Maybe we will always have government - an organization of theft and violence - but that doesn't make it "right" or "good," because it's not.
It’s entirely possible that states — organized force — will always rule this world, and that we will have at best a choice among evils … But to say a thing is inevitable, or less onerous than something else, is not to say it is good. -- Joseph Sobran
Anarchy won't work!
[O]pponents of anarchy are attacking a straw man. Their arguments are usually utilitarian in nature and amount to "but anarchy won't work" or "we need the (things provided by the) state." But these attacks are confused at best, if not disingenuous. To be an anarchist does not mean you think anarchy will "work" (whatever that means); nor that you predict it will or "can" be achieved ... To be an anarchist only means that you believe that aggression is not justified, and that states necessarily employ aggression. And, therefore, that states, and the aggression they necessarily employ, are unjustified. It's quite simple, really. It's an ethical view, so no surprise it confuses utilitarians.
[C]riticism of anarchy on the grounds that it won't "work" or is not "practical" is just confused. Anarchists don't (necessarily) predict anarchy will be achieved — I for one don't think it will. But that does not mean states are justified.
Likewise, to my claim that the state and its aggression is unjustified, it is disingenuous and/or confused to reply, "anarchy won't work" or is "impractical" or "unlikely to ever occur." The view that the state is unjustified is a normative or ethical position. The fact that not enough people are willing to respect their neighbors' rights to allow anarchy to emerge, i.e., the fact that enough people (erroneously) support the legitimacy of the state to permit it to exist, does not mean that the state, and its aggression, are justified.
Other utilitarian replies like "but we need a state" do not contradict the claim that states employ aggression and that aggression is unjustified. It simply means that the state-advocate does not mind the initiation of force against innocent victims — i.e., he shares the criminal/socialist mentality. The private criminal thinks his own need is all that matters; he is willing to commit violence to satisfy his needs; to hell with what is right and wrong. The advocate of the state thinks that his opinion that "we" "need" things justifies committing or condoning violence against innocent individuals. It is as plain as that.
But the state is the glue that holds society together.
St. Augustine saw the state, along with slavery, as a consequence of Original Sin. It could never be a good thing, but it was inescapable for fallen men. But we may ask whether this is really so; in Augustine’s day slavery seemed a necessary evil of social life, and a world without slavery was hard to imagine. Nobody could remember, and few could conceive, an economy without slaves.
Is it possible that we have likewise assumed that the state is inevitable only because we are used to it, and can hardly imagine a world without it? Just as the menial tasks once performed by slaves are now distributed differently among free men, perhaps, as anarchists argue, the functions of the state could be distributed among voluntary agencies.
The Renaissance philosopher Thomas Hobbes thought that anarchy — the "state of nature" — would be "a war of all against all," making human life "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." His solution was the state, which would quell quarrels among men. He didn’t foresee that the state itself might aggravate conflict and make social order far more miserable than anarchy could ever be.
Hobbes’s near-contemporary John Locke offered a more attractive alternative: the limited state, which would have the power to secure men’s natural rights but would lack the power to violate them. But such a state has never existed for long. Once a monopoly of power exists at all, it tends to degenerate into tyranny; anarchists argue that this decline is inevitable, because tyranny is inherent in the very nature of the state.
Whatever the truth is, the anarchists have much reason on their side. And much history.
Because of the disingenuous manner in which this word has been employed, I endeavor to be as precise in my use of the term as possible. I employ the word "anarchy" not as a noun, but as a verb. I envision no utopian community, no "Galt's Gulch" to which free men and women can repair. I prefer to think of anarchy as a way in which people deal with one another in a peaceful, cooperative manner; respectful of the inviolability of each other's lives and property interests; resorting to contract and voluntary transactions rather than coercion and expropriation as a way of functioning in society.
I am often asked if anarchy has ever existed in our world, to which I answer: almost all of your daily behavior is an anarchistic expression. How you deal with your neighbors, coworkers, fellow customers in shopping malls or grocery stores, is often determined by subtle processes of negotiation and cooperation. Social pressures, unrelated to statutory enactments, influence our behavior on crowded freeways or grocery checkout lines. If we dealt with our colleagues at work in the same coercive and threatening manner by which the state insists on dealing with us, our employment would be immediately terminated. We would soon be without friends were we to demand that they adhere to specific behavioral standards that we had mandated for their lives.
"Anarchy" is an expression of social behavior that reflects the individualized nature of life. Only as living beings are free to pursue their particular interests in the unique circumstances in which they find themselves, can conditions for the well-being of all be attained. Anarchy presumes decentralized and cooperative systems that serve the mutual interests of the individuals comprising them, without the systems ever becoming their own reasons for being. It is this thinking, and the practices that result therefrom, that is alone responsible for whatever peace and order exists in society.
Political thinking, by contrast, presumes the supremacy of the systems (i.e., the state) and reduces individuals to the status of resources for the accomplishment of their ends. Such systems are grounded in the mass-minded conditioning and behavior that has produced the deadly wars, economic dislocations, genocides, and police-state oppressions that comprise the essence of political history.
Men and women need nothing so much right now as to rediscover and reenergize their own souls. They will never be able to accomplish such purposes in the dehumanizing and dispirited state systems that insist upon controlling their lives and property.