Shaun: Let's just get one thing straight here. According to my dictionary, anarchism is: "the political theory that individual freedom should be absolute and that all government and law is evil. Capitalism and private property would be abolished and be replaced by voluntary cooperation."
Flint: Well, this definition I can almost live with. I might quibble over what you mean by "law". For instance, is this a law created by a government (how could it be if governments don't exist), or a much broader universal law, like that murder and rape are wrong? Do I have a part in making the "law", or is it merely just used against me? "Law" is a very difficult word to use, partially because of its very connection with "justice".
Shaun: Anarchist is defined as: "Someone who believes in in anarchism, a terrorist".
Flint: The "old propaganda by the deed" idea. There was a brief period of time in the late 1800s when some folks calling themselves anarchists engaged in violence, like regicide and bombings. What is interesting is that many of these were done by agents of the State attempting to discredit the anarchist movement (remind anyone of COINTELPRO?) A discussion on violence also can't leave out self-defense. If striking workers are attacked by the police do they have the right to defend themselves? I would say they do, but people must look to find the most non-violent resolution they can achieve. Violence is ultimately the tool of governments, not the oppressed. As far as murder goes, the government and army greatly out number the amount of deaths caused by anti-government groups. Anarchists tend, in general, to be less likely to advocate violence than your average patriotic war-mongering american or even the concerned liberal. Terrorism, is useless in bringing about a truly free society... its object is to pacify the population... anarchists want self-activating people.
Shaun: Now do you agree with that? Based on what that says, I would say that anarchy is bad. I would not want to live in a society without laws. Of course, I would not want to live somewhere where unfair laws exist either(ie:communist countries)
Flint: Back to the question on Laws. Now you concede that in some places unfair laws exist. But you wouldn't want to live some place without laws... which I assume you mean the unfair variety. Are only communist countries capable of unfair laws? I think my post on the Espionage Act should leave you wondering about how fair the laws in the U.S. are. And to be fair, I think I'd rather life in a country that atleast allows the illusion of free speech and a right to assembly, over one that actively destroys it (like many U.S. client states like El Salvador and Guatamala).
Shaun: Yes Flint, I think it would be nice to live in a society where laws weren't needed, where people treat everyone as they would like to be treated and where everyone loved there fellow human being as much as, or more than, themselves (as the Bible commands).
Flint: See, your half way there. You have the idea of a better world.
What have you done to bring it about?
Shaun: However, this world is far from perfect. There are people who murder, rape, steal etc... and there are good people who sometimes do dumb things that causes harm to others, and I'm sure you would agree with that. And that is why we need laws.
Flint: Do our current laws actually stop people from murder, rape and stealing? Does it stop people from causing harm to others? Something must be done about these bad people (and people who do dumb things). Does the current legal solution work at all? If you look just a recidivism rates, doing anything except incarceration (boot camp, parole, drug court, education, electronic monitoring, home detention, etc...) decreases recidivism. Likewise, you also need to look at what crimes people are being locked up for. People who are arrested for tresspassing at the School of the Americas (one IWW member is currently in jail for a year over it) are a bit different than a serial killer.
Many of our problems stem from the competitive ethic, rather than the cooperative one. Everybody is "I get mine first". This entire grotesque social darwinism. It doesn't have to be that way. If you wanted to see less theft, well... if there was more economic equality or the basis of ownership was based on use instead of violence... you see less theft. If you didn't live in a culture that treated women as objects of sexual ownership, one that commodified desire, one that treated them with respect instead of second class citizens... there is lees rape. If you wanted to overnight decrease the amount of violence in the US, you would legalize drugs. Get it out of the hands of violent economic warfare of smuggled goods... and out in the open. By making illegal the commodity, instead of the violent behavior... they've distored the focus. By keeping it illegal, it remains underground and hard to get people help. If we took all the money we were dumping in to stopping smuggling and instead dumped it into rehab and education... drug addiction would not be such an issue. How people can't make the connection between Prohibition and the War on Drugs, I'll never understand.
To be fair, much of the most destructive and violent activities of the US government is restricted to our colonies. Even though the US has one of the largest incarceration rates in the world, the government doesn't indiscriminately kill the citizens like it used to.
A good question of law could be the crimes you sited: rape, murder, and theft aren't brought to justice by the Federal government... rather the State handles it. State governments are far more responsive to their constitutents than the Federal Government. Likewise, the War on Drugs, the Espionage Act, the support of counter-insurgency armies in Latin America have much of their strength from Federal involvement.
Ultimately I would like to see communities making their own laws, and tending to their own affairs. Do gun control laws and more cops on the beat reduce crime? Questionable, in some cases they promote it... but Neighboorhood Watch reduces crime. Equality reduces crime (not just between gender, age, and race... but also overall).
Ultimately we need a definition of crime not based on the law of governbment, but on what is right and wrong. Sometimes, the laws of government do serve justice. Sometimes, it serves the intersts of the powerful and not the powerless.
Personally, I agree that anarchism has a theoretical weakness in regards to criminology. Its something I (and others) have been thinking alot on. How do you protect democracy, yet see justice is impartial?