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Anarchism and Game Theory

Posted on Saturday, April 3, 2010 in Anarchy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I know it’s cool and everything that I’m an anarchist but people can’t see how it is practical in reality. I’ve been looking for proof that anarchism *is* practical and realistic as supposed to some Utopian dream. There’s a book written called Community, Anarchy, and Liberty
by Michael Taylor that I am hoping will address the practicality of anarchy. He uses game theory such as the prisoner’s dilemma to show that under real circumstances that anarchy can work. Sounds cool, huh?

Okay, so what is Game Theory? Game Theory is basically a math game where there are certain rules established to try to determine different outcomes. It can be applied to -everything- such as economics, marketing, and biology. It was developed in the 1940’s so it is a relatively new concept. The best example of Game Theory can be summed up in the prisoner’s dilemma.

The prisoner’s dilemma is when you have prisoner A and prisoner B. If both prisoners keep their mouth shut about the other, both of them get six months in prison. If prisoner A talks about prisoner B – prisoner A goes free and prisoner B gets 10 years. If prisoner B talks about prisoner A, prisoner B goes free and A gets 10 years. However, if both prisoner A and B talk – they both get five years. The idea is that both prisoners would talk in exchange for a shorter sentence.

Game Theory can be applied to marketing by whether someone will buy product a over product b. Or biology – will cat a mate with cat b? These are very simple examples of a much more complicated equation. But, it can be used to figure out how a group will act or behave in certain ways.

I know that anarchy has worked in the past in small communities. I don’t know exactly where to get the information about said communities but I know they exist. This book by Michael Taylor is supposed to cover that and explain how anarchy is not just a dream but a viable alternative.

I also been reading Anarchism and Its Aspirations by Cindy Milsten. I haven’t gotten very far into it but she brings up some good points right at the beginning. She mentions how the idea that people can think for themselves is a rather new idea. It used to be thought of that people needed god or a king to govern over them when the people can really govern themselves. With this realization, it completely change how people lived. Rather, now that we know we can think for ourselves and pass our own judgment about things so now what are we going to do with that power?

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