Anti-government, anti-democracy

Anti-government, anti-democracy July 25, 2011

South Carolina GOP County Co-Chair ‘Likes’ Cop-Killing on Facebook,” reports Wonkette’s Kirsten Boyd Johnson.

The article, titled “When Should You Shoot a Cop” appeared on the Facebook page of the Kershaw County Patriots, a tea party group, and it’s filled with what Johnson accurately calls “maniacal anti-government paranoia” such as:

“If politicians think that they have the right to impose any ‘law’ they want, and cops have the attitude that, as long as it’s called ‘law,’ they will enforce it, what is there to prevent complete tyranny?”

To which Johnson replies: “Answer: democracy. Solved. Go home, nutters.”

And that is, of course, the correct answer. But just try to give such an answer to people like the tea partiers of Kershaw County and see where it gets you.

“Democracy” is not an answer that satisfies them. Nor does that answer satisfy many of the vehemently anti-government Randian libertarian types so vocal here on the Web. Their scorn turns out not just to be directed at “the government” or “this government,” but at the entire democratic system of government.

I’m having a hard time making sense of their view. They profess a deep pessimism about the human capacity for self-government, but it comes packaged with an incompatible naive utopianism that believes in unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by anyone not elected by the public.

The contradictions of these Hobbesian hippies are seen most clearly when they are asked to explain what it is that they are for — what it is that they would like to see replace the “government of the people, by the people and for the people” at which they sneer with such vicious contempt.

It’s not easy to get an answer. The sneering seems, for many of them, to be the whole point. That great phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address usually produces from them such an eruption of snorting, contemptuous dismissal that any hope for further conversation evaporates.

Oh puh-leeze, they say, rolling their eyes at the sentiment, astonished that you could be such a sucker, such a patsy and fool, as to take such a phrase seriously.

For a long while I misunderstood this hostility and contemptuousness. I mistook it for frustration with our failure to live up to that grand aspiration as fully as we ought. I wrongly believed that their anger was like my own — an anger arising from the dismaying discrepancy between our noblest ideals and our capacity, will and willingness to approximate them more closely.

But that is not the source of their anger. Their scorn is not directed at our failure to more fully realize the noble ideal of “government of, by and for the people.” Their scorn is directed at the belief that this is a noble ideal or that it is worthy of realization. Quote that glorious phrase from Lincoln and they will roll their eyes and sputter because they think you’re a fool to believe that such a thing could ever be even partially true.

They do not believe in it. They do not believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people. They cannot believe in it because they do not believe in government. That word, to them, means one and only one thing: tyranny. And so they respond to Lincoln’s phrase accordingly — as though he were advocating tyranny of the people, tyranny by the people and tyranny for the people.

And so again I ask, if not democracy, then what? If we are not to govern ourselves, then how are we to be governed?

That’s just it, comes the reply, we shouldn’t be governed at all.

Hence my use of the word “hippies” above, because here we arrive at a bit of naive anarcho-utopian fantasy right out of Woodstock.

And Woodstock, or something like it, is the likeliest short-term outcome of the World With No Government they seek. The freeway will shut down and the basic infrastructure of food, water and sanitation be undersupplied and overwhelmed amid the chaos. The original Woodstock festival was billed as “3 Days of Peace & Music,” and three days of peace is probably as much as one could hope for in such an anti-government Anarchotopia.

Anarchy is unstable and unsustainable. It is always a very brief, transitional phase — the interim during which all that might prevent the strong from preying on and subjugating the weak is swept away. And once it is swept away, the strong are free to impose their will unimpeded. Power abhors a vacuum.

After that Woodstock interim, the final result of this anti-democracy fantasy would likely end up resembling not the first Woodstock, but its later imitations — the corporatized and commodified Woodstock-brand festivals at which everyone is free to buy what they are told to buy. The Galtian overlords running this corporate Aquarian Age will, for a monopolistic price, provide access to food, water, sanitation and security for all who can afford it, for as long as they can afford it and no longer.

It’s possible that I’m not being completely accurate in my characterization of the post-democratic, post-government utopia they imagine. My ability to describe it accurately is constrained by their inability to do so and by their failure to think past their sneering and eye-rolling to provide a viable answer to the question of what it is that they would prefer instead of the system they’re sneering at so aggressively.

So I don’t really know what they want. All I know is what they’ve made very clear: They do not want “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

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  • ‘Accurate and well researched’ here means ‘extrapolated from a study of
    monkeys and then written up with the typical enthusiatic cyncism common
    to Cracked’.

    Hah!  Many points for the zinger.  But the research is slightly more solid than that.  It’s based on two lines of evidence.  One is neocortex size in primate species, with the recognition that humans are primates sharing an evolutionary history with other primates.  The other is observation of the size of pre-agricultural societies (agriculture caused vast changes in human societies).  The two lines of evidence correspond very well.

    That said, the person to whom you were responding over-stated the conclusion a bit.  It’s not that we can’t see more than 150 people as human, but that beyond that range our ability to keep track of the tangle of interpersonal relationships–alliances, enmities, and so on–so that we can adequately assess our place in that structure, whom we can trust and whom we can’t, is severely taxed.  Somewhere in the range of 150 or so (plus/minus some unknown amount that probably varies from individual to individual) our brain’s computational capacities are stretched beyond their limits so we start engaging in cognitive shortcuts.  Unfortunately those cognitive shortcuts often take the form of stereotyping, often with ugly results.

  • That sounds persuasive, but it ignores some realities on the ground.  Scholars have numerous examples of collectively managed irrigation systems of far greater complexity (both mechanical and social) than a bridge, that are created without creating structures of government.  Granted it certainly can create the structures of government, and perhaps most often does so, but it’s not an inevitable result.  See Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons.  (And by the way, Ostrom is no anarchist, utopian or right-winger.  She’s an incredibly productive scholar who is–perhaps uniquely in American academia–admired by both liberals and conservatives.)

  • Daughter,

    Agreed, it’s not a perfect analogy (but contra banancat it’s not a false analogy, just imperfect).  But the general point is that sometimes people get involved with things they deeply despise, to try to minimize the damage those things can cause.  That’s not to side with the Rand Paul’s of the world, but just to point out that they do have a motivation that is internally consistent with their beliefs.  After all, if a person is operating on the assumption that government is exceptionally dangerous, does it make more sense for them to leave it solely in the hands of those who would use it in the ways the person thinks is  most dangerous, or to get involved to try to limit their uses of it?

  • he world that could have 150 miscellaneous people build an adequate
    bridge while surrounded by potential rival groups who may or may not
    choose to honor their right to their bridge or their lives–that world
    also does not exist

    No, not anymore.  But it did before agriculture and industrialization.  I think the real argument against anarchy is not that it is inherently unworkable (and to say it may be workable is not the same as to say it would be more desirable, much less ideal), but that it’s workability is largely, if not completely, limited to a pre-agriculture/industrial society.  Or perhaps just limited to a society that lacks the population density that agriculture and industry create.

  • he world that could have 150 miscellaneous people build an adequate
    bridge while surrounded by potential rival groups who may or may not
    choose to honor their right to their bridge or their lives–that world
    also does not exist

    No, not anymore.  But it did before agriculture and industrialization.  I think the real argument against anarchy is not that it is inherently unworkable (and to say it may be workable is not the same as to say it would be more desirable, much less ideal), but that it’s workability is largely, if not completely, limited to a pre-agriculture/industrial society.  Or perhaps just limited to a society that lacks the population density that agriculture and industry create.

  • I’m not sure that’s accurate.  In terms of total number, the World Wars and the Holocaust (in fact all the killing of people by governments throughout the 10th century) top everything  in the the minimal state era of human existence.  But in terms of proportion of population, hunter-gather societies tended to have far higher rates of killing than modern societies do.  Whether that’s the effect of state control or just progress in human culture is hard to say, but the most up-to-date archaeological evidence shows shocking amounts of violence in early stateless societies.

  • Donalbain—dang, I knew I should have pre-empted that response.  But because I was thinking about it I avoided using the term “written” constitution.  The UK is famous for having a Constitution that’s unwritten, but no less real.  For me as an American who’s studied too much constitutional law that’s a weird concept, but mostly it seems to work.  And sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t work better because being unwritten they can focus on the overall purpose rather than on the niggling little interpretations of this and that word in an effort to let government get away with as much as possible, as we Americans do.

    Still, I probably overstated things with the “only those limits.”  Good political cultural values also can prevent the majority from being tyrannical, and that’s much of the answer in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands regarding same-sex marriage.  What I should have said was that when the political culture is such that the majority has a sincere desire to screw over the minority, democracy itself is insufficient, and enforceable constitutional rules (written or unwritten) are required to stop them.

  • No, not anymore.  But it did before agriculture and industrialization.  I
    think the real argument against anarchy is not that it is inherently
    unworkable (and to say it may be workable is not the same as to say it
    would be more desirable, much less ideal), but that it’s workability is
    largely, if not completely, limited to a pre-agriculture/industrial
    society.  Or perhaps just limited to a society that lacks the population
    density that agriculture and industry create.

    In other words, a society where I would be dead, due to my renal failure. As would my sister, and her son that she would have died giving birth to. And my father with emphysema. And my mother would have been crippled by her knee injury ten years ago.

    So, in the selfish terms of “where would I and my immediate family be in this proposed society,” anarchy looks pretty shitty.

  • In other words, a society where I would be dead, due to my renal failure….So, in the selfish terms of “where would I and my immediate family be in
    this proposed society,” anarchy looks pretty shitty.

    I’m a severe asthmatic who once had a doctor look me in the eye and say, “I thought we lost you,” so you won’t get much argument from me.  As I said, the argument that it is workable is not the same as an argument that it is preferable.

  • Fair enough!  I’ll buy that (although I wonder what the killing-per-capita is in the third world countries that modern first world states require to function).  I was talking without really having evidence – I apologise, and I’ll try not to do it again,

  • Fair enough!  I’ll buy that (although I wonder what the killing-per-capita is in the third world countries that modern first world states require to function).  I was talking without really having evidence – I apologise, and I’ll try not to do it again,

  • Philboyd,  To be fair, it’s a fairly new line of research findings and I don’t think it’s had time to become general knowledge.  I only happen to know because my mentor stumbled onto it somehow and told me about it.  So I’m just lucky to have heard about it, rather than actually being really in the know.  As they say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good (or smart).

  • Tonio

    This is not an argument for full-fledged anarchism, but it does mean that anarchy as statelessness does not necessarily mean no governance is going on.

    Understood, and thanks for your explanation. You’re far more of an expert than me, so below is my somewhat knee-jerk reaction to anarchism…

    I’m focusing on anarchism’s hypothetical use for non-voluntary societies (where people are born into them). Others here have already described how even for voluntary groups, the model of self-governance that you outlined becomes unworkable when the group reaches a certain size. My point is about anarchists harping upon a distinction between self-governance with ad hoc officials or universal enforcement, and formal structures for these things. Simply put, I don’t see why anarchists see the former as inherently and universally preferable to the latter for any kind of non-voluntary society. My own opinion is that both types have their uses depending on the type of society. I suppose my real confusion is why they insist on calling that concept of self-governance “anarchy.”

  • Gairid

    A Sort of ‘You’re not the boss of  me!” mentality. Sweet.

  • Here, as promised, is my anarchist friend’s response to the bridge building question.

    An Anarchist FAQ at http://www.facebook.com/l/kAQDtqJx3AQA4yjjNgl9Ilc_WKOS40_GhsM-RX2HlX9nwiw/www.anarchyfaq.org 
     has a good detailed discussion of these kind of things. “Objections to Anarchism” at http://www.facebook.com/l/CAQDwbyiaAQAktT7n4BjRto9boxJidDlmD9xrWUIJGXz7Aw/spunk.org/library/intro/sp000146.txt 
     is also useful. It directly addresses bridge building. If anarchy only works on a scale of 150 people or less, then you just split into smaller groups of 150 people or smaller and then all the groups federate.

    Much of it is premised on false assumptions. For example, he assumes there would be rich people and poor people. A class system is incompatible with anarchy because its hierarchical and because it requires a state. There also wouldn’t be merchants or other capitalists, for the same reason. He also assumes money and trade would exist, while many anarchists are against money & trade. Essentially, he is trying to critique an idea he knows little about and does not understand.

    Realistically, if the bridge actually benefits everyone (his premise), then no one would object to building it. Ignoring that, a majority over riding a minority isn’t necessarily coercive. If a group of people decide to build a bridge without getting everyone’s permission that doesn’t mean they’re coercing every person not involved in the project. I don’t consult you when I watch TV, that doesn’t mean I’m coercing you. Ditto for not consulting people with building a bridge. Now, if the bridge goes through your apartment or directly affects you in some way, obviously you should be involved, but if you insist that you don’t want a bridge inside the dwelling you live in, the bridge building collective can surely find a different spot.

    With respect to people benefiting from something but not paying for it, first off that’s what we have right now on a huge coercive scale. The propertied class, the wealthy, make huge amounts of money off workers without doing anything useful. Seehttp://www.facebook.com/l/CAQDwbyiaAQC_fPTm7hI6UFImRyAw488DQpNMvCB_jee2LA/theredphoenix.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/cartoon01.gif 
     andhttp://www.facebook.com/l/hAQDXLNkkAQBIFSZh0qfIfho4pjfsLEEH9OsoEjdt9hfUUw/dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bakunin/capstate.html 
     Secondly, people do things without financially benefiting from it all the time. People volunteer, donate to charities & causes, practice hobbies, have families, etc. Kindness and generosity are as common as the reverse. And if they’re not, it strengthens the case for anarchy because do you want a greedy mean person controlling your life? If people are too stupid, lazy, greedy, etc. to rule themselves then they’re far too stupid, lazy, greedy, etc. to rule others. Under the present system, most resources are tied up in institutions (corporations & states) that do behave in that manner, but that doesn’t mean all individuals do so or must. Corporations, for example, are legally required to attempt to maximize profits – if they don’t management can be sued by the stockholders.

    Realistically, the people most likely to benefit from a bridge are the ones more likely to be involved in building it. Them, and people who just like bridges. It would be up to the people who want a bridge to assemble the materials and labor necessary to build it. If the bridge is actually important and beneficial then they’ll put it together. If even the bridge advocates are so uninterested in this project that they won’t pull together everything necessary to build the bridge then clearly building the bridge isn’t all that important. If a bridge is really that important and beneficial, then people will step forward to build it.

    With respect to his enforcement scenario, that doesn’t necessarily constitute a state. You don’t need an organization that asserts a monopoly of legitimate violence (a state) to have all that. You could have enforcers without a monopoly of violence.

    The construction of roads & bridges by governments is a form of corporate welfare, and I would hope it would be reduced somewhat in libertarian socialism. Corporations benefit from roads disproportionately because they can ship goods and materials around the world for a much lower price than if they had to pay the costs themselves. Its a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to business. It also encourages monopolistic giant international corporations because it reduces the cost of having a sprawling operation all over the planet. If the taxpayers weren’t subsidizing the transportation & communication costs big business would be less economical. Excessive roads are also bad for the environment.

    And finally, there are many examples of projects on the same or larger scale being run along anarchist lines. The Spanish Revolution, the Ukrainian insurgency, numerous anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, etc. At A16, my first national protest, there were 20,000 protesters and we coordinated it all using this system. These all show the feasibility of anarchy. An Anarchist FAQ anarchism.pageabode.com This web page holds an anarchist FAQ. Its aim is to present what anarchism really stands for and ind

  • Guest

    Much of it is premised on false assumptions. For example, he assumes
    there would be rich people and poor people. A class system is
    incompatible with anarchy because its hierarchical and because it
    requires a state. There also wouldn’t be merchants or other capitalists,
    for the same reason. He also assumes money and trade would exist, while
    many anarchists are against money & trade. Essentially, he is
    trying to critique an idea he knows little about and does not
    understand.

    Realistically, the people most likely to benefit from a bridge are the
    ones more likely to be involved in building it. Them, and people who
    just like bridges. It would be up to the people who want a bridge to
    assemble the materials and labor necessary to build it. If the bridge is
    actually important and beneficial then they’ll put it together. If even
    the bridge advocates are so uninterested in this project that they
    won’t pull together everything necessary to build the bridge then
    clearly building the bridge isn’t all that important. If a bridge is
    really that important and beneficial, then people will step forward to
    build it.

    So…as long as people don’t act like people, everything works out perfectly? Well, that sounds perfectly sustainable.

    I mean, what happens with the guy who realizes he could act like he doesn’t care about the bridge, so he doesn’t have to work on it, but then he uses it when it’s done? He gains the benefit (the bridge) without the penalty (working on it or paying for it).

  • So…as long as people don’t act like people, everything works out perfectly? Well, that sounds perfectly sustainable.

    “Realistically, if the bridge actually benefits everyone (his premise), then no one would object to building it.”

    Indeed, just like most utopian systems, the first step is to make a better human being…  

  • Johnfremont67

     Not it all, the thinking goes, the System didn’t fail, you have failed the System!

    ex. Fannie and Freddie brought this mess on, the Community Reinvestment Act of 77 did this, etc. because the gov’t interfered with the Market to help people who were unworthy to begin with.

  • I’m also quite interested in how these small communities would provide medical care that requires hospitals with a staff larger than any such communities. Or the sort of specialized medical research and technology that requires large companies and support structures.

    Or how they deal with warlords.

  • Isn’t that pretty much the same as Communism, then? (Communism never ever fails — any problems are the fault of capitalist roaders, or the counter-revolutionaries, or the saboteurs, or the kulaks, or everyone. It can’t be a problem with the Party because the Party is perfect!)

  • Anonymous

    I read “And Then There Were None”, linked above – good stuff, but like folk said, naive. Actually, I think my favorite utopian anarchic government was from The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. Less naive – probably still naive.

    Also, just to pile on: I’ve been an infrequent listener to Planet Money, and the whole “if it was useful it would be built without government” question has been tested experimentally here in the US with lighthouses. Most of which were not built until the government stepped in, even when they were of unquestionably positive expected value.

    Related: The Non-Libertarian FAQ (aka Why I Hate Your Freedom).

  • LongHairedWeirdo

    Um. Democracy will prevent abuse of police power?

    Okay.

    So, I imagine that the US has a relatively small prison population because we value freedom so much. In fact, I bet if we had an overcrowding problem, it would be because we had so few prisons.

    Yeah. Right. Democracy will protect against abuse of power of the criminal system.

    Listen: I don’t have much truck with the tea party, but you gotta give the Repubs some points for cunning. They know people are miserable, and they’re saying “here’s *why* you’re miserable!” and then claiming to be the solution.  And while I’m sure you know there are too damn many people here in prison, but you’re acting gobsmacked that people would ever think that the police wouldn’t try to lock up bunches of people unjustly.

    Here’s where you should be astounded: these very people who don’t trust the police were probably the first people in line to attack Obama for – what? Saying police were stupid? No – for saying they abused their power? no. No, just for saying they *acted* stupidly, arresting an innocent man in his own home.

    They don’t trust the government, and that’s an opening you might be able to use, but rather than use it, you want to scorn them. Well, that hasn’t been working out well for you the past 30 years, but I’m sure it’ll start working Real Soon Now.

    Or, you could realize that they do have a reason to be afraid, and try to help build up a different narrative. You won’t get *them* – but you might get some people with similar concerns.

  • I used to be an outspoken anarchist, wavering between anarchocommunism and anarchocapitalism.

    I think I am still an anarchist, deep down.  It just looks a lot harder to achieve than I had thought it would be.

  • Did you devise any detailed plans?  Because we might need those….

  • P J Evans

    these very people who don’t trust the police
    They also are frequently the people who will say that people who are arrested must be guilty, because the police wouldn’t arrest innocent people. And if they end up on a jury, they’ll probably vote for a guilty verdict, unless the evidence is really solidly favoring the defense. Because ‘the police are always right’.

  • McDuff

    Your anarchist friend forgot to append “and everyone gets a pony” to this. Otherwise, bang up job!

    Is a theory of governance which completely disregards the entirety of human history and any chance of power imbalances between people worth shit all or slightly less?

    I’m with Philboyd that several anarchist writers have valid critiques of the state (the late lamented IOZ for one recent, entertaining and highly irreverent example), but the western middle class privilege of anarchist thinkers shows in their rather romantic notions of what life is like without the soft cage of civilisation. I’m always bemused by the idea that we could somehow return to an agrarian society and yet also retain full gender, sexuality and racial equality because racism is caused by leaders or somethingsomethingmumblemumble.

    Anarchy: great, unless you’re black, female, gay, different, disabled, or ill.

  • sekaijin

    I now am feeling at least somewhat relieved that some have finally figured out the fundamentally anti-democratic line of this whole damnable, idiotic, irrationalist movement. 

    What I see them baying for, at bottom, is a wholesale privatization of authority. I don’t see them as anarchic in terms of anarchy as an end in itself; what they want is a kind of authority that cannot be challenged by government, most particularly but not exclusively federal government. It’s the mindset, writ in a contemporary style, of the SS, the KKK, and a few of Anthony Burgess’ droogs thrown in for good measure – if not exactly (yet) of action. 

    We haven’t as of yet had a Kristallnacht, or anything resembling the pre-Spanish Civil War anti-authority spasms of violent authoritarianism or early Mussolini-era disturbances. But the mindset towards these actions is extant, given the love of symbols of violence and fascination with extremist scenarios that float around among their ilk (I have no doubt that Breivik is being lionized by them right now). 

    I reject the Woodstock comparisons as unfitting. As chaotic as that scene was, practically no violence was had, and enough people really believed in all that peace and love stuff to where when the smoke cleared, especially the brown clouds, it really seemed as if (albeit for three days) those ideals actually were striven for and more or less met. 

    Having said that, if you really want a rock festival of that era to riff on as a simile, Altamont would be more apropos – there you had the Hells pretty on the rampage over everyone, the musicians included, with the whole spectacle descending into a hopeless, tragic shambles. The only difference I see is that the Tea Party would have demanded that ‘something’ be done about it (by a privatized, sort-of-civil equivalent of Blackwater, of course) while secretly praising the Hells for the beautiful piece of destruction they wreaked on everything, which is a simile in itself of the beautiful piece of destruction they envision on the economy and society as a whole.

  • Kogo

    Verily. This is what I was talking about when I said that it was weirdly refreshing to hear a Republican make *any* noise (though let’s face it, a county GOP party chair is not a high beast on the totem pole) critical of police powers.

    We do not suffer from any surfeit of people wanting to kill cops. People wanting to kill scientists, teachers, anti-war activists, gays, Planned Parenthood workers, and immigrant farmworkers are legion, however.

  • Kogo

    Ugh. Eve Online. I describe it as Star Trek, eaten whole and then pooped back out by Ayn Rand.

    But that isn’t entirely fair: actually Eve seems like Afghanistan or Somalia or the Congo or the 18th-century Caribbean. Hyper *tribalism*, with archipelagos of civilization (high-sec system).

  • Moribund Cadaver

    The Tea Party’s insanity is rooted in a remarkably tiny bubble view of the world. Childlike. They do not comprehend that government fixes their roads and helps keep their water clean because they take for granted that those things were always there – magically. They have some vague notion that nice people like themselves working in their local town do those things. Without comprehension of how *those* people were organized, how their jobs were created (and protected), and that anyone worked out how to keep all such people in every city and state on the same page, so the United States sort of came together and worked.

    When they “demands something be done” they’re not necessarily imagining Blackwater. Like children who automatically scream “mommy!” when they fall and skin their knee at school where their actual mother is nowhere to be found, the Tea Party merely makes demands that a phantom parental… force… that they’ve always assumed is there making their immediate life “normal”.

    Many still do not realize how fully irrational the average Tea Party member is. The TP is essentially the political mobilization of a great middle in America who had vastly degenerated over the prior decades. Degenerated in terms of their grasp of politics and how the world outside their 9 to 5 job, wife, and two kids operated. They are the new Know Nothing party, the childlike denialists of anything one places in front of them and tells them “see this strange thing you don’t understand? Be afraid of it, it is taking away your Good and Simple Life.”

    Most of their rhetoric is incomprehensible because it’s an unthinking mishmash of talking points handed down to them and their own attempts to educate themselves by typing the name of a conspiracy theory into Google – but they’ve no critical thinking ability to actually process what they’re being told and what they discover on their own. It’s the ultimate proof that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

  • Moribund Cadaver

    Yup, it’s another symptom of their infantile viewpoint on the world and complete inability to think rationally. They’re ruled by an arbitrary collage of notions, prejudices, habits, and assumptions about why everything around them happens. They’re not so much hypocritical as existing in an Idiot’s Paradise beyond mere hypocrisy. Where it’s cheesebrick sandwiches for lunch every day, delivered by the horse-man-boat-car during MorningAfternoon.

  • Moribund Cadaver

    The Tea Party doesn’t want to fix the system, they’ve been led into merely wanting to destroy it because they can’t comprehend it or why it’s even there.

    Raw anarchy won’t prevent abuse of power -for sure-. The problem with abuse of power currently isn’t that democracy is totally incapable of preventing it, but rather the corruption that is breaking democracy is also manipulating the Tea Party in an attempt to dismantle the last remaining barriers towards complete corporate oligarchy.

  • Carstonio

    I’m having a hard time making sense of their view. They profess a
    deep pessimism about the human capacity for self-government, but it
    comes packaged with an incompatible naive utopianism that believes in
    unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by anyone not elected
    by the public.

    I don’t remember whether I had this reaction the first time, but I think the contradiction is far simpler than Fred suggests. It’s really deep pessimism about the capacity of people not like themselves for self-government, with a naive utopianism that believes in unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by people like themselves. Not much different from the attitudes of the European powers that colonized Africa and Asia.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Yeah… it’s remarkable in that it’s a system that would collapse if they’d instead encountered either the United Federation of Planets or the Imperium of Man. (The first because ‘You know, I think I’ll stay with my more-or-less post-scarcity state instead of living in a rural village, the second because the first Guardsman who got the bright idea of defecting would be roasted over a slow fire, along with the whole village, and the most successful outcome for the anarchists ends with the planet burned to dust.) The Empire in that story is remarkable in being just bad enough living in a primitive, if idyllic community is preferable, but not so bad that they respond to dissent with violence.