Peace Requires Anarchy

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Alfred G. Cuzan’s “Do We Ever Really Get Out Of Anarchy?”

Do We Ever Really Get Out Of Anarchy? is a seven page essay by Alfred G. Cuzan.

I had encountered the idea that there is anarchy within government and between governments before and even thought that I had managed to understand what this meant quite well. Nevertheless, after a single quick reading of Alfred Cuzan’s essay my understanding of what it means to say that we never get out of anarchy has been clarified substantially.

The essay also suggests that anarchy (“natural anarchy”) would be less violent than all forms of governments (“political anarchy”):

But if society with a pluralist political anarchy experiences less violence than societies with a hierarchical or “governed” government, isn’t it logical to inquire whether natural anarchy is less violent than political anarchy? Why should the relation between government and violence be curvilinear? Isn’t it possible that it is upward sloping all the way, so that government always produces more violence than the market?

That is my view, yes.

Of course, even if we are incorrect aggressive governments are still not justified. The ends don’t justify the means. “A consistent peace activist must be an anarchist.” A consistent libertarian must be an anarchist. Supporting aggressive violence is wrong, even if it is true that your support of aggressive violence results in a world with less aggressive violence than the world that would have resulted had you opposed all aggressive violence and embraced peace absolutely. I don’t see how anyone could possibly be able to prove that this is the case, but the point is that even if they could aggression still would not be justified. Support peace. Supporting aggression in the name of peace is nonsensical. As A. J. Muste put it, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.”

Special thanks to Conza for recommending this essay.

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“Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005)

Last night I watched the 2005 German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.

The film portrays the life and death of student Sophie Scholl, a member of the non-violent resistance group the White Rose in Nazi Germany. On February 18, 1943 she brought a suitcase full of anti-war leaflets to the University of Munich and distributed them along the corridors between classes. A janitor noticed her and reported her, leading to her interrogation and conviction of high treason. Four days later, on February 22, 1943, 21-year-old Sophie Scholl was executed by guillotine.

I no doubt could write a long blog post about how peace, liberty, and anarchism are so much better than the violence, slavery, and statism that lead to the murder of Sophie Scholl for exercising her right to speak, but I will save you the time and just say that I highly recommend this film. Write it down so the next time you are looking for a movie to watch you will remember.


Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave”

I was afraid to speak to any one for fear of speaking to the wrong one, and thereby falling into the hands of money-loving kidnappers.

Frederick_Douglass_Money-Loving_KidnappersThose are the words of Frederick Douglass recalling his state of mind upon his arrival to New York as a fugitive slave on Monday, September 3, 1838.

Yesterday I read Frederick Douglass’ 1845 autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in one sitting starting around 10:00 pm. I did not intend to read it all at once (I meant to go to bed after reading the first chapter), but I got drawn into it and was not able to put it down until I finished reading about four hours after I started.

The book begins with an introduction by William Lloyd Garrison and a letter from Wendell Phillips. I had read some of each of their works previously and knew that they both were famous for their abolitionist writings and speeches. Upon finishing their introductions and beginning the first chapter of the book, I was thus surprised to find that Douglass’ writing style was more poetic and pleasing to read than either William Lloyd Garrison’s or Wendell Phillip’s writing.

The effect that this had on me as I read Douglass’ narrative of his life as a slave was powerful. Douglass describes how part of the strategy to keep slaves subdued was to make sure that they did not learn how to read or write. As Douglass tells the story of how he learned about this and set out in defiance to learn to read and write no matter the risk, the reader knows, by evidence of the current work that he or she is reading, that Douglass succeeded with flying colors. As I read his narrative I could not help but realize not only how truly remarkable it is that he succeeded at learning to read and write while being treated so inhumanely by all who enslaved him, but also how miraculous it is that he learned to write far better than most people who are brought up free and given access to means of education.

While some readers may use the rarity of Douglass’ case as an excuse to continue holding their belief that children need to be forced to learn to read, write, do math, etc, as many students uninterested in learning these things are forced to do in most schools, I for one see Douglass’ life story as yet another reason to adopt the unschooling philosophy that children have a natural desire to learn and should be free to learn what they want when they want, rather than be forced to learn a certain curriculum grade after grade that does not necessarily even interest them. Parents and educators should provide an environment conducive to learning and help children learn when they want help, but they should not try to force a child to learn something that he or she does not want to learn by imposing a curriculum on them and grading them.

Frederick Douglass’ narrative is inspirational, emotional, educational, and captivating. I highly recommend it.


Ideas For A “Government Explained” Sequel

Embedded below is Graham Wright’s YouTube video Government Explained.

The video was very successful. It received more views in the first week it was up (50,000+) than all of Graham’s 22 other videos combined received in the many months they have been up. As I write this, “Government Explained” has been up for almost two weeks and it is now approaching 150,000 views. Also, it has been mirrored several times, adding on at least another 20,000-30,000 views.

At first it was not clear to me why “Government Explained” was so popular. Many of Graham’s other videos are of top quality as well—some are even better, in my opinion. So why was this video so popular?

For one you could say that it appealed to a much larger audience. You don’t have to be an anarchist or even a libertarian to agree with or like the message in the video. Rather, “Government Explained” appeals to the most general notion that there is something flawed about the governments that rule over today’s societies. With so many people disappointed in “their” governments’ actions today, one can understand why this video spread so far.

What else can we say about why “Government Explained” was so successful? I would add that the video effectively communicated to the typical person who believes in government that which it is often so difficult for the anarchist to communicate. That is, it effectively communicated the anarchist’s view that governments are unjust, immoral, violent, and unnecessary institutions. As an anarchist I know that when I usually share this view with others, the initial reaction that I generally receive tells me that the person I am talking to thinks I am crazy. I typically have a whole list of objections spewed at me all at once.

My guess is that there are others, including people who are not anarchists, but nevertheless are opposed to some aspect of government, who also experience similar reactions whenever they attempt to explain their political views to others. My guess is that there are a lot of people like this who also have difficulty explaining to the person who thinks that government “solutions” for everything are great that cutting government out of the equation on those issues is the best thing to do.

I think it can be said, then, that one of the reasons that “Government Explained” became so popular likely is the fact that it does such a good job portraying government as the barbaric institution of violence that it is. This is not an easy thing to explain to someone who supports government involvement in nearly every aspect of peoples’ lives. Anyone reading this likely knows this from experience. Thus, my guess is that many people saw this video and understood that if so effectively communicated thus idea, and thus decided to share it.

So what can we learn from this and how can we apply this idea to other videos? I would like to propose a sequel video to “Government Explained,” but before doing so I will examine what exactly it was about the video that managed to achieve the feat of effectively communicate the fact that government is an unjust, immoral, violent, and unnecessary institution.

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