1-30-15 (expanded and posted June 2015)
Why are the Anarchists constantly under attack for opposing tyranny, violence, and oppression? We’re the good guys, here – like the Peace Corps or religious missionaries trying to save the bodies and souls of a benighted people – the US Congress and its many corporate sponsors..
“Philosophy Talk,” a public radio program from Stanford University, tackled the issue of anarchism, which they more often called “anarchy” (a state of being) rather than a philosophy, or “ism.” It wasn’t bad, and good in that it got me thinking about some new issues, or maybe ones I had long since forgotten. I actually do read and discuss anarchism regularly, and have since college. It is one of the few intellectual constants in my life.
My deepest conviction is that we own ourselves, and have the complete freedom to do any socially beneficial things which are not intentionally offensive. And as a corollary, the State is an oppressive fiction, little different from a mafia-style extortion/protection racket. We are forced to work, fight, or be confined against our will. And that is a real problem which demands a real solution.
Unfortunately, our collective problem-solving mechanisms, social doctoring, engineering or whatever you want to call it – is at a low ebb. The simplest government programs and policies are constantly under attack, as though the TEA’s, ALEC, and the rest of the (corporate) welfare state wrecking crew were constantly trying to “prove that socialism doesn’t work” or it’s “too expensive” or oppressive, totalitarian, etc.
Not too many people agree with me about this, but I have the experience of having grown up (intellectually, at least) surrounded by “free market fundamentalists” and a wide spectrum of political libertarians, from no-property anarchists to “anarcho-capitalists” (yes, I agree that is an oxymoron, but many people called themselves that, over the years, most of them followers of Murray Rothbard). And there are answers – good ones – to every question.
The only reason we need a state is to start wars and oppress its own citizens while wreaking havoc on other tribes, nations, and political systems. It seems very strange that anyone would defend such a regime, when you put it that way.
Those with a lot of wealth and status use the state (and its police and military power, as well as the ability to “write laws”) to protect themselves and their “assets”, which is why they pay more taxes, but not nearly in proportion to the benefits they receive from the state. I once proposed a “Freedom Tithe” for everyone whose net worth was over, say, $10 million. They would pay 10% of the total each year in cash or property, until such time as the “National Debt” is retired. Whatever these guys are doing, we want it to be cash up front from now on…..
Why are the Anarchists constantly under attack for opposing tyranny, violence, and oppression? We’re the good guys, here – like the Peace Corps or religious missionaries trying to save the bodies and souls of a benighted people – the US Congress, the Criminal Justice System, and most of the rest of the “leadership class.”
Anyway, my basic advocacy for anarchism rests on the IDEA of anarchism, not someone’s self-proclaimed “definitive theory” or practice. And we’re talking, “compared to what?” What could be a greater horror than these dystopian police states we’ve created – mostly since Vietnam. That was the last time there was any serious resistance to the insanity of our government. Now, everyone just bends over and hunkers down – no hope for anything but cybernetic madness.
What is really striking about the present situation is the total breakdown of any sort of ethical judgment – except against those who can’t fight back. [See my previous essay, “Ethics First!”] https://greateco.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/ethics-first/
The biggest crooks, the most ruthless and “pragmatic” politicians are practically worshipped – literal “Godfathers” to “their people” who work tirelessly to elect them. And this is better than nothing? I don’t think so.
The fact that we need some of the mechanisms of the state doesn’t mean we need the state. How do we define the state? Does it have the power to tyrannize an individual, to suppress the reporting and testimony about its own crimes, etc., etc.? And we know what the CIA and other “black ops” do – they provoke wars so that our military-industrial complex may have “careers” and profits. No, they don’t actually want to go out and kill people, and perhaps be killed or disabled, themselves, but this is what they are ORDERED to do. It’s part of the deal for taking such a huge share of GDP, technology, etc. Or, it is simply the cost we must bear because we surrendered our peace and self-government for a mess of military pottage.
The Commander in Chief can stop it in a heartbeat. He doesn’t have to consult Congress or anyone else. Withdraw, cease fire, care for the wounded and damaged, and come back home. Those are the orders, IF WE REALLY HAD A “STATE” (or a Commander in Chief). We don’t. We have a captive state, a usurped state, a criminal state – whatever you want to call it, and a President who either lacks all moral judgment, or is being held hostage by the agents of “Secret Government.”
Any social philosopher will probably agree that a regimented and coerced society is neither healthy, stable, nor profitable for very long. You don’t want to concentrate power and decision-making – especially concerning war and foreign policy. These cliques and gangs of the rich and powerful will never get it right. Just like our two party system of denial and blame, they relish making the other guys look bad, rather than moving the country forward with something like Green values or whatever might be imagined to be universally beneficial.
Anyone who understands that there are answers – much better alternatives – to nearly every policy and practice which The State undertakes – must defend the principle of reason, and stand against the present regime. When Bush was President, most of us agreed we needed “regime change.” Obama, unfortunately, has proven himself to be part of the same “regime.”
The American people are now largely terrorized into submission. And in those places where there is still a connection with the land and sustainable living practices (mostly indigenous people with strong survival skills who haven’t yet been displaced or “converted” to modern ways), there is a real crisis of faith, often resulting in mass suicides and other responses of people past the breaking point.
We’re really living on Borrowed Time, and some of us have been aware of this since the Constitutional Convention of 1972. The politics resulting from that process – of writing and adopting a State Constitution by ordinary citizens, with only a few real experts in the field – well, maybe we ought to loosen up the process and try it again.
Obviously, the polarization between environmentalists, farmers and ranchers, and “Christian conservatives” in general is more pronounced, now, than ever before. And the power of the state and the professional class which profits from it has redoubled, with the integration of colleges and universities into what is little better than a prison/national security state with more people imprisoned than most of the historical totalitarian gulags.
Oh, sure. We treat them better (unless they’re juveniles or mentally ill). But they are there for little reason other than to provide jobs and control over the people who might want to do something other than follow the leadership of a state which doesn’t anything we want to follow.
Any kind of system requires that people already know and want to practice virtue – following the rules, treating others as ends in themselves rather than our prey or victims or even meal tickets. We all have souls. We’re all unique and important. If you don’t understand that, there is little use to talk of government, but if you do understand it, and can communicate it to others, that’s nearly all of what government can and should do – help people instead of tyrannizing them.
Many other cultures have an anarchist tradition. Taoism may be the best example. Buddhist values tend towards the anarchistic, too – self-discipline, rather than being disciplined by others. Compare that to our soul-less system, which actually passes laws and builds more prisons so that the prison industry might profit from it. You only need about 5 examples like this (public education would be another) to absolutely conclude that we don’t need a State. We need an involved, respected citizenry which is open, self-governing, and more or less democratic (and not driven by greed and hate).
To the extent that we send our money and delegate our rights and powers to a tyrannical central government, we are feeding the monster which consumes us. It’s not the Welfare State which needs to be starved. It’s the Warfare State and the Police State and the “Criminal Justice System” rackets. That’s far more than half of the government we have, today, and we also imprison 5-15 times as many people, per capita, than any other “free” country.
What we need is a whole lot more of anarchism. And co-ops, collectives, schools and libraries which teach freedom instead of technocracy and “nuclear deterrence.” Anarchism is the heart of the peace and justice movement. We just want to be left alone. We don’t want to be part of your state and army. We want to serve our local community, make our own rules, and live in peace and harmony with others and with nature.
Is that such a bad or “militant” or “subversive” thing? Obviously, it isn’t. While never giving up the right of self-defense, we don’t want to fight anyone. And that includes our “adversarial” legal system, labor-“management” disputes, and our whole culture of conflict and the quest for “victory.”
[Most of the above was written in the early weeks of the 2015 Montana Legislature session…- PHS]