Rethinking Paradigms

Does complexity necessitate theft and coercion?

by Kent McManigal

Does a complex society necessarily sustain its complexity through theft and coercion or could you have an honest complex society?

I have read things that explain how complex societies “require” a State, due to their complexity.  That a monopoly of force is required to keep strangers from attacking and stealing.

The theory goes that simple societies, such as primitive hunter/gatherer societies, can get by without a State because of their small size (fewer individuals and less-complex connections between them), but once you get enough people in a society a State becomes “necessary” to keep people from attacking or robbing “strangers”.

If that is true it seems more reason to revert (or advance) to simple societies again, rather than justification for The State and its requisite theft and coercion.

I hope it isn’t true.  I like technology and don’t think very many of the people I like would survive long (or well) without it.  Even though I also like primitive technology, too.

Of course, I can’t really see how anointing some with special powers to rob and kill is better than letting the bad guys just take their chances with robbing or attacking people who might defend themselves.  A monopoly of force just empowers those most likely to abuse it.

And, as I have pointed out in the past, just because something might have been true in the distant past doesn’t necessarily mean it is still true today.  Humans haven’t changed, but their environment and their world has.  I think technology- guns, internet/communication, and so forth- changes the game in fundamental ways.  I think it puts people on a more even playing field and makes it harder for the bad guys to hide, once you remove the veil of legitimacy that the State seems to confer.

I would be perfectly willing to be a guinea pig and test the theory by living without a State keeping me or my enemies in line in a modern society.