Sunday, November 09, 2008

Anarchism 101

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.

Anarchism - the theory that all forms of government interfere unjustly with individual liberty and should be replaced by the voluntary association of cooperative groups (Webster's New World Dictionary).

Recently at this site some persons that shall remain nameless (though you know who you are) poked some good-natured fun at my preference for Anarchy. They used the term anarchy as a synonym for violent chaos which as one can see from further exploration in Webster's that this is a popular connotation for the word but the word anarchy at its root merely means the absence of government and law and not necessarily the absence of good social order. The world can "suffer" peace without having any interference from benevolent government officials and at times can become even the more violent because of government intervention into simple neighborly disputes that could have otherwise been worked out by the individuals involved.

Most of us live our everyday lives in a state of anarchy. Those of us who "carry to live" walk amongst an unsuspecting population with the capability of causing the death of a large number of people. That we do not go berserk and shoot up some rude salesclerk has more to do with our personal moral code (or the fact that the target might also be armed) than it does that it is against the law to do so. Most recent mass murders by lone crazed gunmen have such a high number of victims because the government decreed that the victims should be disarmed and incapable of defending themselves. The laws against murder never stopped anyone bent on committing it.

The first question that people ask of proponents of anarchism is if there is no government, who will take care of [insert "essential" government-provided service here]? This is one of those questions that is best answered by asking another question. Who is in charge of making sure that your local grocery store has the products that you want on hand when you show up to shop there? Who is in charge of making sure that some young person wants to go to medical school so that years later there is a doctor in the Emergency Room when you have need of one? Who was in charge of making sure the house you live in was built in the first place?

All these services are provided by private individuals who have decided to serve you in order to make their living. If they fail at providing the service you want at the quality you demand, then you fire them by no longer doing business with them until they improve. You can't expect this much from any service the government provides since you generally have no power to fire them and the government always gets its fee from you in the form of taxes. The government can also pass laws that gives it the monopoly over some industries and businesses, including the business of passing laws, with no concern for keeping you, the customer, satisfied. Just compare at how things work at Fed-Ex and UPS over the quality of service provided by the U.S. Postal Service, which has a monopoly over handling the mail because the Federal government says so.

In the last few years, people who believe as I do have been given a bad reputation mostly from a group of individuals who are self-described and also labeled by the government as anarchists. Now these folks do want to overthrow a government by violent means but then they want to replace it with one of their own that abolishes private property rights and is usually of Marxist leaning. It would be more correct to call these people, "Communist Revolutionaries." It is ironic that when their homes are raided by police officers holding search warrants, they complain of their property-rights not being respected.

As George Washington said, "Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." As some people would strive to eliminate all weapons so that man, supposedly, could not harm himself or his fellow man, I strive to eliminate government which has proven itself to be the most deadly weapon ever devised. But I'm an easily contented man (some might call me lazy but that's only because they are not as easily contented as I am) and I accept just about any degree of shrinkage when it comes to Leviathan. If you work with me in this endeavor, even if you believe in limited government, then we have more to unite us than to separate us...

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

For further reading, I would like to recommend Market Anarchy Explained: ''But Who Will Build The Roads?'' by Francois Tremblay.

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