A Century of Anarchy

  • by Peter C Earle
  • Narrated by Timothy McKean
  • 0 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Could a community without a central government avoid descending into chaos and rampant criminality? Could its economy grow and thrive without the intervening regulatory hand of the state? Could disputes between citizens be settled if there existed no state monopoly on legal judgments?
Apparently, the answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. Indeed, if the strange and little-known case of the condominium of Neutral Moresnet - a tiny wedge of disputed territory in northwestern Europe - acts as our guide, we must conclude that statelessness is not only possible but beneficial to progress, carrying profound advantages over coercive bureaucracies.
The remarkable enterprise that was Moresnet was an unintended consequence of the Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815). Created as a triangle of neutral territory between Prussia and the Netherlands by the Congress of Vienna, Moresnet encapsulates the archetype of market anarchy.
Hidden in its history, we find privately produced, commodity-backed money; competing avenues for the administration of justice; negligible - and, it seems, entirely avoidable - taxes and fees; few, if any, regulations; a defense force without a standing military; open borders (however unintentionally); and an irrepressibly entrepreneurial spirit.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A fantastic piece of obscure but important history

Would you consider the audio edition of A Century of Anarchy to be better than the print version?

I would say that the two should go hand in hand. I hope the Kindle becomes Whyspersynch enabled.


What other book might you compare A Century of Anarchy to and why?

I would compare it to "Beyond Democracy" by Frank Karsten, because they both challenge the legitimizing narratives used by states to justify their existence.


Which character – as performed by Timothy McKean – was your favorite?

Moresnet's "Minister of War".


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me very sad hearing the story of how Moresnet was eventually occupied and dissolved.


Any additional comments?

This is a short but important work that should be of interest to those who are interested, not only in history, but political economy and social change. In our present age of nationalism and increased centralization, Moresnet provides a stateless model for a decentralized, alternative future. Imagine a Moresnet with high speed Internet, Bitcoin and 3D printers!

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- Karen

Insightful, short book on a semi-stateless society

What made the experience of listening to A Century of Anarchy the most enjoyable?

The narrator did a great job with this fun, insightful, short book on the quirky, serendipitous, inspiring history of a briefly semi-stateless place: Moresnet.


What did you like best about this story?

The fact that the size and prosperity of the community kept growing over time, while the size, scope and importance of what little government it had kept shrinking.


Which character – as performed by Timothy McKean – was your favorite?

This was non-fiction, show this doesn't really apply.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The loss of their independence in the end.


Any additional comments?

Well worth listening to! Very thought provoking. Reminds me in some ways of what 's going on with Liberland in 2015.

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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-26-2015
  • Publisher: Listen and Think Audio