One argument made by statists to justify the existence of the state is that without the state that would be roving gangs going around taking everybody’s shit. This argument makes little sense in my opinion. First, it assumes that humans are inherently uncooperative and prefer to take instead of trade. Second, it assumes the state itself isn’t a roving gang of thugs who go around and take everybody’s shit.
Let’s discuss the first issue, the assumption that humans are inherently uncooperative. If the existence of the state is the only thing between modern society and complete chaos then I must know, how did humans cooperate long enough to establish a state? Anti-statists, such as myself, believe humans are inherently cooperative and use the existence of society as proof. What is society after all? It’s groups of humans who have come together to interact with one another, namely in trade. Without the division of labor that society brings each individual would be forced to provide for all of their means themselves. Imagine if you had to make every pair of shoes you’ve owned by hand. This would involve everything from obtaining the leather to creating the thread for the stitching. Then imagine other modern luxuries such as air conditioners and computers. It’s pretty easy to see that the lack of division of labor would mean modern technology would not exist.
Thankfully humans are cooperative enough that we decided to take advantage of divided labor. You perform your part of the work and I’ll perform my part. If I’m a shoemaker I’ll buy my leather from somebody who raises cattle. I believe division of labor is ultimately what lead humans to develop societies. Every task humans perform is made easier by cooperation. Hunting a large wooly mammoth seems a monumental task for one man but is certainly doable for a hunting party.
If humans were uncooperative we would not have modern society, instead we would still be in caves. Unfortunately statists take the rare exceptions to cooperative humans, the thieves, and use them as the rule. Were this true Iceland wouldn’t have enjoyed 300 years of relatively peaceful statelessness.
What about the second assumption? When somebody says the only thing between modern society and roving gangs of thieves is the state they are stating a fallacy for the state is a roving gang of thieves. Everything the state does is pays for though theft. Whether that theft is taxation or printing money (which causes inflation, which is nothing more than the theft of an individual’s purchasing power) is irrelevant, it’s still theft. If you don’t pay your taxes then the state will simply take your shit. Depending on how behind you are on your taxes you may lose your home and your car.
A state can’t stand between modern society and roving gangs because the state itself is a roving gang. They are taking your shit.