Chaos and Order

Some people falsely think that libertarianism is about chaos. They also have this criticism for anarchism. They think that we want a chaotic society. They think that a society would become chaotic without a strong government. All of these criticisms are irrational. First of all, “order” is not necessarily a good thing in itself, and it shouldn’t even be an end goal. Just because a society has order does not necessarily mean that it would be a good and just society. To give an extreme example, there is plenty of order in a concentration camp, but that does not mean that we should strive for that. The kind of order that we strive for matters, if we are to strive for it at all as an end goal. Unfortunately, many people’s desire for order is really just their desire to impose their will on others. For them, “chaos” is whenever people aren’t doing what they want them to do. They think that it is “chaotic” when some people are smoking pot, when some gay people are having sex, when some people are practicing a different religion than their own, when some people are spending their own money on whatever they want, or when some parents are having their kids taught a curriculum of their own choice.

Secondly, free people under a small government do not produce chaos, they produce spontaneous order. The most classic and well demonstrated example of this is the “invisible hand” in free market economics.  In a free market one finds plenty of orderly and efficient allocation of resources, and self-correcting mechanisms to maintain balance. No central coordinator or designer is needed, the order arises spontaneously. One can extend this principle to other social relationships, not just relationships of trade. It is actually the state that causes most chaos. Examples of this are wars, the Great Depression, and the 2008 financial crisis, all caused by governments.

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