Flag.Blackened.net | OBJECTION #6: What will we do with criminals in an anarchist world?

ANSWER: Most “criminals” in our government-controlled world are victims of the law. They are criminals not because they have injured someone else, but because they have violated some government commandment. They have broken some victimless crime law or some edict the state proclaimed to promote its own welfare, e.g., the draft law or income tax law. Abolish the state and these people will no longer be criminals.

There are some individuals who are genuine criminals – the robber, rapist, murderer – who will have to be dealt with. Whether we protect ourselves individually from these ruffians, or by organizing private defense agencies; whether we try them in courts or at the scene of the crime; whether we imprison them or make them pay restitution to their victims, are all issues that must be settled by anarchist societies when they are faced with the problems. Free people will find ways to secure protection and justice for themselves. The point to be understood is that they will do it for themselves when the need arises. It’s not for us to program how they must do it.

There is yet another type of criminal, the institutional criminal, that poses the greatest danger to the health, safety, and welfare of people. He, too, is created by the law, but he has this advantage over all other criminals; he is also the law-maker and the judge of his laws. He is the government.

It is government itself that has been the world’s greatest criminal. In the name of patriotism or national defense or manifest destiny or just plain greed, he has slaughtered more people, stolen more money, and terrorized more individuals than have all the criminals throughout all the centuries of human history. It is government that wages war, operates concentration camps and taxes the people. It’s government that used the rack, operated the guillotine, and dropped the atom bomb. Not anarchists. It’s not an anarchist world that is chaotic and full of conflict – it’s the one in which the state exists. And it’s because of the state, not in spite of it, that we have all these.

What do we do with criminals in an anarchist world? We get rid of the biggest one and try to deal with the rest as best we can. Read Entire Article

by Michael E. Coughlin

Objections to Anarchism – The Principles of Anarchism are Timeless Truths was originally published in serial form in the dandelion between Summer 1977 and Summer 1979.