Monday, January 23, 2017

Why I Am Not an Anarchist

By Zach Bush

There is no shortage of reports and videos of acts of violence amidst the various events centered around the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017. I have seen everything from breaking windows, starting fires, sucker-punches, brawls, and even read a report of someone getting shot. Pundits have labeled these incidents as acts of anarchy. This has led to anarchists of the Libertarian/anarcho-capitalist variety to argue that these violent protesters are not “true” anarchists and therefore the branding is incorrect and misleading.

So, who is correct, the reporters or the Libertarians/anarcho-capitalists?

Anarchy is the combination of the Greek prefix an (not or without) and the suffix Archy (rule or ruling). Thus, anarchy means without rule.

Now, one would think that something as straightforward as without rule would not leave much for argument over whom a “true” anarchist is. However, the Wikipedia entry for anarchism shows that there is no shortage of hyphenated forms of anarchism. While each sect of anarchism has its own preferred socio-economic ideals, all of them share one common thing: rules. Whether it be anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, or anarcho-capitalism, they all, in direct contradiction to the meaning of anarchy, insist that men must arrange themselves per their ideal economic system.

The anarcho-capitalists, as well as most Libertarians, refer to their one rule as the non-aggression principle (NAP). According to the NAP, no man has the right to initiate acts of aggression towards another’s person or property. A society that adheres to this principle can therefore have no violence and is often referred to as the voluntary society, or voluntaryism.

I didn’t begin to consider political philosophy until I was 18-years old. I found myself tending to agree with the Republicans on some issues and the Democrats on others so I considered myself to be an Independent. Throughout college I didn’t put much thought into it, despite minoring in American Politics. It wasn’t until I had a well-paying Co-op (i.e. a paid internship) and my first experience having a significant portion of my income going to the state and federal government that I began to consider politics more deeply. Some of my coursework led me to the Cato Institute and my acceptance of Libertarianism, specifically of the Milton Friedman variety. The economic crash of 2008 revealed the flaws of Friedman’s monetary theories which led me to Libertarianism in the mold of Ron Paul and Ludwig von Mises, often referred to as min-archism. It wasn’t until my discovery of the works of Murray Rothbard that I came to consider myself as an anarcho-capitalist, rejecting the State in its entirety.

About four years later, I stumbled upon the writings of Robert LeFevre and his essay, “Autarchy vs Anarchy.” For the first time, the internal contradiction of anarcho-capitalism (and all hyphenations of anarchism) had been highlighted. LeFevre reasoned that the correct term I had been searching for is autarchy, meaning self-rule. The beauty of the term is that the non-aggression principle is implicit and it disassociates from other philosophies of anarchism, removing any confusion. Most importantly, as opposed to anarcho-capitalism, it doesn’t force capitalism (or syndicalism, or communism, or socialism, etc.) upon global society. Rather, it allows for everyone to organize themselves under any economic system they see fit because if I agree that I can only myself and you agree that you can only rule yourself, then I cannot rule you and you cannot rule me (note: I’m aware the unlikelihood of every person on Earth accepting this principle, that’s outside the scope of this article). Autarchy, therefore, is the philosophy of peace, freedom, and responsibility.

The reporters and pundits are, therefore, absolutely correct to label the instances of violence as acts of anarchy because a proper anarchist does not abide to any rules. Taken to its logical conclusion, anarchism abdicates itself from self-control because to control yourself would require you, at the very least, to rule yourself. Anarchism, therefore, is the philosophy of violence, slavery, and irresponsibility.

For the years that I embraced the philosophy of anarcho-capitalism, I rejected claims that anarchy breeds chaos and violence because I was ignorant of the internal contradictions of my dogma. I encourage all that wish to maximize peace, to carefully consider their philosophies and actions to see if they are at odds with the belief that all mankind should be free. I encourage you to embrace autarchy.