If there is any idea that I could promote to warrant the title “My Lost Mind” it would have to be saying that I support the principles of anarchism. I have written other articles on the subject, and for the sake of brevity I may link to those later.
Anarchism is an extensive and somewhat complicated subject that is understood by few people. Unfortunately most dictionaries include a definition that equates anarchism with violence, chaos, and disorder. This is not accurate at all, but unfortunately it is the definition that is most used in news reports and such. For that reason, it has become the idea that most people have when they hear the word.
More Accurate Definition
The association of anarchism with violence and chaos resulted from riots in a couple of places within the past century. Maybe the best-known of those is in Argentina, when an attempt was being made to overthrow the Peron government. And the group that was spearheading the riots was—of course anarchists.
Wikipedia has a reasonable definition and account of the history of anarchism that dates back to the 1500’s. That article can be found here. In the article there is mention that anarchic societies have existed in the past—most notably one in Spain around the time of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and at the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700’s.
My own (shorter version) is that the word anarchy originated from Greek, meaning “one without rulers.” There can be no argument against the statement that the principles of anarchism oppose the concept of authority and hierarchical structure of society (some persons more important and having more rights than others). At its core is the non-aggression principle that states that no person has a right to aggress (use violence against) another person except in self-defense. Theft is included as an aggression.
The extension of the non-aggression principle is that no person has a right to hire, nominate, or elect another person or persons to do something that he or she does not have the right to do. This invalidates the whole idea of elected “representatives” and therefore of government itself. This goes back to the meaning of the word, “one without rulers.” And because anarchists include theft in their definition of aggression, the idea of some authority to take or steal property (money) from a person involuntarily and call it taxation is also invalidated. Any surprise then that many tax rebels are anarchists? This includes one of anarchism’s loudest advocates, Larken Rose, who spent a year in the hoosegow for rebelling against the tax laws.
I offer a video here that is a roundtable discussion between four individuals, all independent media researchers and reporters. Unfortunately the video is long (1:15), so I am sure that only readers with a genuine interest in the subject of anarchy will take the time to watch or even listen to it. Yet I believe it is worth the time investment; the discussion covers a wide variety of subjects, including the history of anarchism, and especially the “hows” associated with how the principles of anarchism might be be applied over the long term in an actual society.
My favorite contributor to the discussion is James Corbett, who points out twice that just the idea that everything (all the “Hows”) needs to be worked out and planned in advance violates the principles of anarchism itself. It’s easy to understand, however, why people keep going back and asking the “How?” questions, given that they are all people who have lived their lives in a society ruled by a government.
One of the biggest errors when considering anarchism is the belief that without government and rulers (leaders) the society would be disorganized and descend into chaos. Somehow people think that humans are not capable of organizing their lives without some “higher” authority telling them how it must be done. The difference is that the organization would be voluntary, rather than imposed by a government that threatens to steal the money (fine) or cage (imprison) anyone who doesn’t comply with the established rules.
Ironically I am writing this article in September 2017, only days after a massive earthquake struck Mexico City. And because I live in Mexico I am seeing up-close the lack of truth in the belief that people are not capable of organizing to meet common needs. There are many—hundreds or thousands—of small volunteer (not government-led) groups that have popped up all around the country. They collect many of the things needed in the rescue effort—from medical supplies to non-perishable foods to clothing and many others. The supplies are then taken to Mexico City via volunteer efforts, either in private pickup trucks or larger trucks rented for the purpose. Americans saw similar efforts after Hurricane Irma devastated the Houston area a few weeks back, when people arrived from adjacent states—sometimes bringing boats—to help out. It is scenes like these that prevent me from losing faith in humanity.
What About the Bad Guys?
The more difficult “How?” questions involve dealing with people who do not follow the non-aggression principle, those who violate contracts, and other people who do not respect their neighbors. I have been reading and absorbing information about anarchism for several months now, and all of these questions have answers or at least suggestions about how to deal with the situations. One was something called a Dispute Resolution Organization (DRO), that is suggested as an insurance policy of sorts. People would voluntarily pay into a fund for this purpose. The parties to a contract of significant monetary value could be required to buy in for their interests to be covered or insured in the event that the other party did not live up to the terms of the contract. The DRO would also serve as a medium of exchange; in other words “grease the skids” in many or most financial transactions up to and including buying food. If a person proves that they became sick from the food they purchased at XXXX Store, the DRO would offer protection as described below.
The DRO would pay out for claims in cases where someone was victimized, even in cases such as rape and other serious acts of violence. The DRO would then attempt to track down the perpetrator and force him or her to pay restitution for the criminal act. If they do not pay they would be removed from the DRO, which would make life (even buying food) difficult.
Not A Utopian Idea
We easily fall into the trap of constantly trying to dream of ways to create a perfect utopian society. Humans have followed that illusion since times of Ancient Greece and probably before. Some of Greek philosopher Plato’s writings were about utopian societies. For me it is better to accept that humans are imperfect, and by extension so too will be any society they create—regardless of what philosophical principles it is based on. American society is a long way from perfect now, is it not?
We Should Not Forget
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the principles of anarchism are based on the concept of human liberty and freedom. Governments do NOT protect our freedom. They always do the opposite. Laws and regulations take away and reduce freedom.
Few people know even that the U. S. Constitution was based on the idea of limited government. The only authority granted to the national/federal government is specifically listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution itself. In fact the concept of minarchism (like mini-anarchism) is functionally the same as limited government. America’s Founding Fathers were mostly believers in limited government; some such as Benjamin Franklin were said to actually be anarchists. Though I am not familiar with the exact history surrounding this idea, it could well be true. Franklin did make trips to France in the time leading up to the French Revolution–the same time as the U. S. Constitution was being negotiated.
Unfortunately limited government doesn’t work. Some (like me) go as far as to say that the expression “limited government” is an oxymoron—a statement with conflicting parts. We don’t have to know about U. S. history to realize that the attempt by the Founders to keep the size and authority of the federal government small was not successful. The U. S. government today operates way outside the bounds originally set by the Constitution.
My belief is that ever-expanding government owes to human psychology; specifically, that the thirst for power of those who have a desire to rule (be politicians) is never quenched. They absolutely do not want anyone or any piece of paper to limit their authority. This is the reason that no government in history has ever remained limited. I have several ideas swirling around in my head that may be formulated into an article about certain realities about human psychology that we should keep in mind any time we discuss government, freedom, and related subjects.
What’s the Plan?
Plan? I’m not sure that there IS a plan. If I am at least on the way to becoming an anarchist I don’t want to talk about plans. Plans also restrict freedom. Okay. Yes organization requires some planning. I get that.
But I have never heard anyone say that anarchism would (or even could) be applied to a society as large as the United States. Anarchism would be better applied within small communities, organized according to the wishes of the people who live there. Even something the size of a municipal (city) government is hard to manage. Those too get out of hand with their elected “leaders,” which of course don’t fit within the principles of anarchism anyway.
For two or more years now I have held out the belief that the problems faced in modern American society will never by resolved by government. The “system” is simply too corrupt, and of course based on the idea of “rulers” that have more authority than the masses. The corruption will never be eliminated. This again goes back to human nature, especially the mentality of politicians who feel they are more entitled than are other people. To an anarchist the ideas of authority and government are invalid as stated above. In fact I have read or heard statements that suggest that it is the very hierarchical structure (some people “better” than others) that is the root cause of lawlessness in society. I am not familiar enough with that idea to be able to explain it. But any reader who is interested can look it up.
Another factor that favors breaking away from a massive government that is based in a faraway place is the one that says that the farther the “representative” power is from our front door, the less accessible it is to us, and the less we are able to influence or control it. The concept is shown in the image below:
Adios for Now
I might go on for hours, but really it is time to bring this article to an end now. Hopefully I will be able continue another day. Please come back soon, and thanks for reading!