Here’s another post that’ll probably place me in the “You’re weird!” category. Yet I can’t help but wonder whether political history has been a little unfair to this system. Perhaps this is due to something Hume famously suggested in his philosophy — that the minds of men, while similar, are confused about such topics because of the lack of clarity in the terms used.
You’ve probably heard of anarchy as something completely negative, as a system built upon disorder, chaos, and violence. Indeed, this is the first image that all of the political mumbo-jumbo of the past century has tried to infuse into people. And it’s worked.
But that’s the problem: the term, philosophically speaking, isn’t about that.
In general, “anarchy” refers to a State (with a capital “S” to distinguish it from a “state” like those in the United States) without a State. Confused? Think of it this way: a anarchist State does not have a recognized central political authority (something that can also be referred to as a “State”). It runs by “self-rule,” usually entailing some form of community to keep loose associations between people.
Where in that definition does one find disorder, chaos, and violence??? I might be blind, but I don’t see it in there.
So the definition, on paper, doesn’t sound that problematic for me. And, for philosophers, it shouldn’t be that controversial so as to discredit it. Then where does all this negative talk come into play?
Perhaps it is with when taking what “on paper” and putting it into practice. That would make some sense.
Indeed, even anarchy proponents have a tough time agreeing on what underlying economic arrangement should be in place that would make the autonomous State function optimally.
But what are we to say about the few instances where anarchy was allowed to thrive and actually did well? Spain and Somalia come into mind as examples. The former experienced the organization of small workers collectives (anarchist by nature) after the government lost most of its power in the years prior to Franco’s grasp on power. Historically, this has been hailed as the most successful anarchist system.
For Somalia, before the Islamic Courts Union took control of the country, the southern part of the nation was essentially running without a central government. And, according to many economic reports, it fared way better than it did before (and, looking back, it fared way better than it does now), on multiple fronts. All with a free market system (the one we are supposed to have in our so-called democracy).
So what gives???
Is anarchy a system of Autonomous Order or of Nonfunctional Chaos? Could it be simply a question of scale, such that this system might be better off in smaller communities than large countries? And why is it that such negativity is brought forth every time the word is mentioned (like the word “dualism” seems to do in Metaphysics)?
I’m not trying to say that the USA should abandon its system and become anarchistic. But I don’t think its fair to just be dogmatic and accept what’s been said about it for the past century or so by people who care more about their pocket than your welfare.
Even if it ends up being wrong, I’d like to at least have a solid argument rather than weak political fallacies.
George (“The Meager Weakling”)
P.S. – For the record, I do not officially support anarchy. I am just trying to give the system a bit of a fair shot at being considered and analyzed.