Why not anarchism?

Recent debates over ideal theory have reinvigorated interest in the question of anarchy. Would a perfectly just society need—or even permit—a state? Ideal anarchists such as Jason Brennan, G.A. Cohen, Christopher Freiman, and Jacob Levy argue that strict compliance with justice obviates the need for a state. Ideal statists such as David Estlund, Gregory Kavka, and John Rawls think that coercive political institutions serve indispensable functions even in ideal conditions. This paper defends ideal anarchism. Our argument begins by describing a camping trip inspired by Cohen that illustrates why an anarchist form of cooperation is more intrinsically desirable than the statist alternative. After detailing Rawls’s ideal theory and Estlund’s “nonconcessive” moral theory, we argue—contrary to Rawls, Estlund, and Kavka—that large-scale societies without moral imperfection do not need a state.