You always hear, in history and in fiction, about society "descending into anarchy and chaos" following the demise of some government or empire. This is the premise behind Asimov's Foundation Trilogy so loved by Paul Krugman. In summary, the ever present goal of generations of characters within the books is to restore the grandeur of the now fallen Galactic Empire and establish a second so that order, progress and prosperity would once again exist in the galaxy. Even within the state paradigm, the idea that such a broadly centralized government would be effective or beneficial to anyone - besides those in charge of it - is outright silliness. Still the specter of a galaxy "descending into anarchy and chaos" is invoked numerous times.
I've got news
for everyone: If the societal framework for peaceful coexistence did not
already exist, undergirding the law and order provided by the state,
then the state could not provide it. There could never be enough laws
or enough lawmen to make order out of a society in chaos. I could go
outside right now, with all our laws and regulations, and throw a brick
through my neighbor's window, run back in and probably not get caught.
Even if he saw me, a conviction seems unlikely (and quite expensive at
that). Think about it as you go throughout your day. What could you
get away with if you were so inclined, and what is the likelihood of
getting caught? If you work at it, I estimate that you could come up
with a dozen or so petty, low risk crimes. Extrapolate by millions and
imagine the disorder and chaos that would be far beyond the law's powers
to contain. Now ask yourself why you do not do these things; I suggest
by the way, that you do not. It cannot simply be a matter of economic
incentives. Your neighbor's TV is pretty sweet, and you have seen where
he hides his key and know what time he leaves and comes home. You do
not steal his TV because of your own moral rules, whether you derive
them from God, nature or otherwise.
These are the rules that 98% of us agree on 98% of the time and that hold our world together whether there is a state or not. So let's put an end to the rhetorical nonsense
of anarchy equating to chaos and pause for a moment to appreciate how
internal rules for proper conduct on an individual and family level
provide an extended order for peaceful civilization without the aid of a