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Boldly Going Nowhere
Bret Burquest

Anarchy in West Virginia

Posted Saturday, May 9, 2009, at 8:52 PM
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  • This has nothing to do with what anarchism is. Anarchism is the opposition to hierarchical social relationships, not to social organization as such. Obviously in an anarchist society one would not be allowed to infringe on the freedoms of others - the difference is that there would be no special group of people that decides what the laws are and is thus above the law (i.e. a State).

    "The only sane option is to limit government as much as possible by ensuring the maximum amount of individual freedom, thereby allowing individuals to do as they please as long as they are not harming others or infringing on the freedom of others."

    That's pretty much exactly what anarchism is. But if a government can be limited by its subjects, it's not really a government, and they are already governing themselves, therefore they are in a state of anarchy. The historical purpose of the State has always been to prevent the people from governing themselves, because (they were told) there would be chaos if people were allowed to govern themselves. If people can decide what their government does, it's not really a government, since the notion that people would be going around killing each other without a ruling class has already been called into question. If a State really is a State, it cannot be 'limited' by its subjects. The only thing that limits the powers of States is the threat of insurrection and/or revolution, in other words, of "anarchy"!

    "As with most utopian schemes, it looks good in theory but won't work in reality."

    Anarchism is not a utopian scheme but simply the suggestion that no person has legitimate authority over another. Centuries ago, the idea that there would ever be a society without slaves or absolute monarchs was considered ridiculously utopian.

    "The worst thing in this world, next to anarchy, is government."

    This quote is absolutely correct. If the idea that trying to form social structures by treating others as equals is hopelessly naive, then it's even more naive to think that we will avoid this problem by granting power to those who seek to rule us, especially considering that this has never worked in human history.

    "Government" and "the rules" do not just fall out of the sky. We can either choose to govern ourselves (anarchism), or hope that those who have declared themselves to be our rightful rulers will govern us fairly. Given the historical record, I wonder which one of those ideas is more of a utopian fantasy.

    -- Posted by Makeminegovmint on Sat, May 9, 2009, at 10:16 PM
  • Well, where to begin.

    "As with most utopian schemes..."

    Strictly speaking, Anarchism is no utopian scheme. Ask any honest Anarchist and they will tell you that even if Anarchism were to succeed there would still be crime and injustice. And they are right. However the Anarchist argument is also true that, absent the state, a large portion of that crime and injustice would be eliminated. Afterall, it is the state that draws arbitrary lines and creates crimes that really shouldn't be in the first place. Ask yourself, how many people are labelled criminal for drug related offences, tax dodging and prostitution?

    "...it looks good in theory but won't work in reality."

    I can say the same for 'limited government.' The United States was supposed to be a limited government and it's pretty clear the US administration has expanded over its life time to become a bloated, bureaucratic behemoth, hell-bent on imposing its will overseas and maintaining the empire.

    "I remember back in the 60's and 70's when groups of dissatisfied folks, often called Hippies back then, rejected conventional society and formed communes."

    Your problem here is you are conflating two different ideologies. Hippy's weren't Anarchists but a counter-cultural movement. Some hippy's were certainly Anarchists, but most weren't. Your analogy, is meaningless.

    If you want an example of present day organisation that fits the 'Anarchist' label, you have only to look so far as TorrentSharing and P2P filesharing groups. You don't have to be an Anarchist to organise like one.

    It's down to how you define Anarchism, if, like me, you define it as a series if relationships between individuals that are absent aggression, than, strictly speaking, how you come to own your shoelaces can be used an example of Anarchist organisation. No government body legislated to force someone to make your shoe laces. They were produced, distributed and traded to you entirely voluntarily, without aggression -- except that coming from the government to your detriment.

    "...Almost every one of these entities failed, usually within a very short time frame."

    This is true, but then there is still the problem that you're conflating two different ideologies.

    "While being exact opposites, anarchy and communism are almost the same thing."

    Oh, here's the kicker. Actually, you saying such a thing is a terrible insult to thousands of Anarchists that have died at the hands of Communists in the past. Check the Spanish Civil War and the purges conducted by Stalinist Communists against the CNT and POUM and even in the Ukraine when, after helping to fight off many of Russia's enemies, the Soviets imprisoned Russian Anarchists and invaded the Ukraine. Once again, you need to fact-check. There are Anarchists who prefer communist forms of organisation, but they are not Communists of the type you describe. Perhaps you should look into the different between Lenin, Marx and Bakunin respectively, paying special attention to the hostility that existed between Bakunin and Marx.

    "In communism, everyone is considered equal, required to put forth an equal effort and given an equal amount in return. This would be a perfect world as long as everyone felt the same way. But those who disagree are virtually prisoners of the system, often sent off to a padded cell to be re-educated. Plus those in control of the system can't seem to curtail their greed and provide more for themselves than they allow for the masses.

    Anarchy has the same drawback. It only works if everyone agrees with it. A world without government is a world without rules and there will always be those who take improper advantage of it."

    Once again, you have missed the entire point. You're absolutely right in your critique of Communism, and it applies to Maoist, Leninst or Stalinist Communism. However, Anarchism, by definition does not dictate to people how to live their lives and in what way to organise. At it's core is the principle that you cannot, and should not force, people to conform to your system or method of organisation. To be an anarchist is to reject the 'right' of people to rule you and to reject the 'right' for people to rule others.

    Yet, I will concede that there are Anarchists out there who would be happy to force people to obey their system, but they believe so because they came to Anarchism from heavily authoritarian ideologies such as the various forms of Communism, or even in some cases the most reserved Conservatism. However, if, given an Anarchist society, you want to pay someone to make decisions for you, I would not care -- so long as you and the people who are making decisions for you do not force me into the same scheme.

    "There's nothing wrong with a little government, especially locally."

    Of course there is. Ever wonder why even the smallest aspects of government come to be dominated by arrogant individuals? It's because they're institutions of control that allow people with private interests to benefit said interests at the expense of others.

    "Personally, I like roads."

    Then maybe you should read this. It's implications for an Anarchist society should be obvious. - http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2009/Powellstreets.html

    -- Posted by Royce on Sun, May 10, 2009, at 2:02 AM
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