The debate that summarizes mankind involves determining which particular means of existence is best. Social, political and economic constructs have been developed and implemented throughout the last thousand years. Throughout this time, different forms of government and social organization arose out of idealistic thought and well reasoned application of natural and human laws. Today, this potential has been realized in our current forms of society. The Western world lives in a democratic, or so it seems, state of being. Is this best? What is the best? Is there even a best way to go about doing this?
The validity of any proposed social, economic or political theory is required in order for a collective group of people to move forward and adopt the principles that they suggest. Anarchy and anarchism are terms that are gaining relative popularity in today's hectic and turbulent world. American interests are very wide and deep and often very contradicted and hypocritical. This democratic way of life is preferable over anarchy or any of its different sects that may promote the ideals and essence of its principles. The purpose of this essay is to discredit anarchism as a valid social, economic and political theory tha, would not create a better world if it was implemented in widespread fashion. I'll explain my position examining this vast and complicated system through the different lenses of several social and political theories expressed throughout academia today and empirically demonstrated in the past.
Before discrediting anarchy as a valid way of existence, it is first important to understand what anarchy is and investigate some of the historical ideals behind this term and how it is accepted in today's vernacular and social conscience. Marshall's (1991) lengthy tale explained how anarchy has started and where it ends up today. Essentially no complete definition is available, however he summed up anarchy as a system, philosophically and rationally based where advocation of no state authority is required to temper the ultimate superiority of individual freedom and unregulated autonomy. In simpler terms, anarchists do not believe in official state governments as they are unethically and unprincipled in nature. The idea rose approximately 250 years ago in a call for ultimate freedoms and individual prosperity.
Marshall explained how anarchy has certain spiritual and religious roots, specifically originating from eastern philosophical settings, and these roots are ultimately responsible for the actions of individual freedom and individual choices. This evolution of individual freedom has evolved alongside with society itself. Nation-states and political organizations are the results of societal evolution while individual freedom seems to be always sacrificed as a consequence of this procedure and growth. Anarchy is more than just wild freedom, it is an approach to self-regulation and responsibility. Anarchy is to be accepted by those who are ready for it and not for mass populations who have limited and diminished intellectual capabilities.
Within this history of anarchy several instances have demonstrated temporary success worthy of examination. However all these examples also resulted in a failed state and soon people exposed to this form of regulation ultimately regressed to an authoritative state of existence. Anarchy is hard to generalize and very little consensus amongst its believers are unified on any one topic other than individual freedom. In many anarchist traditions state institutions are required and actually encouraged. This distortion helped contribute to the limitations of this philosophy and mostly distracts from other more productive means of social and political coexistence.
Many different sects of anarchy have resulted from this split amongst the philosophical core of limited state authority. This consistent and always present paradoxical nature of escaping from one's parental and authoritative figure must somehow harmonize with the individual's quests to understand and proceed with a personal mission in life. Can this coexistence ever be attained? It is unlikely in my opinion as I will continue to highlight different examples of how anarchy does not validate the human experience.
THE SOCIAL LIMITATIONS OF ANARCHY
Social limitations of anarchy and its possible means of guiding and directing its citizens properly towards an ultimate potential and realistic understanding described a position of admirable optimism yet simultaneously displayed pragmatic doubt. Before applying a certain type of government or political system, society itself needs to be defined and put in some sort of segmented barrier. Society is a macrocosmic representation of individuals, all exercising their individual will into some greater and collective unit. Can society be controlled? Can societies be understood? At what point does a society not become a society and just is a group? Where is an individual's placement within the society? These questions are probably impossible to answer and we have only partial answers to these problems. While I am not proposing I have a solution to every problem I can demonstrate that anarchy is not the panacea to our society's problems.
Watner (2010) in his defense of synergizing anarchist themes into today's society originated from an admirable position. Nonviolent resistance to the state, as he claimed, illuminates the best of what human nature has to offer in terms of individual relationships and golden rule philosophy. Unfortunately this falls short when he vehemently denies the use of force being wholly unusable. Ignoring the natural laws of force and discipline, does not stand to make a useful social argument. Yes, adhering to violent means and coercion does not necessarily promote the things that are the best in humanity, but the truth does not allow for its omission unfortunately.
Social scientists have been trying to organize and quantify human behavior since the beginning of the scientific method hundreds of years ago. Anarchy and the anarchic style of social coexistence has been also examined from a calculated standpoint. Grossman et al. (2000) highlighted the ridiculousness of this particular exercise. Mathematically equating human behavior is a risky proposition and can usually lead to a distortion of the truth instead of revealing it. Creating a model such as Grossman's, where complicated algorithmic functions representing human decisions, exposes the desperation of today's critics of social behavior into controlling the uncontrollable. The results of this modeling concluded that anarchy is a fragile phenomenon that rarely appears and is a result of competition for resources and a balance of available resources. While I agree with the ultimate conclusions of this study, I disagree with the means of how they identified this certain fragility.
Ayn Rand (1963) perhaps makes the most credible argument for the anarchist movement in her explanations for social control. In asking why men should need an institution to govern their lives, she declared that an intellectual renaissance is required to escape such backwards thinking. Highlighting the values of both knowledge and trade, she demanded that these ideals trump any requirement for communal equality. Rand made a very poignant proclamation when she claimed that "the fundamental difference between private action and government action, a difference thoroughly ignored innovator today, lies in the fact that government holds a monopoly on legal use of physical force." Lawful coercion, although practiced dominantly by state institutions, do not monopolize this business however. While the hands of the state are often brutal and overreaching, no one is being forced to succumb to these demands. True freedom occurs when the one who is being coerced can forgive the one doing harm. Until this fact is understood, a partial portrayal of the solution seems only possible.
Rand proclaimed "under a proper social system a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases while a government official is bound by law and has every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden, a government official big a thing except that which is legally permitted. " This scathing criticism once again hits to the heart of American democracy, but did not offer any viable solution. Eradicating the state would still allow for certain deficiencies within any social system. In answering her critics, the call for selfishness Rand demands appears to me as unkind and unreasonable. Eliminating the idea to help one's neighbor seems out of place with the laws of nature and the successes of humankind. Domination over one another does not seem to be the right way, however, passively laying down and allowing the wheels of state institutions to continually run over and slowly diminish capabilities of individual freedom and action is not acceptable either.
The social constructs of organized civilization are complicated and often times not identifiable. The validity of any such construct needs thorough investigation and ample time for populations to assimilate and disseminate the principles to such a position. Perhaps taking the finer points and general principles that anarchy and anarchists hold will allow for new and creative ways of combining and melding theories and philosophies into something that can be appropriately applied to society in today's world where new problems and obsolete solutions often collide in today's environment. These collisions often appear as anarchy as strife war and discourse dominate social landscapes of today.