Anarchism

The Anarchist Fitness Program

James C. Scott and "anarchist calisthenics"

|

James C. Scott, of Seeing Like a State fame, is about to release a new book called Two Cheers for Anarchism. Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Matt Zwolinki quotes a passage from it:

Cartoon by the great Ron Cobb.
Ron Cobb

One day you will be called upon to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for that day when it really matters? You have to stay "in shape" so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is "anarchist calisthenics." Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it's only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you'll keep trim; and when the big day comes, you'll be ready.

For the quotation's context, which Godwin's Law aficionados should appreciate, go here.

We have a review of Two Cheers in the works; in the meantime, you can read my review of Seeing Like a State here and Tom Palmer's review of another Scott book here. More Scott cameos in Reason can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

NEXT: Mitt Romney Slams Obama's Foreign Policy in Speech

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. First a cookbook, now an exercise program.

  2. Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking

    Done and done. I talk on my cell phone in the car.

    1. just as long as you’re not texting. I see morons like that everyday, which reminds me – what is the point of having reckless driving on the books if it’s never used?

      1. My ex wife used to read novels while driving 80 down Alabama backroads.

        1. When I was a kid, I had a friend who’s dad would read the paper, do the crossword, and mull over the box scores all while hurtling us across the Indiana countryside in his Buick. My friend was totally chill with this, but I nearly shit my pants every time he drove us somewhere.

        2. Begs the question:

          Is she “ex” as in divorced or “ex” as in dead.

          Have to admit I do the same but only during gridlock.

    2. Speed at the same time and double your workout efficiency!

      1. Yeah, I’m doing this on my iPhone while I’m driving. I haven’t had any pr

        1. I’m not going to vote for you if you’re in a hospital bed.

          Unless it’s a private hospital.

        2. “This was the text that killed my my Almanian.”

          /public service announcement

        3. What tips do you have for doing HyR from a smartphone?

          1. Don’t try and comment from your phone. 90% of the time, you’ll just get frustrated and pissed off. It’s not worth it.

    3. If you’re like the people around here, you’re doing it while sitting in the left lane going way below the speed limit. The two laws just cancel each other out. Try again.

    4. Adam Carolla has a great rant about turning left in those intersection that supposedly require you to wait for a left green arrow even while everyone else going your (straight) direction has a green.

  3. This is teh awesum.

    My best friend and I figured we were breaking – minimum – 6, 7 laws a day back in HIGH SCHOOL. I can only imagine what it is now.

    We were quite proud of that back then – I still am. Feed the Anarchy – Break a Few Lawz

  4. Cosmotarian version: Put a cinnamon stick in your chocolate martini!

    1. Daring!

    2. That sentence makes no sense. “Chocolate martini”??

      1. I know, right? Chocolate does not go with gin, vermouth and olives.

  5. When “the big day comes” the law is likely to be that we are forced to do calisthenics several times a day so we stay healthy and aren’t
    “free riding” on others (not that the left gives a good crap about “free riding” in most other circumstances – I’m looking at you Big Bird.)

  6. Funny comment below the quoted passage

    Zwolinki:
    “I think I’m going to print that on a poster and put it in my kids’ rooms.”

    ?Krinein_ev
    Good idea! Teach your children that obeying traffic laws is a slippery slope to the Third Reich.
    Although perhaps you should double-check with your wife first?

  7. I think unfortunately that it’s not to be one big law but instead lot’s of little laws slowly chipping away at liberty and freedom until one day everyone looks around and says how in the hell did we get here.

    1. “Lot’s”? I can only imagine pieces of property with no structures on them, but each lot actually owning quantities of little laws, with each law acting as a tiny Andy Dufresne, but instead of chipping away at a prison wall, instead chipping away at liberty and freedom. Such a beautiful metaphor.

      1. Damn that was an awful comment. I really wish I’d hit “preview” instead of “submit”.

  8. “If they wouldn’t make so many stupid laws I wouldn’t have to break so many stupid laws” — WBM

    … Hobbit

  9. Teach your children that obeying traffic laws is a slippery slope to the Third Reich.

    That’s tellin’ em, boy!

  10. The more compliant a population, the easier it is to wrest more and more control away from them.

  11. EDIT:

    That’s tellin’ em, boy Tulpy!

  12. I’d imagine that most people knowingly break a good number of laws on a daily basis (e.g., speeding). I know I do.

    I’m sure that is the path to the anarchist revolution. Someday.

    1. Or we could all just go protest in the streets if Obama or Romney wins. THat works in other countries.

    2. Revolution is for the crazy, leftist “anarchists”. More sensible anarchists just realize that there is nothing special or magical about laws or governments and you have to make a decision about what laws are worth obeying and which are not, given the likely consequences.

      1. So do most sensible *people*, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

  13. Why do we have to log in every few minutes anyway?

    1. I had that problem, but it went away.
      I don’t recall doing anything different.

  14. I speed, jaywalk and smoke weed every day. I do this because it is convenient for me and does not harm or endanger anyone else. I regard all laws this way, and will not hesitate to break most of them if, again, it is inconvenient for me to follow them and does not harm or endanger anyone else for me to not follow them. I am not sure if that makes me a good anarchist or a bad one.

    1. Two of those activities are likely endangering people when you do them, especially when combined with the third one.

  15. I’m going to go whirl around blindfolded in a crowded public park, firing my .45 indiscriminately, and blame it on Anarchist Instigators.

    The only reason I haven’t done it before now is that it’s ILLEGAL.

  16. Hey, lay off Detroit. Them people is going through Mad Max times.

    1. -10, wrong thread

  17. Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking

    Continuously break the speed limit, unless a cop in sight.

    Jaywalk.

    Run red lights late at night when no one around.

    Smoke weed.

    Etc.

  18. just as long as you’re not texting. I see morons like that everyday, which reminds me – what is the point of having reckless driving on the books if it’s never used?

    Texting at red lights is safe. It is also possible, if using a numeric keypad phone, to text while never taking your eyes off the road.

    Working, as I did, for a legislature SHOULD (but rarely does) breed profound contempt for the laws.

    1. “It is also possible, if using a numeric keypad phone, to text while never taking your eyes off the road.”

      Something can be possible and completely recklessly idiotic at the same time.

  19. I speed, jaywalk and smoke weed every day. I do this because it is convenient for me and does not harm or endanger anyone else. I regard all laws this way, and will not hesitate to break most of them if, again, it is inconvenient for me to follow them and does not harm or endanger anyone else for me to not follow them. I am not sure if that makes me a good anarchist or a bad one.

    You’re a good anarchist, because you’re not harming anyone else.

    1. And what happens when doing one or all of those things causes him to harm someone else?

  20. “I think I’m going to print that on a poster and put it in my kids’ rooms.”

    ?Krinein_ev
    Good idea! Teach your children that obeying traffic laws is a slippery slope to the Third Reich.
    Although perhaps you should double-check with your wife first?

    If you have a spouse who gets pissed at you for teaching your kids about freedom and tries to stop you, then maybe you need to upgrade to a better spouse.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.