Flag.Blackened.net | OBJECTION #2: There will always be disputes between people. This is the nature of man. We need someone to arbitrate those disputes and peacefully and justly reach a settlement of them.

ANSWER: In every age and among all people there will arise some disagreements which will be impossible for the disputants to settle peacefully themselves. This is a fact of nature which no anarchist or any other reasonable person will deny.

Though recognizing that there will be disputes and conflict between some people, we must not make the mistake of assuming that most social relationships will be of this nature. Most dealings between people are peaceful and those that involve some conflict are generally resolved satisfactorily and peacefully by the parties actually involved in the disagreement. Only a few such conflicts must be arbitrated by outside parties.

Any dispute that goes to the point of outside arbitration or settlement involves a conflict which will not be settled to the complete satisfaction of both parties.

As George Barrett explained it in his classic pamphlet Objections to Anarchism: “If there are two persons who want the exclusive right to the same thing, it is quite obvious that there is no satisfactory solution to the problem. It does not matter in the least what system of society you suggest, you cannot possibly satisfy that position.”

This is as much a fact of nature as is the reality that some people will sometimes get involved in conflict. To assume, as the objection does, that governmentally imposed verdict will be a “peaceful” and a “just” one acceptable to both parties involved, is an unwarrented assumption. It has no fact in nature and no standing in experience. The only thing that “resolves” the conflict is the state’s power to enforce its verdict. This ability to club one or both parties into submission to its command is called “justice.” It’s the only kind of “justice” the state knows and can administer.

It’s through this system of “justice” that every state has used its power to favor its friends and to punish its enemies and, in every case, to increase its power over the people.

As anarchists, we say with George Barrett, “such disputes are very much better settled without the interference of authority.”

But if it is argued that leaving disputes to be settled voluntarily and without the interference of some ultimate and powerful authority will lead to the eventual domination of the strong over the weak, we answer that today this precisely what you have. The government’s strength insures that its will will be done, whether the ends of true justice are served or not.

Perhaps the most socially destructive and far reaching influence this system of “justice via the club” has, lies in what it does to people themselves. It accustoms them to violent settlements of their differences instead of forcing them to rely on the sometimes more difficult but ultimately more peaceful system of arbitrating their problems. In the long run a people’s dependence on governmentally established procedures for settling disputes leads to a crippling of that people’s ability to settle their own disputes. It accustoms them to look to power for a settlement of all their difficulties and ultimately to confuse real justice with justice brought by the club. It leads in the end to more conflict as people grapple for the reigns of power in order to impose their desires on their neighbors. A lust for power is created and rewarded. The natural tendency of people to peacefully and voluntarily settle their problems is replaced by a system that neither honors nor respects nor tolerates our neighbors.

At the heart of our answer to the second objection are two observations anarchists have long made:

1) that disputes between individuals will neither be common nor long-lived and will not be as destructive to life and property and as hurtful to innocent and uninvolved third parties as are disputes that arise between peoples when they are ruled by governments.

2) that free people, though far from perfect, will be more likely to find reasonable and just solutions to human problems than will ever be found through the exercise of the state’s power to intervene in all disputes. 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.