I've been reading up on some of the thinkers that Leftists like Noam Chomsky and his ilk regard as prophets. Enclosed, for your edification, are some of their most famous quotations and my thoughts concerning them. Granted, this is all rather philosophical, but I have been very bored recently. Please humor me.
"The liberty of man consists solely in this, that he obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual." - Mikhail Bakunin
What is particularly interesting about this self-important statement is the implication that, if man did not recognize something as simple as the law of gravity, then it would not apply to him. This is self-evidently ridiculously stupid. Man is subject to the laws of nature specifically because they are the laws of nature, and because they are imposed. Whether one wishes to speculate on what imposed these laws (divine, not divine, whatever) is up to them. But the fact is that the laws of nature existed before man recognized them as such, and are still in effect now. The laws of nature are imposed externally. That is why we call them laws. It is impossible to choose not to obey the laws of nature. Therefore, the idea that man “obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such” is false. Man obeys the laws of nature for the same reason that when you add two and two, the result is four.
Do you really need to revolt against theology? Is someone forcing you to be religious? (Apart from Muslims, obviously.) Basically, if you don’t want to believe in God, you don’t have to. There’s nothing to rebel against. What are you whining about? Or do you mean that you have to force everyone to believe as you do, namely that there is no God? Because that would make everyone on earth slaves to your theology, or lack thereof."The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth." – Mikhail Bakunin
What if you’re privileged intellectually? And why is this statement true? And what about the natural evolution of this thought: namely, that the only way to not have depraved people is to make all equally miserable and un-privileged. Wow, there’s a great thought. Let’s all live in a pig-sty with no money and congratulate ourselves on how great we are."The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart." – Mikhail Bakunin
Haha! Nobody is listening to you because you’re an arrogant know-it-all trying to convince people that you know what is best for them. And when no one thinks you are as smart as you think you are, you make your point by insulting them. Way to go, hero."To my utter despair I have discovered, and discover every day anew, that there is in the masses no revolutionary idea or hope or passion." – Mikhail Bakunin
What is remarkable here is that Nestor Makhno, famed anarchist, was still unable to realize a truly free, anti-authoritarian, anarchic society. He says it himself – the anarchists are a vanguard. The anarchists have to “analyze the nature and structure” of the soviets and “specify their revolutionary functions in advance.” So, to put it another way, the elite of the revolutionary corps, the anarchists, have to direct the energies of the anti-authoritarian soviets? How does that work? For someone to direct someone else’s energies doesn’t that someone have to have the authority to do so? So it’s okay to have authority if you’re an anarchist? Cause that sounds like a bunch of self-serving horse-<profanity> to me. It’s not anarchy if you have somebody telling you what to do, even if that somebody is also saying that they’re an anarchist. Anarchy must come from the universal and unanimous consensus of those involved. If it’s just a"The final and utter liquidation of the State can only come to pass when the struggle of the toilers is oriented along the most libertarian lines possible, when the toilers will themselves determine the structures of their social action. These structures should assume the form of organs of social and economic self-direction, the form of free “anti-authoritarian” soviets. The revolutionary workers and their vanguard – the anarchists – must analyze the nature and structure of these soviets and specify their revolutionary functions in advance. It is upon that, chiefly, that the positive evolution and development of anarchist ideas in the ranks of those who will accomplish the liquidation of the State on their own account in order to build a free society, will be dependent." – Nestor Makhno, The Struggle Against the State, 1926
majority who favor the anarchic forms, then it becomes democratic oppression of the minority. Every single time.
Now this is a statement I can get behind, intuitively. After all, knowing that society and government arbitrarily demand such things as Social Security taxes (a system which is currently bankrupt and will not be able to furnish me any money by the time I can retire) is exceedingly frustrating, and the truly independent thinker will automatically say to him/herself: “Why must I pay the government for this? May I not simply invest it myself, and if I invest unwisely it harms no one but myself?” However, even this statement by Makhno is not what it seems. Life is not perfect. There is no utopia. Considering oneself servile to government is false. You don’t have to serve the government. Every man and woman has free choice. You may choose not to pay your taxes, you may choose not to bow to your government. But there are consequences for choosing personal liberation from government, such as imprisonment and fines accomplished by garnering wages."The more a man becomes aware, through reflection, of his servile condition, the more indignant he becomes, the more the anarchist spirit of freedom, determination and action waxes inside him. That is true of every individual, man or woman, even though they may never have heard of the word “anarchism” before." – Nestor Makhno, The ABC of the Revolutionary Anarchist, 1932
Makhno and his ilk would call this coercion, and so it is. But coercion is necessary in government. Maintaining freedom is not cheap; those who do not wish to pay to maintain freedom have no right to complain when their freedoms are removed. Even the anti-authoritarian soviets of Makhno’s Ukraine used coercion; there were some Ukrainians who wished to keep their land, their cattle, their possessions. It is true that these Ukrainians possessed far more than was necessary for their comfortable lifestyle, and that their excess should have been used for defense of the agricultural utopia. Yet these people did not want to pay for the defense of their freedom. Therefore it was a matter of expediency that the revolutionary soviets confiscated their excess belongings, in service of defense of the revolution.
Is this not coercion? Yes, of course it is. But what is coercion in this sense? In the sense of causing those who have excess to use it for the common good, coercion is a means of enforcing responsibility. Those who enjoy the benefits of freedom have the responsibility to defend that freedom. Those who abdicate their responsibility also abdicate their benefits. So that one person’s abdication of responsibility (and therefore abdication of freedom) does not harm the greater mass, coercion is necessary for the enforcement of personal responsibility. This is not a new concept. Makhno and his agrarian anarchists understood it, and applied it. However, the notion of coercion in order to enforce responsibility all in the interest of the good for the greatest number of people brings us right back to responsible government, and away from anarchy. Anarchy, the absence of coercive government, assumes that all people will embrace their responsibility.
But what happens when someone doesn’t, as will certainly occur? In order to preserve freedom and libertarianism, those who shun their responsibilities must be coerced. And therein is the cessation of anarchy.