Anarchism for a Post-modern Age

Written by Sam Vaknin

"The thin and precarious crust of decency is all that separates any civilization, however impressive, fromrepparttar hell of anarchy or systematic tyranny which lie in wait beneathrepparttar 143771 surface."

Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), British writer

I. Overview of Theories of Anarchism

Politics, in all its forms, has failed. The notion that we can safely and successfully hand overrepparttar 143772 management of our daily lives andrepparttar 143773 setting of priorities to a political class or elite is thoroughly discredited. Politicians cannot be trusted, regardless ofrepparttar 143774 system in which they operate. No set of constraints, checks, and balances, is proved to work and mitigate their unconscionable acts andrepparttar 143775 pernicious effects these have on our welfare and longevity.

Ideologies - fromrepparttar 143776 benign torepparttar 143777 malign and fromrepparttar 143778 divine torepparttar 143779 pedestrian - have drivenrepparttar 143780 gullible human race torepparttar 143781 verge of annihilation and back. Participatory democracies have degenerated everywhere into venal plutocracies. Socialism and its poisoned fruits - Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism - have wrought misery on a scale unprecedented even by medieval standards. Only Fascism and Nazism compare with them unfavorably. The idea ofrepparttar 143782 nation-state culminated inrepparttar 143783 Yugoslav succession wars.

It is time to seriously consider a much-derided and decried alternative: anarchism.

Anarchism is often mistaken for left-wing thinking orrepparttar 143784 advocacy of anarchy. It is neither. If anything,repparttar 143785 libertarian strain in anarchism makes it closer torepparttar 143786 right. Anarchism is an umbrella term covering disparate social and political theories - among them classic or cooperative anarchism (postulated by William Godwin and, later, Pierre Joseph Proudhon), radical individualism (Max Stirner), religious anarchism (Leo Tolstoy), anarcho-communism (Kropotkin) and anarcho-syndicalism, educational anarchism (Paul Goodman), and communitarian anarchism (Daniel Guerin).

The narrow (and familiar) form of political anarchism springs fromrepparttar 143787 belief that human communities can survive and thrive through voluntary cooperation, without a coercive central government. Politics corrupt and subvert Man's good and noble nature. Governments are instruments of self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement, andrepparttar 143788 reification and embodiment of said subversion.

The logical outcome is to call forrepparttar 143789 overthrow of all political systems, as Michael Bakunin suggested. Governments should therefore be opposed by any and all means, including violent action. What should replacerepparttar 143790 state? There is little agreement among anarchists: biblical authority (Tolstoy), self-regulating co-opertaives of craftsmen (Proudhon), a federation of voluntary associations (Bakunin), trade unions (anarcho-syndicalists), ideal communism (Kropotkin).

What is common to this smorgasbord isrepparttar 143791 affirmation of freedom asrepparttar 143792 most fundamental value. Justice, equality, and welfare cannot be sustained without it. The state and its oppressive mechanisms is incompatible with it. Figures of authority andrepparttar 143793 ruling classes are bound to abuse their remit and userepparttar 143794 instruments of government to further and enforce their own interests. The state is conceived and laws are enacted for this explicit purpose of gross and unjust exploitation. The state perpetrates violence and isrepparttar 143795 cause rather thanrepparttar 143796 cure of most social ills.

Anarchists believe that human beings are perfectly capable of rational self-government. Inrepparttar 143797 Utopia of anarchism, individuals choose to belong to society (or to exclude themselves from it). Rules are adopted by agreement of allrepparttar 143798 members/citizens through direct participation in voting. Similar to participatory democracy, holders of offices can be recalled by constituents.

It is important to emphasize that:

" ... (A)narchism does not preclude social organization, social order or rules,repparttar 143799 appropriate delegation of authority, or even of certain forms of government, as long as this is distinguished fromrepparttar 143800 state and as long as it is administrative and not oppressive, coercive, or bureaucratic."

(Honderich, Ted, ed. - The Oxford Companion to Philosophy - Oxford University Press, New York, 1995 - p. 31)

Anarchists are not opposed to organization, law and order, orrepparttar 143801 existence of authority. They are againstrepparttar 143802 usurpation of power by individuals or by classes (groups) of individuals for personal gain throughrepparttar 143803 subjugation and exploitation (however subtle and disguised) of other, less fortunate people. Every social arrangement and institution should be put torepparttar 143804 dual acid tests of personal autonomy and freedom and moral law. If it fails either ofrepparttar 143805 two it should be promptly abolished.

II. Contradictions in Anarchism

Anarchism is not prescriptive. Anarchists believe thatrepparttar 143806 voluntary members of each and every society should deciderepparttar 143807 details ofrepparttar 143808 order and functioning of their own community. Consequently, anarchism provides no coherent recipe on how to constructrepparttar 143809 ideal community. This, of course, is its Achilles' heel.

Changing The Tone

Written by Scott C. Smith

Changingrepparttar Tone By Scott C. Smith

“The spirit of cooperation I have seen in this hall is what is needed in Washington, D.C. It isrepparttar 143705 challenge of our moment. After a difficult election, we must put politics behind us and work together to makerepparttar 143706 promise of America available for every one of our citizens. I am optimistic that we can changerepparttar 143707 tone in Washington, D.C.” -- President George W. Bush, speech, Dec. 13, 2000. “That background may lackrepparttar 143708 polish of Washington. Then again, I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington. I don't have enemies to fight. I have no stake inrepparttar 143709 bitter arguments ofrepparttar 143710 last few years. I want to changerepparttar 143711 tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.” -- President George W. Bush, speech, August 3, 2000. "We may not always agree, but hopefully, we can be honest with each other, and respect each other, and changerepparttar 143712 tone of Washington, D.C., so that when people look atrepparttar 143713 Nation's Capital they will be proud of what they see.”

Changingrepparttar 143714 tone of our Nation's Capital hasn't been easy. I realize that in politics, old ways die hard. Washington at times has got a plenty sharp edge to it. The only thing I can do, andrepparttar 143715 only thing Dick Cheney and others in our administration can do is to control our own responses. When I hear my policies and my nominees attacked in a hostile and partisan way, I simply hearrepparttar 143716 echoes of an era behind us. I'm not going to takerepparttar 143717 bait. I'm going to lead this country to a new level of respect. I came to this town to changerepparttar 143718 tone ofrepparttar 143719 capital. And I'm not going to quit." -- President George W. Bush, speech, May 22, 2001 "On issue after issue they (Democrats) stand for nothing except obstruction...political parties that chooserepparttar 143720 path of obstruction will not gainrepparttar 143721 trust ofrepparttar 143722 American people.'' -- President George W. Bush, speech, June 16, Bloomberg News. “At an evening congressional gala in Washington, Bush drew applause by calling for an overhaul ofrepparttar 143723 tax code, a national energy bill and permanent tax relief, among other things. He accused Democrats of trying to block all of them. 'They stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership,' Bush said. 'It isrepparttar 143724 philosophy ofrepparttar 143725 stop sign,repparttar 143726 agenda ofrepparttar 143727 road block, andrepparttar 143728 country and our children deserve better.'” -- President George W. Bush, speech, June 15, reported byrepparttar 143729 Associated Press I think it's safe to say that Bush's 2000 campaign promise to bring civility back to Washington has been abandoned. No surprises there, consideringrepparttar 143730 promises broken by this president. Of course,repparttar 143731 political climate today is decidedly poisonous, with both sides attacking each other. And while a handful of Democrats have attacked Bush, it has been Republicans, andrepparttar 143732 conservative pundits, that have done all they can to vilify Democrats and liberals. They claim we're terrorist sympathizers and that we're guilty of treason for speaking out againstrepparttar 143733 war in Iraq. They claim we're on a campaign to persecute Christians and to destroy "traditional" family values by attempting to "legitimize" gay marriage.

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