Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Peace and Anarchy

Must they go together? I haven't completely made up my mind yet, but Roderick T Long describes the logic that extends pacifism to its logical conclusion of anarchy.

Basically, if I'm getting this right, he says that just as we have no right to tell people overseas what to do, why do we have the right to tell others around us what to do. In other words, democracy is committing the same crime around us.

Is it just me, or does this seem incredibly impractical. The more I think about it, the more it reminds me of reading Marx. He wants to hold persuasion as the key to power, but then one must ask what types of persuasion one must be limited publishing on the internet ok? is handing out pamphlets ok? is legal action ok? The idea seems well-meant, but does not really follow, as violence is simply an extended form of persuasion (...just a different type of rhetoric).

But this is getting away from the question. Fundamentally, one must ask why pacifism is correct. What does 'respect for life' really mean? Does it simply mean that I can't kill my neighbor? Or does it mean that I can't rob him, or torture him? Does retribution play in? Or how about one of the biggest problems...what if he is going to kill me or someone I know? Am I allowed to kill him after he kills someone else? But then again, isn't this more respect for the idea of pacifism and not for life? I don't know. But, if pacifism is extended into the extreme, it does mean that we do not have the right to infringe upon (yeah, see I can be purposefully ambiguous too) on each other...and in that situation anarchy is the only way.

However, any basic understanding of human nature as being 'not good' will quickly remind us that this will degrade into more violence. Violence does beget violence. But the problem is that people (unless they go through Marx's super-duper nature-changing machine of redemption) will ultimately be violent either way. As a leader, the decisions must become utilitarian and try to limit the influence of and, thusly, the power of violence in society. This is what we describe as a 'civilized' country. You might not like it, but it's the only rational way to go about running things unless you change everybody to be naturally good. And if you do, let us know ASAP.

Pacifism is one of those, 'if only' type ideas that I really wish would work. But it doesn't. It sucks, but it just doesn't. So not only is pacifism within itself not rationally possible in today's society, but an argument trying to link it to anarchy is equally (if not moreso) irrational, particularly since anarchy seems to run into similar problems when encountering further analysis.

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