Written this morning after reflecting on Noam Chomsky’s book entitled Anarchism. While I do not subscribe to anarchism, I do believe it is a topic worth extrapolating for the purpose of questioning our current norms. This is a short 750 word introduction to anarchism without [my usual] verbose arguments.
“Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.” – Edward Abbey
Should the wealthy elite have a vast majority of the power? I wonder what it would be like to live in a truly anarchist country? I understand anarchy in pure form to mean that the individual is at the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life. Of course, this also means that there is no centralized or system of government with rulers. Anarchy thus thrives by maintaining that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Furthermore, anarchism acknowledges that (1) religion is the dominion of the human mind, (2) that property is the dominion of human needs, and (3) that Government is the dominion of human conduct. These represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement and all the horrors it entails. And it must be stated that anarchy is not a proponent of lawlessness and mass chaos where laws are null and void. Rather, anarchy elevates human liberty above absolute power that exists within most, if not all, governments today.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” -The Lord Acton
In the current American political climate, neither Republicans nor Democrats are the dominate party. This is because the corporate party, encompassing both Republicans and Democrats rule absolutely. And if the American people wish to cast their vote, our representatives will most often ignore us due to the lobbyists who lurk in every corridor on Capitol Hill. Economically, the middle class voice is but a whisper while patrimonialism is reigning supreme as all power flows to and from our top leaders. Did you get to vote on how much our government spends on military defense? You didn’t. $125 billion a year went towards wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and woman are fighting in the Middle East for our politician’s quest for expansion of power, not freedom. Just look at the multi-national companies who have profited from the recent wars, especially Halliburton and Bechtel. Moreover, we have a broken healthcare system and educational (K-12th grade) system that show no signs of improvement during the next decade. America, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible?
“Government is best when it governs least.” –Thomas Paine
Individualist anarchists believe in mutual exchange, not economic privilege. They believe in freed markets, not capitalism. They defend a distinctive response to the challenges of ending global capitalism and achieving social justice: eliminate the political privileges that prop up capitalists. Anarchism borrows from both classical liberalism and socialism. Classical liberals (a.k.a. market liberals) advocate a free market economy. Socialism seeks a world where the means of production are owned by workers. Many market anarchists believe that freed markets lead to that world. The state-granted monopoly privileges and rents deigned to the purchasers and wielders of political power removed, the amount of economic opportunity available to working class people would outpace the bureaucratic and artificial economies of the existing corporate-dominated marketplace.
In more simplistic terms, within anarchism, the individual is the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life; society is the lungs which are distributing the element to keep the life essence–that is, the individual–pure and strong. “The one thing of value in the world,” says Emerson, “is the active soul; this every man contains within him. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth and creates.” In other words, the individual instinct is the thing of value in the world. It is the true soul that sees and creates the truth alive, out of which is to come a still greater truth, the re-born social soul.
While I do not subscribe to anarchism as a political goal, I cannot help but wonder if it is a worthy hypothesis. I do not believe that anarchism will ever be the ideal of an entire country, rather, we could see anarchist movements of protest spawning in rebellion due to suppression. The key idea to remember is: when you centralize power in the hands of the wealthy elite, the middle and lower class will inevitably suffer. This net result is one nation divisible by class.