For the past few days over on Facebook, I’ve been engaging in a “debate” with an anarchist capitalist who believes that the government is corrupt and life would be so much better if they got out of the way and let us do our own thing.
But the thing is, that ISN'T what he believes. Because the reason he's anti-government is because he's anti-corporation and believes that corporations are using the government to control us. So his problem isn't with government, per se; but rather that it allows powerful people to keep power. And that's because he’s been lied to about what the government actually does, and fails to understand how his system would only make things worse for him.
In his mind, humans have the right to do anything they want and the government doesn’t have the right to stop them. But those are two conflicting ideas. Because yes, this guy IS allowed to do whatever he wants…but so are we. He’s allowed to evade his taxes and we’re allowed to punish him for it. He’s allowed to murder and rape people, and we’re allowed to punish him for it. Freedom is a two-way street. If he has the right to do anything, so do we.
And we decided to use our freedom by forming governments and writing laws that benefit society and prevent us from all killing each other, as well as preventing the powerful from having complete control over us. Somehow, these people fail to grasp that, as much as they’re being victimized, it’s because the government doesn’t do a better job of ending the very system these people imagine they want.
If you hate inequity and don't like what corporations are doing, then better government is the solution; not the problem.
And I kept trying to explain that to the guy. If we got government out of the way, the powerful would hire private armies and do whatever they wanted.
How do I know that? Because that’s what ALWAYS happens and it’d be ridiculous to assume it WON’T always happen. Just look at Afghanistan or Somalia or Iraq after Saddam fell or anywhere else without a real government. Even Mexico these days. Whenever the government can’t protect people under a common set of rules, warlords and druglords take over and things are a lot worse off for everyone.
Because our government isn’t what the powerful use to keep us down. It’s what protects us from the powerful. And as much as there are totalitarian dictatorships where the leader really CAN do whatever they want, that’s all more proof that I’m right. Because they’re just warlords with a firmer grasp on the reins of power; which they’re allowed to do in an anarchist system, because, duh, we’re allowed to do anything we want in an anarchist system. And that means that the powerful get to keep their power.
They always try to deny this, by insisting that "anarchy" doesn't mean "free-for-all," and I agree. Anarchy DOESN'T mean that people get to do whatever they want. It means the POWERFUL get to do what they want. And so whoever has the most money, guns, and friends is the one who wins.
And that’s the general rule for anarchist dreamers: If you can’t explain how you’d prevent powerful people from becoming more powerful, then your ideas are full of shit and you need to go back to the drawing board. Because we’ve HAD anarchy, and democracy is the proven solution to it. It’s not perfect, but it’s far superior to the alternative.
Demanding What They Already Have
And sure, maybe under a perfect anarchist system, we’ll ensure that people can’t become warlords by forming private groups that enforce the anarchy to ensure that no one can have power over anyone else. And we’ll create rules by which to enforce these policies while choosing citizens to lead these groups and decide best how to write these rules and, unless you’re stupid, you’ll already realize that I’m now describing government and it’s the system we already have.
And if these guys stopped fantasizing about the 19th Century populist rhetoric they've been repeating, they'd already know this. I mean, when a black man from a broken home can become president, it's time to put down the "Ruling Class is Keeping Us Down" pamphlet and realize that the system isn't rigged and anyone can become president. That goes for white men from broken homes, too. In fact, except for presidents named Bush, it's been a long time since we had a president that's come from the "ruling class." Yet this myth persists, as if only the sons of the elite can succeed in our political system. Nixon would have laughed ruefully at that idea; if only because Nixon's laugh was always rueful.
And all that noise about the government being used to keep us down is as outdated as their demands to go back to the policies we had when the government was being used to keep us down; ie, no labor laws, environmental protection, standards of safety, or any of the other good stuff we now have to protect us from the powerful. Stuff that they somehow imagine is keeping them down, completely unaware of how much good it's doing them.
Ironically, they're trying to turn back the clock to a period in which their rhetoric made sense, rather than understand that we already won and we'd keep winning if they'd shut up and help us improve government even more. And the system they're demanding is the one we already have, and they'd know that, if only they weren't so busy ranting about how scary the government is and acting like the victims they've made themselves into.
This post has been continued here:
Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part II: The Grand Narrative
I also put additional info about the guy as a comment of this post.