“Look at all the good government does. They capture all these criminals. Government can’t be so bad!”
“Look at all the charities churches maintain. They really help the most destitute. Religion can’t be so bad!”
One argument used to justify arbitrary authority (which we Anarchists consider our enemy) is to point at its “good deeds.” Believers in either doctrine demand that we look at these “good deeds” and thereby pronounce the belief system good on that basis. But this is an absurd concept. No one seriously justifies crime and servitude on the basis of a few good deeds.
– “This man has raped and killed thirty-six young girls. He should fry.”
– “But wait! I know for a fact that he reads to children at the local hospital every Wednesday!”
– “Wow, I guess he’s not so bad then…”
Would this strike anyone sane as an even remotely realistic scenario? No, it is absolutely insane. Likewise, it is insane to attempt to justify the mass murders, mass extortions, mass kidnappings and mass enslavement of government, or the massive apparatus of mental and political control of religion, by pointing to a relatively insignificant amount of “good deeds.”
Even worse, we must remember that by their very existence government and religion “crowd out” voluntary action. Private, customer-friendly, efficient police forces have been tried and tested, but cannot operate on any large scale due to the government monopoly. Money from believers, which would have otherwise gone to non-religious charities, are siphoned to religious causes (including anti-secular, anti-abortion, anti-homosexual organizations). Because we have no idea how much better off we’d be without this massive redirection, it is a disaster on a scale we cannot even comprehend.
We must clearly differentiate specific actions from the concept they seek to instantiate. The concept of government (a ruling class which monopolizes crime in order to live as a parasite on productive people) is pure evil. Most people who work for a government, however, are not pure evil. In fact, I don’t believe people in themselves are good or evil. Likewise, the concept of religion (a moral and social balkanization of society in the name of pure hedonism) is pure evil, but most religious believers have not examined what it is they believe in and why they believe in it.
There are better and worse government. There are better and worse religions and ways of believing. That much is true. However, that fact alone does not justify supporting “better government” or “better religion.” Government and organized religion must be eliminated, because they are the enemies of individual freedom.
That being said, we must not do like some other people and throw the baby with the bathwater. Policing and charity are not bad things in and of themselves. They are tools that the working class can use for its own purposes. But as long as they are in the hands of our enemies, we must continue to denounce their abuse.