"One of the problems with anarchist activism in electoral politics is that it deforms the perspective, attitudes and rhetoric of members of the movement generally — decreasing the effectiveness of their advocacy. Sometimes that’s the case with particular people even if they themselves aren’t active in electoral politics. The stupidity just kind of soaks into them osmotically from their social surroundings, but it can be analytically traced back to electoral politics. It’s rather easy to see that anarchists active in the Libertarian Party are pretty much operatively minarchists with regard to their electoral political activism. What I’m going to describe, though, is how an anarchist who may have escaped from the trap that is a political party may still wind up thinking like a minarchist.
Libertarianism can be understood as an ethical doctrine rather than a political ideology — the non-aggression principle. It’s consistent application has anarchism as its political consequence, but it can also be applied inconsistently by those who embrace Thomas Paine’s characterization of government as a “necessary evil” (often while neglecting that Paine said that was the case at best) — advocates of so-called “minimal government” or minarchists.
All that background aside, though, the key point to remember is that the non-aggression principle is simply the apex of a discourse on when violence is and isn’t legitimate.
Now, most people aren’t original thinkers. I would even venture to say that most original thinkers aren’t even thinking originally most of the time. Actual innovation is a rare and scattered phenomenon. That may sound terribly pedestrian, but it’s not at all a completely bad thing. Communication, for instance, would be impossible if we invented a completely new language every time we said something. We re-use patterns of behavior and thinking when we find them useful, re-applying them in new ways on an as-needed (and as capable of producing) basis. When we notice something works for someone else, we often but not always copy them, adopting it ourselves. That means we have the potential, at least, to rapidly adopt useful behavior and tjhinking while rapidly discarding less useful behavior and thinking. Unfortunately, it also means we can hang on to sub-optimal behavior and thinking if it’s merely “good enough”. Hairless monkey see, hairless monkey do. That’s the human race for you.
If that sounds a bit like object-oriented programming to you, give yourself a pat on the back.
What the above has to do with the non-aggression principle and electoral politics is that electoral politics ingrains a communications habit that’s subtly at odds with the advocacy of anarchy. More specifically, by applying the non-aggression principle on a piecemeal basis in an attempt to shape state policy as a libertarian reformist, one gets used to thinking of things only in terms of the non-aggression principle.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not soft-pedaling the non-aggression principle or attempting to water it down. I advocate the non-aggression principle as the fundamental basis of law in a stateless society. In terms of building up a body of rhetoric we can share and apply as a movement, though, the focus on criticizing only a particular statist issue at a time without also explicitly calling for the abolition of the state leads to thinking solely in terms of state violence or the lack of it. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to advocate, talk about and think about the non-violent socially normative mechanisms that would arise in the spontaneous order of a stateless society. When we fail to understand the tendency toward mutually-reinforcing social structures that would develop in a free society, we can be said to (unfortunately) still be thinking like a minarchist."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Politik macht dumm und prinzipienlos.
Das gilt gerade auch für Libertäre, die in elektoralistischem Aktivismus sinnlos Energien verschwenden. Brad Spangler warnt vor genau diesen Abirrungen: