We have spent only a little time on this blog discussing the virtues of anarchy and the ways that it would play out in real life. In a previous post, I mentioned that anarchists, far from advocating chaos, promote a system of order that does not make use of the State or of the government.
It would seem prudent, before this conversation goes too far, to distinguish between order and planning. It is truly fitting that “plan” is a four-letter word. Central Planning has become second nature to most people. Barack Obama and John McCain talk about their plans to make America better–as if it is they rather than the hard working citizens who make America what it is. Indeed, to many, “order” cannot exist without a central plan, without someone to boss around and steal from the various entities in a given society.
Order, however, need not–and in many ways cannot–come from above, but rather comes from within. As an analogy, I recall Charles Rosen’s insight that the symmetrical form of Classical era music (Mozart and Haydn in particular) was not imposed from without, like a mold, but rather grew organically from within, as each little detail, each contingency, built upon the work. So it is with, for instance, the free market: the mutual exchange of goods and ideas contributes greatly to a harmonious order in society. What might seem chaotic on the microscopic level turns out to be well-crafted on the macroscopic level. The disorganization is only apparent.
There is more, however. Surely one must grant that a society without a grand discourse will fall into shambles. Grand discourses are not exactly in vogue in these the days of rampant horizontalism. Many, perceiving the ensuing chaos from this, call for more government, or even a theocratic monarchy (Those who don’t know the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them), and few of them ever give serious thought to the idea that maybe the best form of government is none at all. Why, that would be chaos!
I find all this to be strange, not to mention self-contradictory. If government were able to prevent societal collapse, then the cities and towns of the 21st century would be in much better shape than they are. What is missing is the metaphysical. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not in any way calling for some kind of Christianist State, such as Mike Huckabee might. I’m only saying that a society that is stuck in the sensible world is doomed. Really, the metaphysical is what is needed to maintain society, not governments. An appreciation for the metaphysical, however, comes from private initiative, not from legislative fiat.
F.A. Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom remarked that the more intrusive a government becomes, the less virtuous the citizenry becomes. Similarly, Richard Weaver warned in Ideas Have Consequences of the encroachments of the State on men who have failed to exhibit virtue. If these two insights are synthesized, the remedy becomes apparent: men must become more virtuous, so that the futility (not to mention the evil) of the State becomes more obvious.
All of this, of course, is up to us. It has nothing to do with electing the right congressman or president, or with gaining a tenuous 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. Rather, it has everything to do with how we view life (Do we even start from the ancient philosophical idea that life is to be loved and cherished?), how we live, and how we interact with each other.