posted on Apr, 11 2003 @ 07:25 PM
Looting an Ideology
By Kenneth Silber 04/11/2003
Political ideologies tend to lose credibility and adherents after their tenets are shown to be grossly at odds with reality. I recently wrote about
how ideologies that glorify military prowessósuch as Mussolini's Fascism and Saddam's Baathismófare poorly after their central claims have been
disproved by crushing military defeat. Other ideologies have been refuted in other ways. When the Berlin Wall crumbled, so did the residual
credibility of Communism's pretensions to be the wave of the future or the means to a workers' paradise.
What about anarchism? The immediate aftermath of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime has brought a vacuum of governmental authorityóand thus a
test for a certain set of political ideas.
The view that a better society can be built in the complete absence of government has exponents on both left and right. On the left, there is a long
tradition of anarchosyndicalism advocating worker control of the economy through nongovernmental collectives. The general goal of leftist anarchism,
not always well articulated, is that society should be stateless and organized around collectives of some kind (composed of workers, artists,
oppressed minorities, or whatever). In recent years, anarchism has been the stated objective of "black bloc" rioters at anti-globalization rallies
and other protests.
A different tradition is anarchocapitalism, which seeks a stateless society that operates along free-market lines. Rather than collectives, the
anarchocapitalist society would be organized around freely trading individuals and companies. Due to this market emphasis, anarchocapitalism generally
is regarded as an extreme of the political right, although its adherents do not necessarily self-identify as right wing. Anarchocapitalism has been a
tendency of some libertarian institutions and intellectuals (economist Murray Rothbard was a major advocate), and it sometimes receives a respectful
hearing even in libertarian publications oriented toward limited, rather than nonexistent, government.