Anarchism As Skepticism

[cross-posted at Brainpolice at The Mises Community]

“The government is necessary. The government is legitimate. Democracy is representative of the people. Democracy is the best form of government. Majority rule is legitimate. Checks and balances actually function. Voting is meaningful or even an obligation. We have a meaningful choice between political parties and canidates. Governments form as a result of the social contract. The good of society. The rule of law. Law provides order. Only the government can provide certain services. Society must be modeled or planned. Without a pre-existing design, there cannot be a society.”What do all of these things have in common? They are political myths, incoherant abstractions and apologetic devices. Before a political discussion even takes place, generally most of this is simply assumed. But why do we have to assume legitimacy in order to have a discussion or debate in the realm of politics? Are these not assumptions that must be proven to begin with? A claim of authority isn’t something that is legitimate before any arguementation takes place, it must be proven like any other positive claim. Unfortunately in the bulk of political discourse such positive claims are simply assumed and calling them into question is like sticking monkey wrench into the conversation. Why is it taboo to question these assumptions and concepts?

Technically one need not make any positive assertions at all in order to come to an anarchistic conclusion. All that is necessary is that one retains skepticism towards the positive assertions that are common in political discourse, and to consequentially deconstruct the language and the assumptions of politics. Once one has consistantly engaged in such a deconstruction, one eventually is left with the conclusion that political authority as such simply has no legitimate foundation. The alleged legitimate foundations are reduced to something that holds no more weight than the concept of a deity, which is to say none at all.

The anarchist rejects the idea that there is a particular political model that works for a society as such. It is erroneous to think of anarchism as if it is a political model. The function of the anarchist is the deconstruction of political models. The archist or statist is someone who maintains faith in a particular political model or process, or one who maintains faith in a particular person or group in a position of political authority. The function of the archist or statist is to justify these political models or authority figures. In this context, the anarchist is the skeptic and the archist is the one who is maintaining faith. From a skeptical anarchist perspective, particularly the perspective of an atheist anarchist, the archist’s faith is analogous to the theist’s faith, the main difference being that the archist merely uses political authority in the same way that the theist uses the concept of a deity.

In the same way that a creationist thinks that a deity must have created or planned the universe and all that follows from it, the archist seems to think that a political model and authority must have planned society in order for it to either exist or function in the first place. In both cases, it is inconcievable to the advocate in question that order of any kind can arise without a central planner or designer. And just as the theist maintains faith in the ability of the deity to maintain the order of the universe once it has been created, the archist maintains faith in the ability of the political authority in question to maintain the order of the society that has allegedly been created. The archist must maintain faith in the ability of law generation and law enforcement to lead to the desired ends and sustain them. The archist must maintain faith in the ability of political authority to counteract the elements of dynamism within a society. The anarchist is merely a skeptic with regaurd to such beliefs.

The historical connection between religion and politics is very interesting. The earliest justifications for political authority tended to be religious in nature. In some primitive cases, the legitimization was simply that the political authority literally was the religious authority or deity. This was watered down one step further with the notion that the political authority has the sanction of the deity or at least the religious organization that represents such a deity, which in the context of European history is known as divine right. Before any notion of the social contract was formally put forth, the justification for political authority was overwhelmingly and blatantly religious.

But with the fall of religious absolutism, such purely religious justifications began to be worn threadbare, and political philosophers began making comprehensive attempts at justifying political authority without a direct appeal to the divine. Instead, all they really did was anthropromorphicize certain human beings or social groups in order to create a trasncendental relationship in which “society” or at least certain segments therin are treated as if they were divine. In a strange roundabout way, the divine justification has merely been secularized, and the human all to human has been divinized. In short, the traditional concept of a divine right that was formly used to justify political authority has merely been shifted elsewhere. It has not been eliminated. Instead, abstractions such as “society” or “the people” or “natural elites” serve the same function.

Instead of allowing their skepticism to end when religious absolutism starts to diminish, the anarchist calls such justifications into question and sees them as no more reasonable than previous justifications.

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