Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Shared Faith of an Unfree Society

Wilt Alston on what we can do about it.

As I read Butler Shaffer’s outstanding piece "The Messenger is the Message," which was ostensibly about Tim Russert, but was actually about so much more, several things occurred to me. First, Dr. Shaffer almost always seems to cover the concepts I’ve been considering better than I would have. Secondly, the timing of his essay was ironic given that I had recently been pondering something: would the State "work" if the population didn’t "believe" in it? The coercive apparatus of the State, fine-tuned in the U.S. since the time of Washington and Jefferson, has risen to a level of fine art as it generates a belief in its necessity while simultaneously remaining just out of view.
Given that we are both anarchists, it is no surprise that I have enjoyed Dr. Shaffer’s essays, most recently citing him in my "Anarchy, Anarchy – Wherefore Art Thou?" piece. That the solid logic that undergirds market anarchism – or whatever you want to call it – remains somehow in doubt is one of the most troubling and fascinating subjects to which I apply my available skills of analysis and modest writing talents. Why is it that almost any suggestion of even the possibility of a peaceful, anarchistic society is so often met with pseudo-intellectual derision or worse yet, insulting, pat-on-the-head "utopian dreamer" condescension? Excluding the corruption of those who enrich themselves from the State, it is met with these responses because honest people have been conditioned over years and years of public (Read: statist propaganda-laden) schooling.

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