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Article posted Oct 11 2013, 7:43 AM Category: Commentary Source: C4SS.org Print

The Authoritarianism Of Elizabeth Warren

Nathan Goodman

Throughout the US government “shutdown,” Democratic politicians have compared their Republican rivals to “anarchists” and argued that the “shutdown” proves government necessary. A recent speech by Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor exemplifies this trend.

Misconceptions run rampant in Senator Warren’s speech. She conflates cooperation and government, stating “In our democracy, government is just how we describe the things that we the people have already decided to do together.” Nonsense. Government decisions are in practice not made democratically, but rather by a privileged class of politicians, bureaucrats and corporate cronies. Real community and cooperation happen outside the state. People do things together without government coercion every day. Mutual aid exists without government. Unions and and other labor groups exist without government. Community centers exist without government. Federations and cooperatives exist without government. Mutually beneficial market exchanges exist without government. Government is not community, cooperation or togetherness. Government is centralization and coercion that all too often crushes vibrant social cooperation.

“The boogeyman government is like the boogeyman under the bed; it’s not real,” proclaims Senator Warren. But the harm done by government is real and concrete. For example, U.S. sanctions against Iran are causing poverty, food insecurity, and medical shortages. Senator Warren supports those sanctions. Closer to home, recent research shows that nearly 200,000 inmates were sexually abused in American prisons, jails, and detention centers in 2011. This same research finds that prison guards, employed and empowered by government, perpetrated these rapes more often than inmates did.

The violence of government continues during the “shutdown.” Last week, Capitol Police shot and killed an unarmed woman in front of her child. The FBI shut down the website Silk Road, making the public less safe in the process. A NATO air strike in Afghanistan killed at least five civilians, three of them children. Violence and coercion are constant features of government, even during a “shutdown.”

Senator Warren derisively refers to the House Republicans as “the anarchy gang.” The “shutdown” was not engineered by “anarchists,” and it is insulting to anarchists to compare us to the House Republicans. The “shutdown” has kept intact most of the state violence that anarchists oppose, including militarism, police violence, crony capitalist patent monopolies, mass incarceration, mass surveillance and deportations. It has cut off relatively harmless programs like Women Infants and Children that serve as bandages over the structural poverty that the state maintains. Some parts of the “shutdown,” such as barring citizens from national parks and prohibiting scientists from speaking about research, are enforced through state violence.

Warren fearmongers about safety regulations, snidely asking “when was the last time anyone called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys?” But the reality is that regulations need not be administered by top-down government. There are other ways to establish oversight. For example, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers uses boycotts, social pressure and grassroots action to pressure companies to sign contracts with their Fair Food Program, a farmworker organized program that establishes rigorous oversight and worker protections for migrant farmworkers who are often brutally abused by both their bosses and the legal system. This innovative program has been praised by liberals and anarchists alike. Consumers could organize to implement similar grassroots oversight for product safety. The Fair Food Program was won through grassroots action, and is maintained through libertarian means like contracts, boycotts and social pressure. State regulations, in contrast, are often used by big business as a way to restrict competition, consolidate power, and dodge accountability. This is a pervasive problem called regulatory capture.

Elizabeth Warren is wrong. Government is an unnecessary evil.





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Comments 1 - 5 of 5 Add Comment Page 1 of 1
Anonymous

Posted: Oct 11 2013, 12:33 PM

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7193 Her and all her big government communist friends should be run out of town, I say bring back the tar and feathers! She is a fool and should be treated as such!
Hammer and Sickle

Posted: Oct 13 2013, 12:36 AM

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99169 She is like whorehouse Harry and views the government as an immaculate magic fountain of all that is good in the world.
Anonymous

Posted: Oct 13 2013, 7:23 AM

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1271 Fuck you guys and your bullshit about communism. Im gonna vote for her if she runs. You fucking fascists think you are so much better GOI FUCK YOU STUPID SELVES.
Anonymous

Posted: Oct 16 2013, 12:03 PM

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192197 Elizabeth Warren, like many of us, believes that without the government we won't have basic needs and services met. Like having a police force. Or an education. Anarchy looks great on paper, and you can argue communities look after each other (which they do), but when my community comes into your community with guns and knives in the middle of the night, do you want a police force or do we want dog eat dog? Yes the government is flawed, but no, life is not going to become sunshine and rainbows because some of us have raised a black flag. Do we want our electrical grids to function? A nuclear program to keep the millions of pounds of toxic waste safe for the next few thousand years or so? Also, if we're scared of an economic elite, shouldn't we limit their power, not give them more by de-regulating them? At least this way their are bound by a power structure that, while corrupt, is still much better then giving that elite total freedom. Lest we forget there are places where the guy who wrote this would probably be killed in his sleep for criticizing the state.

On a personal note, the fair food program is a fantastic example of what society should be doing in regards to the way the west sees food. Food Not Bombs is another.

P.s don't talk about western state violence without mentioning occupy or the G20. Especially when no one has been seriously hurt or killed. Unlike the G20 or occupy movements, where people had their artificial limbs removed for 24 hours were kept in cages with minimum amounts of water.
Anonymous

Posted: Oct 18 2013, 8:32 PM

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174136 Those that believe you must turn to the state to receive an education are completely out of touch with what is going on in schools in North America.

In Alberta Canada the students are not graded on their tests at all in elementary and junior high school. No one fails....they just keep shuffling the students onto the next grade. It is geared to allow the lowest achievers to eventually graduate.

The end result is predictable. People with grade 12 diplomas are routinely required to take remedial courses in what used to be grade 9 math in trade school.
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