The Vicissitudes of Anarchy


America and Iraq are compelling contrasts in peace and mass pandemonium. Even though Americans are deeply divided among many fronts, we still happen to live tranquilly without organizing militias and mobs to settle our disputes (we tend to rely on lawsuits instead). Taken as a whole, we generally don't blow ourselves up and take others with us, either. Most disasters are limited to separate individual fights and occasional protests that get out of hand. Of course, there are more and more reports of snipers and terrorists in our country, but they are so isolated that they can only concentrate themselves in small pockets of our country. This is not to minimize their level of dangerousness, but to illustrate that their magnitude is relatively minor.

Anyone who pays even remote attention to the Middle East understands that the most horrific crimes known to humanity are being orchestrated moment by moment there. This is why I mostly heed to headlines and do away with pictures and details. You'd have to be comatose not to know how grave things are over there. Every graphic account only serves to depress and vegetate me all the more. It is not meant to put my head in the sand, but to maintain some semblance of emotional functioning. I am informed to the point that I can stay sane.

It is interesting to note all of the 'expert' opinions on why the Middle East is the way it is. First it is their scathing Islamic extremism. Then it is their bloodthirsty, anti-American drive that seems to have magically descended upon their lands for no apparent reason. Then it is their lack of appreciation for progressive cultural and economic growth. The explanations are endless, not to mention unoriginal.

If I just paid attention to the biased media pundits on the alphabet networks, I would assume that America has every right to bring some sort of humane society to these gun-toting, murderous, spiteful 'towel heads' who eat the dirt between their toes and cry out for Allah to kill us all. Of course, I can't deny that these individuals exist in the Middle East , but this does not give an accurate or fair representation of the overall diversity of its citizens. No one wants you to believe that there are any kind, peaceful, or generous people in these troubled countries, though. That way, blowing them up and filling the survivors' bloodstreams with deadly amounts of uranium won't make us feel so bad. As long as we are led to believe that they deserve what we are giving them, we are the righteous, moralizing agents in their region.

Not to my surprise, the media lobotomists are giving more attention of late to a 'reliable ole Bessie' as an excuse for all of the death and misery overseas: anarchy. Privileged news anchors and analysts, in their sterile media studios and fancy clothes, present anarchy like they know what they're talking about. They diagnose it like the common cold whenever a country or ethnic group is suffering and in shambles. It is a predictable, knee-jerk reaction to the non-Western countries experiencing calamitous conditions.

Nothing irks me more. A true anarchist devoted to the principle of no force is usually an educated, hard-working, peace-provoking, well-informed individual. The media paints an entirely different picture. We are made out to be toothless ingrates who pierce our tongues, tattoo every inch of our bodies, wear nothing but black, and hate any sense of order in society. We have no values or respect for humanity. Since we reject the status quo with great fervor, we become marginalized, isolated, and demonized. We are unruly, troubled, uncivilized savages who pollute our nation's universities and cause the kind of violence and bloodshed that occurs in Iraq. Yes, anarchy must be the problem in Iraq.

But one who actually studies anarchy and considers himself or herself an anarchist knows that this is a grand fallacy and an immoral fabrication of anarchist principles. Not once has any Muslim cleric called for out-and-out anarchism in the Middle East . In fact, the exact opposite is true. Up and coming dictators have spat back and forth about whose insidious form of government should be next to suppress the civilians who just want to live in peace and be left alone. The one thing they agree on is that Iraq should be either a Sunni or Shiite state. It sure as hell won't be American. Together, they'll fight Americans at all costs so that they can chop each other's heads off later in battling for the Iraqi throne. This is imperialism mixed with nationalism and religious extremism. Anarchy it ain't.

But those who can't resist Peter Jennings' good looks and Tom Brokaw's suave voice are lulled into believing that Iraq is a country that needs some order ASAP, and a government (preferably ours) is just the cure. It doesn't dawn on many that Iraqi rebels who are killing Americans have just as much right to fight for independence as our ancestors did when they wasted the redcoats. Iraqi militants support government all right, just not ours. If and when our troops ever leave, the Iraqi supporters of organized government will come out to play and terrorize each other. They're doing it right now, in fact. It's just not as plain to see when there are so many Americans on the front burner getting ravaged.

Iraq hardly lacks government intervention. Rather, it contains a toxic amount of government. It is full of American, Iraqi, Sunni, Shiite, and Al Qaeda militants. Other national forces have their pen in the ink as well. Babylon is occupied with bloated oil dealers who have special privileges and state-sponsored immunities. There are outside sanctions and ridiculous tax rates to keep citizens poor and submissive. How anarchy applies here baffles me to no end.

While there may be a handful of anarchists who think that might makes right, they rarely attack defenseless citizens. The zany ones will go directly after those who are in government itself, not the innocent ones who have to put up with it like they do. Sincere anarchists know that using force is futile to the core. Sure, we could assemble our guns and 2-X-4s with nails on the ends of them, but our values inform us that the torch and pitchfork lynching method is no better than anyone else's force. Force just results in more force. Instead, we rely on sound philosophy that ingratiates peace through persuasion. Any region of the world could stand to adopt more of this kind of thinking.

Anarchists, with some minimal exceptions, wish to aid in the pursuit of human happiness, not destroy it as the nightly news hacks and gullible voters blame us for. Anarchy does not reign as rock-throwing, blow-em-up rebelliousness. Indeed, life without government consists of none of these things.

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Chris Basten's picture
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Chris Basten is a freelance writer in the Minneapolis, MN area and a strong proponent of libertarian/anarchist values. He can be found as a guest columnist from time-to-time on