Statists generally agree that specific governments are immoral and corrupt, but they refuse to relinquish their belief in government for a variety of psychological reasons. One is the fear of change (“better the devil you know”) and the willingness to work “within the system” as a rationalization for that fear. Another is the belief that government is all that stands between us and the brink of chaos. The colloquial meaning of “anarchy” as “chaos” lends credence to the position that this belief is prevalent.
As Anarchists, we all know on a personal level that this belief is preposterous, because we don’t believe in chaos. We don’t believe that Anarchy would bring about chaos, and we also don’t believe that government brings any order to society at all.
On the contrary, I see government as little more than the organization and channeling of criminal chaos. What is the difference between a mafia and the IRS, or between a serial killer and a soldier? The government agents are wearing a uniform. And certainly no one would disagree that mafias and serial killers create chaos.
But this begs the question of what exactly we mean by “order” and “chaos.” Most people who discuss the issue fail to define the terms, and they are rather vague as used. I would make an important distinction between “order” and “security.” Security is what statist really worship in their own minds, not order. They crave absolutes and look up to government to provide them with security, that is to say, absolute safety from other people’s actions.
Unfortunately for them, government is only a pale simulacrum of a solution, and can only provide a feedback loop of pretend solutions and deepening problems. Government cannot create absolute security, absolute equality, or absolute anything. And when it does provide some pretense of safety (free currency insurance, socialized health care, bankrupcy protection), it is at best safety for the rich and powerful, not for us.
Of course, it is not at all a new insight that trading one’s freedom for security is a Very Bad Idea ™, no matter what the context is. Benjamin Franklin knew it, and this is immortalized in a famous maxim, but it has been said many times many ways. The fact is, once you take the decision to trade in some freedom for some security, what you are really doing is giving someone else (whether the government, corporations, your spouse, or anyone else) decisional power over you. And why would anyone who has decisional power over you want to help you instead of his own interests?
What kind of society represents an orderly society? A society where criminality is low, where everyone who wants a job can get one, where people are not pushed into dysfunctional behaviour by a giant monopoly (the State), and so on. In short, a society where there is a smooth operation and where people can fulfill their values with as little fuss as possible. Obviously we’re now talking about an Anarchy.
Indeed: Who says anarchy, says negation of government;
Who says negation of government says affirmation of the people;
Who says affirmation of the people, says individual liberty;
Who says individual liberty, says sovereignty of each;
Who says sovereignty of each, says equality;
Who says equality, says solidarity or fraternity;
Who says fraternity, says social order.
Who says government, says negation of the people;
Who says negation of the people, says affirmation of political authority;
Who says affirmation of political authority, says individual dependency;
Who says individual dependency, says class supremacy;
Who says class supremacy, says inequality;
Who says inequality, says antagonism;
Who says antagonism, says civil war;
From which it follows that who says government, says civil war.
Yes, anarchy is order, whereas government is civil war.
In short, we can classify systems as being of one of three kinds, natural order, bureaucratic semi-chaos, and criminal chaos. Unjustified violent actions belong in the last category. The gigantic sprawl of democratic government has the effect of codifying and integrating the use of violence in people’s everyday lives, turning criminal chaos into bureaucratic, formal semi-chaos.
The key ingredient, of course, is legitimacy. People will readily state opposition to violence when it is perceived as illegitimate, but will cower or even support violence when it is perceived as legitimate or as made in their name. Since bureaucrats are less risky and more productive agents for the State than soldiers, the ruling class necessarily desires to fulfill its ambitions with more bureaucratic semi-chaos than criminal chaos.