Why Hobbes was Wrong About the Necessity of the State

When an anarchist brings up the idea of abolishing the state around a statist they are usually met with a very Hobbesian argument. They claim that without the state humans would become vicious beasts roaming the world with the purposes of raping, killing, and stealing. Such a claim is absurd by its very nature:

Now, setting aside the fact that anarchism does not imply an absence of law or defense, and setting aside the fact that Hobbes’ ideas about the state of nature are completely ridiculous, just consider how interesting their claim was in that particular situation. Five armed men sitting in a field dozens and dozens of miles from a police officer having a civil chat about anarchism without any one of us trying to rape, rob or kill any of the others is a rather remarkable thing if Thomas Hobbes is right about human nature. Equally interesting is the fact that none of us feared or even contemplated the possibility of being raped, robbed or killed by anyone out there in the wilds of the Colorado plains that day. Like Coloradoans of the 19th century, we met scores of armed men over the course of the day, none of which we personally knew, and yet it never even crossed any of our minds to be concerned for our chastity, our wealth or our lives.

If the state is the only thing keeping humanity from barbarism then humans should revert to barbarism when away from the state’s influence, right? This isn’t the case as noted by the millions of hunters that have managed to leave the state’s sphere of influence, with guns no less, and return home safely. Shouldn’t lumberjacks working far from civilization carve each other up with chainsaws? How can shipping vessels traverse the vast expanses of the ocean without the crews murdering or raping each other? Wouldn’t astronauts kill one another since they’re completely beyond the reach of the state?

The primary failure of the Hobbesian idea that humans are naturally barbarous is that it requires ignoring the fact humans developed societies in the first place. If humans were naturally uncooperative how did they cooperate enough to form societies? Humans predate states therefore people of the ancient world must have avoided murdering one another in the absence of states long enough to form tribes, villages, and eventually cities. This fact alone demonstrates the fallacious nature of Hobbes’s claim.