Theories Relative to the Functions of Government : The Anarchist View

Functions of government many are response vital functions, including national security and protecting civil liberties, from freedom of speech to freedom from unreasonable search in all modern states, governmental functions have greatly expanded with the emergence of government as an active force in guiding social and economic. Now i discuses about Theories Relative to the Functions of Government: the Anarchist View

Anarchist Doctrines :-

The theories that have prevailed and still prevail regarding the necessity and function of the state range all the way from those which deny the necessity or utility of the state and which indeed regard it as an iniquity, to those which laud it as the mightiest creation of the human mind, the noblest expression of human purpose and as the essential institution by which all social, industrial, artistic, literary, and scientific progress has been achieved.

At one extreme are the anarchists, who while differing among themselves in respect to certain details, are in agreement in their hostility toward what they call the “coercive” state, and in their desire to see it abolished. One group of them the revolutionary anarchists-would go to the length of employing violence to get rid of it, consequently they advocate assassination of government officials, the destruction, by bombs or otherwise, of government buildings, and the like.

The other group the philosophical anarchists, consisting mainly of intellectuals, would limit their activities to argument and propaganda, in the effort to convince mankind of the uselessness of the state and the superiority of the regime of anarchy. They claim to be opposed not to all government as such, but only to that which is founded upon the principle of coercion or compulsion in short, it is to government to which they have not freely given in their consent that they object.

To the argument that modern democratic government rests in fact upon the consent of the governed they reply that this is merely a theory and not a fact. At least, they say, it means only the consent of the majority, and even that consent is rarely given freely and expressly. In any case, they say, a great minority is subjected to coercion and compulsion to which they have never assented and to which they never would assent if the opportunity were afforded to record their Opinion by a vote.

Huxley defines anarchy as a state of society in which the rule of each individual by himself is the only government the legitimacy of which is recognized-one in which he is not coerced into cooperation for the defense of his neighbor. According to Kropotkin, the most intellectual exponent of the doctrines of anarchy, the essential  feature of the anarchistic regime is that there will be no compulsion, no law, and no government exercising force.

The anarchist is opposed to every existing system of government not only because it exercises compulsion upon the individual without his consent and is therefore an enemy to liberty and genuine self-government, but also because all governments without exception have proved themselves inefficient, they are arbitrary and tyrannical and therefore hateful, they are conducted in the interests of the privileged classes, the alleged equality of treatment which they profess to mete out to all has no real, existence. The individual, says the anarchist, has as much moral right to coerce society as it has to coerce him.

Some anarchists, like Tolstoi, condemn the state also because it fosters and wages war. By means of propaganda it poisons the minds of its citizens against the peoples of other nations , it commits acts of spoliation, aggression, and robbery, it is therefore the arch criminal and destroyer of the human race.

Substitute for Government :-

Anarchists are not entirely agreed among themselves as to the nature of the regime which they would establish in he place of the state, but those who have hazarded constructive proposals suggest that a system of voluntary associations and arrangements in which each individual would be free to join or not as he chooses, and from which he might freely withdraw at will, would be an adequate and desirable substitute for the “coercive” state.

These associations would perform the few necessary functions of government the preservation of internal order, the enforcement of contracts, maintenance of the national defense, etc. They would offer their services to those who needed their protection and under the influence of competition those which were the most efficient or changed the least would get the greater part of the business.

From the anarchistic point of view, the superiority of such a system over that of the existing regime Would Consist in the absence of the elements of force and compulsion, it would be a system based entirely upon the free consent of each individual and would therefore be a regime of complete liberty and of self government.

Answer to the Anarchistic Argument :-

It is unnecessary to analyze in detail the arguments put forward by the anarchists in support of their contentions. It is sufficient to say that their whole case is defective first, because it rests upon unfounded assumptions regarding the character of What they call “coercive” government, and, second, because the substitutes which they propose to take its place would prove wholly inadequate to meet the situation which exists in the complex societies of to day. Their criticism of the state is not Without some justification, but it is grossly exaggerated and any effective conceivable substitute would not be free from the same objection.

They are wrong in assuming, as they seem to do, that all governmental activity is founded on and begotten of aggression, and that it necessarily involves the use of force or restraint. A large part of the activity of every modern government is in the form of aid and assistance and involves no compulsion upon any individual.

Moreover, their assumption that force and restraint can be eliminated from the world is not justified by the results of experience or our knowledge of human nature. If history teaches anything it is that if all limitations upon individual freedom were removed and each individual allowed to determine for himself the limits of his own liberty, conflicting determinations would result, those who have the physical power would enforce their decisions against the weak, and we should have not a regime of liberty for all, but the tyranny of the strong and the subjection of the weak. Unlimited liberty, as Ritchie aptly remarked, has never been claimed by any sane or reasonable person.

The law of human life from the cradle to the grave is the law of limitation. Even if human nature were different, so that physical restraint would be unnecessary to insure right conduct by normal men, society would still be exposed to danger from the acts of the insane, the moral degenerate, and those who commit crime in the excitement of momentary passion.

As Bertrand Russell, himself a sympathetic critic of anarchism, remarks :

“If, as anarchists desire, there were no use of force by Government, the majority could still band themselves together and use force against the minority. The only difference would be that their army or their police force would be ad hoc, instead of being permanent or professional.”

His own conclusion is that the anarchist ideal of a community in which no acts are forbidden by law is not, at any rate for the present, compatible with the stability of such a world as the anarchists desire. The state in some form, whatever may be said in criticism of its mistakes, its inefficiency, its abuse of power, is and always will be an absolute necessity among civilized men.

As Seeley justly remarked, whatever in human history is great or admirable has been found in governed communities, that is, it has been the result of the imposition of restrictions upon liberty. If the state Were abolished, after a brief period of anarchy the patriarchal stage or some other “natural” grouping of a more rudimentary form would be established, that is, society would begin over again from its lowest elements and only by the ultimate reestablishment of the state could it escape from savagery and barbarism.

Nevertheless, as some sympathetic critics of the doctrine of anarchy have pointed out, while anarchists are wrong in most of their assumptions and while the~substitutes which they propose to take the place of the state would prove ineffective, certain of their indictments against governments, as we know it in its actual working, are largely justified. In all states there are social, economic, and political evils, due in large measure to bad, in efficient, indifferent, or corrupt government, which have tended to discredit the state in the minds of many persons and to create contempt for the authority of government.

One well known writer referring to the evils of which anarchists complain, remarks Anarchism confronts our sense of citizenship with a challenge which we should do well to take seriously, and the believer in political institutions should seek to make them more worthy of popular allegiance.