Anarchy: When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Is it crime and chaos, mobs breaking into convenient stores, a hellish inferno rising over civilization? If your friend one day proclaimed himself an anarchist, would you consider calling the police?
You would be dead wrong.
In the words of Noam Chomsky: “Anarchism … is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary … If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate.”
Since I was a teenager, I held a brewing suspicion and hatred of nationalism. At school, I silently mouthed the Pledge of Allegiance, because I was a Christian, and believed in the rule of God, not man. To think, I had not even heard the words of Dave Andrews: “Jesus Christ was the supreme example of authentic anarchy … working to empower people and enable them to realize their potential.”
I watched my brother enlist in the military, signing his soul away forever. I watched as our beloved protectors broke his mind, turned him into a murder machine, then vomited him back out on my family with nothing but alcoholism and PTSD.
In college, I befriended a cafeteria frycook, who introduced me to the work of Lysander Spooner. I read “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority,” in one night. I was never the same since.
My parents are a glimmering example of liberty — they have paid off the mortgage, they do not use a credit card and they are not in debt to anyone. I have practiced the same fiscal responsibilities — I spend less than I make nor have I taken out a loan. I attended the college in my home town, stayed at home, at my mother’s cooking and I worked fifteen hours a week.
Because of these decisions, now my only relationship with the State are my taxes. And I’m going to keep it that way.
When I tell friends I do not vote, they condemn me. Why? For not participating in their systematic oppression of each another? They believe if this candidate or that candidate is brought into office, he will make the reforms and leave the legacy that finally sets the world right.
“We just need a balanced government,” they insist. “We need a government that keeps itself in check. A government that is controlled by an educated population. All we need is a good, honest leader, and everything will be great again!”
Someone may, by a miracle, balance the government for a brief historical moment. But how many times must governments fall apart again before the human race will understand? No matter how rigidly you control the state, or how much you cut it back through checks and balances, like a weed, it will
“Go live somewhere else, then!” they snap. “Build yourself an island, like those evil corporate tax evaders. Go into a cabin in Alaska and live from the land, if you do not wish to pay your taxes.”
Imagine if I uttered those caustic, thought-killing words to America’s abolitionists, or civil rights activists. If you hate slavery and segregation so fiercely, why don’t you just live in a county without it? “Go back to Africa,” everyone told them. But they remained, they fought, and now our society is another step closer to liberation.
I find that most people, if I engage them long enough with the idea of a stateless society, do not actually love the state. Some even despise it as much as I do — but, to them, it is a necessary evil, the only way to control the masses. They do not desire the state itself, but the services of governance a megalithic, sprawling bureaucracy provides — very badly, if at all.
How long before the masses are ready for an alternative?
I’ve been told that anarchism is just a phase in my life, part of a struggling transition into adulthood. I laugh aloud. I have taken the red pill — I can’t go back. This will be my battle, whatever form it takes, for the rest of my life.
Perhaps when my beard is long and gray like good old Spooner, I will give up teaching people about statelessness, or the revolution will have passed and my existence fulfilled. But I will forever fail to see, the way it’s so clear to everyone else, why the state is necessary, how its existence could be morally justified, or why people never want or imagine anything better than the world right here.