There’s really only one person who has used this fallacy with me, so I’m unsure as to whether its ubiquity warrants a title, but I’m sure there are others out there who use it.
The person who uses it with me is my own brother. He likes to point to a group of criminals and say, “Look at them. Those are anarchists. That’s what you want to happen if you support anarchy.” The last time he did this, he was pointing to one of the spin-offs of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I forget which one it was, but what I do remember is that there was a lot of vandalism going on. Due to the nature and severity of said vandalism, I would guess that it was a by-product of their mission, rather than part of their mission, but I digress.
In order to refute this claim, I had to point out the two things wrong with his statement. First of all, the Occupy movement isn’t anarchist. They’re about as far from anarchist as you can get. They’re closer to socialist than any other political affiliation. They believe the government should step in and fix the income inequality gap which they have to date only managed to make worse. Based on the fact that many of them are unwilling to share with those less fortunate than they are, I have to assume they think rich people are just as selfish as they are, and gunpoint is the only way to achieve this.
But, the more important problem isn’t that they aren’t anarchists. What if they were? What if that sort of aggression could be expected out of anarchists simply by this “example”? Well, I wonder what I can expect of statists, then. I should find a few random examples:
Benito Mussolini, Yassir Arafat, Richard Nixon, Vladamir Lenin, Kim Jong Il, Che Guaverra, Hirohito, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Andrew Jackson, Vlad Tepes, Queen Mary I, Josef Stalin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladamir Putin, Joseph McCarthy, Adolf Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi, Vlad Dracul, Deng Xiaoping, Margaret Thatcher, Hosni Mubarak, Fidel Castro, Yoweri Museveni, and J. Edgar Hoover, just to name a few.
Any one of the above people has committed far more crimes and far worse crimes than all the anarchists in world history combined. As Stefan Molyneux once so eloquently put it, “If the crimes committed by the government were only as bad as the crimes committed by random criminals, the world would be a much better place tomorrow.”
So, the next time you find yourself tempted to point to criminals and say, “That’s what we’ll get if we have anarchy,” you should think to yourself just how powerful your logic is when it’s turned back against you. To fail to acknowledge the Anarchist By Example argument is a fallacy is to argue against statism because it’s just so easy to find a few dozen far worse examples in the other direction.