Thursday, July 9, 2020

Anarchy and its misconception

There is a writer who states the keen mark of the charlatan is redefining the terms. I cannot take this seriously, because the sentence itself redefines a term which then aptly describes its author. There's also the implication that language isn't messy, and that words and definitions are perfect. They are not. Some words and ideas might be in need of redefining. I believe anarchy is one of them. I believe the use of the term is vapid, generally, except to describe a descent into a less regulated, or more disordered state of affairs. Anarchy is defined by what it is not and what it rejects, which is organized systems of control. It also by Webster's definition promotes cooperation instead of appeals to government authority. This leads it to be placed in context of its opposite, the other, equally fuzzy word of government.

I do not enjoy the modern political use of anarchy. I believe the word is essentially meaningless, as we are all essentially anarchist. To separate cooperation from authority is not rational. If no one has authority on an idea, there is no need to cooperate. If there's a disagreement followed by compromise, someone has authority. That's all government is. Family households are tiny governments under parental figures. It extends the same way to social groups, neighborhoods, cities, states, all the way to federal governments. A world with more than one persons engaged in interaction is going to have appeals to order, chains of command, and hierarchies of competence to varying degrees of success.

When the hierarchy of government is so removed from the common person underneath it, it is rightfully intimidating and subject to suspicion. But it is not a supernatural force, though it does use its psychic power, the threat of consequence, to modify our behavior. Government is simply people getting into rooms and writing ideas down as proposals. From there, laws are enacted. Laws can also be reversed. This means they can be fluid and subject to change or interpretation. A simple example is a stop sign. Most people stop at a stop sign because it's a good idea as a way to mitigate traffic. Some people stop only because it's illegal. But you still have the capacity to run a stop sign or a red light. That freedom is not taken away from you. Nor is the freedom limited of the person or group of people who wish to legislate against such an activity.

Because all order in the world is at best implied, and subject to change, coercion, or defiance of law, I believe all behavior is anarchistic. Words and rules lose power if there's no longer a majority chorus of people willing to believe or enforce them. Governance is synonymous with lies and corruption which further displays the fluid nature of law and order. Anarchy is people doing whatever they can get away with. Doing whatever they can get away with is the second definition of government. Those who govern and those who disobey do the same.

In anarchy you do what you can get away with. Is this different from what we have?
Anarchy is seen as the antithesis of order, what a pity it has to abide by a rule. Anarchy by its definition is free association and voluntary cooperation against governmental authority, but the persons in those governments are doing the same, only they are freely associating in a different direction.

Part of my motivation to bring this up is the seemingly self-defeating arguments that prop up around issues of free market capitalism and deregulation. The mantra of deregulation was displayed in its full, devastating incompetence by Alan Greenspan in the US 2008 economic collapse. I believe he misunderstood a simple concept: if your desire is to rid a system of rules, you can't have a rule against rules. The error seems to persist when people speak of free market capitalism. It ignores there are sometimes strongly correlated demands by society where profit wouldn't take precedent. We should have the freest market possible, but with limits to the factors of life that make markets possible. If markets are calibrated for infinite growth on finite planet, they fail people first before they fail themselves. In our desire for simple solutions we can lose sight these systems are meant to serve a purpose.

Total appeals to anarchy, free markets, and deregulation are in essence appeals to everything, which in turn say almost nothing. If this is your appeal, reconsider it or consider saying nothing. Or provide something more substantive like this paraphrasing of George Carlin: "We have unlimited rights or we have no rights at all. I lean toward unlimited, but if I do something you don't like, you have the right to kill me." It echoes the sentiment there's something ironic and innately wrong in what's defined as the nonrecognition of authority being unable to break its rule.

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