Thinking Like an Anarchist

Unrepentant Lefties claim that the law — and the church, and everything else society uses to maintain order — is really just a mechanism to keep those in power empowered and those with money wealthy. 

Free Marketers say that fair laws properly enforced allow anyone, no matter his disadvantages, to succeed.

Nihilists, as we know from “The Big Lebowski,” believe in nothing.

Given our greed and shortsightedness as a species, nothing is probably what future generations of human beings will end up with. But, in the meantime, so much injustice, inequality, and demoralizing hatred wracks our planet that one is tempted to side with the anarchists. That which is allegedly meant to safeguard the liberty and well-being of regular people — our laws, our morals, our customs — seems more and more like a blunt instrument convenient for pummeling the weak than a comforting shield.

Those in power, including the oligarchs who have a preposterous amount of the world’s capital at their control, would seem to have a golden chance to use their dollars to bash away at illness and hunger and oppression. Instead, even sensible-sounding gents like Warren Buffet, claim that “responsible investing” (protecting capital from getting into the hands of miscreants who harm the environment or our fellow human beings) is a fairy tale that accomplishes nothing. Instead, he chooses to has throw up his hands, admit “there’s nothing I can do,” and continue to profit on investments that support genocidal regimes in Sudan and China.

Our collective sense of outrage at the crimes perpetrated by unelected power mongers seems to have been diminished by our outrage at the crimes perpetrated by elected officials. We Americans should remember, however, that much of the rest of the world doesn’t really have any say in who controls their life. (Some would argue, convincingly, that neither do we, despite our elaborate charade of one-man, one vote.) Once, not long ago, we were incensed at apartheid. Now, we grimly accept regimes that starve their populations (North Korea), terrorize them into compliance (Saudi Arabia), or plunder the treasury with clumsy obviousness (Philippines, Peru, just about all of Africa). We’re worried about warring Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, but we don’t seem to care about 100 other places where crimes against humanity constitute business as usual. The Law in these places is another weapon in the power arsenal.

Are we headed in the same direction here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? The more we learn about how our political system really works, the more we understand how money can buy everything, including influence and preferential treatment, the less respect we have for the principles upon which this country was founded. If the rich do indeed get richer, the poor poorer, and the vast majority of folk utterly irrelevant except as labor and service for those who possess the keys to the gated community, then violence and revolt will be the inevitable result.

As one who cherishes peace, I hope I’m not around when the cataclysm happens. But as America — and the rest of the world — becomes an increasingly corrupt and corruptible place, anarchy looks increasingly likely. The forest must burn before it can grow again.

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