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(en) Ireland, WSM* Workers Solidarity #91 -Thinking About Anarchism: State Authority by Gregor Kerr

Date Fri, 14 Apr 2006 08:35:23 +0300


Don't we all feel safer now that Mary
Harney has banned the sale of magic
mushrooms!! In a decision taken in record-
quick time, Harney and her government
colleagues decided that they couldn't have us all
going around sampling mind-altering fungi and
maybe even enjoying them. More importantly
the decision was made that we couldn't be
trusted to decide for ourselves what was
safe/unsafe for each of us to try. We need such
decisions to be made for us because apparently
we are incapable of deciding for ourselves.
And those that rule us would have it no other
way. After all if they didn't manage to sell
us the idea that we need their laws to keep
us safe, their role as rulers would effectively
be gone. Over 150 years ago, the French
anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote "To
be governed is to be kept in sight, inspected,
spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered,
enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled,
estimated, valued, censured, commanded...To
be governed is to be at every operation, at
every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled,
taxed, stamped, measured, numbered,
assessed, licensed, authorised, admonished,
forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished..." 1

`Someone else'

What is quite amazing is the extent to which
we have all submitted to this idea of needing
`someone else' to make decisions for us. If
anyone has listened to recent media discussions
about the increase in deaths on our roads, for
example, it is impossible not to be struck by the
fact that it seems the only solutions that either
politicians or supposed experts can come
up with are more gardai, increased penalty
points etc. How about a truly radical idea??
People taking responsibility for their own
actions - I won't drive my car after a couple
of pints, I won't drive over the speed limits
because I might kill someone else or myself.
Instead of this the constant refrain is ­ we need
more cops, we need stronger laws. Yet, if any of
these commentators were asked directly, they
would of course claim that they themselves
are perfectly responsible. But there's always
`someone else' who needs to be controlled.
It's not surprising really that this is the case.
After all from the time we are knee-high we
are indoctrinated with the idea of the need
for regulation and rules. We are led to believe
that that amorphous body referred to as `the
State' is necessary for both our protection
and our social development. But perhaps
we should look at things from a different
perspective ­ have you ever considered
the fact that far from creating social order,
the State is in fact one of the principal
causes of social disorder and disharmony?

C o n t r a d i c t i o n

The State as we know it is based on a
fundamental contradiction. On the one hand
it is supposedly democratic, it appears to
welcome and encourage popular participation.
After all we get a chance at election time to
have our say in how the state is run, we get to
decide in favour of or against a particular set
of policies which will be implemented over the
coming period. Ironically, however, it is through
this very process of giving us `our say' that we
actually sign away our right to have any real
influence over what happens. What happens
is that we abrogate our ability to directly
participate in decision-making and we buy into
the notion that `someone else' ­ the State, our
rulers ... - knows best. And once we buy into
this decision we abdicate the idea of taking
responsibility for our own actions. Thus the
reason why people don't drink and drive is the
fear of getting caught rather than an awareness
of the dangers involved. We apparently need a
version of `Big Brother' to keep us in check!!
Politicians always sell us the idea of course
that they operate in the `national interest'
and in the `common good'. But the fact
is that governments always ­ no matter
what their political make-up ­ protect the
status quo. There is no `national interest'.
The State is there to protect the interests
of those with money, power and privilege.

New Social Order

But of course it doesn't have to be so.
Anarchism looks to get rid of the division
between rulers and ruled, to establish a new
social order in which the State will have no
role and no power because we will live in
a society of equals where each of us takes
responsibility for our own actions. In the
words of Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin
"Either the State for ever, crushing individual
and local life, taking over in all fields of
human activity, bringing with it its wars
and its domestic struggles for power, its
palace revolutions which only replace one
tyrant by another, and inevitably at the
end of this development there is ...death!
Or the destruction of States, and new life
starting again in thousands of centres on the
principle of the lively initiative of the individual
and groups and that of free agreement.
The choice lies with you!" 2
---------------------------------------
1. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: General Idea of the Revolution, p. 294
2. Quoted in Marshall, Peter `Demanding The Impossible: A History of Anarchism' P. 623
==============================================
From Workers Solidarity 91, March/April 2006
PDF file online at http://www.struggle.ws/pdfs/ws/
=========================
* Anarchist federation
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