"Well then." said Wilde. "You've lived in an anarchy twice as long as I ever managed
to, and you surely know the answer."
Tamera sat down at the table and looked back at him, baffled and defiant.
"I don't get you," she said.
"Look," Wilde said, "when you want to know whether something was worth making,
we look for the answer in a discovery machine called the market. When we want to
know how something works, we have another discovery machine, called science.
When we want to know if somebody was right to kill somebody else, we have a
discovery machine called the law."
"Yes," said Tamara. "I know that. It's not going to be much help to Ax and Dee, if
they get caught. Or us, if we wait too long before trying to stop them."
"It's worth a try, OK? And if the law really lets you down, and you can't live with it,
then --" He spread his hands, smiling.
"You're back in a state of nature. You fight. OK, you might die, but so what? Same as
if the market lets you down. It does happen. You're starving. You steal."
Tamara looked taken aback.
"But that would be --"
"Anarchy?" Wilde grinned at her.
"You're saying people can do anything?"
Literally, yes. In a half-decent society you're far better off respecting the law and
property and so on, but the bottom line is, it's your choice. You always have the
option of making war -- on the whole world, if it comes to that."
From "The Stone Canal" [amazon.com]
by Ken MacLeod
(c) 1996 by Ken MacLeod