— Edward Abbey. (via anarchyagogo)
Call it a response or a summary or whatever. I felt compelled by the writing to put something in my own words. This is the beginning to a response to part one of “The Social Contract” by Rousseau. Please give me some feedback!
Can you legitimize authority? Is there a logical rationale behind giving up your life, liberty, and natural freedoms to another even if it may be potentially beneficial to you?
Since all men are born independent and perfectly equal in their right to life, liberty, and well-being, there is no logical rationale for authority. No man would, in his right mind, give up his natural freedoms (including his thoughts, actions, and possessions) to another human being. This means that any time there is authority of one (or few) over many (or another) it is solely taken by force.
All forms of government are based on the submission of the citizens to the authority with the general assumption that it is for their own protection and care. It is said to be a consensual relationship; though, really, it is about as consensual as it would be for you to give up all your belongings to a street thug. You choose to submit to the will of a street thug. It is certainly possible to deny his authority, but there will be consequences.
This is no different than the citizens’ submission to the “protection” of an authority. Man surrenders his natural freedoms to the laws and restrictions of a government with the knowledge that if he does not, there will be consequences. In order for government to do its job, people must forfeit their natural born rights and freedom to law. This authority is taken by force in some way or another as I just said.
However, even if the submission to a government could be legitimized (based on a constitution of its fairness or whatnot), it is still in contradiction to the above thesis that all men are born independent and equal. That is to say, even if a government were to be agreed upon, it was agreed upon by a particular group of individuals, and no one else. We understand it as their personal choice to submit to this authority.
That means that every single new individual that is born is not subject to this authority because it did not make the personal consensual decision to submit to this standing authority. This would mean that in order for a government to remain legitimate, it would have to change for the new generation of individuals, which we know to be impossible. This logic, based on J.J. Rousseau’s The Social Contract, renders the entire concept of government as a large authoritative and infallible law to be illegitimate.
Happy 4-20 everyone.
Though I do not plan on smoking pot today, I am certainly not against it. Let this day be a celebration of personal freedoms. This is not just some day for the druggies and stoners to get another fix. It is representative of the ability for a person to make conscious decisions about his or her own life. Neither the State nor the Church have the right to punish people for exercising their individual rights to smoke, drink, have sex, or whatever else they want, so long as it does not directly harm another individual.
Let it also be representative of the hypocrisy of the State, in that it can ban certain drugs while allowing others to flourish and cause more deaths per year than any other (alcohol). And that it can willingly partake in the use, distribution, and profit of that drug along with others such as tobacco and any prescription medication.
Prohibition and regulation of personal supplements is a blatant contradiction to personal rights and freedoms. Let 4-20 always be celebrated not as just another day to get high, but a day of personal freedom, liberation, and expression.
Revolution is something we see all the time on various scales. From the obvious American Revolution to the French Revolution to the Bolshevik’s. These have been relatively large revolutions on the scale of things. We are seeing these again today in Egypt and Libya, where people are rising up in a common effort to remove an oppressive system. Revolution in general is an extremely admirable thing to do. This collective rising up against an unwanted condition is an amazing feat of the People.
Revolutions, we must not forget, are also fought on other fronts from suffrage to labor to slavery. All of which involve a collective refusal of a condition.
Alexander Berkman, my biggest anarchist influence, proposed in his ABC’s of Anarchism, later republished under the title What is Anarchism?, that anarchy will come about through a general strike. In this strike, the oppressed people would universally and collectively lay down their tools and walk off the job site. The theory behind this is one of truth, that the power held by the powerful is a product of the majority, the workers, who would realize this and collectively unite against it.
I respectfully disagree with my optimistic “mentor.” I will tell you that anarchy will be brought about more gradually than imaginable. The fight for individual freedom has been fought since the beginning of the establishment of government. Slowly and surely we have seen through history a move towards freedom. Monarchy and Aristocracy once dominated man, but the Enlightenment brought ideas of voting and democracy. The American Revolution brought liberation from religious and economic tyranny from England. The Populist movement and subsequent anarchist and labor movements brought workers rights. The feminist and civil rights movements brought equality to those other than white males. We can see throughout history that this movement towards freedom is being fought everyday.
This, I propose is how anarchy will be brought. These incremental movements that change the Peoples’ world view for the better and transforms our philosophy to one of camaraderie and collective support. The population of the world is so large -predicted to reach 7 billion in 2012 - that a general an unified revolution is impossible.
That being said, no one will be able to call theirs the “last revolution.” there will be no final and deciding fight that will change the world forever. Change is inevitable even in anarchy. We will not wake up one day and say, “Finally, today, we are in anarchy.” It will happen so gradually that we will never even know when we have reached the point of perfect liberation. Such as the Buddhists never wake up and say, “Ah-ha! I have reached enlightenment!” It is simply a state of constant awareness and change.
I know with quite certainty that the world is moving towards anarchy - it simply doesn’t realize it on a universal level yet. The fights to achieve this status will be many and the realization will not be concrete and absolute. Such is anarchism.
There is a very big misunderstanding when it comes to communism vs socialism. I’d like to take this time to set the record as straight as I can. If you do a generic search of the difference, you will find that socialism is only a form of economics while communism is economic and governmental.
When I describe a communist society, I tell people one of two things: It can only exist in the lack of government, or, it is a form of government. Both are absolutely true. It is not a government as we think of it today with a hierarchy and people in charge. As I have said before, it is a totally equal society that is classless and stateless. Basically, in the simplest terms, no one rules anyone else. It is a collective effort. This, some people would say, is both a form of government, and a lack of government.
So, what, then, is socialism?
Socialism, as a strictly economic institution, can exist (theoretically, of course) in any form of government. It relies on a government intervention in the economy like we do not have today. The government would implement regulations that enforce equality in the system of economics.
Why does this not work?
The answer is simple. Laws are useless. We have laws that forbid murder. Are there, then, no more murders? Laws that deny monopolies, slave labor, racism, and discrimination are in place. Are these things nonexistent in our society? I should say not. I propose that laws which would enforce an economic equality would be no different.
In the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson of 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that economic establishments were not hindering the peoples’ 14th Amendment rights by separating them, so long as the institutions were equal. We know full well this was not enforced.
Communism rests on the cooperation of the people based on biological human urges to contribute to a society as is laid out in Petr Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid; a factor of evolution. It gives more power and responsibility to the individual to contribute to the system through institutions which are already in place in our current society as is shown to us by Colin Ward in his essay, Anarchy in Action.
If you read the Communist Manifesto by Marx and call yourself a communist, I laugh at you. The only way to equality is not through enforcement of a hierarchal system but the lack of one. That is communism.