Not too long ago I went out to lunch with a long time friend and after catching up we talked about a little philosophy. He was interested in anarchist philosophy that I had been reading but had a lot of hesitation about the idea of a society without a government. This being my first time trying to convince someone of anarchy who wasn't already predisposed to the idea, I had a good deal of trouble and it ended up being slightly awkward. I approached it in a way of trying to clear away his objections to the idea of an anarchist society one by one, but got stuck on trying to convince him how defense would work in a free society. I got flustered and did not effectively explain how a free society could provide for defense.
After thinking about the approach I ended up taking, I would like to try a different tact in the future. Instead of trying to convince him directly that anarchy is the best system, I think I should have approached the problem by showing him, first of all, that governments currently do a bad job at providing defense and then that government will not improve. Going about it the way I did was sort of like trying to convince someone to take chemo-therapy without first showing them that, hey, they have cancer and also that the pills they think are helping are actually laced with arsenic. Trying to show that a free society would work based on my ideas and views runs directly counter to a free society’s lack of rulers and deciders. It is better to approach the problem by showing that the current system does not and cannot work, and then to state clearly how one possible solution could function when they ask for a solution and evidence.
- Listen to their concerns. Whether it is defense, the poor, education, or scientific research; I know I will never reach through to anyone unless I can first understand what their most pressing concerns are and show empathy with those goals.
- Show how governments ignore those concerns. I know that no one will ever be open to an idea of a free society if it requires them to give up on a cause that is very important to them. The idea of solving problems must be decoupled from the idea of government action.
- Offer free society solution examples and evidence. People are rational and want to see evidence and a cohesive theory for the alternative I am proposing. I see real world examples all around. Examples will help build their confidence in anarchist theory.
- Repeat. They will have a list of concerns of descending importance, so I will take the time to approach all of their concerns and questions, even if it means getting a second hot chocolate. I will listen and take to heart their criticisms in order to grow intellectually.
If you are an anarchist/an-cap/agorist/mutualist/… what concerns have you talked to others about and how did it go?
If you are a democrat/libertarian/republican/independent/green/socialist/communist/… what concerns come to your mind when you hear about having a society without a government?