Wednesday, April 27, 2005

[A]narchy or non [A]narchy

Thomas L. Knapp of Strike The Root posted a polemical essay that essentially advocates anarchy.

Like any religion, American government has its holy books: We call them the Constitution and the Federalist Papers instead of Torah and Talmud or Bible or Q'uran. And, as with any religion, various schools of thought – Sadducee, Pharisee, Essene; Sunni, Sufi, Shiite, Wahabbe; Catholic, Protestant; Original Intent, Strict Construction, “Constitution in Exile” -- purport to interpret the Sacred Texts and to hold the key to their True Meaning.

Straight out of the gate, America’s founding documents are relegated to esoteric writ that need not to be seen as an objective framework for collective governance.

The difference between theistic religions and the cult of the state is that among the former, the different groups are empowered to carry on their theological struggles and to put their ideas into action. Even though blood may be shed or religious edicts given force of law, there exists an actual arena in which persuasion can achieve actual change, which can then manifest itself in the actions of the persuaded. This is not the case with the cult of the state: There is no argument of fact which will result in real, substantive change within the cult itself.

The metaphor is carried a step further and takes an unusual twist. The case is being made that religious dogma is more malleable than the secular “cult of the state”. Such is patently counterintuitive. A (representative) republic often devolves into a quasi-democracy, while religious sects claim the sanction of an unchanging deity and unalterable sacred texts.

The federalists, in particular Alexander Hamilton, longed for a more centralized government for the purpose of enshrining power and giving it permanence. Having unleashed Revolution on the continent, they now longed to bottle it back up and put it on a convenient shelf.

I can certainly identify with a strong desire for maximum liberty. But, the planet is a bit too crowded for one to live full-throttle without the worry of a collision with another. Hamilton and the Founders sought to establish clear and universal parameters to prevent interpersonal conflict and indeed to shield the individual from the abuse of government.

To the (small) extent that the Constitution may still be adhered to, and to the (even smaller) extent that that adherence may be directed to the benefit of freedom, we might as well use it. But let's not kid ourselves. The political class will not surrender its stolen power because its opponents come up with a better argument, a more historically accurate understanding, or a more accurate textual analysis. The problem is not a failure of adherence to the Constitution. The problem is the Constitution – or any other structure of state power.

Yes, the existence of state power is similar to pregnancy, in that once begun, it grows inexorably. That said, the alternative is just simply not an option. I would cite the post immediately prior to this one as example of the need for a collective defense apparatus. The reason that no "true anarchy" is extant can be explained by the fact that nature abhors a vacuum. Sure, you and I may respect one another’s libertarian freedom, but it’s the next would-be despot with an army that will not. Additionally, the "domestic brute" is not an endangered species. Therefore, property rights and the guarantee of same promote wealth creation to a greater extent than a lawless free-for-all ever could.

Lest there be confusion, Eric points out the following:

First, I think there is a misunderstanding of what rational anarchy is. Rational anarchy is not the same as the anarchists of the right and left who want to establish a non-state. That is, a society that has no government monopoly. A rational anarchist is one who recognizes that the following is true:
No matter what government, laws or regulations exist, the individual alone is responsible for their moral decisions.

Because of that recognition I don't need laws or regulations to be put in place, nor do I need someone else to tell me what is moral.

I am an adult, responsible in my own right for my actions. To quote Robert Heinlein speaking of rational anarchy: "A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else".

Rational Anarchy goes without saying for those of us that respect personal responsibility. However, a basic legal code is necessary because of those that don’t. The enjoyment of life, liberty and property is substantially compromised, for the reasons I mentioned, absent a social contract.

Acknowledgment: jomama