One of the greatest contraversies between Libertarians and well, almost everyone else, is Libertarians think (or most of the hard-core Libertarians think) that people would generally behave good without any government, while a lot of, if not most other political philosophies believe there would be unrestrained terror and chaos. My own position is in between but leaning towards the more hard-core Libertarian idea. I think without government people would be generally good but there would be a number of people who would behave badly, and while it would be a generally good world there would be an element of chaos that would make things a bit unperdictable with a slight chance of things going really bad.
Now imagining such a hypothetical world does at times seem pointless since it is highly unlikely that an area with no government will arise any time soon (even areas like Somalia where government had disinigrated for a period of time (the situation has changed recently in a complicated way), there were large clan-based armed groups that essentially were governments of any region they could get a hold of)), but it does allow us to ask whether our overall level of government should be greater or lesser. However, even if imagining how things would be like without a government might be useful it is very difficult.
Like any hypothetical world model, to figure out what a world without government would be like requires an understanding of that most un-understandable creature, the human. We are strange beasts, with all our mysterious cogs and gears which are most likely impossible to completely understand. So we must make guesses and conjectures to figure out how people would behave in this situation or that. The most common guess for situations like the no government one is that humans would act in narrow self-interest. This means they would do what is best for themselves.
The pessimist might than suppose everyone would be inclined to rob, steal, rape and kill as much as he could just so he could get ahead. This I think ignores the fact that in general if people cooperate and respect each other they can get a lot more done. Also, people realize that if they treat people badly they are more likely to be treated badly. Overall, cooperation protects them, it also builds up institutions like community response to cime, that protects them long term. Most people, if just interested in their own well-being will go with that, especially since if everyone robs, steals, rapes, and kills, even if you're the criminal, the damage to society will be so great you're almost certainly going to get screwed over as well. (In someways this resembles a prisoner's dilemma type problem, I'm not sure of all the implications of that assertion, but I think it backs up my point that people are pretty likely to cooperate)
Me presenting this arguement might suggest that I believe full-heartedly in the hard-core Libertarian position that in no-government situation everyone would behave great, but I'm not completely sure of that. The big point I question with the model I just painted is that people behave solely on narrow self-interest. But people don't simply act that way. People act irrationally sometimes, based on deep subconscious reasons that make no sense given their conscious desires, but in more reasonable times they still might not act self-interestedly, they may act instead out of love of their children or out of love of an idea or out of the principle of love in general, or maybe they could act out of hate. This means that ultimately people's actions are based on what they believe.
Let's add that to our model of the world without government. Most people believe that not doing bad things is good, but most people also can be convinced to do bad things if there's a sufficiently good ultimate reason. So how bad or good the total situation is depends on how many people have been convinced to do bad things. So therefore it depends. It varies based on which beliefs are popular and what those beliefs mean to the current situation. Without a government things could be very very good, or they could be very very bad.
If people believed in nothing, if they just acted in self-interest the world would likely be much more peaceful place, but the soul would suffer from a lack of love. We would be truly simply animals and be empty of worth. But in the end we believe in many things which adds an element of chaos to the equation, making things perhaps good and perhaps bad, but full of beautiful passion, which means that even when things are bad, people and life is still beautiful. So I'll take the chaotic world of beauty to the peaceful world of empty souls.
Least that's how I think (and how you should think, because I am awesome). So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!
5 months ago