In my last post, I discussed the ideas of anarcho capitalists who want government out of the way so that powerful people can screw them over, under the delusion that governments are what powerful people use to exert their power; and not, say, the power itself. As if everyone is equally powerful by nature and people can’t exert power without government intervention. Or that inequity doesn't occur when governments aren't around to enforce it.
And these anarchy capitalists are perpetuating a myth that things are going to get considerably worse soon, based upon the claim that there are a growing number of incidents showing that the government is intruding in our lives, and these incidents tie together for a Grand Narrative which shows that we’re being pushed into a police state and the powerful will soon enslave us.
As if the powerful somehow have more to gain by enslaving us outright, rather than continuing the status quo in which we work for them for peanuts. Apparently, the Powerful are stupid enough to believe they can catch more flies with brute force than with honey; and they're going to risk their multi-million dollar yearly incomes purely for the sake of gaining more control over our lives. This somehow makes perfect sense to some people.
Getting Better All the Time
And let me address the second part of that first: There IS no grand narrative tying events together to prove that we’re moving towards police state. Because yes, you can find incidents of police brutality, unnecessary government intrusion, and all that sort of thing. But this isn’t anything new. If anything, we have far more freedom than in any previous period in American history.
Try telling the hippies who had their heads beat in because they didn't want to be forced to kill Vietnamese that things are worse now. Or the students who got killed at Kent State or the people who got blacklisted in the 50’s or all the people J Edgar Hoover wiretapped. If they can reply to your claims, it would be to laugh in your face.
And you look at Robber Barons who used strike breakers to destroy unions, or the whole area of slavery and Jim Crow laws. And of course, who looks upon the Wild West as a period of peace and prosperity? I know it wasn't always the shoot 'em up that the entertainment industry has made it seem to be, but all the same, that's because they still had laws and lawmen to enforce them.
Anyone with even a casual knowledge of history will laugh at the claims that things are getting worse. That's why the anarchist capitalists never put their claims into historical perspective, as their entire argument is exposed as fraud. It's hard to say that things are getting worse if you understand how things used to be. But as I noted last time, the claims these people make are rooted in rhetoric stemming from a period in which things really were worse. Things have gotten better, but the rhetoric's still the same.
And as I noted in my last post, these bozos imagine they're exposing the worst government abuses ever, yet fail to acknowledge how our supposedly all-powerful government isn't doing a damn thing to stop them. In China, they lock up bloggers who attack the government. Here, we give them free rein to say any damn thing they want, as long as they're not hurting anyone or telling people to hurt anyone. There really are oppressive governments in this world and they're absolutely nothing like ours.
Oh, no! The government wants to give my elderly mother good healthcare! Help! Help!
Connecting the Dots
But beyond that, it’s not enough to find SOME data points to connect together for your Grand Narrative, unless you can connect ALL of the dots. And if your connect-the-dots narrative requires you to avoid a significant number of data points in order to form your picture, then you haven’t found the right picture. I mean, every connect-the-dots can look like Abraham Lincoln, if you skip lots of dots while adding your own. That doesn’t mean that every one is Abraham Lincoln.
And it’s only a narrow strip of YouTube videos and news stories that they focus on that tells this story, while the vast majority of news stories and videos tell an entirely different story. New York City alone has over 40,000 police officers, so your ability to find one hundred abusive cops from across the nation on YouTube is hardly evidence that the police are regularly beating us down and installing a police state. If there's a pattern, I expect to see a pattern, god dammit; not a few isolated incidents.
And of course, the reason you're seeing more of these videos now is because, duh, we have more video cameras and we didn't use to have YouTube. We didn't use to have cameras in every cop car and camera-phones in every pocket. It's not that police abuse is getting worse, it's just that you're noticing it more now. And that's the case with anyone who claims that things are getting worse. Life isn't getting worse. You just weren't paying attention before.
As they say, data is NOT the plural of anecdote. Just because you can develop a storyline to connect facts together doesn't mean you've got the real story. You've got to be able to connect ALL the dots, not just the ones you choose to look at.
This post has been continued here:
Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part III: Their Lying Eyes
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Anti-Corporate Anarchist Capitalists Part II: The Grand Narrative
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It's a bit like the hysteria over a "rise in autism". The facts are that the definition has become more broad and there is knowledge and reporting where there was none before. Try to tell people something that won't fit onto a bumper sticker and see how far you get.
(I still check every day and am so glad when you have time to post about anything--thanks)
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