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Review of The Anarchist Handbook by Michael Malice

Michael Malice is one of the more interesting and controversial pundits/commentators on the right.

On one hand, he agrees with much of what we stand for. He’s pro-free speech, pro-gun, and anti-taxation in a way that would make even the Conservative, Inc. crowd proud.

But, on the other hand, he’s an anarchist and isn’t particularly on the cultural right. On LGBTQ issues, the military, and policing, his brand of anarchism is probably quite the opposite of what most of us believe.

However, while his ideas are different and radical, they are, at least, worth considering. Even if we’re far from anarchists, there are some aspects of his thinking that are amenable to our cause, so what he and those like him think and why should be dissected. Hence why I read The Anarchist Handbook despite knowing from the start that I’d disagree with much of it.

Malice begins The Anarchist Handbook, which is a collection of writings from anarchist thinkers over the past few centuries, with his own writing, in the form of an introduction. In it, he discusses the basis of anarchist thought:

Antinomianism in ethics is anarchism in a sociopolitical context, the belief that the imposition of authority is illegitimate. In one sense, anarchism is nothing more than the declaration that “You do not speak for me.” Everything else is just implementation…

There are many common visceral arguments against anarchism: Anarchism is a bad idea because it would lead to a government. Anarchism would mean authoritarian warlords being in charge of the society. Anarchism is utopian and hasn’t worked anywhere on earth—except when it has, in which case it doesn’t count because a government exists somewhere and therefore made it work. Anarchism cannot work on a large scale, and anarchism cannot work on a small scale either because those areas would immediately be invaded. Inherent in this argument is that governments are, by their nature, invasive and predatory—this being the anarchist view of the nature of government…

Anarchism is a relationship, one in which none of the parties has authority over the other...”

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He then goes on to introduce and include a prime example of how each anarchist thinker thought, thus showing the many shades of the black flag of anarchism, which range from the anarcho-communist left to Malice and his coterie on the anarchist right.

Some are more interesting than others, all seem to miss the point, which is that anarchism, in its end, just leads back to government. If you get rid of the police, then private police will be the norm. If you get rid of the military, then communities, or even nations, will hire PMCs to defend them. If you get rid of regulatory agencies like the FDA, then private regulators will take their place. At least for a while. But what about the long run? Won’t those private police, PMCs, and private regulators just become the police, military, and regulators again? Wouldn’t that just be government with extra steps?

I understand that argument is the line of thought Malice attacks in the introductory quotation I included, but I think it remains a fair question and it’s not one that he or the others answer.

Take this passage, for example, in which the idea of a private military force fielded by companies is discussed:

Individual military equipment may be paid for by the individual hobbyist, but not many enthusiasts can afford a tank, an artillery piece, or whatever the equivalent will be in the military technology of the future. Companies, on the other hand… Every April 15th, the platoon fielded by Apple Computer marches in the Liberty Day parade led by a robot tank flying Apple’s banner—clear evidence that Apple is a responsible and patriotic company whose computers (and phones and tablets and watches) you should buy. Microsoft tries to do them one better, parading its larger platoon, also employee volunteers, under a swarm of armed robot drones.

After watching Apple and its Big Tech buddies work to crush Parler and attack free speech, does anyone really want Apple and Amazon fielding fleets of tanks and F-35s? I’m not a huge fan of our military, but at least the lower-ranking servicemen are still mainly patriots that believe in the founding values. I’d have a hard time saying the same about Apple employees; I have the feeling they’d work to crush liberty even faster than our current government overlords. As much as I dislike McConnell and Conservative, Inc., even they are better than that!

So no, no real solution to the power vacuum is offered, other than that every citizen should be armed. I agree that every free American should be armed, but a gaggle of deer hunters would likely have a hard time taking on the CCP, especially if America is broken up into corporate duchies. The Reds would just take over and then all liberty would be lost…anarchism wouldn’t work. It’s better to have liberty with a few sensible restraints than complete freedom that leads to weakness in the face of powerful enemies.

Then there’s the problem of culture, one that neither Malice nor any of the thinkers in the anthology discuss. Liberty can only exist if the culture hosting it is amenable to the idea. Hence why we can have our freedoms here, but nation-building didn’t work in the Middle East. What’s to keep that Western culture alive without government? If there are no rules and anything goes, our unique culture would be wiped out by hordes of migrants and a decadent populace.

Yes, I understand that’s happening now. But that’s a failure of government; Slow Joe and Co. are failing in their role. With a more effective leader in charge, neither would be an issue. In an anarchic society, both would remain issues until a strongman took power, as would happen. If you don’t believe me, just look at Rome around the time of Julius Caesar, when the government couldn’t control rogue generals and mobs led by power-hungry, aspiring despots fought for power in Rome. That’s what anarchy would look like, not some utopia where everyone gets along. Men aren’t angels. It’s insane to treat them as such.

Much as I wanted to find something, anything redeeming in The Anarchist Handbook, I just couldn’t. The “thinkers” all seem to lack the grounding in reality that can make an idea profound. Pretending no one would try to take over is utterly absurd and contradicts all of human history.

That’s not an argument against limited government, which can work and has, in fact, done so. Just look at America before the Progressive Era or Britain during the Victorian Era.

But having no government can’t work because a government will rise up. Power abhors a vacuum. The only difference is how you get there; will it be whichever warlord seizes the most land, or which politician gets the most votes? Much as I’m disgusted by the current uniparty, the latter still seems far better.

Gen Z Conservative. Follow me on Parler and Gettr.