Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oooh, 'anarchy'. How terrifying.

Kurt Hofmann posted another great article at St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner recently, and I got caught up in a comment;  one of those "can't help it" moments, which I thought I'd record here, with a few links intact.

A commenter posted the following:
Who do these seemingly omnipresent bugwits think they are? These people continue to piss on the Constitution and individual rights every friggin' day. These people don't deserve to govern our nation.

Whereupon Kent McManigal, in his inimitably compact way, said:
No one ever "deserves" to "govern" anyone other than their own individual self. The fallacy that they do, if "enough" people vote for them, is what got us into this mess.

This appeared to irritate the poster (as Kent can sometimes do), who then came out with the standard playbook:
Well, I think that's what we refer to as ANARCHY. So your solution is to have no one govern the NATION? G. Washington didn't deserve to govern this NATION? Thomas Jefferson? You don't believe we could have better government with people who earn the right to become a leader and not by virtue of being a career politician? We will all govern ourselves. You're a true testament to individualism. Good luck with that whole national defense thing.

Well hell, I couldn't help myself, so I unloaded on the poor guy:
Respectfully (really):

Flippant catechisms aside, Mr. (and you do manage quite a few in a compact space), Kent is making a moral point.  Politics--and everything that goes with it--is what got us into this mess in the first place.  We only perpetuate the problems by continuing to participate in a thoroughly rigged game, and the worst part about it is that most of us have been trained--well--that we can question anything but the system itself.  That, we are told, is heresy.

I am not aware of any instance in history, anywhere, in which any people VOTED themselves out of a major social problem.  And even if someone, some day, were to show me an instance in which it did happen, it still wouldn't matter.  The problem is not that people don't vote "the right way".  The problem is that nobody questions the idea that "enough votes" is a morally defensible imperative to coerce or force others (ultimately at gunpoint;  let's not kid ourselves) who have not harmed anyone.  That is EXACTLY the logic of those who would forcibly disarm you or me because a procedurally significant number of procedurally significant people decided for you that was in your best interest.  And in fact that is the logic of all politics, from victim disarmament to traffic tickets.

Is that your logic too?  Really?

I'm ashamed to say that it used to be mine.  That may be what makes me as outspoken now as I am.

Look, if you want to carry on the best traditions of Jefferson, don't focus on the Constitution or even the BoR.  Jefferson was less trustful of government--ALL government--than that.  Go to the Declaration of Independence, instead.  Or, better yet, introduce yourself to lesser-known Americans like Lysander Spooner, who during *Reconstruction* noted that our Constitution had either explicitly "authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it."  Do you want to advance the argument that things have got better since?  When, exactly, are the good times supposed to kick in?

There is a different way of looking at the world than you have been taught.  You might want to give it an honest look, and see how it holds up.  As Christians like to say, "try Jesus.  If you don't like him, the devil will always take you back."  That is of course flippant too, but the point is perfectly valid.  If you give it an honest look and it's not for you, you can discard it with the knowledge that you understand it now.  But if you take a good look and find instead that the critical arrows you throw at it don't stick, well, maybe it's something you should think about further. 

My suggestion would be to start with Murray Rothbard's "The Anatomy of the State", and then to work your way through Butler Shaffer's collection "The Wizards of Ozymandias".  That will take a while, but is worth it.  It will certainly explain just how trite and empty the traditional knee-jerk criticisms of "anarchy" really are.  (If you have been a "gunnie" for a while, you may remember the memorable Mario Cuomo quote about gun owners: "hunters who drink beer, don't vote, and lie to their wives about where they were all weekend."  Remember that one?  That's about the level of sophistication implicit in the usual criticisms of anarchy as "unworkable" and "utopian".)

And whether you call it "anarchist", "voluntaryist", "nonarchist", "agorist", individualist anarchist", or even "radical libertarian", doesn't really matter.  Those are just labels.  They all agree that politics is nothing more than mob-rule, differing only in how the mob is constituted.  And they reject it as pointless aggression against others.

(Kent just says all this much more succinctly than I do.  :-)

Chances are this is rather more than he was prepared for, but I'm willing to be impressed.  We'll see.


Anonymous said...

End of mission, target destroyed, over.

Nicely done, Kevin.


Kent McManigal said...

Yep. "Irritating". That's me. Hehe. Believe it or not, I really do intend to be nice, though.