Are anarchists crazy?
Are anarchists crazy? I think so. These people
believe in a capitalist utopia through the complete abolition of government,
including courts, police and the military. One anarcho-capitalist I met recently
excitedly explained to me the virtues of a world without police, where private
"defense companies" would defend our lives and our property, somehow without
resulting in a "thugocracy", or "fascist dictatorship" wherein these
heavily-armed defense companies become the new government. Yeah, right. In order
for such an unlikely event to occur, the sum total of ALL nations with
militaries and governments would have to SIMULTANEOUSLY disintegrate and
re-integrate into this new utopia.
Anarcho-capitalists are crazy.
I met a friend of a friend of a friend who was some sort
of left-wing anarchist. That is, I forget whether he called himself an
anarcho-syndicalist or a socialist anarchist or whatever, but he believed in a
communitarian utopia wherein there is no government and, for some unspecified
reason, people produce according to ability and consume according to need. Yeah,
right. Such a community could (and does) exist in unindustrialized nations, but
there is STILL a hierarchical "government" in place, albeit less complex and
expensive, since there are fewer resources to control. There is absolutely NO
reason why people would "produce according to ability". Each person potentially
could produce in prodigious quantities, but would not CHOOSE to.
Socialist anarchists are also crazy.
What's remarkable, though, is this:
anarcho-capitalists and socialist anarchists
support exactly the same insane public policy (that is, none) and, yet, the
naked eye can tell that they are very different varieties of insane.
They share few values, have vastly different visions for their government-free
utopias, and, I expect, each realize that the other group is insane. Their
identical policy views put them at opposite ends of most crudely-drawn political
It is common for two political philosophies to prescribe
different policies toward the same end. Liberals support affirmative action and
conservatives oppose it because both wish to create a society with a level
racial playing field. Isn't that interesting? I am a member of a minority, and I
feel that "affirmative action" is merely another way of saying REVERSE
DISCRIMINATION. I am a bi-racial black/white man who sees affirmative action as
justification based on "we discriminated against blacks in favor of whites, now
lets discriminate against whites in favor of blacks". Not a good idea, and not
in keeping with the Constitution of the United States.
What's odd about these
anarchists is that they support the same policy in order to reach vastly
different ends. That is (at least in the realm of policy-making) the
difference between anarcho-capitalists and socialist anarchists is one of fact,
not opinion: they disagree over what will happen if government is abolished.
At least one of these groups is wrong about the
fact of this matter. (I'd bet a lot of money that both are wrong, but
we can stick with the proveable "at least one" for now.) The sticky point is,
many of the arguments that anarchists make in favor of anarchy (especially on
the anarcho-capitalist side) are about means, not ends. They claim not only that
the government produces negative results, but that
its mere existence is a fundamentally unjust
imposition on people's rights. To the extent that anarchists believe
this, they should be inclined to stick by anarchy as a political philosophy even
if it does not produce the capitalist (or socialist) utopia which they expect.
I doubt, though, that many would. If you're an anarcho-capitalist,
it's probably because you see the government as a threat to property rights; if
it turns out that those rights are even less protected in the absence of
government, you will probably come around to supporting some form of a state.
Similarly, socialist anarchists are as such because they believe that the
government reinforces nefarious property rights and inequality; if anarchy
resulted in the capitalist utopia that anarcho-capitalists believe it would, the
socialist anarchists would probably join a more moderate redistributivist
movement, like the Democratic Party. Once again, we would have government, no
matter which anarcho-foolhardiness one chooses.
Until the time when we actually get to see what result
anarchy produces (which is probably never, because anarchists will never take "a
new government, eventually" as the only substantiated answer)
we will still have anarchists at opposite
extremes of the political spectrum, separated mainly by their vastly different
leaps of faith about the effects of anarchy. At least some of these
anarchists are very, very wrong, but they'll never know which ones for sure.
But then, maybe this lack of evidentiary support is why so
few of us are anarchists at all.