Anarchism

Friday A/V Club: The Pope's Favorite Anarchist

Dorothy Day gets a papal shout-out.

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Are you happy Day is here again?
New York World-Telegram & Sun

In Pope Francis' speech to Congress yesterday, he praised the late Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, for "her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed." It was not the sort of shout-out one ordinarily expects in a papal address.

Day was an anarchist, and she is usually classified as coming from the left end of the anarchist spectrum, albeit with some notable nuances. (Left-anarchists do not usually espouse traditional Catholic views of sexuality or earn plaudits from the Southern Agrarians.) Her radical economic views were neither capitalist not collectivist: She was a distributist, which is to say she favored the private ownership of property while wanting that ownership to be widely distributed rather than concentrated. (Day's ideal economy would have featured a mixture of co-ops, communes, family enterprises, and individual proprietors.) She was also a labor activist, a credit-union enthusiast, an organizer of soup kitchens and other shoestring charities, and a fierce opponent of both war and abortion. J. Edgar Hoover once complained that she had a "hostile and belligerent attitude toward the Bureau and makes every effort to castigate the FBI whenever she feels so inclined."

The pope's comments prompted a flurry of insta-pieces in the press on Day's life and politics, some of them better than others. The word "socialist" was used much more often than "distributist," and while I realize there are many forms of socialism out there I suspect that many readers got the impression that she was some sort of Catholic Bernie Sanders. After a while I started wishing a reporter would troll everyone with a lede like "Today Pope Francis praised a radical anti-statist who opposed both World War II and the New Deal."

In any event, Day is a fascinating figure, and it's good to see her name in the news. Here is an interview with her from the 1970s, in which she offers an outline of what anarchism means to her:

And here is a group of people pushing to have Day canonized as a saint.

(For previous editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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  1. Didn’t she also play “Miss Jane” on the Beverly Hillbillies?

  2. I started wishing a reporter would troll everyone with a lede like “Today Pope Francis praised a radical anti-statist who opposed both World War II and the New Deal.”

    *looks at headline and subhed*

    Maybe you need to wish harder.

  3. If Hoover didn’t like her, she couldn’t have been all bad.

    1. Right like Eldridge Clever and Castro. Pretty solid dudes. #libertariantake

  4. “hostile and belligerent attitude toward the Bureau and makes every effort to castigate the FBI whenever she feels so inclined.”

    Bless her.

    Any thoughts on how her “distributist” anarchism compares to what Benjamin Tucker and similar individualist anarchists of the late 19th century were talking about? “Free market,” private property, but with the assumption that property would remain diffuse and co-ops would outcompete massive corporations? The wiki mentions a guild system, which could be anathema to Tucker depending on the deets. I expected to see some mention of Georgism in the wiki, but it’s only in the “see also” list.

    Once again, you deliver some interesting history, Walker. I’m gonna watch that video on my lunch break.

    1. Distributism is a fairly interesting and under-discussed economic system. It is not purely free-market friendly, but interestingly does reflect something close to what anarchism would look like in reality: in Mexico, for example, there are many small towns and cities built, maintained, and developed by people other than the legal, formal owners of the property. Is that moral under the various libertarian theories of property? Probably not, but in many ways true ownership of these cities rests in the hands of these people and under an anarchist system, property (especially in land) would likely have a “use it or lose it” aspect to it, which in some ways coincides with distributist views on property, stewardship and widespread ownership. I would like to see David Friedman discuss this as well as neo-reactionary thought, as I think he’d have some interesting insights.

      If you’re interested in distributist perspectives, I’d recommend John Medaille’s Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More.

      1. Interesting, thanks. Looking at a review of Medaille’s book, I’m not convinced it’s worth my sweet, sweet reading time, but I’m putting it on my list.

  5. she is usually classified as coming from the left end of the anarchist spectrum

    In other words, not an anarchist.

    1. No, as long as she eschewed violence to to get her way and respected private property, she was an anarchist, even if the goals she sought – having people adopt egalitarian lives – were those of the left.

      1. Which to my mind means, if she ever attempted to actualize her anarchist principles, she would either induce a bunch of people to live on subsistence farms or would shortly have rejected communal work and embraced the market economy with all its unegalitarian implications. Absent coercion, how do you deal with dissidents who don’t believe Jack the Slacker deserves a share of the crops they helped bring in?

        1. Well people can talk or shame slackers into doing their share of the work. Or people who care more about equal distribution than they do about equal contribution can give a bigger share of their products to cover for people who don’t want to share with free riders.

          Ultimately, if those people don’t want to deal with the free rider problem then they should go find a less communitarian place to live.

          1. Which is why these gambits tend to fail without external subsidy, because people generally aren’t willing to live voluntarily at the beck and call of others without some inducement. I agree with you, and hell, I wish them all the best. If they’re out in the field attempting to repurpose human ingenuity into an engine for social equality, they’re not fomenting discontent in civil society. A mass exodus to go live in penury in the woods would do everyone a world of good.

        2. Communal activities are entirely possible on a small scale.

          1. “I am big, it’s the communes that got small!”

          2. Like group sex!

            1. No group sex only works on a large scale, with a decent food spread.

              1. And masks. You need masks.

            2. I was gonna link to that Key & Peele sketch where the guy is trying to get his coat out from under the orgy, but I couldn’t find it.

        3. She addresses that in her video interview: she asserts that people who don’t like what’s going on in one organization should be free to secede and set up their own shop. She says that’s a good thing…

          She might have misjudged the optimal size of the firm (making her no different than 99% out of 100% of political theorists), but nothing she expresses is objectionable from a natural rights standpoint. I should disclose that I have only the most passing familiarity with her views.

          1. More so than I have, obviously, but again it comes down to sustainability without coercion. Individual rights are best represented individually, right? If the commune decides your rights for you, then you either subordinate your desires or secede. You live by the blessing of the majority. As the commune grows, your vote diminishes. Why would a commune ever grow under that condition? Cult of personality, maybe. Or dire necessity from external threats, but that precludes secession and reduces the voluntary nature of the commune. So either the socialist commune as a viable construct relies on the advent of a new Soviet man, or it embraces coercion, or it withers.

            1. (or gives up on egalitarianism and embraces proper anarchic capitalism, which was my original point)

            2. You don’t need a New Soviet Man. Some people are already like that.

              1. But reliable breeding stock is hard to come by.

                1. Somebody just watched A Boy and His Dog!

  6. Is there more to her affinity for credit unions than rejecting loan interest? Because that aspect of it seems to misapprehend the incentives for loaning money in the first place. But I don’t really know in what other ways a credit union can differ from a conventional bank.

    1. Credit unions are owned by their account holders, and I believe under US law, they elect the board on a one-person-one-vote system, with each account holder having a sole vote regardless of either (1) the number of accounts held or (2) the total amount an account holder has invested.

      1. So does ownership confer profit dividends to the accountholders, or is it just the democracy bullshit?

        1. It can. Most credit unions do have a dividend they periodically issue to the accountholders. I believe that typically it’s as a percentage of deposits into the same accounts where the deposits lie.

          1. The credit unions here in New Mexico at least pass along interest dividends in the form of lower loan rates, but how this isn’t inevitably a mechanism for passing along interest paid by less creditworthy borrowers to more creditworthy borrowers, I can’t tell.

            1. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just hardly in keeping with the democratic, anti-bank aesthetic CUs like to promulgate. When I worked as a teller, we were forbidden to use the word customer or product: all customers were members, and all products were services. And besides, inducing relatively affluent “members” to keep their accounts with the CU provides the capital to lend to less creditworthy borrowers.)

    2. IIRC the sophisticated distributist view rejects consumer loans rather than all loans and interest, per se (drawing largely on the Scholastics for this distinction).

      I don’t know if that is what motivates Day or not, but I suspect that, as with most ordinary folk, she distrusted banks and did not particularly understand how they functioned.

  7. How exactly do people square so-called “anarchism” with “preferred economies” again?

    1. It’s not coercion if everyone agrees to be coerced.

      1. “”if everyone agrees“”

        There are versions of “Anarchism” that operate on the assumption that everyone has exactly the same opinion about everything?

        1. How else does one reconcile communism as an anti-State philosophy? And why else invent the notion of the new socialist man, freed from the shackles of family and personality and willing to live in thrall to the communist order?

          It’s all bullshit, of course. Left-leaning anarchism may exist in small communes, up until they collapse under the same problems that plague all socialist countries.

          1. “How else does one reconcile communism as an anti-State philosophy?”

            I’ve never met anyone who tried.

            All the proper-communism I’ve ever encountered isn’t “Anti-State”, but rather a State that exists to enforce a certain kind of class-structure.

            It sounds like you’re saying my failure to comprehend “left anarchism” isn’t so much a failure, as it is a recognition of its inherent cognitive dissonance.

            1. Oh, I see. No, I wasn’t defending left anarchism as a philosophy, I was pointing out how inherently flawed the notion is. Of course not everyone will agree to be coerced, and since coercion is inevitable, some enforcement mechanism must follow.

        2. There are versions of “Anarchism” that operate on the assumption that everyone has exactly the same opinion about everything?

          Everyone living voluntarily as part of the same community?

          I mean, that’s kind of what it’s about.

          1. People who live in voluntary communities within a larger order that “leaves them alone” isn’t (in my admittedly narrow view) “Anarchism”.

            There’s still a co-existent order regardless of their participation in it. And sooner or later they will end up having to recognize that their “voluntary system” is subservient within that order.

            1. Why is there a larger “order” that contains them? Why aren’t there just a set of voluntary communities?

              1. “‘Why aren’t there just a set of voluntary communities?””

                AKA “Tribes”?

                the track record of peaceful reconciliation of differences is less than ideal.

                1. Anarchy isn’t utopia.

                  1. No one said it was. I was just pointing out that the idea of a “preferred economy” in any Anarchist framework is inherently contradictory.

                    1. I think i have a better idea now why some libertarians have such a god-awful time trying to make sense of Foreign Affairs.

                    2. Except that it’s not at all and you haven’t shown that it is. Are there other preferences it is contradictory to have, as an individual, because of anarchism?

                    3. “Are there other preferences it is contradictory to have’

                      I’m not talking about “other preferences”. I’m talking about fundamental economic assumptions about who owns what and how title is recognized and exchanged.

                      You seem to think there can be multiple coexistent versions operating in harmony, and that they’d be separated by a theoretical vacuum protecting them from conflicting with one another.

                      Its cute on paper. at best.

                    4. You seem to think there can be multiple coexistent versions operating in harmony, and that they’d be separated by a theoretical vacuum protecting them from conflicting with one another.

                      No, I don’t. They could absolutely conflict with each other. I keep saying it’s not utopia.

                    5. Well now you’re just getting into the general question of how law is created and changed in anarchism. Coercion would presumably still be used against lawbreakers, and there probably will always be people agitating for some different rules about property, as there is today. And their options are pretty much the same as today: exit, reform, revolution. For diametrically opposed views – e.g. about abandonment of property, with some commies in Anarchy A claiming they now rightfully own the farm of the capitalist in neighboring Anarchy B – there likely will be confrontations. Hopefully the costs of warfare will be high enough to motivate peaceful negotiations. All the more reason we capitalists must educate!

                      But I thought this discussion started about the really specific economic ideals laid out by Marxists and anarchists and syndicalists. I think there’s a difference between the general idea of lawmaking in anarchy and what idealists mean when they talk about a “preferred economy.” For example, what would syndicalists do in response to workers choosing to work for wages and shunning co-ops? If they try to use the law to enforce all these details about how people ought to organize and work, then I agree that subjugation is guaranteed to be the end result.

                    6. And we keep pointing out that there is nothing contradictory about holding a preference that you don’t impose by force.

                    7. Chocolate-Icecreamtarianism, then

                    8. The potential contradiction in anarcho-capitalism resides in the fact that anarchy is not an abolition of force, but rather of a monopoly on violence. Classical liberal values operate under assumptions regarding appropriateness of violence and propriety towards property and other claims, all of which are impossible to reconcile with a neutral market in violence with respect to preferences.

                      In other words, markets are fine for the 23 varieties of deoderant, since that is a morally neutral choice — but they aren’t so great when they are determining the market for acceptable violence. Classical liberals shouldn’t care whether Axe or Head and Shoulders wins the deoderant wars; they should have a vested interest in whether Galt’s Guns or Sharif Sally’s Sharia Enforcement, Inc. is the market leader.

                      Most of an-caps’ flaws derive from the basic confusion of a plurality of violence, for the abolition of same.

              2. Because at some point they may want to buy a Tesla, and there are no Tesla dealers in the “community.” Or they may need chemotherapy for brain cancer.

                It’s pretty easy for a self-contained “community” to function as Day desires so long as there is a larger “order” to tend to the really important stuff.

                IMHO it’s make believe.

    2. It’s an insane theory whereby people work toward a particular goal, and if it doesn’t happen they refrain from murdering everyone who disagrees with them.

      1. It’s advocated by a bunch of weirdos who think “live and let live” is a pretty good way to exist.

        1. The murderous progfascist left and hard religious right share one commonality: Neither has a speck of tolerance for “live and let live.”

          1. Neither has a speck of tolerance for “live and let live.”

            John Galt: You’re too generous.

        2. “”people work toward a particular goal””

          Except the ones who don’t.

          I’m the only one who sees a glaring contradiction between “anarchism” and “preferred economic order”?

          who has the preferences? the ‘anarchists’? what are the people who don’t play along with other people’s preferences called, then?

          1. It’s a fair critique.

            Also equally applicable to an-caps, for what it’s worth.

          2. We can only hope that you’re the only one who sees that as contradictory, because that means you’re the only one who assumes that differing preferences must necessarily result in one side imposing their will on the other by force.

            The right of exit is the fundamental tenet of anarchy. If people don’t want to be distributists, they can pick up stakes and go somewhere that’s more individualist or more communitarian, according to their preference.

            1. “you’re the only one who assumes that differing preferences must necessarily result in one side imposing their will on the other by force.’

              Where did i make that assumption?

              I’m simply pointing out that people who describe themselves as anarchists maintain an inherent contradiction when they also espouse Preferred Economic Orders that have zero actual means of imposing themselves.

              Its not proper ‘anarchism’ at all. Its “economics” as naive wish-fulfillment.

              1. Except that they do have ways of achieving their preferred economic orders: persuasion and cooperation.

                I know it’s hard for you to grasp the idea of achieving things by means other than violence, but you can do it if you try.

                1. ” it’s hard for you to grasp the idea of achieving things by means other than violence’

                  You keep saying this. I keep looking for where I actually said it.

                  I simply pointed out that the very idea of any uniformity of co-operation is a naive fantasy.

                  I never said “force”. Your nice-sounding “persuasion” is a pussy-hair from actual “coersion”, regardless.

                  The point is that there is no rational scenario where you don’t have a significant un-cooperative minority, at which point the “economic” fantasy implodes.

                  1. The point is that there is no rational scenario where you don’t have a significant un-cooperative minority, at which point the “economic” fantasy implodes.

                    Why does it implode if you just let them leave?

                    1. and where do they go?

                    2. Wherever they want.

                    3. ah ha.

                      into the “vacuum” where no-one’s preferred economies actually operate.

                      That’s very clever.

                    4. You can go find your own preferred economy if it’s available.

                      Again, anarchy is not utopia. Because the world we live in has scarcity. So, if people continue to exist, they will continue to be faced with necessary choices that they may not like. But that doesn’t mean they have to come from someone with a monopoly on legal force.

                    5. ..and why are they going to leave?

                    6. They might not have any reason to physically leave. If there is a reason, the community members who want them to leave will find a way, I’m sure.

                    7. If there is a reason, the community members who want them to leave will find a way, I’m sure

                      This is of course where potential contradictions with various liberal values come into play, and why some of us are skeptical of anarchy as enabler of those values.

                    8. All they have to do is tame a unicorn!

                      The other part is, these preferred economies are a society wide goal. The dissenters may very well have no place to go.

                    9. The other part is, these preferred economies are a society wide goal. The dissenters may very well have no place to go.

                      I don’t understand your seeming conflation of “society” with “everywhere.”

                    10. It’s very difficult to have a “society” all doing the same thing without a monopoly coercive apparatus. More likely there will be (as there are even now) geographical and cultural differences in how people interact and trade with one another.

                    11. , the community members who want them to leave will find a way, I’m sure.

                      Oh, they’ll find a way…

                      *stands, slapping baseball bat into palm of hand*

              2. Are there other preferences it is impossible to hold without coercing people?

            2. If you are expecting a particular result, like expecting the ownership of property to remain diffuse, something has got to give when the people who do not share your values achieve different results.

              1. If you are expecting a particular result, like expecting the rocks you throw into the air to become birds and fly away, something has got to give when the rocks do not conform to your expectations.

                1. So you give up and let the rocks be rocks and have no expectations of birds or you take out a hammer and chisel and carve them into the shape of birds and throw them around. Which is not what you or the rocks really wanted.

                  1. Yes. Those are the two options, always.

                    1. Are you going to persuade the rocks to become flesh and blood birds and learn to fly?

                    2. That’s where the analogy breaks down. People are capable of being persuaded where rocks are not.

                      My larger point is that when reality fails to conform to your expectations, it’s usually your expectations that have to give.

                    3. And capable of being persuaded does not mean that will be.

                      The sticking point is that the distributors have a particular outcome in mind for property ownership on a national or global scale. That goal is unacheivable without near universal agreement and they cannot simply slough off the dissenters peacacly and maintain that end game.

                      You a week to be saying they can by ignoring the parameters of what they are trying to achieve.

                    4. How did you get that from me saying, “Those are the two options, always”? I’m not being sarcastic with that comment.

          3. I think, to answer your overall question, I would say that “left anarchists” are really engaging in fantasy; their ideas are not really feasible, but since most anarchists never get a chance to see their ideas actually played out, it goes unchallenged by reality.

            I realize that many would say that exact thing about all anarchists, but at least some of them *cough* me, Nicole *cough* don’t think that their personal philosophy will result in anything approaching utopia. We may just feel that it is morally correct (and also that it will produce certain good results or prevent certain bad ones).

            1. “”left anarchists” are really engaging in fantasy; their ideas are not really feasible”

              Maybe my confusion is that anyone ever believed otherwise for more than 2 seconds while very, very high.

            2. You should get that cough checked out, Epi. Chlamydia of the lung is no joke.

              1. It’s not chlamydia, it’s MEGA-AIDS! Jerk!

            3. Didn’t “left anarchists” control Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War?

              You could certainly argue that anarcho-syndicalism is no anarchism at all, but I feel like there’s a better practical example of the philosophy being implemented than most ideologies get.

              1. And have you read Eric Blair’s George Orwell’s experiences of that? And what it devolved into?

                1. If I recall correctly it ended with the Russian back communists selling them out to the Nationalists and things returning to normal.

                  As far as how anarchist “rule” worked out Orwell represented it as a bunch of people who were afraid of revolutionary violence if they present themselves as anything other than good working-class folks, but the city ran relatively well. Hence my statement that you could certainly argue that syndicalism isn’t really anarchist.

              2. Didn’t “left anarchists” control Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War?

                Yes, and they tortured/murdered thousands of clergy and suspected fascists. There was a complete break down in law and order. Not pretty.

            4. That is a big split between an-caps and other types of anarchists — while there is such a thing as utopian anarchist capitalism, there’s a sizable number of an-caps who are not utopian (David Friedman, for instance). Markets as a realized phenomena seems to preclude perfection as a matter of definition and most libertarians realize this, regardless of how much of the state they’re willing to tolerate.

            5. We may just feel that it is morally correct (and also that it will produce certain good results or prevent certain bad ones).

              “Anarchy is no guarantee that some people won’t kill, injure, kidnap, defraud, or steal from others. Government is a guarantee that some will.” – Gustave de Molinari

              1. Honestly, X, that quote is nearly a perfect encapsulation of what I was trying to say. It’s not the whole deal, but man it gets some basic concepts perfectly.

              2. That one’s going in the quotes file. Thanks, CX.

          4. what are the people who don’t play along with other people’s preferences called, then?

            “not part of our community”

            1. “And we’ll keep them out, damnit!”

          5. I really don’t see the contradiction at all.

            Preferred doesn’t mean forced.

            1. And anarchy doesn’t mean that force disappears, merely that there is not a monopoly on violence as held by the state.

              Plenty of anarchists are fine with force, so long as it’s “bottom up”.

              1. Yep.

                Force ain’t disappearing, ever.

              2. Plenty of anarchists are fine with force, so long as it’s “bottom up”.

                Can you clarify that statement? Are you speaking of self-defense or do you have something else in mind?

                1. That would depend on the anarchist, wouldn’t it?

                  Most sophisticated an-caps argue that a market in violence would tend towards classical liberal values. I’m personally not convinced by this argument, but the most compelling versions of it are made by David Friedman in The Machinery of Freedom, if you’re interested.

                  Other types of anarchists like the idea of worker violence and appropriation, and many left-wing anarchists believe this is preferable to state-directed violence in attaining their goals.

                  1. David Friedman in The Machinery of Freedom

                    I’ll add it to my reading list.

      2. It’s an insane theory whereby people work toward a particular goal, and if it doesn’t happen they refrain from murdering everyone who disagrees with them.

        So Noam Chomsky’s anarchism is out.

      3. and if it doesn’t happen they refrain from murdering everyone who disagrees with them.

        That’s always a kicker, isn’t it. In every group, there’s always an Ayatollah who decides his morality is right, and he/she’s gonna make sure everyone agrees with it, using whatever means necessary.

        Man this is that moment where I should find that video clip with that Milliennial socialist that Welch/Kennedy had on who said that “men with guns should enforce…”

  8. She was also a labor activist, a credit-union enthusiast, an organizer of soup kitchens and other shoestring charities, and a fierce opponent of both war and abortion.

    Didn’t Captain Kirk let her get run over by a truck?

    1. She’s no Joan Collins, dude.

        1. That’s usually a safe bet.

        2. Hey, it was true love!

          Of course, Kirk also fell 91st least equally deeply in love with a naive gynoid, so who knows?

      1. “…And Joan Collins is checked into the boards…”

  9. She looks evil. Ol’ Grandma Diablo.

  10. She is indeed fascinating, and more complicated than most know. Regardless, she lived her beliefs.

    The more controversial citation for me was Thomas Merton. Frowned on by many Catholics for his more “mystical” approach, his fervent opposition to Vietnam War and nuclear weapons, his willingness to confront Catholic hierarchy, and most assuredly for his willingness to embrace other religions…Buddhism.

    Interesting that the Pope chose to cite 2 prominent American Catholics who were not shy to attempt change within. He is a kindred spirit to both.

    1. Hey joe, would you say that you want to have sex with this new pope, or just blow him? He really seems to be your type.

      1. Joe’s more the type to dress up as an altar boy so he can bounce up and down on his Creepy Popey sex doll’s lap in style.

        1. Aaaand now my appetite for lunch is gone. Thanks.

      2. joe’s really short, remember, so he might be able to pull off some altarboy roleplay with the Pope. Give it a shot, joe.

  11. Panhandler in a dress.
    Fuck him, and the cross of gold he rode in on.

  12. (Day’s ideal economy would have featured a mixture of co-ops, communes, family enterprises, and individual proprietors.)

    None of them evul kkkorporashinz, I note.

    1. All those things could be corporations.

  13. Boehner the crybaby bitch is resigning!! Yay!!! Fuck off slaver!!

    Boehner: You need to pay this tax I decided to impose!

    Old Man With Candy: No!! And get off my lawn!!

    Boehner: bbb…..bububububu….*starts crying* bububutttt. We really need it, cause ROaDz!!….and DeFENce!!!

    Old Man With Candy: I’ve already hired companies to provide those services…..and if you’ll notice the fine folks that are surrounding you and your slavers, they don’t appreciate you trying to extort me.

    Boehner: *runs away crying*

    1. The security video will back up my version.

    2. An aide to Boehner said that the Ohio Republican had planned to serve only through the end of last year, but that the stunning primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor changed that calculation.

      Stunning to everybody except, you know, all those people that voted against him. Kinda like the stunning number of people who seem to support that one guy who ain’t Jeb Bush is only a stunning number if you ain’t been paying attention. (But then again I’ve always asssumed Boehner is stunned by the blindingly obvious about as often as he’s moved to tears by the nauseatingly maudlin.)

  14. After a while I started wishing a reporter would troll everyone with a lede like “Today Pope Francis praised a radical anti-statist who opposed both World War II and the New Deal.”

    Jesse, do you know any reporters that you could talk into doing that?

  15. This Doris Day, wasn’t she in movies?

    1. I don’t think this Day is in the same Universe.

  16. Are we all pretending that we don’t live in anarchy now?

    1. Not all of us.

      1. Shh. Men are talking.

    2. If we do, then the debate over an-cap is substance-less as we have redefined the word “anarchy” to the point of irrelevance.

      1. People do what they want to do, subject to their own morals and whether they think someone will kick their ass for doing it. Exactly what do you think would happen if we stopped believing in a polite fiction called “government”?

        1. Hell, i jaywalk in front of the police station all the damn time.

          1. (Although, to be fair, so do pretty much all the cops.)

            1. And that simple fact is a perfect example of how “rules” are bullshit.

              1. Sometimes i ride my bike on the sidewalk because drivers around here are shitty and some of the roads don’t have enough space for safely passing a biker. The only time a cop saw me doing it, he didn’t say anything, because he was riding his bike on the sidewalk to avoid the shitty drivers too.

                1. That wouldn’t stop him from ticketing you, would it?

                  1. I wouldn’t expect it to, but in this case it did.

        2. I suppose the same thing that would happen if we stopped “believing” in baseball, mathematics, currency or any other abstract concept: we would cease to mentally map it and our world in the areas affected by those things would change substantially.

          Primarily the current hierarchical, juridicial, and participatory aspects of government would change substantially in an anarchist re-conceptualization of the world, and the black markets in violence currently in operation would presumably become much more socially accepted given that violence and the need for dispute resolution would not simply disappear.

          1. You seem to have a misconception about how much violence is present in the current system. It’s a LOT. In fact, part of the design of the system is to enable violence more easily by those who run the system. It is *more* violent than a re-conceptualization in which these violence-enabling structures would not be present.

            Government is a scam. It is a scam to allow some people to commit violence to others and to have those who are having it committed against them accept it. That is what it is for.

            1. You seem to have a misconception about how much violence is present in the current system. It’s a LOT.

              “A LOT” is a relative term — and as far as history is concerned, the US government is a bunch of pikers. It steals a merely staggering amount, instead of enough to cause a civil war. Its servants are merely corrupt and lazy; they are not actively waging war against some class or some religion. Its politicians are simply whores for various insiders and special interests, rather than leading the republic’s internal affairs in some meaningful (and harmful) way. “A LOT” is the ways that it could be worse; if you don’t believe me just crack open a history book or listen to people in your city share their own views on politics.

              As far as I’m concerned, allowing markets to efficiently provide exactly the kind of governance other people want and are willing to pay for, good and hard is exactly the sort of system I mean to avoid — seeing as how we have an extremely inefficient version to observe in the workings of democracy. I note that the positive virtues of the American system (such as it is) were largely concieved of in smoke-filled rooms filled with insiders, and that its decline has often been cheered on by the general public.

              1. You do realize the percentage of what we have that is stolen from us is vastly higher than it has ever been in history? Now, this can happen because of our prosperity, but if you think that the prosperity doesn’t *increase* theft and violence and the threat of violence (because there is so much more to take), you are in a world whose sky is some weird color that the sky shouldn’t be.

                Everything in your statement screams that you really, really want to defend the current system because you *want* it to be good. Like most anarchy-fearing people, you are terrified of anything you don’t directly know. You know this system, so you like it. You will defend it, because you are terrified of what would happen if it went away.

                Some of us aren’t like that.

                1. You’re surprisingly bad at reading minds.

                  If I were invested in the current system, I wouldn’t bother to engage the debate or write charitably about anarchists. I’d simply write them off, as 99% of the public and a good 70-80% of libertarians already do. I’m sympathetic, and in all honesty it’s a tragic statement about humanity that this is the best we can apparently do.

                  However, I’m also not going to pretend that anarchy has convinced me as to its virtues when it has not. The historical record does not show anything approaching success when it comes to anarchy, at almost any level: whether that be in maintaining anarchy as a stable equilibrium, establishing liberal values and laws once so maintained, or protecting from threats outside of anarchy. Liberal regimes, in contrast, have a demonstrated track record of being better than alternatives given my values, and of relative stability. Perhaps if the theoretical case for an-cap were stronger (again I would reference Machinery of Freedom as an excellent defense of the idea, but apologia =/= sustained theory), I would be more convinced but there are too many internal contradictions to convince me, and a troubling tendency to attack the messenger when this is pointed out — as is happening on this very thread, matter of fact.

                  If you’re pointing at what we have and asserting that you’ll do better? Then I’ll just point out that socialism kept your seat warm shortly before fucking up most of what was good about liberal society.

                  1. You keep talking like everything isn’t anarchy. That’s your fatal misconception. “Liberal regimes” are just another form of anarchy, where enough people are voluntarily agreeing to certain rules that it becomes workable.

                    No “rules” are set in stone. There isn’t some magical overseer who can make sure you can’t murder someone, or not steal, or whatever. You break rules when they are intolerable to you. Why do you keep pretending, keep acting like this isn’t true? That there is some immutability to “rules”?

                    Rules are merely potential force, nothing more.

              2. they are not actively waging war against some class or some religion

                Are you…serious? Because…I mean…yeah we’re totally not waging a war against drug users, or prostitutes, or…

                1. …blacks, or immigrants, or muslims, etc.

                  1. Right. We all remember that night when Barack Obama led his Cabinet in burning down all of the mosques in the greater DC area. And who can forget when we passed that law requiring that blacks wear their customary dress in public? And let’s not even talk about immigrants, whatwith their complete ostracization and complete inability to work, socialize and integrate anywhere in the four corners of the US.

                    As for drugs ‘n prostitution — don’t agree with our government’s efforts against either one in the least bit (and it’s clearly one of the worst things our government does in terms of domestic policy), but both are *actions*, not *classes*. Neither one is a problem specially resolved by anarchy, either, as plenty of communities would happily enforce bans on both without the need of the state, and both appear to be moving in the right direction, policy wise.

                    Again, all I’m seeing is selective outrage lacking even a basic connection to the question of how we’re living in anarchy, or how anarchy is preferable to the status quo for resolving those issues.

                    1. We’re living in anarchy because no one has a legitimate monopoly on violence.

                      Such a thing isn’t actually possible.

                      Just because the state says, “we’re legitimate” doesn’t actually mean shit. People are just going along with the warlords du jour.

                    2. “Such a thing isn’t actually possible”

                      Semantic victory is the best kind.

                    3. The US government is killing people with bombs in majority Muslim countries every day, and has been doing so since at least the early 90s. Plus the prisoners being held without trial in Gitmo and other black sites.

                      Black people make up 40% of the prison population despite making up only 13% of the population. That doesn’t count the ones who are just killed outright in the streets by cops.

                      Federal policies make it difficult to emigrate to the US, and very difficult for immigrants to support themselves once they are here. Even the ones who do come legally are forbidden by law to change jobs once they get here. And armed agents round up, detain, and deport immigrants every day.

      2. “Anarchy” is fundamental human existence. No matter what rules are out there, if you find them intolerable, you will break them. No one has an *actual* monopoly on violence; if they did there wouldn’t be any crime or murder (beyond being done by the monopolists). That’s why the scum who want to pretend to impose a monopoly on violence on us work so fucking hard at it. Because it’s a scam.

    3. ASK DOCTOR WARTY

      But Dr. Warty, there are people with guns who will kill us if we don’t do what they say and they tell us that isn’t anarchy! So it’s not, amirite? There is a piece of paper that no one actually follows any more that says this isn’t anarchy! So it’s not, amirite?

      1. ” Every time someone says ‘I do not believe in fairies’, somewhere there’s a fairy that falls down dead.”

        1. Homophobe!

      2. But without top men to wave their wand and make socialism magically efficient at things people think are so complex (meanwhile these things have been accomplished already by individuals with great efficiency) what will we do Epi & Dr. Warty?????

          1. What if…..I say no?

            1. You don’t say no to cocaine, you idiot. This is anarchy and you will do as I command.

              1. You say no to cocaine that is basically stepped on so hard it isn’t cocaine any more.

                If you get heavy throat drip and no euphoria, just stop. It’s not going to get any better.

                1. Anarchtopia cocaine is as pure as the driven…uh…cocaine. You should know that. Moron.

              2. What if I get tired of your commanding and bite you?

                1. I believe Sapient Mulch has biting dibs. Ask her.

        1. We’ll stop allowing these TOP MEN and WOMEN to steal over half our incomes at the point of a gun? We’ll stop allowing them to tell us that they’ll throw us in cages or ultimately kill us if we act in a way they have proscribed?

          1. I mean, if we didn’t have top men, there would be jack booted thugs running around stealing half of our income, and use violence against us if we don’t comply……….wait a minute…….

    4. You make a compelling argument. I will take 2 copies of Dianetics, thanks.

      1. Keep it up and you’ll get to take a cruise on the Giggle Ship.

        1. Speaking of BoJack, is that show doing some anarchist dog-whistling or what? I’m only like 5 episodes in and already there’s been meditations on personal, individual responsibility, a takedown of military hero-worship, and a shoutout to goddamn Emma Goldman.

          1. I’m having trouble seeing how anything explicitly political can be read into it. But, there’s a ton of stuff about the mind being its own place and making a hell of heaven and whatnot. That you have to create happiness, it doesn’t happen to you. So I suppose you could justifiably read it as an exploration of individualism, in part.

            Wait till the Christmas special. “Santa works in mysterious ways.”

            Actually, wait till the drug trip episode. And then the prom episode in the second season. Holy shit, what nutpunches.

        2. Do you write “the State is an illusion” on a napkin instead of filing IRS returns?

          1. That seems like a pretty effective way to get disappeared into a rape cage for a while.

  17. My kind of leftist anarchist: not a hint of using the government to force people into the utopia. So refreshing in this day and age of anarcho-statists.

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