Anarchy: The Science is Settled

In the latest issue of Nature, the world’s leading scientific journal, a team of paleontologists from seven top-rank universities has presented conclusive evidence from the fossil record that during the nearly 200 million years in which non-avian dinosaurs roamed the earth, anarchy was the prevailing political system.

To place their finding in perspective, the authors compare the era during which the modern nation state has predominated — only a few centuries — and conclude that the state is such a relatively short-lived and manifestly less successful system that those who describe it almost as part of eternal nature are scientifically cloud-cuckoo. In regard to the question of the viability and competitive strength of anarchism, they say, the science is now settled.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.