Ed Driscoll

Looking for Anarchy in All the Wrong Places

 “‘Weekend of Resistance’ in Ferguson takes disturbing turn,” Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air, noting:

Whenever large scale social unrest breaks out and crowds gather, the two ideological groups which seem to flock to the violence – and seek to augment it – are the anarchists and the communists. (The irony of this should be lost on none of us, given that the two seek precisely opposite social reformation goals.)

And similarly, in a recent post titled “Fundamental Concepts — Government is Theft,” one of Ace of Spades’ co-blogger writes:

It is often said in the liberal media that we conservatives hate and mistrust government (broadly true), and that we want no government at all (False, that would be the anarchists, a group that should be furthest right on the political spectrum but oddly, these days, seem to be mostly leftists**).

As with fascism, anarchism is an ideology that historically has its roots on the left. If you’re unfamiliar with its history, then Abe Greenwald’s article in the March, 2011 issue of Commentary titled “The Return of Anarchism” is a great way to get up to speed. And while there have been libertarian-oriented anarchists, note the paradoxical nature of the term, as it’s been historically understood by most:

Originally a part of the socialist left in 19th-century Europe and Russia, anarchism arose in response to an undeniably unjust social, political, and imperial order. Anarchists railed against regimes in countries in which genuine monopolies were sanctioned and the poor were punished by all manner of law and taxation. The Industrial Revolution had taken hold, and modernization had created wealth among capitalists but had done little to distribute that wealth equitably. Working conditions were often unspeakable, and as farm workers made the uneasy transition to industrial labor, emperors, kings, and czars took one another’s measure and conspired to expand their empires.

In France, revolutions and coups shape-shifted the country repeatedly from a monarchy to a republic to a dictatorship and back again. When settled, at last, as a republic, France allied with Czarist Russia after 1870 to stave off the threat of a rising industrialist Germany. In Russia, where industrialization was lagging, social unrest following the liberation of the slave class in 1861 was greater than anywhere else in Europe.

Into this turbulent mix came socialists of various stripes, offering hope to peasants and laborers who found no regime worthy of their allegiance. It is among these socialists that anarchists first appeared. Strangely enough, anarchists do not believe in anarchy in the literal sense, a state of utter bedlam. Rather, they are proponents of “anarchism,” a political philosophy defined by seminal Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin in 1910 as “a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government.” In such a society, he said, harmony would be achieved “not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.”

This pacific ideal notwithstanding, anarchism did not actually express itself in a peaceable manner. Indeed, anarchism was the source of a new kind of violent pandemonium without precedent in Western history. Dynamite-throwing, bombing, stabbing, and shooting—these were the tools with which anarchists sought to bring about their earthly paradise under a doctrine they called “propaganda of the deed.” Thus was the conduct we call “terrorism” born.

Or as Instapundit reader Rob Crawford noted back then in response to Greenwald’s article, “The modern anarchists are just the far-left’s muscle. Look at when and where they show up, who they march with and for, and how carefully the press ignores them and their acts.”

And note how anarchy came into existence concurrently in the mid to late 19th century along with the rest of the forces that make up Liberal Fascism.