Monday, 17 October 2011

Gnu Anarchists

I've said it before and I'll say it again: any anarchism-sanctioned utopia would be an oxymoron.  To quote Sartwell in Against the State, anarchists want to let people go and see what happens.  But what use is anarchism, then?  What's the point of a religion without a heaven?  Well, like I said, it

1. Sets out the problem with traditional justifications for state power
2. Outlines a path to minarchism

and, most importantly,

3. Helps us to avoid coercion in our personal lives.

For a good example of 3, check out Jack Crow's sidebar about how he hates the English language's use of possessive words to indicate association (my wife, my kids, etc).For an exceptional example of 1, check out Prof. Coldheart's comment from ages ago:

My ultimate point: we are already living in anarchy. We are already living in the world that you predict anarchy would turn into - a world where the biggest gang has grabbed all the guns and cowed everyone they can't shoot. That's the state of affairs right now. Anarchism, as a philosophy, simply exposes that. Anarchism states that the idea of Power Subservient to Justice - a/k/a, a benevolent State - is a myth.

On this view, anarchism is of similar practical use to atheism: neither provide much in the way of positive instruction, but both are very good at puncturing delusions.  Another parallel: think of a-theists as similar to anarchists like the good IOZ, living in a State-dominated world but believing none of it, and anti-theists as more revolution-oriented anarchists.  

We ought to call those folk the New Anarchists, probably - although the first anarchist theorists were revolutionaries, well before them came the peasant, groaning under his burden, who decided that maybe the king wasn't quite the divine leader he was cracked up to be.


  1. I can definitely see consonance between atheism and anarchism. But personally, I felt warmer toward anarchism when I was a theist. When I thought there were divine standards and a divine ruler, then that made states look small and mutable. But now as an atheist, states are the biggest things I can see. And talk of social contracts, or ways out of Hobbes' state of nature, sounds more weighty. If there is no divine moral law, then positive law is the only game in town...

    It's at least something I need to think back through.

  2. A question for the author: When you go down to Yarra Bend for your dudes night out, do you swallow?

  3. Ivan, social contract theory has been thoroughly demolished quite a few times by now. Maybe positive law is the only game in town, but it's no more substantial than its divine counterpart. There are no 'big things'; there's just us, and the whole of us is very often less than the sum of its parts.

  4. Hm, interesting. I'm a novice in such things. Can you email me and point me toward the demolitions of which you speak? fromwinetowaterblog at gmail