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(en) Freedom 6317 7st Sep. 2002 - What anarchism means to me

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Thu, 26 Sep 2002 01:48:40 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

In 1929 Alexander Berkman, in his book ABC of Anarchism,
made an important point: "Now what makes governments
exist? The armies and navies? Yes, but only apparently so.
What supports the armies and navies? It is the belief of the
people, of the masses, that government is necessary ... That is
its real and solid foundation. Take that ... away, and no
government could last another day."
The same point was made two centuries earlier by the
philosopher David Hume, whose essay The First Principles of
Government begins: "Nothing appears more surprising to
those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye
than the easiness with which the many are governed by the
few ... when we enquire by what means this wonder is
effected, we shall find that, as force is always on the side of
the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but
opinion. It is therefore on opinion only that government is
On the point I think Hume and Berkman were right; and so
anarchism, to me, is action that discredits the opinion that
government is necessary. Now what sort of action is that?
The opinion that the sun moves round the earth was
discredited by science; but science, which requires controlled
experiments, can hardly shake the opinion that government is
necessary. How about appealing to history? The historical
evidence seems to be that all the good things government is
thought necessary for - security, peace, prosperity, etc. - are
not actually delivered by it, but destroyed: the present state of
the world, after thousands of years of government, is
calamitous. But most people do not feel responsible for the
world, and do not connect its present state (if they think about
it at all) with their own particular separate government, to
which they cling for the security they still think it provides.
Evidently the opinion that government is necessary will never
be discredited until those who hold it wake up and look into it
seriously for themselves, questioning all the traditional ideas
about government with which their heads have been stuffed
for millennia. Then they would be such sane, compassionate
human beings that they would naturally, without being
governed by the few, find themselves creating a paradise on
earth. Who could stop them?
Pointing all this out is anarchism.
Francis Ellingham
What does anarchism mean to you? Send in your
contributions for this column (300 words please).

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