November 19, 2008

A Healthy Dose of Anarchy

Anarchy? What? Ambrose, you've lost your marbles.

This is a follow up to THIS post.

Well, perhaps not anarchy per se, but certainly what we need is to stop following our government around like sheep. This simile goes further than you might think, actually. The sheep have no idea where they are going, how to take care of themselves, or what to do with their lives. The shepherd has to do all that for them. Similarly, the government dictates what education we receive, or rather what tools we have to work with in our lives; what food we can purchase and eat, and in some cases pays for the food; and sponsors minimum wage, job elligibility, and other things. Like sheep we are forced to follow the bidding of our shepherd.

This is for our own good, of course. For instance, a man became drunk at a bar and killed himself by chugging to much ketchup from the dispenser. Big Brother needed to come in, therefore, and protect us from those nasty ketchup dispensers, mandating design for them, all with the intent of furthering our safety. We, of course, are too unintelligent to discover that choking ourselves with ketchup is a bad idea. All for the common good!

The problem here is that the American people have the wrong idea about what the government should do. They believe that the government should protect the people from itself. We forget sometimes that ours is a government "for the people, by the people." This would mean that the government ought to protect us from itself, which it hardly seems willing to do. The focus must be different.

There are five levels of society in America: family, community, county, state, and federal. The family is the smallest and most fundamental unit of society. It ought to be fully capable of deciding what food to buy for its members, which hospitals to go to, which ketchup dispensers to choke on, etc. However, when two families have a quarrel over property or something, a higher (in the sense of broader sphere of influence) society has to decide. This is the community. The community can decide who owns what land, what roads there need to be in the city, etc. However, when two cities need to trade power or perhaps need to be linked by a road, a higher power is needed again. And thus, you can go up the list from community to county, from county to state, and from state to federal. Therefore, the federal government's power ought to be restricted to matters of state to state, and of outside government to outside government. This way, the people closest to the problem can solve it. Joe in Alabama doesn't have the same needs as Jack in Pennsylvania. The lowest level of society that can deal with it should, so that each person gets what he needs (See the post linked above for further explanation on why individuals have different needs).

However, in our nation today, the general idea is that we should go to the federal government for everything. This stems from a disordered desire for equality. We don't want anyone to have an unfair advantage, so we force everyone to follow the same rules. Again, not everyone has the same needs, so this is absurd. The American people merely want equality, and not what is best for them. "[The American people] call for equality in freedom; and if they cannot have that, they still call for equality in slavery." (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America) Thus, we give up individual freedoms so that the man next to us doesn't have more freedom than us. We gladly say "Just so long as Fred over there does not have a liberty I cannot, I will go without it." This is an absolutely foolish and selfish subjugation of ourselves to tyranny. The federal government does far too much to regulate us (see previous post for more examples of this).

So, if the federal government is doing far too much to regulate our lives, what do we do? Simple. Take the power of the federal government and give it back to the state, county, community, and family level. Let the families decide for themselves what kind of ketchup to buy. Let the cities decide for themselves what roads to build. Let the counties decide for themselves what kind of speed limit to set. Let the states themselves decide whether abortion is legal or not. Keep the power as far down the list as possible to prevent tyranny. Certainly, some may say that this is anarchy; that I am carelessly throwing our nation's security into the wind. If it is anarchy, anarchy is certainly better than security. The freedom to choose what kind of ketchup I may buy is more important than a false sense of security, where Americans are mindlessly led through a pasture by the federal shepherd. "Give me liberty, or give me death."


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Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Somewhere between the community level and the county level is the city/township level... although if you ask me, a city that is too big to be one community is too big.

That's my not-so-relevant commentary on this. My more relevant comments? They're not prepared for the public yet. I'll try and write them up and email them to you. We certainly are going to have plenty to talk about when you get back.

November 19, 2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

Oh, yes we will.

By community, I meant city/town/township, etc. I don't think that there's a level of power between the city and family, even if the city is huge. There is not, for instance, a north Cinci district or a west Cinci district...

November 22, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

If you think you should go the distance and embrace anarchy, the conservative Catholic writer Joseph Sobran may prove a helpful guide. Check out his essay on why he reluctantly but willingly became an anarchist:

November 29, 2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger Carlton Powers said...

A decent thought, Ambrose. I find error more in your particulars than in your "whole picture." I think that you are right, for the most, to ask that government should conform to the Church's teaching on subordination. I am of course better qualified to determine the safety of starting a campfire in my back yard than, say, a federal fire code.

But your reasoning troubled over some particulars and examples.

Your biggest error was the use of the word "anarchy." I dare not even hazzard what that word means, but Mr. Sobran with some justice said "anarchists obviously need a more seductive label." But it will suffice to your knowledge that "anarchy" is a word we associate with violence and havoc. I myself knew a few self-professed anarchists in high school, who would tell me that we should throw molotov cocktails at president bush and burn the flag.

Then, I also knew an anarchist who was really a micronationist.

Nobody agrees on what anarchy means, so don't you think it was a little reckless using that word? Surely you'd never want to be labeled an anarchist, no less slap the label on yourself!

Now your "five levels of society in America" were a bit shaky, too, and I think they could use refining.

Obviously the individual is sometimes best qualified to make decisions for himself, even moreso than the family, so I think you should have included the individual in that list; however, I can see how the individual isn't a "unit" of society. That may mean you need to break down your thought a little more. What are the "parts" that the "units" are made from?

Second of all, as Shakespheare's Cobbler recognized, your concept of community is rather vague. Evidently you mean to encompass quite much by it. Too much, perhaps. What you have then, there, is not a whole needing rational division (as was the previous case) but several wholes artificially fused. There can be "housing associations" "neighborhoods" "buroughs" "wards" "townships" "districts" and so on between the family and the "city."

I am not sure exactly how you would divide these, but they certainly don't all fit comfortably under the banner of "community." I know, for instance, that my grandmother is required to pay $700 a month to her local housing association, which has its own method of governance and all. But this is distinct from the tax and governance of her town.

Perhaps there are other problems with your units of societ, bu I think I have given a sufficient start at their criticism for you to finish the work.

Another porblem you have is that your view on governance is too heavily weighted to the "bottom-up." It may, in certain cases, be cheaper and more efficient for roads, snow removal, utilities and the like, to be planned at the county or state level. It is not as though "communities" only require states when they come to arms over some quibble. And the uniformity of speed limits is very helpful. I know, for instance, that if driving on a backroad in New Hampshire the speed limit will be 35, on a highway 65, in a city 20 and so on; I don't always have to look for the signs. And my driving certainly shouldn't be hampared by some cranky old people in greyhairville whose hearing is too sensitive to tolerate speeds above 3 mph!

And last of all, abortion handled at the state level? I am appaled at the notion.

Of course the law must rule, and our constitution is such as divides that to the states (the which the framers of Roe V. Wade did not recognize.) I do not advocate that we topple the constitution. Lawlessness is all that legalized aboriton is- we are not guilty of these murders as a society but of their permission. And legalized abortion is onl a participant in the rampant trampling of of constitution presently underway.

So of course we must amend the constitution to ensure that no state, county, community, family or individual permits the murder of infants! But that is, as with my other critiques, only a comment on your particulars.

On the whole, I agree.

November 29, 2008 6:47 PM  
Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

As for levels of government, that was a loose, not-very-exact, generalized grouping of the levels. The point is the basic idea - the smallest level of government capable of effectively handling a situation ought to. (Subsidiarity). As for the names and titles of individual levels, I could care less at the moment.

Also, I agree that some things like speed limits would be more efficient if they were at a larger level. There are exceptions to every rule.

By "handle abortion at the state level", I mean that the federal government shouldn't be the one to decide the issue. It ought to be illegal, definitely, but the who ought to outlaw it? Not the community, because the community can be circumvented due to inefficient boundary lines and limited inter-community power. The county, perhaps, but again the area-power ratio of counties would mean that people could simply leave the county and circumvent the law. The state, however, is big enough and has enough power to get the job done. Thus the state, and not the federal government, ought to have the job. That is what I meant.

Thanks for reading, Cal.

December 05, 2008 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The county, perhaps, but again the area-power ratio of counties would mean that people could simply leave the county and circumvent the law. The state, however, is big enough and has enough power to get the job done."

What about people who live anywhere in Rhode Island? It would be easy for someone in Rhode Island to cross over to Connecticut or Massachusetts to get an abortion if Rhode Island banned it but they didn't. Should Massachusetts and Connecticut have the power to ban abortion in Rhode Island if the reason for not deciding this at the county level is people might cross the border to evade the law?

And then isn't the law tied to territory that the law controls? The US government doesn't arrest American tourists in Amsterdam for smoking pot. If going somewhere else that has different laws and then going by that different places laws while there is really a bad thing then shouldn't jurisdictions be allowed to send their police after their citizens even when they leave or maybe just close the borders like they do in totalitarian countries?

If you go somewhere else the new place has the legal authority while you are there, not the old place so the possibility of people crossing borders for abortions is a moot point.

Furthermore you keep justifying keeping the federal government out because many of these issues are between families or between communities and should be handled by the next level up (i.e. community or county).

Then why should any level higher than the family be in charge of abortion? Abortion is between depending on your view of personhood between just 1 person or 2, but regardless they're in the same family so its a conflict in the family meaning the family not even the community should solve it. So your logic goes against having any laws against abortion. Instead if a family wants to they can threaten punishment or cold shoulders or even to kick you out for abortion but that's it.

October 06, 2009 3:35 PM  

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