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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Both Are Wrong

Anarchists on the right want a nation of guns, not laws. Anarchists on the left see a nation of guns, not laws. Both are wrong.

More Dispatches from Libertopia here.


Dale Carrico said...

Needless to say, there are too many men with guns just as there is are too few equitable laws and there is too little equitable recourse to law to the diversity of its stakeholders, but either to want nothing but or to see nothing but guns not laws is profoundly mistaken and reactionary, and in ways that have more in common (paranoia not least) than differences.

ian paul said...

Isn't your position re:anarchism somewhat of a tautological straw-man? In curtailing the definition and history of the many different anarchisms that have existed (and exist) as political practices, I feel you erase the complexity of the positions as they have been theorized and lived.

Surely there are parts of what has been claimed as the anarchist tradition which are truly foul, just as there have been horrors done in the name of the democratic tradition. Simply dismissing either position or analysis on these grounds is fail to acknowledge the ways in which they have been taken up, both as liberating and conservative forms of praxis, in complicated and often contradictory ways.

Certainly Noam Chomsky's anarchism (a strong critique of authority: "Primarily it is a tendency that is suspicious and skeptical of domination, authority, and hierarchy. It seeks structures of hierarchy and domination in human life over the whole range, extending from, say, patriarchal families to, say, imperial systems, and it asks whether those systems are justified. It assumes that the burden of proof for anyone in a position of power and authority lies on them. Their authority is not self-justifying.") or Goldman's ("Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.") would be amenable and complimentary to the kinds of democratizing forces and discourses you champion.

Why burn the forest because of a few rotten trees?

Dale Carrico said...

I hope it goes without saying that the rhetorical intervention of an aphorism is usually about provocation, not capturing complexities. Ideally, aphorisms can undercut orthodoxies in ways that provoke one into engaging in complexities -- but that doesn't always happen. Sometimes it's enough for an aphorism to be good for a laugh, for example. I do think there are enormously influential voices of anarchism, left and right, that are driven by paranoia masquerading as liberty loving. Because mine is a radicalism that seeks to democratize the state rather than to smash it, it is not unexpected that I do mean to expose a right-"left" anarchism symmetry like this one that is there too often -- and not seen too often -- but I do also cheerfully concede your point that it is not always there. Skepticism about authority and hierarchy is hardly confined to self-identified anarchists, you know, by the way -- indeed the *unique* contribution of anarchism has been, like it or not, the "Propaganda of the Deed" doctrine. I personally think Chomsky is wrong to describe himself as an anarchist -- much of his theory looks like classic liberalism to me. Gasps around the room will have to be the end of it for now -- I'm rushing out the door to teach a summer intensive. Homer and Gorgias on my mind! But I appreciate the comment and the topic is well worth continuing -- just not this second, I'm afraid! Hope all is well in your world! Also -- anarchism isn't a forest, it's only a few trees, and that means the rotten ones matter more.