The Future of AnarchismAs history is a struggle between liberty and authority, my prognosis is based on how current technological and political factors favor one or the other.
I think that technology, on the whole, favors liberty. This is based on the expectation that computers, the internet, and strong cryptography are strongly favorable to individualism, due to the enhancement of privacy (in the form of anonymity and pseudonymity) in productive and financial life.
For the past half millennium or so, the state has had the technological advantage. Inventions created at mid-millennium - the press and the perfection of gunpowder weapons - caused the rise of centralized states. The nature of gunpowder weapons is that violence can be mass-produced. Whoever can produce the most firepower wins, largely regardless of expense or efficiency. The Gutenberg press and later improvement in printing augmented and accelerated this effect. In earlier times, there were dialects for each local region, and motivating large masses of people was extremely difficult. For example, France had dozens of dialects in the middle ages. After printing became cheap, Parisian French became standard.
The synergy between cheap guns and standard language allowed rulers to raise large armies and train them to kill on a level never before seen. Brute force changed from a few rich guys who could afford war horses and armor, to hoards of cheaply trained and armed soldiers. In economic terms, the return on force increased tremendously. As a result, the world saw the rise of nation-states, with the bigger ones, or at least the ones who could throw more wealth into munitions and muster more troops, winning out. Centralized power had its day.
Industrialization also favored centralization. Factories and roads and mass-production required more centralization than pre-industrial agriculture and crafts. Central governments built roads to every household's door, all the better to control, tax, and conscript. Orwell's 1984 became fact.
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