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Updated: Jun 8

The term anarcho-tyranny was first coined by Samuel Francis, see HERE & HERE.  Francis states:   

“What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny.”

Francis was referring to the US, but I will consider the concept in relation to the UK.  It is clear that the UK does not experience complete anarchy as there are instances of laws being enforced. However, I will consider the extent to which the UK is moving towards anarcho-tyranny.      

In order to do this it is necessary to examine the definition of anarcho-tyranny and to decide on a historical starting point.  With regards to the latter, I will take the starting point as the mid- 1960s.  With reference to the former, there appears to be a three-part hypothesis. 

The first part of the hypothesis is that the government becomes weaker on ‘victim-based crime[1], i.e. imposes punishments that are less harsh than previously.  The second part is that the government becomes tougher on liberty, as well as being more doctrinaire and political in its approach to the categorization and prosecution of crime.  Further, the state continually creates new laws, punishes conduct that is not violent or would not reasonably be regarded as especially harmful  and  targets resources at citizens who could reasonably be regarded as law-abiding and pro-social (e.g. for speed cameras to work the target has to comply with the laws on registering their ownership of a vehicle and displaying their number plate).    

The third and final part of the hypothesis is that the first two parts are a deliberate strategy on the part of the government; namely a nefarious ruling class uses a morally degenerate underclass to threaten the middle class, so that the latter are too pre-occupied to challenge the power of the state, as their liberty is reduced.  I will consider each part in turn, along with the interplay between them.

Weaker on crime

If being weaker on violent crime means that punishments imposed on criminals are less harsh than was previously the case, then the first part of the hypothesis can be shown to be true without much effort (in fact whether one uses the term ‘harsh’ or ‘weak’ will depend on one’s political sympathies, but the difference is merely semantic).  In the United Kingdom, the following changes have occurred since the mid-1960s.   

1. The abolition of capital punishment 

2. The abolition of corporal punishment for prisoners

3. Changes to the conditions of prisons rendering them less harsh

Whether one thinks these changes are justified is not the issue; they show that punishments are less harsh than they used to be for the same crimes.


If being weaker on ‘victim based crime’ refers to crime increasing, with the inference being that this is due in part to low detection rates, weaker punishments and limited resources being used to combat such crime, then the hypothesis will be subject to the difficulties of analyising statistical trends and eliminating potential confounding variables; for instance improvements in medical care could  account in part for a reduction in the homicide rate. 

There are issues with the compiling of statistics and the categorization of offences.  I am a mere lawyer writing an article for my own personal interest and thus do not claim to be in a position to reach any conclusion on these matters. 

Nonetheless, I will mention that the total recorded crime in 1971 was 1,666,000.00 with a population of 48,604.00.  ‘Victim based crime’ alone in 2023 amounted to 4,619,798.00.  This shows a clear increase in crime from 1971, even when taking into account the population increase.[2]  

According to the ONS violent crime peaked in 1995; there have been increases and decreases since then without reaching the 1995 level, but I refer to my comment about the difficulties with statistics above.   

Tougher on liberty

Hate speech laws first appeared in the UK in the mid-1960s and are consistent with the second part of the anarcho-tyranny hypothesis.     

The reason for this is that laws against ‘hate speech’ are inherently political, as opposed to for instance, laws prohibiting violence against the person, which can be enforced in an apolitical manner.  The stated purpose of hate speech laws is to maintain social cohesion[3]:

The whole purpose of this Bill, which I profoundly hope will be achieved, is to bring harmony, harmonious relationships, into our community, and not the reverse.”[4]

It is claimed that such harmony should be protected by the criminal law, due to the UK being a multi-cultural and multi-racial society; ‘social cohesion’ is a political aim and the extent to which society should be multi-cultural and multi-racial is a political question.

As hate speech laws are inherently political in a way that other offences are not, it is unsurprising that the prosecution of hate speech offences involves the Police, the CPS and the judiciary expressing political views, even if the latter are supposed to be independent from the executive branch of Government.

For example, the following was part of a judge’s sentencing remarks that were made following a conviction for what was essentially a hate speech offence:

“You show this hatred by publicly directing abusive threats at others which is a criminal offence in this multi- racial society we are lucky enough to live in.”[5]

This appears to be a political opinion expressed by the judge.  I am not suggesting that the judge failed to apply the law correctly, merely that the making of a political remark during a sentencing supports the contention that hate speech crimes are political crimes.        

An example of implicit political opinions being expressed by the Police and the CPS can be found in the recent prosecution of Sam Melia for incitement to racial hatred.  The latter described materials found in Melia’s possession as ‘expressing views of a nationalist nature’[6], with the implication being that ‘nationalist’ is a pejorative term.  The former referred to the communities being ‘strong’ and that Melia would not succeed in disrupting the community.[7]

I accept that the Police might for example, state that the community was safer after a prolific rapist was jailed, but in the case of Sam Melia the implication appears to be that there is a community that he is not part of because he is a political enemy of the state and/or that the Police reject his political views.         

However, the prosecution in the Melia case claimed that Melia was not being tried for his political views per se.  Indeed, it is sometimes argued that those who engage in hate speech could express the same substantive views in a more measured manner.  The problem with this argument is that whether views are sufficiently temperate is highly subjective.  Further, those who seek to police (literally) the tone of the debate, are not politically neutral.  Instead they hold views that are diametrically opposed to those whose tone they wish to police. 

I dealt with this issue in more detail HERE, where it can be seen that in some cases, hate speech laws make it illegal to express a particular view per se, and do not merely prohibit intemperate speech.       

Finally on hate speech, if true HERE is a recent example of the extreme politicisation of the Police when enforcing hate speech legislation. 

In addition to inherently political laws, such as hate speech laws, the second part of the hypothesis would involve a large number of bureaucratic offences being created.  In support of the hypothesis, one could point to the fact that New Labour created circa 3600 new offences between 1997 and 2008, many of which could fairly be described as bureaucratic.[8] 

Interaction between parts 1 and 2

It is useful to consider the interaction between the first and second part of the hypothesis, in order to make inferences as to the third part; for instance, it would be an interesting exercise to research the amount of police resources expended into different categories of crime, such as violent assault and burglaries as compared to say hate speech crimes or speeding offences. 

With respect to the latter HERE is a history of speed cameras, covering their introduction, their increased use and the increase in the number of motorists caught by them.  It can be noted that the source is somewhat sympathetic to their use, but also that their introduction was designed to detect drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 20mph whereas now, mere minor infractions are punished with fines and if multiple infractions are detected, a driving ban.

However, aside from the brief reference to speed cameras above, I am not in a position to compare police resources allocated to different types of crime.  Apparently the journalist Rod Little attempted this and was unable to find relevant data (see the second link in the first paragraph of this article, above).

From an intuitive point of view, I often observe the UK government claiming to be unable to do something, when it appears they actually lack the will and not the ability.  For example, on some occasions flights that have been due to take away a deported prisoner have been  cancelled due to the actions of other passengers.[9]  Why were the disruptors not forcibly removed from the plane?  Clearly the state has the resources to do this and often uses force in equivalent situations.    

Indeed, governments make a choice as to the level of force and resources they will employ for any particular function.  As Francis stated of the US:

“In the United States today, the government performs many of its functions more or less effectively. The mail is delivered (sometimes); the population, or at least part of it, is counted (sort of); and taxes are collected (you bet). You can accuse the federal leviathan of many things—corruption, incompetence, waste, bureaucratic strangulation—but mere anarchy, the lack of effective government, is not one of them. Yet at the same time, the state does not perform effectively or justly its basic duty of enforcing order and punishing criminals, and in this respect its failures do bring the country, or important parts of it, close to a state of anarchy. But that semblance of anarchy is coupled with many of the characteristics of tyranny, under which innocent and law-abiding citizens are punished by the state or suffer gross violations of their rights and liberty at the hands of the state. The result is what seems to be the first society in history in which elements of both anarchy and tyranny pertain at the same time and seem to be closely connected with each other and to constitute, more or less, opposite sides of the same coin.”

A deliberate strategy

Whilst I do not approve of the recently used term ‘conspiracy theory’ in order to argue a priori that conspiracies do not happen or should be viewed as inherently unlikely, the idea of individuals consciously acting as described in the hypothesis is perhaps unlikely, although I would not rule it out. 

However, it would appear that the UK government has deliberately enacted policies that could be described as weak on crime and tough on liberty, even if they would not consciously describe them in this way.  Thus with respect to the third part of the hypothesis, anarcho-tyranny may in a sense, be a deliberate strategy or at least the result of conscious choices.       

With this in mind, I can identify three ideas which may have influenced modern governments towards anarcho-tyranny.  The exposition of these ideas will be brief and there is no attempt herein to challenge them; the point is that these ideas can be used to justify policies that would objectively be described as weaker on crime and tougher on liberty.



I provided a detailed critique of Utilitarianism HERE.  In brief Utilitarianism would condemn the punishment of any crime on the basis of retribution.  Punishment was regarded by the founder of Utilitarianism as inherently evil and could only be justified on the grounds of deterrence or rehabilitation.

Whilst the former could be used to justify harsh punishments, it is unpalatable to impose punishments that would appear to be wholly disproportionate to the offence in order to deter others from repeating it.  It is therefore unsurprising that the influence of Utilitarianism is to make rehabilitation the preferred ground for punishment over retribution, which in turn leads to less harsh or weaker punishments. 

How could Utilitarianism be used to justify a reduction in liberty?  CS Lewis provides an answer to this question, by arguing that a philosophy that repudiates retribution as a reason for imposing punishment, could be used to justify the punishment of the innocent (I consider this issue and the concept of retribution vs rehabilitation in more detail HERE):     

My contention is that this doctrine, merciful though it appears, really means that each one of us, from the moment he breaks the law, is deprived of the rights of a human being. The reason is this. The Humanitarian theory removes from Punishment the concept of Desert. But the concept of Desert is the only connecting link between punishment and justice. It is only as deserved or undeserved that a sentence can be just or unjust. I do not here contend that the question “Is it deserved?” is the only one we can reasonably ask about a punishment. We may very properly ask whether it is likely to deter others and to reform the criminal. But neither of these two last questions is a question about justice. There is no sense in talking about a “just deterrent” or a “just cure”. We demand of a deterrent not whether it is just but whether it will deter. We demand of a cure not whether it is just but whether it succeeds.....

"....The punishment of an innocent, that is, an undeserving, man is wicked only if we grant the Res Judicatae traditional view that righteous punishment means deserved punishment. Once we have abandoned that criterion, all punishments have to be justified, if at all, on other grounds that have nothing to do with desert. Where the punishment of the innocent can be justified on those grounds (and it could in some cases be justified as a deterrent) it will be no less moral than any other punishment. Any distaste for it on the part of a Humanitarian will be merely a hang-over from the Retributive theory.


The jurisprudence behind rehabilitation does not respect human autonomy; social engineering replaces justice based on the exercise of free will.

The extent to which Utilitarianism is influential in policy making is debatable.   There are political groups who seek to influence policies, such as the Howard League who appear to be influenced by it.

Section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (as amended) states that the Courts when imposing a sentence should have regard to:

(a)the punishment of offenders,

(b)the reduction of crime (including its reduction by deterrence),

(c)the reform and rehabilitation of offenders,

(d)the protection of the public, and

(e)the making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences


There does not appear to be any hierarchy in the above objectives. Yet, I seem to recall the 1991 Criminal Justice Act providing for retribution to be the main aim of punishment for serious offences, with rehabilitation and deterrence merely being taken into account.        

The denial of free will

This leads neatly onto the next idea that potentially influences governments towards anarcho- tyranny, namely the denial of free will.

HERE is an article from a retired solicitor, arguing against the concept of free will and consequently retribution as a ground for punishment.  He gives examples of evil crimes and argues that the perpetrators were led to commit such crimes by a combination of their genetics and their environment, neither of which they are culpable for.  Consequently, he rejects retribution as a justification for punishment.  The article is brief, but it contains details of a book the author has written on the subject.

Whilst I ultimately reject the arguments against free will, I would encourage readers to look into them.  The subject deserves serious consideration and the arguments against free will are stronger than one’s intuition would suggest.  Indeed, for a materialist who cannot have recourse to any meta-physical arguments, the challenge of upholding free will against arguments based on neurology and environment is greater.   

In any event, it is not necessary to engage in a detailed exposition of the free will debate, to see how the denial of free will could be used to justify both weaker punishments and a reduction in political liberty.  The former would come from the rejection of human culpability.  With regards to the latter,  if human beings are merely a composition of matter whose actions are pre-determined, why should their liberty be accorded any form of respect? 

I am not suggesting that those who deny free will would not have an answer to this question;  the purpose of this article is to briefly identify ideas that could potentially explain anarcho-tyranny.          

Whilst the denial of free will may not be especially popular so as to influence government policy, it does appear to be applied in practice in some sentencing decisions, for example see HERE for a decision which I found remarkable for both its leniency and the lack of respect for human autonomy.         

Cultural Marxism

Cultural Marxism or Critical Theory refers to the work of the Frankfurt School of Marxism. One of the members of the Frankfurt School was Hebert Marcuse; see HERE at p128 and the rest of the source for the influence of Cultural Marxism on the McPherson Inquiry and the adoption of the definition of ‘institutional racism’.  To quote from the source:

Marcuse argued that, in spite of its pride in its ‘freedom’ and its ‘tolerance’, Western society was in reality repressive (‘repressive tolerance’ is one of Marcuse’s phrases). The complacency of the masses had been purchased with an abundance of goods and services that money could buy. What money could not buy was falling into decay and disrepute. As the dupes of their false consciousness, the masses were intellectually and spiritually willing captives to the system. The proletariat had been ‘pacified’. Within our successfully administered but ‘intolerable institutions’, within our rich but grossly unjust and humanly destructive society, the revolutionary potential can only come from those who do not enjoy its dubious but narcotic benefits. Society must for its own good be radicalised through the refusal to heed pleas for agreement and conciliation; through the repudiation of ‘the appearance of wisdom’; through resistance, subversion and vociferous dissent. He believed that the barbarian within advanced society must not be tamed, but assisted, for the true barbarism may well be the ‘continued empire of civilisation itself’. Whoever repudiates, escapes from, or defies society and its tool, the state, is properly to be regarded, not as someone to be brought under control, but as society’s saviour. Prominent among Marcuse’s potentially revolutionary ‘outcasts and outsiders’ are ‘the exploited and persecuted of other races and colours’ and ‘the victims of law and order’. They are part of that ‘elemental force which violates the rules of the game and, in doing so, reveals that it is a rigged game”.

Marcuse also proposed what he called ‘repressive tolerance’[10] In brief, conventional tolerance such as allowing any speech that does not amount to incitement to violence cannot be justified, as ‘false consciousness’ and economic inequality prevail, which do not allow individuals to make informed choices in a free marketplace of ideas. 

Consequently, tolerance and free speech should be withdrawn from ‘regressive movements before they can become active’.  This will serve to protect vulnerable minorities who will be the authors for radical and positive change.

It is easy to see how Cultural Marxism with its hostility towards traditional notions of law and order and liberty, could lead a government towards anarcho-tyranny.  The extent to which Cultural Marxism influences policy would no doubt be fiercely contested, yet its influence can be seen in what is commonly called ‘political correctness’ and any policies based on the same.             


There is a strong case for arguing that the UK is weaker on crime and  tougher on liberty now, than it was in the mid-1960s.  This is certainly the result of conscious decision making, even though I do not reach a conclusion as to the exact motives for such policies.

I have tried to offer a brief explanation for the UK becoming weaker crime and tougher on liberty by considering the influence of Utilitarianism, the denial of free will and Cultural Marxism.  The extent to which these ideas influence public policy is debatable and perhaps not easy to identify.  Yet as a partial explanation, the identification of these ideas seems reasonable.    



[1] This primarily includes offences involving violence against the person, burglary and common types of theft - SEE ONS TABLES FOR EACH YEAR IN LINK     

[2] Ibid, & POPULATION – statistics for 1971 cited in P Hitchens ‘The Abolition of Liberty’ 2003 ‘Atlantic Books’

[4] Ibid Sir Frank Soskice then Home Secretary 

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