Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anarchy Helps the Powerful, Always

And so I'm at Think Progress and see a post titled Wielding Assault Rifles, Police Arrest Chapel Hill Occupiers Of Building Left Derelict By Developer.

The gist: There's a property in downtown Chapel Hill that was bought six years ago and the developer hasn't done anything with it, for reasons unknown.  And since this building is in a good location, it's bothering people that it hasn't been developed yet.  And so a small group of anarchists who associate with the Occupy movement decided to take over the building and turn it into a community center, as if that's a thing.  As if there's some rule that says you can steal someone's property if they're not using it to your satisfaction.

And needless to say, we're supposed to be outraged that the police put a stop to this.  And yes, the cops used assault rifles, but no, nobody got hurt and the eight people arrested were eventually charged with a misdemeanor breaking and entering and released without bail.

And so this shouldn't be a thing.  The anarchists were in the wrong for taking the property, and while the police may have gone a little overboard with their choice of weapons, nobody got hurt and the law was carried out the way it should.  And I should stress, they weren't occupying the building to draw attention to a problem.  They really believed they could take it over for their own purposes, which apparently included yoga classes.

Birds of a Feather

And so this really was a non-event.  Or should have been, but because these anarchists associate with the OWS movement, this has now been added to the egregious offenses committed by the government against people who just want the right to protest and a fair shake.

And you can go to that post and see all the people agreeing with the anarchists, and rather than focus on what these particular protesters were doing, these guys are just welcomed into the fold; as if it doesn't hurt the movement to associate with loons who take property.  But just so it's clear, this was not done by the Occupy Chapel Hill group, some of whom opposed this move, while others supported it.  But because they called themselves occupiers, that means everyone who supports the movement is expected to support them.

Here are a few comments in their entirety:
"We must appeal to our brothers the police, to remember that the movement is fighting for the Policman's right to bargain, and to not have health care and retirement taken away. Bad orders should not be obeyed. Policemen please don't beat up on your friends and allies."
"the militarization of our "protect and serve" police forces... inevitable with all that "homeland security" money - and paranoia - floating around..."
"The reason 300 people own this country is because their families have been awake and scheming for hundred of years... if 350 million of us remain asleep and don't join our awakening allies/citizens (especially when the media portrays our movement as homeless-deviants and hippies.) IT'S TIME TO "SCHEME FOR THE DREAM.""
To them, it doesn't matter if these anarchists were completely in the wrong.  They were part of OWS, so the emphasis is how wrong it was for the cops to stop them.  And assault rifles!  Heaven forfend!  As if the very presence of a particular weapon makes the force excessive.  Now mind you, there weren't reports of violence used by police.  The weapons alone are enough for us to side with the anarchists over the property owner.

And yeah, that first guy really did tie the theft of this building with the right of public employees to bargain; as if there is any overlap to these issues whatsoever.

Faceless Villain

Joe Riddle: Ruthless Villain
And here's the thing on this: The property owner isn't some large faceless bank.  It's not even a small bank with a face.  It's a single dude.  I put his picture to the right.  Here's his website.  It looks like it's straight out of 1996 and says it hasn't been updated since May 2007.  According to his site, he's just a regular real estate guy who became a landlord with his first shopping strip twenty-six years ago and slowly added from there.

In other words, this guy's one of us.  Yeah, he's a landlord.  But he actually owns the property himself, and it's even listed in his name.  If you want, you can go to the tax appraiser and see that the property is appraised at $800k and he's paying $13k a year in property tax on it; which is about $4k more than the previous owner paid on it.  And more likely than not, he's got a mortgage on it; and is quite possibly underwater; meaning that he might not be able to sell it.

So this is what the OWS people are now associating with: Stealing $800k worth of property from an individual because they don't like what he's doing with it.  Seriously, this movement hasn't even been going on for very long, and we've already gotten to the point of vigilantes arbitrarily stealing property from people they don't think deserve it.

Now, maybe this guy's a multi-millionaire who routinely evicts old ladies while kicking orphans, but more likely than not, he's just a regular guy trying to make a few more bucks.  But because he hasn't done anything with this particular property, we're to believe he deserves to get screwed.  And hell, looking at that goofy picture he put on his website, I think he's been through enough already.

The Right to Steal

And it's not just the eight anarchists who thought this guy deserves to get screwed.  Here's a comment on that post which outlines this theory:
I feel that if someone owns a commercial building, promises to develop it into something that brings in revenue for the town and then fails to do that, the citizens have the right to take it over and turn it into useable space for the community.
When I questioned her about this, she went on to say:
Nope they shouldn't pay. The developer promised to develop the building 6 yrs ago and the town is suffering from the lack of tax revenue they could gain from this building. The developer is most likely writing it off on his taxes as a loss. As far as I'm concerned he reneged on a promise to the city and forfeited his rights to any monetary gain from the building.
Indeed, because he reneged on an unbinding promise, we're allowed to screw him without any prior notice.

And of course, he wouldn't just be forfeiting monetary gain.  He'd be forfeiting the entire building.  And since he probably had to borrow to buy the building, he'd be stuck repaying a loan for a building he doesn't own anymore.  And remember, it's not his business that got screwed, but him personally, because the property's in his name.

Yet these people don't care about this at all.  All they care about is the "common good," which only they are righteous enough to govern.  And that's the thing: They've been told over and over how evil villains own our buildings and screw us over, yet they don't realize how many of our buildings are really owned by regular people who work for their money.  Trust me, I have clients who are regular people and they own buildings.  It happens.

Oh, and when I suggested that her theory would justify me taking over her place, she insisted that her invented rule only applies to commercial buildings.  But of course, she just made up that rule; which means I get to make up my rules, which means I get to take over her place.  That's how it works when you're dealing with arbitrary rules.

Citizen Government

And the big kicker on this was when I suggest that the government can't just take property, she wrote:
Who was talking about governments taking anything, these are citizens activists and the government isn't involved.
Of course.  As long as it's just citizen activists taking property based upon arbitrary rules they invented, what could go wrong with that?  And this is a common theme amongst these people: That things would be so much better if we had citizens handling this stuff, instead of the faceless government.

But of course, we don't need to turn to anarchy to have a system that allows citizens to pick leaders to write rules and enforce them.  That's our current system; while anarchy means that there are no rules, so anarchists can occupy buildings and the powerful can hire people with assault rifles to slaughter them.

In anarchy, the only thing stopping the powerful is more power.  I'm not sure why anyone imagines anarchy would be fun, because history has shown that it benefits the powerful in every case.  If you're interested, here's an old post I wrote about anarchy.

Democracy v. Dictator

Because that's the absurdity of all this.  These people have been told that the system is rigged against us and the entire government is designed to protect the property owners.  As if that's all the police ever do, and rapists and murderers go scot-free as long as they leave the property owners alone.  And so what they're really wanting is a system exactly like our system, but without any corruption and which can change rules at a moment's notice so that only good things happen.

But that's ludicrous and they're going to have the same problems everyone else has.  Because we already have a government of citizens.  Government employees aren't above the law.  Congressmen don't get to shoot people at random.  Even cops go to prison when there's hard evidence against them.  And as much as some people get away with things that the rest of us don't, those are problems you'll always have and our country is better about this than most.

You'll always have a cop who turns a blind eye when he catches the Mayor speeding.  And you're going to have politicians who include loopholes to benefit their buddies.  But at least this is a system.  At least it's something.  And when we get to the point of citizen activists acting as self-righteous vigilantes who get to create their own law, then you're dealing with the same sort of people who are to blame for many of our problems now.  People who don't understand what laws are for, and imagine that life would be better if only they could call the shots.

Because yeah, having a dictatorship is nice...just as long as you're the dictator.  But I'll take a flawed democracy over a benevolent dictator any day.  And if you're of the belief that government can't be good unless it's doing what you think is good, then what you're wanting is a dictatorship.  Like it or not, that's what you're talking about.


RanDomino said...

Anarchists aren't against organization, but against hierarchy and unquestioned authority. Anarchists tried valiantly to stop the Bolsheviks and Falangists from taking power in the Russian and Spanish civil wars respectively- they lost, but not for lack of organization and resistance.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Please find me someone who supports unquestioned authority. What you'll find are people who denounce you if you question things they believe in, while denouncing the authority of things they don't believe in. So you have people who think we were traitors for opposing Bush, while also thinking we're traitors for supporting Obama; and all they really want is for society to be the way they want it and have no real respect for authority at all. And I see nothing different from anarchists.

What you people support is the right for you to live your lives the way you want, which you'll extend to the rest of us, only as long as we happen to agree with what you want. But if we want something you don't (ie, a government that protects us), then you're against it. It doesn't matter if this is what free citizens choose. All that matters is you don't approve, so you invent a hypothetical world in which your theories are common sense and practical, yet reside entirely on the plane of hypothetical; which is why you're forced to reference the Russian Revolution, rather than some practical thing you'll do for us.

Overall, if you can't explain in detail how your system would work and how you'd prevent the powerful from wielding more power in anarchy, then you don't have a real theory at all and you need to start over. It's that simple. Anarchy has always benefited the powerful over the powerless; always.

And what I've found from anarchists on the whole is that they don't *really* want anarchy. They want democracy that only does what they want it to do. But of course, that's not how democracy works. That's a dictatorship. With democracy, you're stuck taking the bad with the good; and there's nothing about "anarchy" that can fix that.