Anarchy: a Misconception Adressed

Ronald Reagan, fortieth President of The US once said: “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not to run their lives.” Before that, Henry David Thoreau, a philosopher and freethinker, said: “That government is best which governs least.” Go back a few more years and George Washington, The US’s first president and founding father, warned that “A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master”. Despite the distinctly different epochs they lived in, all of these men agreed on a single thing: any given government is a means not an end. Sadly, our reliance on governments has subjugated us to the very system intended to serve us; it has caused us to see governments as indispensable, and has made them into nothing but perdurable ailments. Instead of having expedient systems that prepare us to live out our lives autonomously, we have ones that cling to power and enthrall us. We have governments that care not for the furthering of mankind, but for petty things like money and insularity. The era of governments and faux-politics is but a preparatory phase, however. It is meant to prepare the human race for a world where polities are no longer necessary, a world where harmonious coexistence and innovation have been firmly established: a world in anarchy.

The association of anarchy with chaos has long been a popular one, it is through this erroneous portrayal of anarchism that those in power have been able to perpetuate their capitalist autocracy. The reality of anarchy is far from this; the word anarchy actually comes from the Greek word “anarchos”, which literally translates into “without rulers” or “ruler-less”. But just because anarchists reject the notion of having rulers or governments, does not necessarily mean they rejects laws – in fact, the anarchists acknowledge the essentiality of rules. They are rules, however, of a different kind which are advocated by anarchists, ones without the need for any formal enforcement – ones that the people themselves enforce. Now one may then claim that that would make the people the authority, however this is not the case. An anarchist society is different from a democracy, or any other system which defiles the banners of freedom. The people do not have authority, they have autonomy that is restricted only by others’. But most of all, an anarchist society is based on thorough debates and discussions. In fact, one could only argue that evidence is the authority in such a society. And then my reply would be, As Sam Harris wrote in his book Letter to a Christian Nation, “I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.” And from that truism we can see that having evidence as the only authority is a strength, not a weakness.

Men have always wanted to impose on their fellows – and to exploit them even. They have always wished to discriminate and oppress. Whether it be African American slaves, women, or even the proletariats of today who endure through this rigid capitalist infrastructure, humans have always been victimized by their fellow man. There is no greater product of our rave for power and control than government; most governments were imposed upon the people by priggish authorities who claimed that they knew what was best. For the promised end of a better state, people gave away their lives, their rights and their thoughts to an unworthy system. But the time has come to realize that, “any government that hinders human development should be dismantled” – as stated by Noam Chomsky – regardless of how appealing its promises may be. Rather than having a monolithic system in place that manages the lives of human beings, people must become their own masters. They must work together towards a better world, and not throw that responsibility onto anyone else. For it is only when the human race takes its first step towards maturity and mental liberation that there will be hope for a better future.

Looking throughout history we find that since the time of Mesopotamia, the alleged cradle of civilization, to today in our capitalist world, the vast majority of people have been maladroit and ignorant. It has always been a select few who have broken out of this disposition, and more than often they have encountered, as Einstein puts it, “violent oppression from mediocrities.” Those people who would raise the banners of freedom and teach people to question, were killed, tortured, or misportrayed by the media. It is not a surprise, however, that this is the case. Our story – the human story – has always resembled the promethean one. The story of a man whom, in a thirst for knowledge and technology, stole fire from the gods. Angered, the gods chained him to a rock where an eagle would prey upon his liver every day. He was punished for giving into his curiosity, the curiosity with which the gods had created him in the first place; as the late Christopher Hitchens put it, “Born sick, and commanded to be well”. This is not the only story however in which humans are punished by the gods for wanting to gain knowledge. We have as well the Tower of Babylon myth in which god creates all the different languages to divide a solidaire human society which was advancing too rapidly in technology. But, of course, if there were one story that got it right it would have to be the Christian/muslim/Jewish story of creation, As Frank Zappa pointed out:

“The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the Tree of Knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your ****ing mouth shut and hadn’t asked any questions”

It is the same in many creeds, where disobedience is punished more than any other complicity, where a refusal to bow down and be satisfied with not understanding is heinous. Government is but a microcosm of this divine dictatorship that people so happily cling to. So the anarchist revolution is also involved in the dethronement of religious authority, which throughout history has stifled things such as: the end of slavery, which was only started thanks to secularists such as Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin and the empowerment of women. Religion has also started many, many wars. Furthermore, it has, in several cases, stifled science such as in the case of stem cell research and even before that in trying to maintain that our solar system was geocentric. Religion, however, like government cannot be abolished or replaced through violence because they are both ideas, and ideas cannot be killed. Ideas can only be replaced with others through science and free-inquiry, and it is simply mankind’s job to make sure they are better ideas.

The liberation of the human mind and body from all forms of external control is the essence of anarchy. But the road to it is a progressive one. Because anarchy rejects all control it can only come through the people, by the people, and for the people; any other way would simply defy the nature of anarchy. When men have the courage to look inside themselves for help rather than outside, and when people resort to understanding and empathy rather than control, only then will they return to their essence. Only then…will all the unnecessary forms of control that have been implemented be dismantled. Yes, the anarchist revolution is a mental revolution before being anything else, it is the way for people to use their minds for more than just deception. It is when people realize that the individual is not just a unit in a homogenous constrict but is, as cliché as it sounds, a flower that given certain conditions can either bloom or wither away.

-Ahmed Abdelmaksoud