A Century of Anarchy

A Century of Anarchy

Neutral Moresnet Through the Revisionist Lens

By:

Peter C. Earle

Narrated By:

Timothy McKean

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Summary

Could a community without a central government avoid descending into chaos and rampant criminality? Could its economy grow and thrive without the intervening regulatory hand of the state? Could disputes between citizens be settled if there existed no state monopoly on legal judgments? Apparently, the answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes.

Indeed, if the strange and little-known case of the condominium of Neutral Moresnet — a tiny wedge of disputed territory in northwestern Europe — acts as our guide, we must conclude that statelessness is not only possible but beneficial to progress, carrying profound advantages over coercive bureaucracies.

The remarkable enterprise that was Moresnet was an unintended consequence of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

Created as a triangle of neutral territory between Prussia and the Netherlands by the Congress of Vienna, Moresnet encapsulates the archetype of market anarchy. Hidden in its history we find privately produced, commodity-backed money; competing avenues for the administration of justice; negligible — and, it seems, entirely avoidable — taxes and fees; few, if any, regulations; a defense force without a standing military; open borders (however unintentionally); and an irrepressibly entrepreneurial spirit.

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Anarchist traditions would be a great shortcut to find books specifically calling out anarchist principles. The name "anarchist traditions" is purposefully broad, because in addition to anarcho-capitalism and voluntaryism, there are books on anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism or other forms of collectivist anarchism, as well as egoism and other schools of thought.

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The topic of philosophy is closely associated, as many of the books tagged to the philosophy of freedom contain deep philosophical arguments from ethics and epistemology to political theory and religion. A wide variety of ideologies are represented and critiqued within the pages of the books linked here, covering the full political spectrum: whether it is Fascism versus Communism; Neoconservatism versus Progressivism or Liberalism; Nationalism and Nazism versus International Socialism and everything in between.

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