Government Week – Anarchism

GovernmentYesterday I spoke about Totalitarianism as a form of government and today I thought I’d turn that idea completely around and talk about Anarchism. An anarchist basically argues that state control is harmful to society and that government in general is unnecessary and causes more damage than it solves.

As a Libertarian this idea has merit to me but I don’t see it working in any practical manner. What I do see is many of my Libertarian friends being so disillusioned with government that they lean towards Anarchism rather than Libertarianism. This is a dangerous leaning from my perspective. Let’s get back to Anarchism.

The general definition is: The political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.

An anarchist believes that society can run much like The Valley from Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged. The Valley is where achievers are allowed to achieve without any interference from government. It is an idealized location, cut off from the surrounding world, and only those deemed worthy are invited to join. This is where I have a problem with Libertarians. I don’t think this island is a good test for the ideas of Ayn Rand. In my own novel, The Staff of Sakatha, I have a valley like nation where the Freeriders roam. I talk about this idea more fully in this video.

Again, let’s get back to the topic at hand. The earliest we find anarchism in the world is by a fellow named Zhuangzi who wrote: A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a Nation. Powerful words true even today.

There are some who consider Jesus Christ a Christian Anarchist although the term anarchist didn’t enter the English language until the 17th Century during the English Civil War.

Modern Anarchism emerged with a fellow by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and then another man named William Godwin. Much of what we consider organized labor sprang from the ideas of anarchism and state sponsored enslavement of workers that was seen at the outset of the industrial revolution.

An interesting topic of discussion was the United States willingness to limit corporate power through legislation making unions legal and the fact that Russia refused to do so. Eventually the abuses became so terrible in Russia the people had a revolution whereas the U.S. form of government remained intact. Perhaps fodder for another post.

Terrorism also has some roots in anarchy as public acts of violence were advocated by anarchists of the time who were being actively suppressed by the state. The rise of fascism is sometimes seen as a movement against the anarchy of the time.

Modern anarchism is broken into two schools of thought, the Social Anarchist and the Individual Anarchist. Both generally believe that the state lacks the ability to morally and ethically allow people their freedom and exists generally for the purposes of tyranny.

This post could go on and on as the topic is endlessly fascinating, you probably don’t agree :), but I think  I’ve given you at least the gist of the idea of anarchism and anarchists.

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Privacy in the Modern World – Conclusions

PrivacyAfter a day off to talk about the magnificent sports rivalry between Kansas and Missouri that, barring a change of heart, has come to a conclusion I return to the highly popular issue of privacy in the United States and its impact on our freedom and safety.

Over the last few days I’ve discussed the definition of privacy and how it has changed over the years with advancing technology first from things like photographs to today’s computer age. What I want to discuss today involves how that technology and change in privacy is going to effect both our privacy and our freedom.

One of the most powerful new tools in the hands of both citizens and government law enforcement is remote surveillance devices. We’ve seen stoplight cameras for a few years and individual states have rulings on their legality in regards to the Sixth Amendment to the constitution of the U.S. I don’t want to get into that level of detail in this post and I’ll keep things more general.

The idea is that the state has certain legal tools which they use to promote the general safety of its citizens. We have traffic laws so that rogue drivers don’t put innocents at risk, the police serve a useful and important purpose in society. The difference between Libertarianism and Anarchy is an important distinction and all too often I think Libertarians slip into a more Anarchistic point of view. Again, I’ll save that topic for a later post.

We are going to see a huge increase of state operated drone vehicles in our skies and on our roads in the next few years. Largely these will be placed under the auspices of securing our safety and there is no doubt they do offer benefits in that regard. But, they also take away from our privacy. In the U.S. we are guaranteed protection from the state unless they have reason to watch us. The government cannot come into our homes without a warrant and they cannot listen to our conversations without probable cause but remote surveillance devices are always on, always watching.

Another factor is that citizens now have a far greater ability to watch the state. With remote control vehicles more readily available and increasingly powerful we can check up on the police and other government agents to make sure they are not overstepping the laws in the prosecution of criminals. We can also use such devices to watch for legal violations of neighbors, local businesses, and just about anything we want.

This opens up a huge area of questions. If I use my increasingly sophisticated remote control helicopter to spy on a neighbor, say, hitting his child, and then turn that over to family services what is the constitutional answer? Did I break the law? Should they go to prison? Have their child removed? Hidden camera have been used to tape people in normally private behavior for the purpose of humiliation or blackmail and has led to suicide.

It’s a hugely complex issue and I can’t come up with a single solution but I’d offer up this advice. Surveillance cameras offer useful tools to law enforcement and private citizens but also present significant issues in the realm of privacy. We have the right to privacy in our own house but there are ever increasing chances that it will be violated by people using such devices for their own purposes, well-intentioned or not.

In conclusion I offer the only advice that seems plausible.

  1. Diligently protect our freedom by prosecuting those who use such devices in violations of existing privacy laws.
  2. Invest in devices that pick up wireless signals that might be emanating from your residence.
  3. Keep your curtains closed.
  4. And most importantly, embrace Libertarianism. We have the right to privacy and we should respect that others have the same right.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Twist