Inconceivable! The Plausibility of a Stateless Society

Originally Published on The Libertarian Christian Institute

Among Christian libertarians, as with other libertarians, there are differing views concerning the legitimacy, necessity, and inevitability of the state. For some, this is the worn-out debate between a view supporting statelessness (or ‘anarchism’) for a free society, and a view supporting a limited state (or ‘minarchism’) for a free society. Can libertarians, both anarchists and minarchists, cooperate in pursuit of a free society? I think they can. Nevertheless, there is genuine disagreement between these two views, and each view is worth considering.

In a series of articles, I’ll address several common objections I’ve found to be made from a minarchist view against anarchism. The first concerns law and order and the question of the state’s legitimacyThe second concerns human sinfulness and the question of the state’s necessity. The third concerns dominance hierarchy and the question of the state’s inevitability. The fourth concerns our (in)ability to imagine a free and stateless society, and also the question of the plausibility of statelessness.


In the first three articles of this series, I addressed common minarchist objections to anarchism concerning the state’s supposed legitimacy, necessity, and inevitability. The fourth objection concerns our inability or difficulty in imagining civil governance in a stateless free society and the question of its plausibility.

Inconceivable!

Similar to the objection concerning the state’s supposed inevitability (which depends on faulty assumptions more than an argument), this objection concerning the supposed implausibility of stateless civil governance is less of an argument than it is a failure of imagination.

Of course, difficulty in conceiving how civil governance without a state could work is quite understandable. It’s well established that we often have a bias toward that which is more familiar. And most of us have become aware of the range of ideas that delimits what is “thinkable” and publicly discussible in politics.

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Kerry Baldwin

independent researcher, author

B.A. Philosophy, Arizona State University. My writing focuses on libertarian philosophy and reformed theology and aimed at the educated layperson. I am a confessionally Reformed Christian orthodox Presbyterian in the tradition of J. Gresham Machen (1881 – 1937)

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