I have spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out where I stand in reference to the State and how I believe we should be governed. I fully approve of the ideals of anarchism, as expressed by people like Rothbard and Mises. Ideas like the Zero Aggression Principle, Free Markets and Property Rights. I accept the premise that, if you dig deeply enough into even the most benign program, logically speaking the State can only exist through the use of Force, Lies and Theft.
But, I place against that belief in theory and logic my practical experience in life. I have traveled extensively throughout Europe, from France to Moscow, throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East and, soon, throughout South Asia where I expect to find nothing new under the sun. I haven’t just traveled to these places. I have spent years living in them, along with most of the Southern and Western U.S. My experience with many cultures and peoples confirms my religious belief that mankind is fallen, perverse and just plain hard headed.
And so, I am forced to accept that my ideal, local, communal anarchism is a pipe dream. It cannot come to pass in this world, populated as it is with fallen man. All we can hope to achieve is a fair society, based on as many of anarchism’s principals as possible, with enough checks and balances and an educated enough society to prevent it haring off into either nanny state totalitarianism or warlordism.
My second best societal construct, if I cannot have a realistic shot at anarchism, is a benign dictatorship. A single, strong, moral man I can trust to make decisions for the benefit of all I can trust with the power to enforce those decisions. Historically, this has worked only rarely, for short periods, and imperfectly. Perhaps the greatest king Europe produced, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, is the best example of what can be. It is also the system that is the most Biblical, as Heaven itself is described as such a benign monarchy, with God on His throne, His son at His right hand and all of us who are his adopted sons casting our crowns at His feet.
Unfortunately, history shows us that that is never how it pans out. Even if we limit the monarchy with the powers of a constitution, it is far too easy for one man to trample on the will and rights of the rest. In fact, it’s almost a dead certainty unless the monarch is stripped of so much power it defeats the purpose of calling him a monarch, and you are left with dealing with whatever power structure was set up by the constitution that limited him in the first place. The worst of all worlds, a neutered monarchy and a cabal of elite with less accountability than in a true republic.
This leads us to the worst of all forms of government…except all the rest. A republic. To quote a pretty good movie, we trade one tyrant a thousand miles away for a thousand tyrants one mile away. The key to making a republic, such as ours work, is fairly simple. It requires an educated electorate who also possess enough of a sense of civic duty to act decisively on what they know and believe. It requires the electorate to have enough of a long view that they can resist the temptation to vote themselves largesse from the public coffer. It requires them to keep a firm leash on the Mandarin class, guarding jealously their rights by exercising frequently their rights to be heard. In other words, almost as much a pipe dream as anarchism. But, we in the U.S. have several advantages. Even if the dream of the Republic died still-born in 1787, we cherish the ideal that it exists. Even if the Mandarin class has a wicked grip on the organs of State, we have the ability to break them to the will of the people. Even if money has a solid grasp of the ear of the State, we too have a voice and can make it heard. What we lack is will. It remains to be seen if we will ever have enough to turn our backs on a de facto Empire. I, personally, am not hopeful. But I’m not ready to toss the baby with the bathwater…not yet…