So yesterday I wrote a post as my response to the election. I explained my thought process as to why I’m still optimistic and tried to identify the core of our problem. Democracy is the devil I’ve shined light on and today it is my intentions to make clear the alternative.
Radical change is needed!
Let’s just jump into it, Anarchism is what I call for. Total abolition of the institution of government. Radical? Yes but what better time to consider radical solutions. When freedom is slipping from your grasp you need to tighten your commitment to liberation.
I should preference the following sections by stating I’m a bias human. Anarchism is a very rich and old ideology and it’s hard to communicate a full picture without some error. Like many of political movements and ideas there’s been several generations of interpretation and rewriting. The ideologies range from fetishism of pre-industrial society and small scale communism to full cyborg transhumanist anarchism. I hope to do my best in offering a broad argument for Anarchy that will appeal to a wide range of audience but will certainly offer these ideas through my own leans.
So what is Anarchism?
There’s an easy answer and a more honest answer to the question of “what is Anarchism?”.
The easy answer is no government. The word can be directly translated from the Greek to “no rulers” and the most simple interpretation of that is no government.
But that’s not really a sufficient answer. Anarchism isn’t do what you want as long as it’s not government, for anarchists reject many forms of authority.
Anarchists reject slavery, an institution though made possible by the state is not the same thing as government. Anarchists reject arranged marriages and other forms of social control.
A more honest definition of anarchy and anarchism is the rejection of unjust and non-consensual human hierarchies. Any system or social norm that argues “He is better than they therefore they must be subservient”. Government is the most obvious example of this but we can not limit anarchism to that.
Anarchism is an acceptance of your right to self autonomy
Be it endowed by a creator, logically deduced by nature or simply out of your own love for yourself you are a free individual. It is your nature to be “self owning”. Those that wish to command you and control your actions must first logically justify their power by appealing to your autonomy.
Certainly it is not controversial to suggest a bully on the street has no right to take your money by force. Not even if he promises to use the money to buy you a meal. If he wishes to use power on you he must first have your consent or his actions are morally illegitimate.
On the flip side power is fine when equal respect of autonomy is presence. A BDSM relationship can be beautiful and fun for all parties but only if everyone consistently has the opportunity to opt out and consent is made clear.
All institutions that reject your autonomy disrespect you on a moral level. It is a claim that by some arbitrary thing often: race, gender, income level, etc, you are lesser than the humans around you. Disgusting, unethical, but most importantly irrational.
Anarchism is effective problem solving
The fears one might have for anarchism is the thought that many problems couldn’t be solved without a state. A centralized power is seen as necessary for things like roads, maintaining peace and helping the poor.
But this far from true. In fact everything the state gets it hands into ends up worse then if we had figured out a peaceful cooperative solution.
There is first the economics. The most effective form of resource allocation is through peaceful cooperation. Even when the bureaucrats have good intentions it becomes very difficult to organize solutions with all the perverse incentives.
We can imagine a thought experiment, one coined by FA Hayek, where a central authority attempts to build a railway. Say they face the obstacle of a Mountain, what is the political power to do? They could go through the mountain using up mathematicians and engineers but saving steel. They could go around the mountain freeing these brain workers to help on other projects but using up steel that could be used to build factories. An almost impossible decision to make from the ivory tower of government. A polling of the need for steel across the country would only be costly and ineffective. The bureaucrat will likely answer the question based on guidance from corporate lobbyists, a wasteful system over all that ends in cronies and corporations winning while the country loses. Besides if they’re wrong they can always tax the people more. Waste is all too common when the government tries to solve problems.
Imagine a similar scenario but this time with no state, no confused bureaucrat. Instead it is a private organization building the rail. The private organization can not tax the public tomorrow if they make the wrong choice today. The incentives are more small scale as they have to worry about maintaining a profit margin on whatever choice they make. Even a non profit has more clear infomation and worries. Its easier for a non state organization to make the effective decision likely motivated by the need for maintaining a profit.
This likely isn’t anything new to the reader, almost no one would advocate for the government controlling the automobile market or the food market. However such logic isn’t always applied to everything the state does.
Why should roads be state owned for example? It’s such a simple thing yet it seems so hard for many people to imagine a world where all roads were built without taxation. Ironically though private and community built roads are not a fiction. We have toll roads, the first ever turnpike was privately built, and there are hundreds of examples of communities getting together to build a bridge without the need for an authority directing and regulating.
People are rational and very self interested if the incentive is clear they will find an effective way to solve the problem. If I need a road to get customers to my business I have a clear reason to work with my community to get it built or work out a voluntary (key word) contract with the owners of other businesses or home builders.
Doing these things without government is both more peaceful, no need to force people to pay for it or force them to work, but also more efficient.
Anarchy is Compassion
There is also the objection that without the state those that are disenfranchised and need help will be left to the wolves. “We must help those in need, have you no Compassion!” They might say when you don’t favor the new health care bill or the latest minimum wage increase.
Of course this objection also fails when examined critically. Who is to blame for things like the poor having trouble affording doctor visits? Is corporate greed and too much freedom the beast to point out?
Well maybe. It’s true corporations have been very abusive and counterproductive. Fortunately corporations are a legal status that only exists because of governments. Without the state such businesses would struggle to exist and maintain their influence. Relationship between government and big business is nothing new, but you are maybe unfamiliar with the way the relationship caused the current healthcare crisis.
There was a time in America where virtually all of the working class has health coverage. Affordable doctor visits, low cost emergency care and a community to back it up. During the late 19th and early 20th Americans had what was called “fraternal societies”. A sort of anarchist-like health collective. Run by and for the working class pooling their resources together to get adorable healthcare for their friends and family.
The kinds of services from which members could choose often varied as well, though the most commonly offered were life insurance, disability insurance, and “lodge practice.” Members would pay only a day’s wage for yearly service.
House calls were very common. So common actually that the spot as a resident doctor for a local chapters was a coveted position in the medical profession. Everyone won.
What happened? Why has such a great system disappeared into the Abyss of history? Well it’s Government to blame. Yup it’s just that simple. Doctors who weren’t able to land the lodge practice positions lobbied to regulate and ban the fraternal societies from the medical market. They felt it was not fair that these communities were benefiting so much without them profiting.
It is government that destroys mutual aid. It is the government that makes us less compassionate. With Anarchy we rebuild these systems to help those who need it the most.
Anarchy today, anarchy tomorrow, anarchy forever!
There’s only so much I can say in a post like this. I could go on and on about the moral arguments and the economics, but I’ll leave you with some final thoughts.
Does anarchy seem absurd and impossible to you? In a world where a KKK endorsed reality TV star is president of the most powerful country is it really that far fetched? Is it really out of the realm of possibility for you to think just maybe government isn’t a good idea any more?
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Anarchy and State Socialism (essay)