The American Anarchist Regions: A Fictional Exploration
The last post has left my brain working, and it is painting a fictional world to describe as bizarre an anarchy I can think to describe: one in which almost nothing changes. The United States was born close to anarchy, with the Articles of Confederation only barely constraining the relationships and business inter-state and between the states and foreign powers. The Constitution, of course, changed that, but the United States nonetheless remains the best template for finding a human solution to centralized power we have yet seen. But for this world to make sense, it needs to be placed in context. In a year not too far in the future, amidst a second Civil War brought on by States refusing to comply with Federal mandates and acts, eventually demanding federal officers attempt to occupy the rebelling states. Without the regional unity of the previous rebellion, some states are easier to occupy than others; major cities which oppose the body politick of the rest of the state are often enough to control the flow of goods. But a quartet of States, whose Constitutions closer resemble the original intentions of the war-torn founding fathers, decide to declare an independent neutrality; Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah.
It wouldn't start as an Anarchist Region, of course; each of the states would be best attempting to implement liberty and security on a smaller scale. And not all of the land would be immediately taken; large Air Force bases and other federal lands throughout these states would become contested for a time, but it won't be the State's Guards who retake those lands; it would be the ranchers and rednecks for whom the deserts, low tundra, forests, mountains and mine-lands are home, are hunting-ground and are known like the backs of their hands. If you take into account that, while most of these people aren't necessarily technically-inclined, they all know people who are and have strong relationships with them, the steep advantage of the encircled Federal militaries with air support will not be able to maintain logistics lines and would eventually be frog-marched into California or Colorado.
Speaking of those states, this civil war looks like it would divide the country into more than two pieces. The eastern seaboard would remain mostly in-tact, with the exception of Florida, Maine, and New Hampshire; the center of the country, covering most of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma would devolve into a warlord state of its own ruled by cutting the nation in half and controlling all the highways and major trade rivers through the center of the country; Texas would invite New Mexico in as part of sovereign land, and would also begin trade negotiations with the Neutral Independent States. This trade would prove invaluable to the both of them, as Texas needs independent energy trade partners to maintain their perceived mass of barrels still beneath the ground; likewise, Nevada and Utah are mineral-rich but water-dependent, and the Colorado can only do so much for three states. With so many concerns on the field, the hardcore libertarians would start winning out with their ability to mobilize, develop, and strategize faster than government-run operations and government-funded corporations. Eventually, the states would be dissolved “to honour the rights of man and stand out of the way of the Regional Defense Board of the Mojave.”
This would be the first step toward a “government of anarchy” — a contradiction that is nonetheless seen in every organized anarchy; social, strategic, and logistical leaders collect to coordinate and act in the best interest of their own self-defense. Though powerful, these leaders would end up becoming talking-heads very quickly, as getting things done would have already been delegated to the acting leaders in the field, and the deals necessary to be made with Texas for energy, with Greater Cascadia for water, and with Mexico for the minerals they're unable to mine up themselves. But as with any government in revolution, the keys to power required to create that revolution are not the same keys to power required to secure that revolution — or in this case, secure the revolution from those that would seek to take it for their own devices. Accountability and relationship is where things begin to differ. Imagine if you will, just for a moment, walking up the long dirt driveway of a family that owns fourty acres, on which they grow an assortment of vegetables as well as some cows and chickens. They have three kids; the oldest is shooting at a target when you arrive. A dog runs up to you and barks, but never does any more than that, eventually returning to the owner when it calls. He's a grizzled individual as well; beard and shirt soaked in drying sweat. But you have absolutely no right to take anything from this man, as a representative of the so-called Regional Defense Council; you don't even know if he knows what that is. So you sit down and explain. It's in our best interests, as some of the most influential people in these areas, to pool our resources and our efforts toward formulating a defense, you tell them; with the Federal armies still applying pressure from California to hold Nellis and Las Vegas, we need to speak with every land-owner in the nearby area to know whether or not they're ready for Feds to try to march through their land.
The son stands up. “You're damn right we're ready,” he says, gun still slung over his shoulder as he stands in the doorway. His mother hushes him concernedly. “And what is it you want from us?” The father then asks. And you have to, knowing nothing else to be true, tell him with a straight face, “I can ask nothing of you. But if you'd like our help, or would like to work with us, I think we could come to agreement.”
And you won't always come to an agreement. That family may die defending their homestead; but they died free, and on their own terms. It hurts to think about, doesn't it? My stomach tightens, when I think about it, because some will make that choice. And moreso, I have to believe some will even survive, and hold them back from the land that is theirs, and their childrens'. If they need arms, and you provide them arms, you have to be prepared for them to use them against you, in the event they see you as no different from the Federal Army. Because, collectivized for the common defense, you are but a hair and a breath away from becoming what you seek to fight against. And this is where a Regional Defense Council of the Mojave gives way to the unorganized “silent majority” — those continuing to live their lives regardless of whatever war some government, or some company, says they're fighting. Life goes on, whether we can accept it in the circumstances we're provided or not; that life is precious, and should not be disturbed. And thanks to the age of the internet, a historical debate can take place between members of the Regional Defense Council and individuals from the region for whom this Defense Council purports to defend.
The Warlord of St Louis (he calls himself “The CEO”) is commonly brought up in these debates. “What will happen if a charismatic warlord of our own is able to sway the Defense Council to act in an offensive manner?” one of the homesteaders might ask. “Those gangs are still coming over the Colorado border; your checkpoints aren't able to handle everything.”
“Yeah, and you were never supposed to be a power in the first place! Aren't you supposed to be equal to us?” Noise picks up for a bit, and then settles back down. Another homesteader comes forward. “Look, I appreciate what you say you're doing for us, but I live just south of Yellowstone; I have more to worry about from wolves that have moved into the properties around me than anything in this war. I live here because I wanted freedom for myself and my family; I didn't want a king or president or council or anything ruling over me. So I have to ask; when is the end-date for this defense project you're pursuing?”
The silence is deafening for a moment. It's only when an arms manufacturer shifts in his chair that the silence is broken. “We don't know.”
“Then are we to assume this war could go on forever?”
“Not even a war is worth sacrificing my rights. My unalienable rights. If you need to deal with the people on the Colorado border, you deal with the people on the Colorado border. If they want to ask my help, they can ask my help. But no one holds power over me and my family.”
The cities would have a spike in crime before seeing it plummet rapidly; just the thought of conflict makes open-carry more common, and those weapons on display leave everyone that much more polite after the first few robberies that end, not in a robbery, but a kneecapped man fleeing with nothing, and his face being shared around to surrounding businesses. Life, in its own little way, would just go on, with only the sources of materials and goods being different. Avocados would be easier to obtain than lemons, but Florida would never stop selling her oranges to anyone willing to buy them. Las Vegas would continue to be Las Vegas, with the added benefit of fewer regulating bodies; this, of course, would also welcome back the mob into the equation. This wouldn't be like the Five Families in New York, however; with legitimate and legal gambling able now to compete with professional gambling establishments on an unregulated playing field, one good numbers game could be enough to cut deeply into the casino's primary income. This, coupled with their history of becoming more and more family-friendly, inclines me to think they would double down on the live entertainment industry to great success.
But just the presence of an organized group within a major city will create some amount of feedback at the edges of where their supposed control ends, and the liberty truly begins again; there is a vigilance that people will need to take to see where their supplies are coming from, and whether or not this poses them long-term risk. It may just be better business to buy your own trucks, or make a deal with truckers that own their own vehicle, than to rely upon the Teamsters like you may have before. But with vigilance as an individual and within the community with which you interact, you can prevent liberty from being eroded by having the conversations with the supposed mobs, or if that doesn't work, ensuring the competition for them you deal to support is one of many competitions they will have to face.
After all, no family or corporation holds extreme power for long. If they stay too anchored in their traditions, they may not be flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions. If they are high-risk and high-reward actors, a long-term stable strategy for competition can ensure you may not be on top, but will not fall out before whoever is on top begins to wane from their risk-taking.
Eventually the Debates with the Regional Defense Council would break down, and amid the gridlock a corporation would be formed — the only suiting solution for a businessman who genuinely believes in what he is doing, even if everyone else doubts him. In the articles of incorporation, he declares the rights of man, not dissimilar to the Bill of Rights, and concludes in the introduction of the Articles, that this corporation exists to hold share in the defense of the Mojave. The company's stated goal is to ensure that everyone in the Region has access to sufficient land and air defense systems, arms, and training. They're an arms dealer, to be sure; but their client is never another State; it is only the individuals that fill such a beautiful place.
Of course, this also is looked upon with suspicion, even months and years after the formation of the company. Rightfully so; that suspicion keeps them in check, and their incentive structures are built around not war, but peace. They will never make the kinds of money an international arms company could make, but that's not the point of the company, and each generation of Board Members and Presidents have to be reminded of that. The world isn't perfect; but neither is the world in which we live right now. No, it is just another adaptation in the eternal search for truer liberty — a liberty that does not lie to me with false senses of security, but rather allows me to choose how to pursue that security for myself.