Why ‘Anarchist’

The best reason for calling yourself an anarchist is because you are one. Yet, there are still good reasons to call yourself an anarchist even if you are not quite there yet, as Brian Micklethwait pointed out in a past edition of Libertarian Alliance.

An important point about anarchism is that no political movement seeking power is going to co-opt your name or core ideas as their own. Thanks to the Tea Party bandwagon, shameless opportunists like Glenn Beck and even Sean Hannity are the latest self-proclaimed libertarians, the party by the same name of Murray Rothbard and Harry Browne.

Admittedly, the word “anarchy,” which means no ruler like “monarchy” means one ruler, can be divisive thanks to the aid of government propoganda. Everyone with whom you speak will react differently, so I do not suggest dropping the word in a conversation without putting it in context. For that reason, some prefer calling it “self-government,” or “voluntary society,” or “stateless society,” or “private law,” but they are essentially the same idea and can be somewhat more confusing. “Anarchy” is short, bold, and definitive.

Whatever term you like, anarchists are also likely to get more of what they want than moderates. Radicalism moves the center more than moderation does. Even though the state is not going to vanish overnight, we can still advocate that it should.

It would not be a good thing if the state were destroyed overnight by a violent revolution though. An armed revolution would actually strengthen the government’s hand and present a common enemy to unite against. As Benjamin Tucker said, “Violence is the power of darkness. If the revolution comes by violence … the old struggle will have to be begun anew.” It would leave people confused and frightened and looking for a strongman to lead the way. The state has no permanence except that which we give it in our minds, and it has no power other than the power people tacitly accept it has.

The path of less government, and ultimately anarchy, is through the evolutionary process of convincing people of a revolutionary idea, that a society without a state would be more practical and just. Thanks to peddlers of altruism, so often people are led to believe that practicality and morality are irreconcilable.

The market-based solution is through peace. Where there are free markets, there is voluntary cooperation and mutual benefit. The state is the violent interloper, with politicians and bureaucrats getting their hands on other people’s money and making new laws on a whim or, when it suites them, enforcing imaginary laws. The market tends to smooth out transitions and imbalances, while the state exacerbates frictions and heightens conflicts. With less government, we could expect greater harmony in our day-to-day lives.

Anarchism is in the tradition of past movements for freedom. Whenever there have been movements that support greater freedom, they were at first outnumbered by opponents fearing that one more inch of freedom would send civilization into the oblivion. Anarchism is not inevitable. There is no materialist historical phenomenon that says anarchism must triumph. It is an idea, like any other. It is a true idea, I believe, in that abolishing all political authority will lead to a greater flourishing of humanity. Ideas must be put into practice to realize their full material benefit, and that effort is bettered by attracting others to our cause.

We continue to suffer the consequences of inherited ideas that have locked people in superstitious fear. True ideas, the result of reason, have bettered our lives and soothed our fears. It is a daunting task, no doubt. But there are so many ways we can do it: talking with our family, speaking out at public forums, taking action to better the lives of ourselves and our friends and family, and countering the power of the state with alternative solutions to mostly government-created problems.

So if you have ever been a little anarcho-curious, give it a spin. Once you go black (and gold), you might not go back.

Further Resources
Image credit: jam343, with a Creative Commons license