I used to consider myself to be an anarchist-communist but I no longer think that anarchism is practical. Anarchists might argue that the idea of a society without authority or political hierarchy seems implausible only because we’re raised in a culture that emphasizes authority and hierarchy but I would counter that humans have developed cultures that encourage or tolerate violence, coercion, authority, hierarchy etc. because we have an innate genetic capacity for aggression and dominance. Culture is not the only factor that influences human behavior, as long as humans have a genetic capacity for anti-social behavior there will probably always be environmental influences to help stimulate that capacity, even if the culture they were raised in encourages co-operative and altruistic behavior. Even though I still think that an anarchist communist society would be morally ideal, I now consider myself to be pro-welfare state/keynesian economics because, in an anarchist-communist gift economy, people would have to rely on the possibility of the other members of their community feeling a sense of solidarity with them and freely sharing needed resources or not behaving anti-socially, in a welfare state, taxation (as long as enough wealth is being generated to begin with) guarantees that people will be provided with health care, a basic education and a welfare system to provide the poor with the things they need to have a decent standard of living. As for dealing with violent behavior, how would an anarchist, defense militia prevent most crimes if they weren’t willing to to take aggressive or preemptive measures, or to incarcerate homicide suspects, isn’t that authoritarian?
I may no longer think that anarchism is pragmatic but I do understand the argument that the state’s authority is illegitimate because a legitimate ‘social contract’ requires the explicit consent of every individual that is considered bound to that contract. What I don’t understand is how ‘libertarians’ (in the North American, fiscally conservative sense of the word) are willing to tax poor people to provide the middle and upper classes with a police force, military defense and prison systems to deter crime but they view taxation of the upper and middle classes for welfare programs that would provide poor people with things that they need to survive as an injustice. I think that a low-income family benefits even more from having access to food, shelter, medical attention and public education than they do from police protection . If you do not have access to food and clean water you will die, without a police force it’s only a possible that other people will behave violently towards you.
I agree with libertarians and anarchist-capitalists that taxation is theft and that coercion is bad but I believe that some coercion is acceptable if it’s necessary to prevent more distress than it causes. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with taxation, the distress caused by coercion is no worse than distress caused by any other circumstance. The resentment people might feel as a result of a government taking away their money to provide other people with needed resources probably doesn’t compare to the misery and hopelessness a starving child or a man in the final stages of cancer with no access to health care must feel (even the threat of prison, which should be reformed, probably can’t compare to the worst poverty). Taxation isn’t wrong because people have a ‘right’ to their property or to the fruit of their labor. Recognizing a right to property may be necessary for social harmony but rights are socially constructed. If a natural resource isn’t yours to begin with, it doesn’t become yours through discovery or modification.I don’t believe that anyone deserves to be rewarded on the basis of hard work or punished for anti-social behavior, I think everyone’s interests hold the same weight unconditionally. I think the only moral reason to respect a person’s rights would be because you recognized their welfare as being equivalent in worth to your own. It’s meaningless to say that raping someone is wrong because it violates their ‘rights’ but allowing someone to be raped, or to suffer unnecessarily in any way when you’re capable of preventing/stopping it, is acceptable just because you aren’t behaving aggressively. The end result is the same - suffering, and minimizing distress is why we should have ‘rights’ to begin with. I might argue that a meaningful definition of political freedom isn’t just the absence of coercion but the ability for people to live their lives in the way that will make them happiest. If you don’t have access to health care, education or the basic necessities, even without anyone preventing you from behaving autonomously, if you don’t have the opportunity to live a decent life then you aren’t free.
Hopefully liberal governments will eventually adopt a fully libertarian stance on most social issues and, in the future, living in a welfare state will be almost indistinguishable from living in an anarchist society where people would be free to have sex in public or walk around naked if they wanted to.
My main disagreement with deontological libertarianism is the idea that autonomy is inherently valuable regardless of whether or not it’s useful in increasing the general standard of living. I could be persuaded to adopt a libertarian or anti-statist stance on purely consequentialist grounds.