors of the Revolution."

The Role of Private Transportation in America's 19th-Century 'Internal Improvements' Debate
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"By 1861 every state had had such a miserable experience with government-subsidized canals, roads, and railroads that only Missouri and Massachusetts permitted such subsidies. That is why proponants of American mercantilism, embodied in the Republican party, turned to the federal government as the source of their largess."

Spooner vs. U.S. Postal System
Reprinted from American Legion Magazine, January 1981.
by Lucille J. Goodyear
"To begin with, Spooner couldn't understand why the Post Office should have a monopoly on mail delivery. He was schooled enough in law, however, to know that the Constitution ordered Congress to provide for mail delivery and it had done so with a postal department. But the wily Spooner found a loophole – the Constitution did not declare that a private citizen could not do likewise."

Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad
February 2005
by Burton Folsom, Jr.
"The Thomas Garrett story is omitted from almost all American history texts. Telling it to students can instruct and inspire them about a crucial chapter in the triumph of freedom in American history."

The Underground History of American Education
by John Taylor Gatto
"John Taylor Gatto documents how the basic philosophy of state-sponsored schools was lavishly funded by power elites in huge tax-exempt foundations (especially the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation) and came to service their interests in The Underground History of American Education." - Steven Yates.

Vigilantes of Montana by Thomas J. Dimsdale
reviewed by Roy Halliday
The government legal system was so corrupt and inefficient in Montana from 1863 to 1865 that the noncriminal element of society formed vigilance committees to restore peace, safety, and prosperity.

Voluntaryism in the Libertarian Tradition
by Carl Watner
"Voluntaryism figures prominently in the libertarian tradition in three distinct ways. First, voluntaryism represents the final goal of all libertarians. After all, libertarianism is the doctrine that all the affairs of people, both public and private, should be carried out by individuals or their voluntary associations. Secondly, voluntaryism is a realization about the nature of political society. The voluntaryist approach rests on the crucial, theoretical insight that all tyranny and government are grounded on general popular acceptance. The primary responsibility for the existence and continuation of any political system rests on the majority of the population, who willingly acquiesce in their own subjection. Thirdly, voluntaryism represents a way of achieving significant social change without resort to politics or violent revolution."


Anarchy in the U.K.: The English Experience with Private Protection
by Roderick Long
Explains how the Bohr and the Associations for the Prosecution of Felons (two private, mutual-aid solutions to the crime problem) worked in England.

An Earlier Response to Environmental Tyranny
April 1998
by Daniel E. Walker
"There was a time when a government elite used its power to enforce draconian laws concerning wildlife and forests; when the common law was ignored; when special courts decided cases concerning the environment; and when the government owned great areas of land, zealously prosecuting and persecuting people who had the audacity to use natural resources to feed and shelter themselves. So-called crimes on government lands were met with harsh punishments, far out of proportion to the offenses. Of course, the government used its laws to raise revenue by imposing severe monetary fines on offenders; building a hedge or ditch without first having obtained government permission, for example, would result in a fine at the least.
People who flouted the laws were identified as outlaws. You probably recognize one of the more prominent names: Robin Hood. He scorned not the Environmental Protection Agency or Bureau of Land Management or the Endangered Species Act, but the horrid "forest laws" of England and their enforcers early in this millennium."

Institutional Bases of the Spontaneous Order: Surety and Assurance
by Albert Loan
"Voluntary institutions such as surety and assurance embody norms of reciprocity, trust, honesty, fellowship, and thrift without which no stable social order is possible. The evidence shows that when these norms are articulated and expressed through voluntary action, they are enhanced and strengthened to everyone's benefit. Attempts to mimic the invisible-hand process that has generated them will not only fail; they will actively undermine and destroy these norms."

Life Savings: For 170 years, a private British organization has been rescuing people at sea.
by James L. Payne
". . . running the lifeboats and paying the thousands of rescue workers does not cost British taxpayers a penny. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a private organization, supported, as it proudly says on its letterhead, 'entirely by voluntary contributions' and managed by its own trustees and staff. The RNLI will rescue you whether you are rich or poor, whether you have donated to it or not." . . .
"Reviewing all these advantages, the government's own officials down through the years have quietly agreed with the sentiment expressed by Jack Stapley when I asked him why the RNLI avoided government support: 'We feel service would deteriorate if it was government-funded.'"

The Private Supply of `Public Goods' in Nineteenth Century Britain
by Stephen Davies

Reinventing Civil Society: The Rediscovery of Welfare Without Politics
by David G. Green
This book includes a history of the voluntary associations in England that helped those who deserved it.

Saving the Environment for a Profit, Victorian-Style
May 2003
by Pierre Desrochers
"While many writers collected bits and pieces of information on these achievements, the journalist Peter Lund Simmonds (1814-1897) published a massive synthesis on the topic, first in 1862 and in a significantly revised form in 1873, which he titled Waste Products and Undeveloped Substances; or, Hints for Enterprise in Neglected Fields. Simmonds's books discussed the profitable re-use of virtually all types of industrial and other waste. A point he never tired of making was that not only had considerable wealth been extracted from formerly wasted residuals, but also that the environment was typically better off as a result."

Settlement and the Decline of Private Prosecution in Thirteenth-Century England
January 2, 2000
by Daniel Klerman
"Although modern societies generally entrust enforcement of the criminal law to public prosecutors, most crimes in pre-modern societies were prosecuted privately by the victim or a relative. This article is the first rigorously quantitative analysis of private prosecution. It focuses on thirteenth-century England and uses statistical techniques, such as regression analysis, to chart and explain the changing rate of private prosecution."


The Decline and Fall of Private Law in Iceland
by Roderick Long
The downfall of the quasi-anarchistic legal institutions of Iceland, which lasted from 930 to 1262, was due to not being anarchistic enough.

Institutional Evolution in the Icelandic Commonwealth
by Birgir Runolfsson Solvason

Medieval Iceland and the Absence of Government
by Thomas Whiston
Medieval Iceland illustrates an actual and well-documented historical example of how a stateless legal order can work and it provides insights as to how we might create a more just and efficient society today.

Ordered Anarchy: Evolution of the Decentralized Legal Order in the Icelandic Commonwealth
by Birgir T. Runolfsson Solvason
"I offered a solution to the "Hobbesian problem" by presenting a theory of the spontaneous emergence of cooperation. The Icelandic Commonwealth, which historically most resembles the Hobbesian situation, also illustrates the emergence of social order without central enforcement.
Although I have presented a coherent theory of how cooperation may emerge from a non-cooperative situation, and presented a historical case that supports the theory, it should not be concluded that this is how cooperation always emerges. The theory, and the historical case, only demonstrate how cooperation can emerge."

Private Creation and Enforcement of Law: A Historical Case
by David Friedman
In Iceland from the 10th to the 13th centuries law enforcement was entirely a private affair.

Privatization, Viking Style: Model or Misfortune
by Roderick T. Long
"The tithe, and particularly the portion allotted to churchstead maintenance, represented a monopolistic, non-competitive element in the system. The introduction of the tithe was in turn made possible by yet another non-competitive element: the establishment of an official state church which everyone was legally bound to support. Finally, buying up chieftaincies would have availed little if there had been free entry into the chieftaincy profession; instead, the number of chieftains was set by law, and the creation of new chieftaincies could be approved only by parliament – i.e., by the existing chieftains, who were naturally less than eager to encourage competitors. It is precisely those respects in which the Free State was least privatized and decentralized that led to its downfall – while its more privatized aspects delayed that downfall for three centuries."


Private Law in the Emerald Isle
June 8, 2012
by Finbar Feehan-Fitzgerald
"There have been many notable objections to anarchy over the years, not least, the private production of security and justice. Even the great Ludwig von Mises rejected the private production of law outright. There are, nevertheless, innumerable examples of the private production of law; and it is not merely a concept that has been confined to theory, but has existed, and worked, in practice. For the purpose of this article we shall only concern ourselves with one: Brehon, or Early Irish law."

Property Rights in Celtic Irish Law
by Joseph R. Peden

Stateless Societies: Ancient Ireland
by Joseph R. Peden

Law Merchant

Our Economic Past: The Rise of the West
July 2002
by Robert Higgs
"To facilitate their business, the merchants developed their own legal system. Intended to provide quick, cheap, and fair resolution of commercial disputes, this lex mercatoria established institutions and precedents that have survived to the present, and it now finds expression in a vast system of alternative (non-state) dispute resolution in arbitration proceedings."


Anarchy and Invention: How Does Somalia's Pivate Sector Cope without Government?
by Tatiana Nenova and Tim Harford

Anarchy and the Law of the Somalis
by Dick Clark
"Because I recognize that government courts serve primarily to advance the interests of government power, my goal as an aspiring attorney is to use what I can from my legal education to work against the State – to oppose government action where private, voluntary action would better serve the interests of justice. It is the subsequent question – “How can private actors be entrusted with the provision of public goods like defense and justice?” – that makes a book like The Law of the Somalis important."

Anarchy in Somalia
June 30, 2011
by Robert P. Murphy
"Somalia has achieved remarkable progress since the collapse of the brutal dictatorship of Siad Barre in 1991. If people in the more developed countries of the world wish to help the impoverished region, we can certainly send money and even visit to offer medical services and other assistance. But if the West foists the "gift" of another state on the beleaguered Somalis, their appropriate response should be, 'No, you shouldn't have.'"

Ancap Mog
by Bryce Bigwood
Assessment of the level of market anarchy in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The Answer for Africa
by Shafer Parker
Anarcho-capitalism, of course, as Somalia shows.

From Nation-State To Stateless Nation, The Somali Experience
by Michael van Notten
"Almost ten years ago, the Somali nation abolished its central government and thus became a stateless nation. As a result, the Somali people are now more peaceful and also becoming more prosperous than before."

Is Somalia a model?
by Alan Bock
"The conventional wisdom during periods of transition -- or revolution if the term is appropriate, as may well be -- is that the most important priority is to establish order. ... So U.S. military people -- subject to possible problems from 'pockets of resistance,' a marvelous military euphemism meaning, as nearly as I can figure it out, guys with guns who want to kill you -- are to be the establishers and keepers of order, through force exercised as a de facto, if not necessarily de jure just yet, central government." (04/29/03)

One, Two, Many Somalias
by Michael Tennant
"Conventional thinking would expect the Somalia of 2004 to be vastly worse off than the Somalia of 1991, when the period of anarchy began, with crime and poverty running rampant, necessities such as water and electricity in short supply, and a market economy all but impossible in the absence of a stabilizing authority. Conventional thinking, of course, would be wrong."

The Rule of Law without the State
posted on September 12, 2007
by Spencer Heath MacCallum
"Were there such a category, Somalia would hold a place in Guinness World Records as the country with the longest absence of a functioning central government."

Somalia and Anarchy
by Jim Davidson
Somalia has a history of freedom and resistance to statism. It offers opportunities for libertarian entrepreneurs.

Southeast Asia

Anarchy: The Unknown Ideal
March 26, 2012
by Bionic Mosquito
"The Art of NOT Being Governed, by James C. Scott. This book looks specifically at one region of the world in order to tell the story of anarchy – anarchy in the sense of no sovereign authority able to define the law and live above the law (it is in this sense that I use the term throughout). The region the author describes is the highland area of Southeast Asia, from Vietnam west to the easternmost tip of Northeast India."

The Art of Not Being Governed
reviewed by by Jeff Riggenbach
December 10, 2010
"The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, by James C. Scott, is published in hardcover and now in paperback by Yale University Press. Despite its flaws, it's a superb and magnificently thoughtful piece of work."

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia
Summer 2011
reviewed by Thomas J. Thompson
"Until only a few centuries ago, much of the earth was still inhabited by the stateless. Nomadic herders, shifting cultivators, itinerant fisherfolk, and hunter-gatherers were almost everywhere beyond officialdom’s reach. What was it like to be stateless in the era of the state? How did stateless people see, understand, and deal with states and their claims? Anyone interested in this sort of question will want to read political scientist James C. Scott’s “anarchist history” of the Southeast Asian massif, a work focused on shifting cultivators."

Other Examples

An Ancient Stateless Civilization: Bronze Age India and the State in History
by Thomas J. Thompson
"The urban civilization of Harappa in southern Asia flourished economically and culturally for seven centuries, leaving archeologists with artifacts galore but with no evidence of wars or threats of war—or even a state. Most likely, Harappa’s archeological uniqueness has to do with the civilization’s having generated purely voluntary government."

Enforcement of Private Property Rights in Primitive Societies: Law without Government
by Bruce L. Benson

Hunters-Gatherers: The Original Libertarians
Spring 2012
by Thomas Mayor
"Hunter-gatherer societies can shed light on one of the most fundamental issues bearing on political economy—whether man is better adapted to individualism or to collectivism. The evidence suggests that for millennia before the agricultural revolution, man lived in a state of political autonomy and economic freedom and acted basically as a self-interested individualist, not as the altruist depicted in much of the socialist literature."

Has the State Always Been There? How Tribal Anarchy Works
by Stefan Blankertz
"The intention of my speech is to rectify the false assumptions about the origins of human society. My intention is not to advertise the tribal organization as the model for modern societies. But to know that the root of all our societies is a well functioning, self-conscious anarchy changes the question whether anarchy is possible to the question how anarchy is possible."

Have there been any historical examples of anarchist societies?
by Bryan Caplan
"There have probably been no societies which fully satisfy any anarchists' ethical ideals, but there have been a number of suggestive examples."

The Historical Origins of Voluntaryism
by James Luther Adams
"In modern history the first crucial affirmation of voluntaryism as an institutional phenomenon appeared in the demand of the sects for the separation of church and state."

A History of Force: Exploring the Worldwide Movement Against Habits of Coercion, Bloodshed, and Mayhem by James L. Payne
reviewed by Butler Shaffer
"Payne acknowledges that the use of force has fluctuated historically, but he insists that the overall trend is toward a diminution in coercive behavior, whether practiced by institutions or by individuals."

The History of Freedom by Lord Acton, with an Introduction by James C. Holland
reviewed by Salim Rashid
January 1995
"Acton's essays are certainly worth reading but one must constantly keep in mind how unselfconsciously he is the product of the Victorian age."

Islam and the Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane with introduction and commentary by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad
reviewed by George C. Leef
"For the most part, he documents points she makes, but occasionally corrects her writing. By placing his commentary in footnotes, Ahmad is able to strengthen Lane’s argument that Islamic civilization flourished because of its emphasis on freedom and the rights of the individual without detracting from her beautiful writing style."

Ninth-Century Muslim Anarchists
July 30, 2011
by Davi Barker
"The Muslim anarchist of the ninth century concluded, as many have in the modern world, 'that when people are forced to rely on themselves, they discover talents they did not know they had.'"

The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages by Tom Bethell
reviewed by T. Norman Van Cott
"Monocausal explanations such as Bethell’s are always risky. One question that kept coming to me as I read his case studies was how to account for Sowell’s evidence that certain racial and ethnic groups have consistently outperformed others. For example, what accounts for the success of the Chinese overseas migrants? Property-rights institutions cannot provide the answer. In any event, there is no question that private-property rights and the rule of law are, as Bethell states, the only arrangements that result in high overall living standards and personal freedom. Bethell is to be commended for explaining that fundamentally important idea in a readable and instructive way."

Privateering and National Defense: Naval Warfare for Private Profit
by Larry J. Sechrest
"Almost all economists declare that national defense is a “public good” that will be provided in sub-optimal quantities—or not provided at all—by private, profit-seeking firms. The purpose of this paper is to challenge just that sort of statement. The attack on national defense as a public good which must be provided by the state will be two-pronged. One part, the briefer of the two, will raise theoretical questions about public goods in general and national defense in particular. The second part will be devoted to a detailed survey of privateering, a form of naval warfare conducted by privately-owned ships which lasted from the twelfth century to the nineteenth century. What privateers were, how they operated, the legal customs that grew up around them, how effective they were, how profitable they were, and why they disappeared will all be addressed. The common employment of privateers during wartime will be offered as empirical evidence that defense need not be monopolized by the state."

Privately Produced Law
by Tom Bell
"Who is going to lay down the law? Statists or consumers? I am going to argue for the latter."

The Triumph of Liberty by Jim Powell
reviewed by John Hood
May 2001
“Please read The Triumph of Liberty to your kids. Or go to their school and hit a teacher over the head with it.” - P. J. O’Rourke

Voluntaryism in the European Anarchist Tradition
by Carl Watner
"Wherever and whenever anarchists have engaged in war and/or electoral politics they have inevitably failed both militarily and politically. One cannot remain an anarchist and take part in war or government. By compromising one's anarchism this way, one does not make failure less certain; only more humiliating. That is the lesson of anarchist history."

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes
reviewed by Randall G. Holcombe
April 1999
"His explanation of the wealth and poverty of nations is simple: rich nations are once-poor nations that developed market economies; poor nations are once- and still-poor nations that did not."

The Wealthy Live Without Government
May 12, 2011
by Bill Walker
"Wealthy people and corporations don’t use state facilities of any kind when they can avoid them. The wealthy, including those in charge of inflicting government programs on the rest of us, use private services for themselves"

When Individuals Beat Governments -- Christman 1914
by Robert L. Johnson
"The brave soldiers who went against government orders and instead followed a much higher calling during the Christmas truce of 1914 have taught us that it is very possible to defeat the government."

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This page was last updated on June 12, 2012.