Scary Story: The State vs. Anarchistsby Thomas L. Knapp
Aug. 03, 2011
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Beware: Should you happen to spot me on the streets of Westminster, you are exhorted to summon law enforcement immediately! That London borough’s “Counter Terrorist Focus Desk” considers me a threat to the public safety (“Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police,” The Guardian, July 31).
Yes, I am an anarchist. I state this without apology, understanding that you may find it strange or even scary, or may not understand the term well. I’d like to explain myself to you, while there’s still time, before someone else tells you a scary story and urges you to assist in my apprehension.
I’m not a nihilist — someone who rejects all structure in, or institutions of, society. Nor am I an agent of chaos, who believes that life absent government would consist of ongoing, unrestrained mass rampage and wants to see that happen.
In fact, I consider myself a defender of society and agent of order, opposed to the institution most responsible for the disintegration of social institutions and the attendant orgy of looting, torture and mass murder that was the 20th century: Monopoly government, also known as “the state.”
Why is it important for me to convey this to you now? Because the world’s several states, as is their periodic wont, appear set to launch a new round of “scares,” with anarchists as bogeyman, to re-assign blame for their own failures.
The Anarchist Scare never really dies out. It’s a convenient hook to hang blame for any popular discontent on. Look at any mass protest: If a million people turn out to express dissent toward some government action, the establishment media intently focuses on a few masked window-breakers to discredit the whole affair, dubbing them “anarchists” whether they are or not.
And when things begin to get really bad — when multiple governments find themselves flirting with default on “national debt,” fighting and losing numerous wars of aggression around the globe, and visibly losing their grip on putative “consent of the governed,” for example — they break that masked, bomb-throwing stereotype out of the Excuse Locker and parade it around the block in high profile.
The unacceptable alternative to such theater is for politicians to accept full responsibility for the consequences of their own actions, and the next time we see that happening will be the first time. So, prepare for the next Anarchist Scare.
Why pick on anarchists? Why do politicians think you’ll find us scary? Because they find us scary, of course … and with good reason!
Political government is the past. Anarchy is the future.
Political government brought you hundreds of millions of murders in the last century, and sent you the butcher’s bill.
In any given month, a typical state kills more of its own citizens pro rata than al Qaeda killed in the United States on September 11th, 2001 — some openly, bullet to brain, some through the suffocating effects of regulation and prohibition — while extorting from those same citizens a double-digit percentage of their earnings for “protection” from the likes of Osama bin Laden.
By any standard of human decency and well-being, the state’s performance constitutes not just massive failure but a monstrous negation of all that is right and good.
While anarchists cannot reasonably pledge to end murder and theft, we can and do offer an end to the institutionalization and legitimization of mass murder and theft in the name of “government.” An end to, in a word, politics.
Not an end to law, which existed before the state and will exist long after the state is mere bitter historical memory. All societies outlaw murder, rape, assault and robbery, and if societies vary in their effectiveness at suppressing those activities, none has failed so spectacularly or expensively as the state.
Nor an end to common defense, a notion the state turns on its head and into a one-stop shop for aggressive capability in its service and at the expense of that capability’s own providers. Local watchmen and constables, and citizen militias, are transformed by the state into occupying, militarized police forces and standing armies whose chief purpose is to tyrannize the very people they’re pledged to “defend.”
Hobbes got it backward: The state offers not an end to “the war of all against all,” but endless escalation of that war, so that it can loot the dead and rob the dying in perpetuity.
Anarchy is the cease-fire agreement. It’s the peace craze that the politicians desperately hope will blow over so they can get back to their sociopathic, serial killing ways.
Remember that a week, a month or a year from now when some uniformed animal with a gun and badge tries to tell you that I am the common enemy of you both.
Thomas L. Knapp, Senior News Analyst and Media Coordinator at the Center for a Stateless Society, is a long-time libertarian activist and author of Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed. Knapp publishes Rational Review News Digest, a daily news and commentary roundup for the freedom movement.