When I discuss anarchism it’s inevitable that somebody will claim the lack of a state will inevitable lead to roving gangs of bandits preying on the weak. What people making such an argument have failed to address is how such a system is functionally different than what we live under today. Under today’s system we have a giant roving gang called the state preying on everybody who lives within its claimed territory. As Robert Higgs explained, anarchists aren’t the ones who have perpetuated history’s great atrocities:
Anarchists did not try to Carry Out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not Carry Out a Great Leap Forward that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children. In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.
The systematic slaughter of so many people is very difficult without a state. To claim that states are the only thing standing between civilization and barbarism demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge regarding history. States have perpetrated great genocides throughout the world whereas stateless societies such as Medieval Iceland, Medieval Ireland [PDF], the American Old West [PDF], and Neutral Moresnet are notable for their relative peace.
The state isn’t what lies between civilization and barbarism, the state is barbarism.