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The Anarchy Inherent in the System: New at Reason

Sunday, October 23, 2016 8:42
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Donald Trump says the presidential election is “rigged.” Of course, he equivocates over the word rigged to include voter fraud along with news-media/polling bias—two very different things. The former suggests that the outcome is predetermined, the latter only that influential organizations try to move voters in a particular direction. One might also say that Trump has helped “rig” the election against himself with his inveterate estrangement from the truth and his braggadocio about sexual assault.

But there’s another side to the “rigged election” charge that’s bound to go unnoticed, writes Sheldon Richman. The American political system, like all political systems, requires a good deal of peaceful cooperation to operate. This is obviously relevant to the much-touted peaceful transfer of power in the United States, which Trump is now said to jeopardize. And the peaceful transfer of power in America is relevant to the case for anarchism, argues Richman. Most people who reject anarchism do so largely because they believe that without the state as an enforcer of at least last resort, internally generated cooperation would be inadequate to sustain a peaceful and efficient society. Thus an ostensibly external agency—the state—is necessary to impose the minimum degree of cooperation required for society to run smoothly. But if the public’s implicit or explicit ideology can sustain a state, we have no reason to believe it could not sustain a stateless society?

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