Anarchism 101 14

These are some comments I recently posted in a social media forum concerning the basics of anarchist theory, and why it is important and helpful.

From my readings of the classical anarchist theorists, I don’t know that any of them literally believed in a society with no social organization of any kind. The closest to that might be Max Stirner, but his views are more in the realm of abstract philosophical and ethical considerations that politics. As the critics of anarchism will point out, most serious anarchists advocate some alternative form of social organizations like municipal socialism, syndicalism, kibbutz-like communes, villages, guilds, cooperatives, etc. Even the anarcho-capitalists more or less favor abolishing the public state in favor of private governments with territorial sovereignty defined on the basis of Lockean property theory.

I think one of the most important aspects of anarchist theory is its demystification of the notion of the sanctity of the law or the benevolence of the state. Much of mainstream conservative and liberal philosophy alike postulates that law is somehow sacred and must be upheld no matter what, whereas as Proudhon noted the law is more often a weapon by which the ruling class works to subjugate its subordinates. The criticism of law that you find in classical liberal-libertarians like Bastiat that recognizes that the law is often just as much on the side of private interests and mere power holders as it is on the side of the common good is also important. A good example of why these ideas are important is the criticism of Vietnam War draft resisters for “breaking the law.” The reality of the Vietnam draft is that it was about enslaving young people and sending them off to be slaughtered in a war of imperialist aggression so that the United States could gain control of the former French colonies in Indochina (the domino theory be damned). So “breaking the law” was the only sensible thing to do if you were subject to the Vietnam draft.

The so-called “war on drugs” is another example. Not to get too lefty here, but the war on drugs really is an example of a situation where you have a dominant culture whose drugs of choice are alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, ritalin, prozac, etc, etc, etc, etc that is in control of the state and is waging war on subcultures (mostly young people, racial minorities, and alternative lifestyles) whose drugs of choice are marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, MDMA, etc, etc, etc, etc. As Vincent Bugliosi once said, the war on drugs is premised on the idea that if your drug of choice differs from that of the cultural majority, then you are a criminal.

The general anarchist view is that the state is basically “the mafia with a flag.” It exists to control territory, protect the ruling class, monopolize resources, exploit subjects, and expand its own power. At any one time, the state will normally be aligned with the economic elites and holders of wealth, property, and capital. Yeah, there will be conflict between the state and capital at times, just as there will be conflict among different factions of the state and different factions of capital. But the general principal is solid. The state will also be aligned with the dominant in-groups in the society. For example, when leftists say that historic American society was a hegemony of “white, male, Christian, hetero, yadda, yadda, yadda” they’re mostly correct. The problem is that they haven’t modified their theory to reflect the shifting social, demographic, and political realities of the past half a century. The law will reflect the interests of the dominant class, social groups, and those who control the state at any particular time. The state will then have an ideology that conveys an aura of legitimacy (“democratic multiculturalism,” “workers state,” “divine order,” “glory of the fatherland” etc). This ideology will then be disseminated through the cultural and educational institutions in society. All of this is Anarchism 101. I would personally add to it the insights of elite theory (Pareto, Michels, Mosca, Mills, Domhoff, etc), the managerial revolution/new class (Diljas, Burnham, Orwell, Nomad, Dennis) and the insights of social psychology concerning the relationship of the individual to the group and authority (Milgram, Zimbardo, Asch, Meerloo, Koestler, “third wave,” “Stockholm syndrome,” etc).

As ridiculous as many self-proclaimed anarchists are, this general set of analysis holds up pretty well.

Theoretically, I don’t think you really need to be either a philosophical leftist (Locke, Rousseau, Marx) or a philosophical conservative (Hobbes, Burke, Schmitt) to be an anarchist. You can be either one and still hold to the general critique of the state and social hierarchies that I described above. I know of anarchists on both sides of that debate, and you see variation even among classical anarchists. Proudhon qualifies as a “conservative” in many ways. So does Malatesta. Stirner and Landauer to some degree. Bakunin is a mixed bag. Kropotkin I agree is more of a utopian. So are most of the anarcho-communists.

14 comments

  1. “Much of mainstream conservative and liberal philosophy alike postulates that law is somehow sacred and must be upheld no matter what, whereas as Proudhon noted the law is more often a weapon by which the ruling class works to subjugate its subordinates. ”

    That is a double edge blade. More often than naught its those who actively oppose the “law” who seek to harm others by its infraction, mafia; terrorists; anarchists (Spain and Russia), Ra’s al Ghul.

    “The reality of the Vietnam draft is that it was about enslaving young people and sending them off to be slaughtered in a war of imperialist aggression so that the United States could gain control of the former French colonies in Indochina (the domino theory be damned). So “breaking the law” was the only sensible thing to do if you were subject to the Vietnam draft.”

    We can argue about the Vietnam case, but do you really think that it is immoral to draft people to fight communism or Nazism if your next on the menu? So lets say Sweden mobilized forces to aid Finland to fight Stalin in 1939, would not draft dodgers have been Soviet patsies for all practical purposes? If Finland fell, Sweden would presumably be next?

    Also if one is going to say that the US in South Vietnam sought to replace French colonial rule with US. We can already see what a successful US intervention in a divided Asian country, Korea. It would be a tremendous stretch to argue that US intervention in Korea was an attempt to replace Japanese imperialism with US imperialism. Is South Korea anything like the Japanese colony from 1910-1945? I think it can be argued that had South Vietnam survived something like South Korea would been created in Saigon.

    ” The general anarchist view is that the state is basically “the mafia with a flag.””

    Seems the same could be said about most anarchists such as the Spanish Anarchists, the Russian Blacks and the Spanish Zapatistas (the old ones 1920s).

    Also this argument is weak since how does one distinguish the Mafia from the State if they are essentially the same? While we know they are not. The Mafia is solely predatory, the state is not. A solely predatory institution does not create works of art and literature and fund charitable institutions.

    “For example, when leftists say that historic American society was a hegemony of “white, male, Christian, hetero, yadda, yadda, yadda” they’re mostly correct.”

    And we got Melville, Hawthorne, Copeland, Paul Whiteman, innumerable scientists, Ben Franklin (Renaissance man) etc. What have we had since? Madone, P-Diddy, Fifty-Shades of Gray and Inglorious Bastards. Wow what an improvement. Every political system serves someones interest, might as well be the interests of the most creative and accomplished people. That in and of it self should not disqualify the state if so than any political order is ruled out.

    “The law will reflect the interests of the dominant class, social groups, and those who control the state at any particular time.”

    In every conceivable society there will be a “dominant class” supported by “law.” Whether it is a Zapatista commune or the Soviet Union.

    The problem with anarchism is that it fails to be the innocent observer it pretends to be. In actual fact anarchism is blood stained ideology from the Churches of Barcelona to the Mennonite settlements of Eichenfeld to the illegalists of 19th century Europe terrorism, murder and desecration of sacred sights are part and parcel of anarchism. I do not find the anarchist critique to be credible because it exempts itself from the rules it holds to the state. OK the state cannot break the rules, but (1) why and (2) why do you anarchists get to break them. Nobody cries over the nuns raped in the Paris Commune of 1871.

    This is a non-political argument.

    Also anarchism is aesthetically deaf. Where are the anarchist Bach’s and Mozart’s; Shakespeare’s or Tolstoy’s; Newton’s or Mendel’s; Isidore of Miletus’ or Carl Gotthard Langhans’? It seems fairly obvious that the ideologies of modern anarchism are not conducive to human flourishing. If it is so true to the human condition where is the concomitant flourishing. I could digress on the human flourishing of the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian synthesis, but will refrain from doing so.

    Echoing Saul Bellow who is the libertarian Lewis or the anarchist Virgil? I’d be glad to read him.

    • “but do you really think that it is immoral to draft people to fight communism or Nazism if your next on the menu? So lets say Sweden mobilized forces to aid Finland to fight Stalin in 1939, would not draft dodgers have been Soviet patsies for all practical purposes? If Finland fell, Sweden would presumably be next?”

      Does the exception invalidate the general rule?

      Btw, I thought you were a pacifist.

      “Also if one is going to say that the US in South Vietnam sought to replace French colonial rule with US. We can already see what a successful US intervention in a divided Asian country, Korea. It would be a tremendous stretch to argue that US intervention in Korea was an attempt to replace Japanese imperialism with US imperialism. Is South Korea anything like the Japanese colony from 1910-1945?”

      So do you accept the geopolitical “domino theory” rationale as the motive for US involvement in Vietnam?

      “Seems the same could be said about most anarchists such as the Spanish Anarchists, the Russian Blacks and the Spanish Zapatistas (the old ones 1920s).”

      People will be people.

      “The Mafia is solely predatory, the state is not. A solely predatory institution does not create works of art and literature and fund charitable institutions.”

      http://www.cracked.com/article/238_5-inspiring-acts-kindness-by-terrifying-crime-syndicates/

    • “That is a double edge blade. More often than naught its those who actively oppose the “law” who seek to harm others by its infraction, mafia; terrorists; anarchists (Spain and Russia), Ra’s al Ghul.”

      The state reserves for itself a monopoly on violence. It ostensibly offers protection from private or individual crime in exchange for acquiescence in the face of its own crimes. Not much different from what a mafia-protection racket does.

      “Also anarchism is aesthetically deaf. Where are the anarchist Bach’s and Mozart’s; Shakespeare’s or Tolstoy’s; Newton’s or Mendel’s; Isidore of Miletus’ or Carl Gotthard Langhans’? It seems fairly obvious that the ideologies of modern anarchism are not conducive to human flourishing. If it is so true to the human condition where is the concomitant flourishing.”

      Anarchists as a movement have only existed for 150-200 years, and even then as a very small minority. Advocating anarchism today is like advocating the abolition of slavery centuries ago. It’s something that’s unthinkable to most people. Slavery was once recognized as natural condition, and even the greatest thinkers from antiquity, like Aristotle, did not oppose or condemn it. The Church never opposed it for the first 1700 of its 2000 year history. Even the founding fathers of the United States did not oppose it (for the most part). Traditionally, slavery was regarded merely as a fact of life, though perhaps unfortunate.

      “I could digress on the human flourishing of the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian synthesis, but will refrain from doing so.”

      This seems to be setting up a false dichotomy. The achievements of Western civilization are monumental, no doubt. But most people were either slaves or subsistence level peasants in the Greco-Roman civilization. In the Greek civilization, women had about as much social standing as they do in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. The Middle Ages were a time of serfdom, slavery, and endless warfare. The idea that Western civilization was wonderful until awful Enlightenment radicals came along and started messing it up 200 years ago is ahistorical. I even know libertarians who think that 19th century American or British capitalism was a golden age of liberty. They need to read their Charles Dickens more carefully.

      “I think it can be argued that had South Vietnam survived something like South Korea would been created in Saigon.”

      That’s interesting to speculate about. But the U.S. war in Vietnam was defending an unpopular puppet state that actively suppressed an indigenous anti-communist resistance in order to consolidate its own position. In other words, the war wasn’t about anti-communism, it was about U.S. hegemony.

      ” I do not find the anarchist critique to be credible because it exempts itself from the rules it holds to the state. OK the state cannot break the rules, but (1) why and (2) why do you anarchists get to break them.”

      No philosophy is as pure in practice as it is in theory. Religious persecution doesn’t invalidate the Golden Rule, and bad behavior by anarchists doesn’t negate the critique of the state.

      ““For example, when leftists say that historic American society was a hegemony of “white, male, Christian, hetero, yadda, yadda, yadda” they’re mostly correct.”

      And we got Melville, Hawthorne, Copeland, Paul Whiteman, innumerable scientists, Ben Franklin (Renaissance man) etc. What have we had since? Madone, P-Diddy, Fifty-Shades of Gray and Inglorious Bastards. Wow what an improvement. Every political system serves someones interest, might as well be the interests of the most creative and accomplished people. That in and of it self should not disqualify the state if so than any political order is ruled out.”

      It’s not a question of either/or. Otherwise, you end up saying anything goes so long as a society produces a creative leisure class. By that standard, you’d have to say that all that matters about the ancient Egyptians is that they built the pyramids, and that what really counts about Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is the Autobahn, Albert Speer’s architecture, and the Soviet space program.

      “The law will reflect the interests of the dominant class, social groups, and those who control the state at any particular time.”

      In every conceivable society there will be a “dominant class” supported by “law.” Whether it is a Zapatista commune or the Soviet Union.”

      No doubt. But the starting presumptions on which a society is organized matters which I am sure you would agree with.

      Anarchism starts with the presumptive bias in favor of free association, mutual aid, and voluntary cooperation, with a preference for non-hierarchical forms of organization. Libertarianism starts with a presumptive bias in favor of individual liberty. Both start with the view of the state as an inherently criminal organization and a parasite on society. Does that mean anarchism would work out perfectly in practice? No. Does anarchism negate human nature? No. Can anarchists be awful people as individuals? Of course. Can organized anarchists do awful things? Certainly. Do anarchists have any inherent moral, intellectual, or genetic superiority to others? No. Does this mean everything remotely resembling the state will ever be done away with completely? Of course not.

      However, these philosophies do aim to shift the social consensus on which societies are based.

      Slavery was once considered to normal, natural, and legitimate. It was practiced in virtually all societies throughout history. Nowadays, in much of the world there is a near-universal consensus against it. For my parents generation, the draft was considered an inevitable part of life, and even a matter of civic duty (the way most people view taxes today). Nowadays, reinstating the draft in the US would be politically impossible. Does that mean the draft may not ever be justifiable under any conceivable circumstances? No, but the presumptive bias is for individual liberty against the state.

      Today, the Left often hysterically thinks religious conservatives are always on the verge of imposing theocracy, and religious conservatives complain about the removal of religious symbols and practices from public institutions. But in most of the industrial democracies you can still belong to whatever kind of religion you want or none at all. Secularism, apostasy, and heresy are not repressed in the way they were in the Middle Ages or in contemporary Islamic states. And religion is not repressed in the way it is in totalitarian communist regimes. The Enlightenment model of church/state separation has worked out pretty well all things considered. Whatever one’s opinion on the state of race relations today, no reasonable person wants to go back to Jim Crow. Whatever one’s views on economics, nobody seriously wants to go back to the labor conditions that existed in the early industrial revolution.

      As ridiculous as some anarchists are, it is still the case that the overarching ambition of anarchists and libertarians is to extend these kinds of reforms to an ever greater number of areas of society, and the construction of institutions where these kinds of presumptive biases are dominant.

      • “Does the exception invalidate the general rule?”
        I guess I’m questioning if it is a general rule?

        “Btw, I thought you were a pacifist?”
        I am, but I am trying to argue for the other side. Often times anarchist don’t engage statists and visa-versa. It’s more interesting when the other side is offered in the best possible way.
        “So do you accept the geopolitical “domino theory” rationale as the motive for US involvement in Vietnam?”
        I think that we have to look at the domino theory on a case by case basis. For example as neocons argue if you give Hitler the Rhineland he’ll take, Austria, if he takes Austria he’ll take the Sudetenland if he takes the Sudetenland then he’ll take Poland. History does seem to bear that out. If you let Russia fall to communism, then its neighbors are likely to do so, as did in fact happen. The best example is China. China falls to communism then so does North Korea and later the entirety of indo-China. So I would agree with the China lobby more than the Vietnam lobby. After all we lost Vietnam and lost Laos and Cambodia. Malaya and Singapore were not lost because the British won the counter-insurgency there. Paraphrasing Stalin a nation will reach as far as its military can go.

        “People will be people.”
        Seems to me the state could appeal to the same principle to justify itself.

        “http://www.cracked.com/article/238_5-inspiring-acts-kindness-by-terrifying-crime-syndicates/”
        Ok let me rephrase it. Mafias don’t create the Sistine Chapel or the Pantheon, or support the arts and sciences such as the Enlightened Despots of 18th century Europe.

        “The state reserves for itself a monopoly on violence. It ostensibly offers protection from private or individual crime in exchange for acquiescence in the face of its own crimes. Not much different from what a mafia-protection racket does.”

        All private property is a monopoly on violence. I don’t see any intrinsic injustice unless one seeks to abolish property. The same protection racket can be seen in the Russian and Spanish anarchist communes. Anarchism really needs to grow beyond this whole monopoly of force thing. By that definition every conceivable political order is a state. The real problem is that anarchism and not define the state in a what that does not also include anarchists.
        “Anarchists as a movement have only existed for 150-200 years, and even then as a very small minority.”
        The Protestant Church was founded in 1517 and by 1717 we had Bach and Handel and Kepler and many many others. Being young is no excuse. I mean when the church was only 250 years old we had master a philosopher Origen and a master rhetorician Tertullian. Even 50 years after the inception of the Enlightenment we have Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Jefferson, Hume, Hutchinson and Kant what an all-star cast.

        “Advocating anarchism today is like advocating the abolition of slavery centuries ago. “
        Not quite.

        “ The Church never opposed it for the first 1700 of its 2000 year history.”
        Quite a tall claim, got the evidence to back it up?
        Not technically true. Both Gregory or Nyssa and St. Patrick condemned slavery. Also John Chrysostom, Pope Pious II in 1462; Bartolomé de las Casas condemned enslavement of Indians; Pope Paul III forbade the enslavement of Indians in 1537; also Pope Urban in 1639 and Pope Benedict XIV in 1741; in 1688 at Germantown Pennsylvania Mennonites wrote the first anti-slavery tract in the United States. Sorry a little much Dawkins here.

        “This seems to be setting up a false dichotomy.”
        No more a false dichotomy than the state or anarchy, I see set up on ATS.

        “The achievements of Western civilization are monumental, no doubt. But most people were either slaves or subsistence level peasants in the Greco-Roman civilization.”

        As you know I said synthesis, and as you know I do not endorse the Roman Empire as can be seen in your last podcast, but Roman civilization was grand and preserved by the Church. That is why I prefer Christian civilization to Classical Civilization.
        “In the Greek civilization, women had about as much social standing as they do in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.”
        Debatable. Also if our struggle and existence is material why should I care? Wolves and sheep and all that.
        “ The Middle Ages were a time of serfdom, slavery, and endless warfare.”
        Also debatable. I see more Dawkins and Atheistkult here than Keith Preston. For starters watch any course on the Middle Ages from the Teaching Company/Great Courses.
        “The idea that Western civilization was wonderful until awful Enlightenment radicals came along and started messing it up 200 years ago is ahistorical.”
        Again no more ahistorical than the hagiographies we read of Bakunin, the Russian and Spanish Anarchists and Zapata.
        Well if in the last 200 years secular ideologies have murdered over 200 million people, which more than were alive at the time of Christ, is not an unmitigated disaster what is? Also I never claimed pre-Enlightenment civilization was perfect only that it was better. I’d like to see something worse? Do you really think that the past 200 years was not the greatest disaster in history? How many people have to be systematically murdered?

        “ I even know libertarians who think that 19th century American or British capitalism was a golden age of liberty. They need to read their Charles Dickens more carefully.”

        Yeah they can be silly. I should also note that Dickens was a Christian.

        “That’s interesting to speculate about. But the U.S. war in Vietnam was defending an unpopular puppet state that actively suppressed an indigenous anti-communist resistance in order to consolidate its own position. In other words, the war wasn’t about anti-communism, it was about U.S. hegemony.”

        We have two contentions here (1) Vietnam War was a war of Imperialism and (2) it was defending an outpost of the free work (ala Korean War). We have four possibilities it was (1) A war of imperial aggression, (2) it was a war of defending an outpost of the free world; (3) it was both a war of imperial aggression and a defense of the free world; or (4) it was neither. All seem potentially valid, though it might be hard to figure out what (4) is. I think you argue for (1); think it could be (2) or (3) and even, though not likely (4). It is most likely (3), since no nation is really altruistic. I tend to see Vietnam more in the light of a recapitulation of Korea. After all in the 1950s a million people fled south, no such numbers fled north. And after the Saigon government fell over a million people were murdered by Ho and hundreds of thousands of people fled to the Freer World.

        “No philosophy is as pure in practice as it is in theory. Religious persecution doesn’t invalidate the Golden Rule, and bad behavior by anarchists doesn’t negate the critique of the state.”

        That’s my point exactly. Some excess of the state does not in principle invalidate say a thomistic view of the state as argued for by Edward Feser.

        “It’s not a question of either/or. Otherwise, you end up saying anything goes so long as a society produces a creative leisure class.”

        It is and it isn’t. I mean in any age what have been the accomplishments of the Ainu? Or the Ibo? I was pointing out the typical leftist hatred of success. Any success is seen as suspect. That’s why in Cambodia they had year zero and killed all the intellectuals.
        “By that standard, you’d have to say that all that matters about the ancient Egyptians is that they built the pyramids, and that what really counts about Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is the Autobahn, Albert Speer’s architecture, and the Soviet space program.”

        Not quite.

        I do respect pharaonic Egypt for its accomplishments, but that does not mean I have to endorse the God king himself.
        The USSR were in fact all really stolen from the Germans (scientists) or the West (technical transefers) so the USS is a false analogy.

        The point I was trying to make, however successfully, was that as usual people with no moral principles, no creative energies, no intellectual talent are criticizing the greatest civilization in history based on trumped up BS and historical falsification.
        “Anarchism starts with the presumptive bias in favor of free association, mutual aid, and voluntary cooperation, with a preference for non-hierarchical forms of organization.”
        Until they rob, loot and murder landlords, the petite bourgeoisies and clergy. Sounds like Paul’s epistles a little late to the party don’t you think?

        “ Does that mean anarchism would work out perfectly in practice? No. Does anarchism negate human nature? No. Can anarchists be awful people as individuals? Of course. Can organized anarchists do awful things? Certainly. Do anarchists have any inherent moral, intellectual, or genetic superiority to others? No. Does this mean everything remotely resembling the state will ever be done away with completely? Of course not.”

        Ok Neo-Conservatives start from the premise that man is a deeply flawed creature and that a mixture of the carrot (capitalist markets) and the stick (US airstrikes) are necessary to maintain law and order. Sure we have crooked cops, jerk politicians and illegal drones strikes in Pakistan, but does that invalided the theories of Leo Strauss or Willaim Kristol? Not by themselves at least.

        Lets get back to something you said a long time ago: “our struggle is not a moral one, but a material one.” Material struggles are wars. If anarchism is planning to wage war against its enemies than it is going about it in a very strange way losing all the wars it starts. I am only using your own dictum. I ask myself if I say my struggle as only material how would I wage it? You concern for slaves, the oppressed and other things shows me that you do not believe our struggle is material. The only people who really believed that are Marxists like Lenin and Mao who came as close as one can to completely material view of their struggle, and that was quite terrifying.

        The sort of generous presumptions that we make for our one side is really never admitted to by most anarchists and would be nice to see. I never denied where my loyalties lay, but am a good deal more critical of Christians than anarchists are of their hallowed tradition. You might not see that, but how many Christians can I argue with here?

        It’s nice that we can have substantive disagreements and continue to be on good terms with each other.

  2. “In actual fact anarchism is blood stained ideology from the Churches of Barcelona to the Mennonite settlements of Eichenfeld to the illegalists of 19th century Europe terrorism, murder and desecration of sacred sights are part and parcel of anarchism. I do not find the anarchist critique to be credible because it exempts itself from the rules it holds to the state. OK the state cannot break the rules, but (1) why and (2) why do you anarchists get to break them. Nobody cries over the nuns raped in the Paris Commune of 1871.”

    Regarding the past atrocities committed by anarchists. I would say those anarchists were the Lieutenant William Calley of our side. During the course of an anarchist insurrection, if I observed anarchists burning churches or terrorizing Mennonites, I would first order them to stop and retreat. If they persisted, I would shoot them. If I caught an anarchist raping a nun, I would probably give him the ISIS treatment, i.e. throwing him off a tall building or decapitating him with a rusty blade.

    Here’s the litmus test I use for anarchists and libertarians when it comes to these things. I call it the “Orania test.” To find out what a self-proclaimed “anarchist” is really about, I will ask them if Orania gets to exist in their version of Anarchistan? Or if they have no clue what Orania is, I will ask if Bob Jones University gets to exist in Anarchistan?

    If they say no true anarchist would organize places like that or that anarchists are within their rights to criticize them, that’s fine. But if they say, no, Orania or Bob Jones University cannot be allowed to exist in Anarchistan, and should be actively broken up and suppressed, then I will know that they are not serious anarchists, but are Communists, totalitarian humanists, or left-fascists who should be guarded against. In fact, one of my primary ambitions is to marginalize people like that within the anarchist milieus

  3. “Regarding the past atrocities committed by anarchists. I would say those anarchists were the Lieutenant William Calley of our side. During the course of an anarchist insurrection, if I observed anarchists burning churches or terrorizing Mennonites, I would first order them to stop and retreat. If they persisted, I would shoot them. If I caught an anarchist raping a nun, I would probably give him the ISIS treatment, i.e. throwing him off a tall building or decapitating him with a rusty blade.”

    You do have one of the more noble definitions anarchism, but the problem I see is that there are very few anarchists historically that lived up to your high standards. A good deal less than Christians that have lived up to my standards.

  4. “Mafias don’t create the Sistine Chapel or the Pantheon, or support the arts and sciences such as the Enlightened Despots of 18th century Europe.”

    The Medici?

    “The Protestant Church was founded in 1517 and by 1717 we had Bach and Handel and Kepler and many many others. Being young is no excuse. I mean when the church was only 250 years old we had master a philosopher Origen and a master rhetorician Tertullian. Even 50 years after the inception of the Enlightenment we have Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Jefferson, Hume, Hutchinson and Kant what an all-star cast.”

    There are plenty of figures from anarchist history with substantial intellectual achievements, e.g. Proudhon, Kropotkin, Reclus, Goldman, Read, Landauer, Chomsky, Bookchin etc. There are plenty of others on the periphery of anarchism as sympathizers, e.g. Shelley, Bertrand Russell, Ivan Illich. The same is true of libertarianism, e.g. Mill, Tolkien, Szasz, Hayek, etc.

    However, I do think there’s a tendency among anarchists not to deify individuals as “THE MAIN GUY” of anarchism, and I kind of like that about anarchists.

    “Sounds like Paul’s epistles a little late to the party don’t you think?”

    Yes, but compare the Pauline epistles with the Code of Justinian.

    “Both Gregory or Nyssa and St. Patrick condemned slavery. Also John Chrysostom, Pope Pious II in 1462; Bartolomé de las Casas condemned enslavement of Indians; Pope Paul III forbade the enslavement of Indians in 1537; also Pope Urban in 1639 and Pope Benedict XIV in 1741; in 1688 at Germantown Pennsylvania Mennonites wrote the first anti-slavery tract in the United States. Sorry a little much Dawkins here.”

    But were they the rule or the exception?

    “I see more Dawkins and Atheistkult here than Keith Preston.”

    “Well if in the last 200 years secular ideologies have murdered over 200 million people, which more than were alive at the time of Christ, is not an unmitigated disaster what is? Also I never claimed pre-Enlightenment civilization was perfect only that it was better. I’d like to see something worse? Do you really think that the past 200 years was not the greatest disaster in history? How many people have to be systematically murdered?”

    I think all time periods have their great moments and horrendous moments. Human achievements in the past 200 years have been enormous and human screw ups have been enormous as well.

    “Sure we have crooked cops, jerk politicians and illegal drones strikes in Pakistan, but does that invalided the theories of Leo Strauss or Willaim Kristol?”

    Strauss is worth reading. Kristol is just a political spin doctor.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/leo-strauss-hawk-or-dove/

  5. “It’s nice that we can have substantive disagreements and continue to be on good terms with each other.”

    Well, our differences are entirely abstract. You’re not out to harm me, and I’m not out to harm you. Your version of conservative Christianity seems amiable and ecumenical enough. And my anarchism has room for both your Mennonite-distributist-Orania and my Mondragon-mutualist-Christiania. You’re not the Spanish Inquisition and I’m not Sergei Nechayev.

  6. “The Medici?”

    Don’t know? Really? They were popes, queens and heads of state. They sound more respectable than your average gangster.

    “There are plenty of figures from anarchist history with substantial intellectual achievements, e.g. Proudhon, Kropotkin, Reclus, Goldman, Read, Landauer, Chomsky, Bookchin etc.”
    I count Chomsky for his linguistics, but Proudhon, Kropotkin and Goldman strike me more as agitators under the guise of philosophers.

    “There are plenty of others on the periphery of anarchism as sympathizers, e.g. Shelley, Bertrand Russell, Ivan Illich. The same is true of libertarianism, e.g. Mill, Tolkien, Szasz, Hayek, etc.”

    I don’t think Russell (a defender of the USSR) can count even as an honorary anarchist. Illich and T olkien were also Christians so, I am inclined to credit their influence to their Christianity. Sure Hayek is good, but we are taking in gross terms. If we tally up all the great minds of Christendom or even Classical Civilization, anarchists and libertarians are pretty slim, and that’s not even counting artistic, architectural, literary or musical achievements. I also find libertarian/anarchist political philosophers to be rather pedestrian. Rothbard, Chomsky and Ayn Rand to name a few are rather over rated and make sloppy philosophical errors. For example see Ed Feser on Rothbard:
    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/08/rothbard-as-philosopher.html

    “Yes, but compare the Pauline epistles with the Code of Justinian.”
    Yeah that’s true, things went down hill with Justinian.
    “But were they the rule or the exception?”
    I tend to think the rule. That is not to say there was no backsliding, but after all in the US and Britain it was Christians that pushed the abolition of slavery and in 1861 the Tsar abolished serfdom. Atheism in the form of the gulag reinstated slavery and Islam never abolished it. I think all things considered (no NPR joke) Christendom, however gradually, overcame slavery, which was after all a legacy of classical civilization. I mean for all its faults Christendom actually did abolish slavery something that never happened else where in the world and the retreat of Christendom at least in Russia and Eastern Europe led to the reinstatement of slavery.

    “I think all time periods have their great moments and horrendous moments.”
    I don’t in principle disagree with that, but we all intuitively understand that sometimes are worse than others. Nazism was worse than the Kaiser and Leninism worse than the Tsar or The Roman Empire over Feudal Europe. The point that I am making is that under no circumstances can one say that the 20th century was a century like any other.
    Human achievements in the past 200 years have been enormous and human screw ups have been enormous as well.”
    There have been advancements especially in the 19th century when the forces of Christendom crushed the French revolution and ended slavery, reformed treatment of prisoners, improved the conditions of women, improved longevity and quality of life. Many of the “improvemnts” of the twentieth century were the result of forces put into work by Christians even Civil Rights and Anti-Apartheid movements were led by ministers Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu.

    “Well, our differences are entirely abstract. You’re not out to harm me, and I’m not out to harm you. Your version of conservative Christianity seems amiable and ecumenical enough. And my anarchism has room for both your Mennonite-distributist-Orania and my Mondragon-mutualist-Christiania. You’re not the Spanish Inquisition and I’m not Sergei Nechayev.”

    True.

    • “Don’t know? Really? They were popes, queens and heads of state. They sound more respectable than your average gangster.”

      Difference in form but not in substance? They were pretty unsavory folks.

      “I don’t think Russell (a defender of the USSR) can count even as an honorary anarchist.”

      He was a classical liberal/social democrat hybrid with anarchist sympathies. He turned against the Soviet Union very quickly after the revolution. His later writings are very anti-Soviet. In fact, he even thought preemptive war against them might be legitimate after they got nuclear weapons.

      ” but after all in the US and Britain it was Christians that pushed the abolition of slavery and in 1861 the Tsar abolished serfdom. Atheism in the form of the gulag reinstated slavery and Islam never abolished it. I think all things considered (no NPR joke) Christendom, however gradually, overcame slavery, which was after all a legacy of classical civilization. I mean for all its faults Christendom actually did abolish slavery something that never happened else where in the world and the retreat of Christendom at least in Russia and Eastern Europe led to the reinstatement of slavery.”

      To what degree would you agree with this Wikipedia overview of the history of the Christian views of slavery?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_slavery

      Here’s the article on the Islamic view:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_views_on_slavery

      Not to take credit from anywhere that it is due, but the abolitionist movement seems to have come a bit late in Christian history. The Church had already been in power for 1500 years before there was any serious move to abolish slavery. Also, weren’t the anti-slavery Christian abolitionists the religious “liberals” or “reformers” of their era? There were individual Christian thinkers in the ancient or medieval world who may have opposed slavery, but that doesn’t seem to have been a consistent norm. It seems more sporadic at best. And during the centuries the Church held real power they never seem to have opposed slavery. It seems like more “liberal” strands of Christianity were emerging during the same as the Enlightenment was growing and these strands of thought merged into the anti-slavery movement which included both Christians and rationalists, Deists, etc.

      I agree Islam seems to have a worse history on this, but it’s also true that secular rationalist AND theologically “liberal” thinking has been less influential in Islamic culture.

      “There have been advancements especially in the 19th century when the forces of Christendom crushed the French revolution and ended slavery, reformed treatment of prisoners, improved the conditions of women, improved longevity and quality of life.”

      But, again, didn’t this represent a convergence of secular social reformers and (relatively) liberal Christian social reformers? Was this the norm in the previous 1900 years of Christian history. Didn’t some strands of Christianity more or less fight these reforms to the death?

      “Many of the “improvemnts” of the twentieth century were the result of forces put into work by Christians even Civil Rights and Anti-Apartheid movements were led by ministers Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu.”

      Same thing. To this day, there are plenty of Christians who consider those guys to be heretics. I know some.

      “Nazism was worse than the Kaiser and Leninism worse than the Tsar or The Roman Empire over Feudal Europe. ”

      I agree Nazism was much worse than the Kaiser and Lenin was worse than the czar, but did the modern totalitarian states really treat their subjects any worse than the ancient empires like Egypt, Babylon, Rome, etc.? Maybe they’re more comparable to Genghis Khan or the German barbarian invaders of Rome.

      http://www.ancient.eu/article/485/

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