By: Michael D. Jacobsen
An anarchic society is often called the original state of Man. At least, according to anarchists. From there, everything seems to have gone downhill. Anarchism is the idea that government (the State) is unnecessary and harmful. There are many good points, as well as many bad ones, to this statement. The shortened version of how most anarchists view the situation is that we would all be much better off if governments did not exist at all.
This idea also tries to claim that everything people have accomplished living in a government-protected area they would have accomplished anyway. The idea that governments do provide most of their citizens with security so that they can devote their time to intellectual pursuits seems to have no merit to those advocating for a society without a governmental system. Let’s be honest here and say that most anarchists (most likely) full well understand that their ideas regarding society have a zero chance of manifesting; it will also not take very long for anyone looking at these notions to realize that their ideas have very little merit beyond being anything but a thought experiment. For an idea to have real-world merit it needs to be both beneficial and practical; anarchism fails on both of these counts.
Yet, if you have the rather dubious honor of encountering one of these idealistic individuals on Facebook, you may realize that many would-be anarchists know that their ideas cannot work but, regardless, will still gladly criticize you for not conforming to what is, at its heart, a fantasy. If you read what these people claim to be perfectly reasonable ideas, however, the notions suggested and insisted upon will be trying their best to convince you that anarchy is not an impossibility – at all – as long as everyone acts exactly how they want them to. The trouble is, if people should choose to form a government, and it then has any sort of interaction with their idea, it will very likely destroy their perfect anarchist society quite quickly.
This might tell you all you really need to know about just how viable an anarchist society would actually be. Of course, you will get those mentioning that 80 years ago that people with rifles could defend themselves from anything. This line of reasoning conveniently ignores 80 years of technological advancement in military technology. These people are not only ignorant of it, but they need you to be ignorant of it as well. Their idea is that it is perfectly reasonable and possible that people armed only with rifles could withstand any attack from a hostile government, who would be armed with considerably more advanced military force. The events in the two Gulf Wars are a perfect example of severely mismatched odds. If you don’t, however, look at it from any particular anarchist’s antiquated point of view, you will no doubt realize that an anarchist society would quickly fall to any outside government action.
This does not mean that every idea presented by anarchists do not have any validity. Quite the contrary. Governments do, in fact, tend to trample way further over individual liberties than they were intended to, and the need to correct this problem is very real. Yet, it is mostly ignored. Anarchists will tell you because this issue exists that it is proof that we should remove all forms of government. People might realize that our Founding Fathers created the Second Amendment with the idea of restraining government or, if the need arises, even overthrowing it. But, this is conveniently ignored by most anarchists. Instead, they prefer to wish for a government collapse, and in the massive death and chaos that would almost certainly ensue, try to show others how their wonderful society could stand even a remote possibility of working. And if it does not….well, too bad.
Ironically, while anarchists will tell you that people need to exercise more personal responsibility, they place the blame on their government doing wrong as the nature of government, rather than trying to inspire people toward doing anything to correct the government as being a considerably more realistic approach. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a government where people were actively involved in political issues. Yet, the desire of most anarchists is to claim they need to be more involved with society, but then also claim that they will do nothing to correct a government. In essence, they will gladly tell you that they will do nothing, while telling others that they need to be more involved.
This seems to be the attraction for many of those supporting anarchy on social platforms. They have an idea that they do not need to prove, and yet somehow claim that it is a perfectly reasonable approach (as long as people go along with what they say) and, if you don’t agree with them, it is an instant reason to ridicule those who do not buy into their fantastic ideals. It is really easy to keep a moral high-ground, as long as you need not prove that your ideals are practical or viable. When confronted with the reality that people do not respond to events in the way that anarchists envision, you get the varied and ill-informed responses of “You are indoctrinated to think that way”. To think any other way destroys the ideas that they have. Obviously, lawless urban centers have turned into ideal societies, you have just never heard of them. Opinions to the contrary are, of course, just “indoctrination”.
A claim often made by anarchists is that people will provide security for each other, because it is in their self interest to do so. However, when we look at parallels in the real world, especially in cities where law enforcement is lax or non-existent, this idea just does not hold water. People do not rally together to provide security, but instead stay behind solid and locked doors, and there is nothing wrong with them doing so. Keeping themselves and their families safe is in their self-interest, and it shows just how far from reality an anarchists ideas truly are. But, again, you are “indoctrinated” if you think this is true.
Another wonderful irony of the anarchist mindset is when they attempt to tell you that you are a slave if you “conform” to what you are told. However, if you ask how they do not conform, they will tell you that if you do not do what you are told, if and when you have that choice, then you are obviously not a slave. If you not do as you are told, according to all anarchists, you would already be in jail. However they claim to not do as they are told,and are not in jail. You are supposed to ignore the obvious reality of this when dealing with an “anarchist”, so that they feel much better about themselves by making you feel ashamed about yourself, while making themselves seem morally superior.
A parallel with anarchy supporters can be seen with those that support communism as a viable form of society, because if everyone would just act as people want them to act, then everything will work out fine. The reality that people will not necessarily act in a manner that others want them to is irrelevant to them. As long as they can get people to suspend their belief in reality, then they can continually say their position is right and morally just. The most common anarchist you will meet on social media today is the one who wants to prove how intellectually superior they are, while not having to show any shred of proof that their ideas are in any way realistic. This allows them to feel better about themselves while having to accomplish nothing.
While there are anarchists that do realize the limitations of their ideas, many of whom I have met in the Libertarian Party in either meetings or just causal conversations, these have sadly been few and far between. I have tremendous respect for those who are willing to work towards their goals. Most, if not all, of the ones that do this will tell you anarchy will never be achieved, but they are committed to bringing government control as low as it can be. As I think government should be severely limited, I wish them well.
So, to clarify: our current government is in dire need of review and restriction on its power. A limited government, as proposed by the Constitution, has provided a wonderful life for many millions of its citizens. Ignoring this major accomplishment is a huge mistake. Pretending we would have been better without it is either hubris, or just outright delusion. Our country would never have created the quality of life that most American citizens have enjoyed, and still continue to do so, if it had never existed.
Again, I must again point out that not all anarchists are non-realistic dreamers bent on using any means possible to make themselves seem wonderful. It is a great way to show just how far our government has expanded beyond what was originally intended. The desire to be left alone and judge for ourselves how we should handle our lives is not a bad idea. The idea that people, good or bad, can exist without some sort of framework is, by and large, a rather potentially harmful one.
The true problem with most anarchist thinking is that there is no way we can once again reign in our government to become more responsible to its citizens. I do not believe that for a minute. The mechanisms to do so are still there (jury nullification, massive activist rallies, even civil unrest can occur and will produce results, i.e. the Bundy standoff). The major hurdle is that none of this is easy. People always look for easy answers and, in this case, there is not one. Work is needed to fix our country. Hard work. Waiting for a collapse while complaining about others trying to fix a problem is neither moral nor hard work. Ask yourself if you are going to look for an easy solution, or will you step up and contribute to doing what needs to be done?
And that, my friends, is the Uncensored Truth.
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