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Anarchists and statists both labour under a delusion. The delusion that day to day life in an anarchist society would be that much different than our day to day lives as they are now.

The statist (which I am using as a blanket term to cover liberal, conservative, socialist and other believers in the institution of government) believes that anarchy means chaos. That there would be no rules, no regulations, no restrictions on how people may behave, no order.

The anarchist believes that without government, he would be free of cumbersome rules, regulations, and restrictions on behaviour.

Both are wrong. Consider this.  I currently live under four different governments. The federal government of Canada, the provincial government of British Columbia, the municipal government of the City of Abbotsford, and the strata council that governs the strata townhouse development I live in. Three are public governments.

The last is a private government. It was not imposed on me from above. I voluntarily agreed to be bound by the rules of this government when I bought our townhouse. Agreeing to the strata rules was part of the purchase contract.  And if I decide to rent out my townhouse, the tenants are obliged to follow them as well.

The rules governing the strata development are, in some ways, more restrictive than the laws of the other governments. The strata forbids growing marijuana or engaging in activities that are against the laws of the larger governments. I cannot deal drugs from my townhouse. And I also cannot paint or otherwise alter the exterior of the townhouse without consent of council, I may not hang towels or other items to dry on the railing of my balcony, I cannot make major changes inside the townhouse without consent, and I cannot park in the guest parking area without a permit.

Oh!  And there are monthly strata fees. We don’t call them taxes, but they are more or less the same thing. The fees defray the cost of the community roads, the community park, the community clubhouse and swimming pool, garbage collection, and landscape maintenance.  These fees are considerably more than the taxes I pay municipally. ($2330/year vs. $1311/year ).

clubhouseandpool

The pool and clubhouse are common property in our strata development.

Some friends live in a strata development on Vancouver Island and their development consists of houses rather than townhouses. But the structure is very similar. The strata corporation is jointly owned by the home owners and manages streets and services, including a library, swimming pool, billiards room, club house and even a private dock. It has an extensive waterfront area.

In an anarchist society, there would be many and varied forms of property, as there are now. Private property, joint property in various forms, and even communal property, much as our strata development has common areas that are jointly owned and democratically governed.

Municipal governments would almost certainly exist in an anarchist society. Currently, when a builder creates a new development, he builds streets, installs sewers and water mains, and calls in service providers like telephone and electric companies to install the infrastructure for the development. Once the development is complete, the developer routinely cedes the streets, sewers, and water mains to the local government the development is located in. They become common property owned by the city, or more properly, by the residents of the city.

In the eventual transition to an anarchist society (an evolutionary, not a revolutionary process as I have discussed elsewhere), I believe most current municipal and city governments will continue to exist.  However, the formal structure these governments take may be altered. Such alteration would be along the line of currently existing strata corporations.  The governments would be become private entities, owned by the people that live in them and democratically governed by them. The owners would have to decide whether owners alone would elect the government or whether tenants could also have a say.

They would impose taxes but would call them strata fees. They would likely provide police and fire services, parks, libraries and the other features we have come to expect from local governments. Or they could contract some of these services out. They could and probably would pass restrictions on behaviour and business, including business licensing, prohibition of certain activities and/or substances such as prostitution, drugs and guns. Not something libertarian anarchists would favour, but because they are voluntarily self-imposed, not something we could do much about except to try and influence the election of a new strata council and/or petition the council and/or lobby support for changes we want made.

As I said at the beginning, both statists and anarchists labour under the delusion that life would be that much different. It is not as scary as the statists would have us believe, nor as liberating as the anarchists believe it would be.

Such quasi-governments could, in fact, be even more powerful and more restrictive than our current larger governments in some respects. Such local ruling bodies would have absolute power over their territory. If, for example, a pipeline company wanted to build or expand a pipeline through the municipality’s territory, such local governments can now be overruled by provincial and federal authorities. They can be forced to allow such construction. As a private entity in an anarcho-capitalist world, they could prevent such construction. In other words, property rights and local control of property could not be set aside by non-owners.

But most of the complaints of anarcho-capitalists and libertarians are with the larger governments, more so than with small, local governments. And that is a topic for tomorrow.

Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 16, 2015 at The Jolly Libertarian

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