In January of 2006, Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada publicly denounced America’s involvement in the Iraq war and refused deployment to Iraq. He did not do this because he was afraid to fight; he actually requested deployment in Afghanistan, a cause he believed in, even though Afghanistan is a more dangerous station. The Army denied his claim and denied his resignation. Watada was then court-martialed and tried in a military court facing up to a seven-year prison sentence.

Fortunately, Watada’s case was thrown out as a mistrial, but the risks he faced when standing up against the cause of the United States government were still very real. When Watada took his stand, he had nothing to gain and a lot to lose. He requested alternate stations that carried with them a greater likelihood of his being killed in battle. For absolutely no apparent reason at all, Watada stood up against America’s involvement in the Iraq War.

Except that he believed it to be the right thing to do.

In all things important, this is an incentive that is drastically under-appreciated. Carrying a belief that benefits you is wholly understandable. Standing by a position out of fear of recourse for opposition is at least forgivable. But holding a belief for no reason other than that you believe it to be morally right is something that people often dismiss with a skeptical, “Yes, but…”

This is what I find when I discuss the idea of Anarchy with those people who despise government with every fiber of their being…up until the point at which I suggest abolishing the institution in its entirety.

“That sounds awfully nice, but…”

                                            “…but it’s never going to happen!”

Why does this matter? If you agree that government by its very nature is immoral, then is it not worth acknowledging that the absence of this immoral entity is at least worth advocating?

Assume that I agree: anarchy will never actually happen in this flawed world of ours. This does nothing to show how a government is morally permissible. Good God, what if we applied this logic to every application of immoral activity? I believe that no matter what condition the world is in, murder will always occur at some capacity. But that certainly does not mean I’m going to advocate for its continuation as a moral defeat!

Most people, of course, hold what I believe to be a misguided – or even perverse – view that government is a moral necessity. For these people, a different argument needs to be made. But for those people who favor the cause of liberty, I want to make the plea to stop considering the morality of government as an afterthought.

So this is for the Ayn Rand Objectivists. You who eloquently make the case against government violence in economic affairs to please stop advocating for the same government violence in the adjudication of disputes.

This article is for the Classical Liberals who rightly recognize that the free enterprise system is the greatest economic system conceived by man – stop trying to argue the case for some abstract definition of economic efficiency as measured by a flawed metric as justification for just a little bit of coercion.

This is for the Paleo-Conservatives who pragmatically work within the system (a practice I generally do not criticize), to stop making the collective case for “national defense,” as if security is the one sacred cow that falls exception to the beauty of individualism. 

This is for all of you who recognize the countless merits of liberty in so many categories, but find arbitrary exception in some area or another; and this is for those who simply dismiss the ideas of anarchy because you think you will never live to see anarchy.

What I ask you to do is to consider first whether government is morally justifiable. If you call taxation theft, I would humbly urge you to ask why you would justify such theft for any cause, no matter how otherwise righteous. If you tout the Non-Aggression Principle, the Golden Rule, or the Commandment to “Love Thy Neighbor,” I ask you to consider why these well-accepted moral guidelines do not apply across national boundaries, for instance, or in whatever other exceptions you may find.

Essentially, I’m asking for logical and moral consistency.

If you believe that government is morally permissible, then I will gladly debate the practical merits of liberty – for those arguments will make my case as well. But if you already recognize the immoral nature of a coercive body of elites, then you have no excuse to not acknowledge to yourself, “Anarchy is the only morally acceptable approach to government. And for that reason, I am an Anarchist by the very nature of my own virtue.”

At that point, every other position is ancillary. Whether or not I vote is not a position that decides my anarchism. What policies I prioritize are not disqualifications for my anarchist label. My personal belief system or my religion does not dictate whether or not I am an anarchist. I may argue over which actions are more and less effective at seeing a more limited government, and whether or not I’m proven correct will have no bearing on my being an anarchist.

I am an Anarchist because I believe that it is morally right.

To put it simply, Anarchism is not a political ideology; it is a moral philosophy that merely carries with it political implications.  And this is why you will never change my beliefs by arguing that I’ll never win.

I’ve already accepted that I’ll never win. But I will also never abandon what I believe to be right in favor of what I believe to be prudent. And if you are unable to justify government on moral grounds, then I would only ask on what grounds, exactly, are you not an anarchist?