ANARCHISM … the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.
—P. A. Kropotkin, Anarchism, for the Encyclopedia Brittanica (1905). Emphasis mine.
From the Left today, Scott at Angry White Kid comes out for
fair government elections:
It is already hypocritical enough for Israel and the U.S. to claim to supportdemocracyin Palestine while the U.S. monetarily favors one party and Israel to tries to block voting in East Jerusalem. Assuming they are fair, the world must respect the results of the elections.
—Angry White Kid (2006-01-25): The So-CalledPalestinian Elections. Emphasis mine.
Meanwhile on the Right, non-voting LewRockwell.com contributor William L. Anderson is shocked! shocked! to discover that,
… people like Fitzgerald do not give a rat’s behind about Constitutional rights.
And demands to know,
For that matter, how in the world can Sarbanes-Oxley even be Constitutional?
I am an anarchist. I don’t respect the results of any government elections, and I don’t give a rat’s ass about Constitutional rights, either. That’s part of what being an anarchist means: government elections don’t permit anything, and government Constitutions don’t forbid anything, because they have no legitimate authority over anyone at all. I take it that this is part of what being an anarchist means: if you take seriously an election’s or a Constitutional convention’s claim over the lives of its subjects, then you are accepting the legitimacy of a form of government. Anarchists don’t.
This isn’t to offer a brief against voting, or against mentioning the Constitution in some argumentative contexts. It’s perfectly reasonable to look at voting, or appealing to the text of the Constitution, as a low-cost, if often ineffective, tactic of self-defense. It may even be worthwhile to try to use appeals to majoritarian popular sovereignty or to the Constitution as dialectical starting points, to try to get your conversation partner away from galloping Caesarism towards trotting Caesarism, and closer to the point where they will stop caring about The Will of The People and Constitutional Rights, and start caring about the will of people and human rights instead (although I’ll have more to say on dialectical strategies sometime soon…). That’s all fine. But it is one thing to use these arguments in the right contexts, and quite another thing to take them seriously and treat them like we ought to care at the end of the day.
A little more Socratic irony, please.