An anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do. – Robert LeFevre
As the cancer of statism continues to metastasize – a preexisting condition against which Obamacare provides no protection – it is heartening to witness the champions of institutionalized force and destruction playing the “anarchy” card as a way of terrorizing otherwise mature men and women into resisting efforts to restrain – or (gasp!) cut back – the growth of state power. Such Senate boob-hustlers as Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren have informed us that “anarchists have taken over” in Congress (Reid), while “the anarchy gang” (Warren) continues to expand. Children have long been subjected to variants of the warning about the “ghosties and ghoulies, and long-legged beasties, and things that go ‘bump’ in the night.” Bringing the fear of goblins and other bogeymen into the present, the statists now intone that “the anarkists will git ya, if’n you don’t watch out.”
Having to resort to nursery rhyme logic to help keep their conscript constituencies in that dependent, child-like state of mind so necessary to their being ruled, may be the expression of a dynamic that runs deeper than may first appear. In the 19th century, Schopenhauer observed that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Having, for more than half a century, been focused upon – some might say obsessed by – inquiries into the nature of and conditions for peace and liberty, I have witnessed such processes of change. I would add to Schopenhauer’s progression, however, the first stage noted by Gandhi: “First, they ignore you.”
My views have often been criticized on the grounds that “anarchists believe in violence,” an accusation that stands more as an example of what Carl Jung would have called “projection” (i.e., the attributing of one’s “dark side” qualities and motivations onto “scapegoats,” against whom punitive action may be taken). The meaning of “anarchy” is found in the word itself: one dictionary refers to “archy” as “rule” or “government.” “An” is a prefix that means “absent,” or “without.” Thus, “anarchy” means “without rule by government.” Since governments are generally defined as “agencies with a legal monopoly on the use of violence,” to defend government is, by definition, to advocate violence as the dominant means by which society is to be organized.
The anarchist philosophy rejects violence, precisely because coercion is a denial of the liberty of individuals to direct their own lives. It is the nature of all living beings to pursue their own ends; a purpose that requires no external force to accomplish. When violence is employed against another, it is an admission that life is being forced to do what it chooses not to do, or to refrain from doing what it chooses to do. Government – the monopolist of violence – is, therefore, organized and revered on the principle of being at war with the fundamental processes of life.
When I read such buffoons as Reid and Warren – along with their loyal media hacks – contend that anarchists are running the government, I wonder just how unaffected such minds must be to the rigors of reality. Are they so absorbed by their own projections that they find it easy to believe that persons who, on both principle and predisposition of character, reject violence, are nonetheless motivated to “take over” and run the institutionalized machinery of violent destructiveness, tools that the statists insist upon controlling for their own ambitions?
My response to those who cannot grasp the fact that, on a micro level (i.e., where ordinary people live their daily lives) peaceful relationships with others, and with respect for the inviolability of one another’s boundaries, are the norm. But the statists have no interest in individual purposes or behavior – other than as examples of deviance to be brought under their control – for theirs is a macro world; a universe of abstractions to be subjected to their management.
As statists pursue their accusations of what they insist on seeing as the violent motivations of anarchists, I respond as follows. “If I were desirous of employing violence as a means of accomplishing my purposes, I would not condemn the state, but would try to take it over! I would join you guys, who have created this destructive monstrosity and provided it with all kinds of tools of violence with which to subdue and control mankind. Machine-guns, grenades, bombs, napalm, nuclear weapons, deadly gasses and chemicals, missiles, drone bombers, instruments of torture: these and other anti-life mechanisms being designed and constructed by university research centers and corporate manufacturers, would provide a cornucopia of toys with which violent-prone persons could carry out their psychopathic purposes.”
“By joining forces with the rest of you,” I go on, “I can acquire all kinds of perks that do not derive from my more peaceful pursuits. I could devise all kinds of schemes programs to improve the well-being of mankind, if I were allowed to impose my systems on greedy, self-centered recalcitrant others. These plans could more readily be carried out with funds, acquired through theft taxes that the victimsbeneficiaries of my programs would be required to pay. As my reputation for creating such wondrous social visions escalated, I might become a regular speaker – or even faculty member – at prestigious universities; a guest on major television news or talk shows; or the author of non-fiction books that would quickly get placed high on the ‘best-seller’ lists.”
“Or, if I had propensities for violence, I might choose to go to the top of the violence ladder and become a member of the military. I would be given a handsome uniform to be worn in public, along with a chestful of colorful ribbons and medals with which to impress others. And as I walked along the streets or through shopping malls, young boys and grown women alike might find me attractive, while other people might pause to say “thank you for your service.” On Sunday mornings, ministers might interrupt their sermons on the virtues of war to recognize my presence – followed by applause from members of the congregation – and might end services with the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’”
“As the dedication to my career advanced, my talents would be increasingly recognized by those in command. I might be promoted to higher levels of power and authority in the military, and could help define the strategies that would best promote my social schemesAmerican foreign policy interests. I could eventually rise to become a member of the ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff.’ I would be cheered even by parents whose children I marched off to be slaughtered in wars in Lower Ruritania, Petrosyria, or other sites at which sizeable oil deposits were known to exist. If my efforts resulted in the killing of a sufficient number of innocents, I might receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and have boulevards and universities named after me.”
“With my reputation secured as an effective practitioner of state violence – and thus a person to be trusted by the corporate-state establishment – I might be able to get myself elected to Congress, there to join other members of ‘the anarchy gang’ that has ‘taken over’ there.”
Is this really what people believe anarchists are all about?
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938, Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival, and Boundaries of Order. His latest book is The Wizards of Ozymandias.
Copyright © 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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