(May 30, 2012)
The ultimate sophomoric blunder: Let’s smash the state before we even figure out what positive roles the state performs in society.
Part One – “Market Anarchists”
I’m astounded that adults argue this so-called philosophy. But, not only are the anarchists among us, they are loud and repetitive and seek to influence every popular movement that arises. In this case it’s the Occupy movement, which is now torn betwen MoveOn.org’s not so veiled takeover bid and a lot of anarchists who decry all things “state.” The cornucopia of their pseudo-political chatter disguises their tiny numbers.
A “stateless society” is the goal of one strand of this virulent school. They fantasize non-stop on what some future society would be like without a government. It never seems to occur to people like those at the Center For a Stateless Society that warlordism is a possibility. It never pops up that those with the strongest mercenary army would take over the vital resources and become the de facto — you guessed it — government. This is so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning, but in the anarchist delusion we don’t find the “con” column in their reasoning. That’s because the whole thing’s a con.
Rather than placing their faith in a state set up to guarantee civil rights for all, the anarchists place their faith in what is apparently a page from the radical republican right — “free markets.” The anarchists, who at some gathering places sound a lot like the libertarians, want the ultimate so-called “free market” without any government in existence to even insure that this “market” can operate without armed factions simply taking what they want from others. They dislike the state’s existence and its fallback option to use force so much that they would risk the entire society to the use of random chaotic force by non-state actors.
At the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS), they phrase the issue like so:
“…we can say that Hayek’s knowledge problem will, in a stateless society, even impact “governance” in the sense of how enterprises provide dispute resolution and security services. We can’t predict the details of how free people will choose to organize provision of these services. The forms of such organization would be an open-ended matter, subject to free experimentation and resulting diversity.”
In English, the security of the land is now renamed “security services.” It will be subject to “experimentation” and “diversity.” Unlike the United States and its Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, there will be no “equal protection under the law” in a stateless free for all. Quite the contrary, security will be for sale, and will be the privilege of hte highest bidders.
I have pointed out once before how the Occupy protests could have concluded in an anarchist dream, if they had gotten what they want, the “stateless society.” Once the protests caught the attention of the deep-pocketed interests, such as the banks and Wall Street, these simply could have hired their own “security services” as the Center For a Stateless Society phrases it. These “security services,” say Blackwater (Xe), could easily wipe out the entire contingent of anarchist protesters in a couple of hours spree. The protesters, masked or unmasked, would drop like clusterbombs in the streets of red. Another “service” would come along to hose it all off, and business would continue as usual.
The state has already protected the anarchists from such a fate. It has protected all of us from random chaotic violence and the raising of mercenary armies by private interests. This has never occurred to any anarchist.
Some may simply respond to the Center For a Stateless Society by pointing to flash points in Africa, to failed states, to lawless chaotic hell holes where the bodies are laid out in mass graves. That’s experimentation. That’s diversity, when it comes to “security.”
On economic matters, here is where things get more muddled. Without discussion of money, who prints it, how does it get value, etc., the C4SS states their position as the simplistic “free market” champions of Ayn Rand’s school of thought:
“Market anarchists, however, typically disagree that the economic status quo is a result of a free market economy and instead tend to attribute systematic economic injustice to market intervention by the state — that is, to divergence from the free market ideal of absolutely zero state intervention in the economy.”
Zero interference in the market. No labor protections. No environmental protections. No minimum wage. No barrier to poisoning your staff, having their limbs end up in the sausage, of having young children cleaning out soot pipes. Zero interference. Disposable workers, no benefits, no rights. Zero interference has been tried, however. They called it the Gilded Age. It was a disgusting abomination, from the worker’s standpoint. They didn’t find it quite the utopia that the “market anarchists” seem to romanticize.
It’s a con. You are being conned if you follow this anarchist dogma. Sorry, there’s no other way to look at it.
In fact this entire muddleheaded idea of a “stateless society” is gibberish on its face and beyond the limits of what a super-majority of the population would entertain. It is a minority fringe movement, and not a pursuit of the 99%. It folds in seamlessly with the free market ideologues of the radical right who push austerity and corporate rule onto us, seemingly what the anarchists nominally oppose. It is a con game, and perhaps the low-level foot soldier Black Bloc types are nothing but dupes. With all the fancy verbiage, they don’t seem to notice their similarities with the Koch Brothers, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
“A state is not governance based upon the consent of the governed, but conquest under a false pretense of legitimacy.”
Says you. A lot of citizens disagree, a lot more than you acknowledge. Now I’m inclined to give this claim more sway than most. Democracy in the United States is a rigged game, and downright undemocratic in practice. How much of that can be attributed to an ignorant public that refuses to seek out alternatives or even to vote?
While democracy is in crisis, here is where we hit the fork in the road. Stateless anarchists see the answer as destroying all government and ushering in warlordism, as if that was a rational response to a system that lacks responsiveness. Warlords also lack compassion and response to the needs of those on the other side of their mercenary lines.
The rational solution to this crisis of representative democracy is more democracy, a more level playing field where alternative parties have a voice and can be heard by the public. We need to diminish the influence of the most powerful entrenched interests, not to enable them to become feudalistic emperors. While democracy is an imperfect system it is head and shoulders above the alternative that has been proposed: “free experimentation and resulting diversity.”
Anarchists propose a power vacuum while solving none of the survival problems faced by the populations who will still be at the mercy of those competing for resources. Only instead of an orderly society to operate in, there will be madness. The anarchist proposals are interesting reading as science fiction, but should not be given consideration in the real world. Thankfully, they are not given much attention or legitimacy by society, as their implementation would be so radical and so chaotic that the formerly-functioning democracies of the world could end up looking like something from The Road Warrior.
Part Two – “Libertarian/Socialist” Anarchists
The poor, misunderstood anarchists just can’t seem to get a break. When you point out the absurdity of the “market anarchism” preached by some, such as those at the Center For a Stateless Society, as I did in my previous piece, the response — even from “market anarchists” themselves — is to shift the discussion away from their own arguments and onto another strand of anarchy! In this case it’s the “libertarian/socialist” school of thought.