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ItemPathways to anarchismEdwards, Jeffrey Charles Philip ( 1994)Working from the perspective of possessive individualism (without implying that the author believes this is the compass of human nature), this thesis challenges the widely held liberal belief that possessive individualists need states to restrain them from trespassing on the natural rights of others (and harming themselves). Hobbes argues, in his answer to the Foole, that it is rational to co-operate voluntarily in a state of nature and consistent with natural rights to prefer (under certain conditions) the state of nature to the commonwealth. Hobbes thus presents political options: archy or anarchy. But can anarchy be sufficiently sustained to accommodate the long-term self-interests of possessive individualists? The question is tested against one form of libertarian anarchism which, however, is found to be vulnerable to decay into self-defeating anarchy. Another libertarian approach to anarchy implies that anarchy will always degenerate and that a minimal state will have to be created to protect natural rights holders. However, it is argued against that view this, given a certain social structure, natural rights can be protected in a state of nature. It follows that anarchy will not always degenerate into self-defeating anarchy. In the general field of possessive individualism Hobbes proves to be more far-sighted than those theorists who insist that only the state or only anarchy is both viable and legitimate. He saw a case for both. The second half of the thesis expands on the idea used as a counter-example to the inevitability of (at least) a minimal state. The expansion exercise is intended to show how an anarchic community can be designed to protect itself from degeneration into self-defeating anarchy and the need for a state. Firstly the putatively utopian idea of unanimous direct democracy is modified slightly to show how, in practical terms, when members of the community obey its laws they are obeying their own wills. That reduces the distance between rulers and ruled to vanishing point. But the practical solution is short of the utopian ideal. The community still has to reckon on the presence of free riders and requires means to preserve itself from the damage they bring about. This is managed through a socio-legal system which, in the first place, makes free riding itself a costly and unattractive proposition. Secondly, when it occurs, in spite of being so risky, the acephalous community has very efficient means to rid itself of transgressors. The final matter discussed here is tactics to avoid large wealth differentials creating internal conflicts in the community without having to use centralised coercive methods to redistribute wealth. Two approaches are discussed. The former is rejected in favour of the latter on the grounds of empirical feasibility. Anarchism, it is concluded, is a viable option for possessive individualists which, moreover, does not require them to compromise their natural rights as the state, even a minimal state, will. Though modern liberal democratic states are sometimes held up as paradigm custodians of natural rights, and therefore legitimated on that ground, yet they are by no means the only legitimate form of polity (on those terms).