If Not Anarchism, What? A Third WaySubmitted by Molusk on Mon, 02/03/2014 - 02:00
Anarchism is a crackpot ideology. Anarchist philosophy was born holding hands with socialism, its roots in a spiritual rebellion against capitalism and the state.
The capitalistic anarchism springs from even less healthy soil than socialist anarchism. At least the instincts that rebelled against the excesses of industrial capitalism were basically healthy and sound, even if they adopted crackpot ideas about practical politics and economy theory.
The capitalist-anarchism is even worse in its embrace of rule by financial power, seeing its power-brokers as heroes of liberty rather than inane criminals they are. They adopt just as impractical ideas about human nature, political interaction and economics, but in order to run toward unlimited economic power, not away from it.
The idea of multinational corporations as ideal, taking over the role of government, openly, not bashfully, buying out the courts and the military, the police, the jails, and keeping the show going in private hands... what instincts could consider that an ideal?
And what fools could imagine it a practical, stable order?
A voluntary, self-regulating constellation of firms, banks, independent commercial power centers, their power rooted in concentrated property, with theoretically subordinate armed forces, vying for wealth and control outside any public law; producing law in a two-way interchange, in the manner of treaties; without any recourse to binding, disinterested, public external justice.
To hold something so unnatural together would require an essentially religious devotion, imbued with a zeal as strong as early Islam or Christianity, in a belief in non-violence, in the sanctity of Rights and inviolable property, held ascetically by all engaged in economic and political power. Everyone in a position of power able to abuse the rights and property of others would have to voluntarily refrain from doing so and resign the desire.
Even that would fall apart and go to factions and subside into the general tide of human nature after a short period, even if it could get kicked off. And what a bizarre spiritual movement it would be, rooted in materialism, money and individualistic consumption!
Pure democracy might be the antithesis of property and economic liberty, and a horror worse than its opposite. But the opposite - unlimited economic power - with the elimination of any political redress against economic power, property, is almost as bad. Some would say worse, that really depends on your personal bias.
I would much prefer a mixture of the two holding each other in check, and more than that, would welcome a third center of power in the balance, like that provided historically by Church, or by a stable political class of 'statesmen' not engaged in democratic politics, but with some permanent status and influence.
Some third body not tied to political factions or to economic interests to carry on a tradition and teaching in virtue, a political ethic, a civic identity, a way of life.
Some body or institution devoted to principles higher than money or political power, commerce or career politics.
An institution to provide the balast and anchoring for a healthy education in character and morality and identity, not connected to either private economic interest or the state. A body that could actually carry on and seed moral principles, even if it were merely NAP or some basic liberty ethic.
With those competing sorts of institutions you can achieve a balance that permits actual liberty to exist for centuries. If you destroy all of those institutions but one, liberty disappears. An imperfect real liberty is better than a perfect pipedream.
The return of a third class into the balance between economic and political power would be most welcome and appropriate, and historically realistic. It is real, it is proven. Until modern times this third power always existed and countered excesses and abuse from either side, held off tyranny when possible.
It always stood outside and aloof from merely economic or secular political power considerations.
Unlimited political power in the hands of demagogues, disregarding individual property, is one extreme. Unlimited economic power, enforced with goons and a police state, disregarding the right of persons separate from property, is another extreme.
Balanced against each other, they are an unstable brew like what presently exists in America. They could tip into open conflict and violence, with one side gaining the concentrated power.
What is lacking, what is missing?
What were the Founding fathers? They were a type of a class, maybe not the most perfect example in history, separate from either pure economic interests or pure political demagogues.
A semi-stable, semi-permanent class, a body that was an anchor and source of stability to the political order of the time, and a source of a sound civic education to the people. A referee and rallying point for the people to draw strength when up against dangerous concentrations of private power.
Their ideas, their sense of civic virtue aligned with their identity, and their great stores of political wisdom and knowledge of history enabled them to provide center of gravity to economic and political power.
The Roman republican class was a similar institution. The Church in European history is another example.
An institution not rooted in purely private interests of class, power or property, and able to balance the other two impulses, and ameliorate the harm of excessive economic and political power.
That is the proper answer to the dangerous conditions developing now, the diminution of distributed economic and social resources, the growing wealth disparity and the ripening potential of economic conflict that could break out into violence at any time, and which could see one side or the other come to a complete tyranny.
A third way, a third power, a third institution. Way of the Future.