March 27, 2011

ABE GREENWALD: The Return of Anarchism. “All forms of government have failed Europeans at one time or another, and the ongoing financial crisis indicates that systemic failure is not beyond the bounds of possibility now. Thus the newfound attractiveness of anarchism, which at least promises its adherents that they will play a role in bringing about that failure rather than simply being passive victims of it.”

But if you’re protesting against government budget cuts, can you really call yourself an anarchist?

UPDATE: Reader Rob Crawford writes: “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.”

In a real anarchy, of course, as Clayton Cramer has pointed out, they’d have short careers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chuck Simmins emails: “Abe Greenwald is incorrect. Europeans have yet to try a form of representative democracy like the US has. Parliamentary democracy lacks one key check and balance, a separation between the legislative and executive branches. That’s why it fails so often.”

MORE: Reader Matthew Akins writes:

I’m sure this hasn’t escaped your attention, but in point of fact, there is no such thing as a leftist anarchist. We are using words here to describe groups of people in ways that those words were never intended to be used. It’s like a person carrying a yellow flag, but it’s called green. Everyone says, “hey, I see you have the green flag with you,” whenever you go about town with a yellow flag. Such is leftist anarchy. It isn’t anarchy at all, but actually extreme statism. Perhaps the closest it ever comes to anarchy is that leftist anarchists intend on overthrowing the old order. Maybe during the brief period of time before they establish their new ultra statist order, a type of anarchy would exist. But that is not their goal. Their goal is the new order of extreme statism. Yet they call themselves “anarchists” and everyone keeps obliging them, even though their philosophy is anything but anarchy.

Yes. But what to do? Besides, you know, putting their heads on pikes in front of your business to discourage their fellows, which would be unrefined — but, I suspect, highly common in an actual anarchy.

MORE STILL: Billy Beck emails to say that I’m on the same page as H.L. Mencken:

He elaborated on the point you made about “*actual* anarchy” —

“To the average American or Englishman the very name of anarchy causes a shudder, because it invariably conjures up a picture of a land terrorized by low-browed assassins with matted beards, carrying bombs in one hand and mugs of beer in the other. But as a matter of fact, there is no reason whatever to believe that, if all laws were abolished tomorrow, such swine would survive the day. They are incompetents under our present paternalism and they would be incompetents under Dionysian anarchy. The only difference between the two states is that the former, by its laws, protects men of this sort, whereas the latter would work their speedy annihilation.”

(H.L. Mencken: “Friedrich Nietzsche”, 1913; Transaction Publishers edition, 1993, pp. 196-197)

That sounds about right, and it’s as cogent an argument in favor of anarchy as I can imagine.

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