In my last post I wrote: “Every act of force is an instance of ‘rule.’” Upon further consideration I’m not sure I think that’s right. The reason the question is important to me is that the standard dictionary definition of Anarchy is “without rulers,” and I’ve got a big red circled-A prominently displayed in the right side bar of this blog. I also follow Albert Jay Nock in thinking that “government” is not incompatible with Anarchy but is incompatible with the State. I understand a “government” to be a group of people who exercise force to secure rights, while States exist to violate rights and thereby benefit the ruler or the ruling class. Doesn’t a government, though, by exercising force to secure rights, necessarily “rule,” which would mean that where a government exists Anarchy doesn’t? On further reflection, I don’t think so. The distinction is subtle but real and significant. Discerning and enforcing a rule is not the same as making and enforcing a rule, i.e. ruling. Also, proposing a rule which only applies to those who willingly consent, as is typical in purely voluntary associations, is not ruling either. So a government which limits itself to discerning and enforcing rules which it does not itself make does not “rule.” From where then would such rules come from? Ultimately they could only come from the laws of natural justice, and customs to the extent they reflect those laws, the most important of which is the presumption against using force and violence. Now, of course a government can be corrupted into a State, by making rules, i.e. ruling, while pretending only to discern them in the laws of natural justice. But ideas nevertheless have consequences, and perhaps if these principles had been written into the Constitution, and more importantly enshrined in the hearts of Americans, we would today have governments instead of a State.