reboot the republic daily July 14, 2010

Cops Could Face Death in Post-Katrina Shootings After it Was First Covered Up

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 04:38 PM PDT

From CBS News

Four New Orleans police officers could face the death penalty after being accused of gunning down two unarmed people in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the latest twist for a corruption-plagued department that already faces several federal investigations.

The four officers were charged along with two others in a 27-count indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The indictment charges Sgts. Robert Gisevius and Kenneth Bowen, officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Robert Faulcon with deprivation of rights under color of law and use of a weapon during the commission of a crime. They could face the death penalty if convicted, though U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek that punishment.

Five former New Orleans police officers already have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge that left two men dead and four wounded just days after the August 2005 hurricane that devastated the city. In one instance, a mentally disabled man was allegedly shot in the back and stomped before he died.

Prosecutors say officers fabricated witness statements, falsified reports and planted a gun in an attempt to make it appear the shootings were justified. It was a shocking example of the violence and confusion that followed the deadly hurricane.

The case is one of several probes of alleged misconduct by New Orleans police officers that the Justice Department opened after the storm. Last month, five current or former officers were charged in the shooting death of 31-year-old Henry Glover, whose burned body turned up after Katrina.

With 80 percent of New Orleans underwater, officers from a department with a history of corruption were forced to battle rampant crime, and some became criminals themselves. Dozens of officers were fired or suspended for abandoning their posts.

In the bridge shooting case, seven officers were charged with murder or attempted murder in December 2006 but a state judge threw out all the charges in August 2008. Federal authorities then stepped in a month later to launch their own investigation.

So far, five former New Orleans police officers have pleaded guilty to lesser charges of helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge and await sentencing.

The latest indictments come shortly after the city’s new mayor replaced its former police chief and invited a Justice Department team to overhaul the police department.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is working with city officials to restore residents’ trust in the police department.

“Put simply, we will not tolerate wrongdoing by those who are sworn to protect the public,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday in New Orleans.

Sgt. Arthur Kaufman and retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue, who helped investigate the shootings, were charged with participating in a cover-up to make it appear the shootings were justified. Charges against them include obstruction of justice.

It’s not the first time the Justice Department has intervened. In the 1990s, the Justice Department investigated several high-profile police corruption cases, including a police officer convicted of arranging a woman’s 1994 murder.

The new batch of federal probes are bearing fruit as the city welcomes a new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, and his new police superintendent, Ronal Serpas. At Landrieu’s request, the Justice Department launched the top-to-bottom review of the department.

Mary Howell, a civil rights attorney who represents relatives of one of the Danziger bridge shooting victims, said the police department has been plagued by a pattern of “episodic crises” that have eluded lasting reforms.

“There is either a refusal or inability by local authorities to take care of them,” she said. “I think it’s a question of leadership. This stuff requires institutional changes that require the political leadership of the community to make it last.”

Eric Hessler, a lawyer for Gisevius, said the indictment wasn’t a surprise.

“We have long anticipated that this day may come,” he said.

Claude Kelly, a lawyer for Dugue, called it “a travesty” and denied his client participated in a cover-up.

“This is just overreaching, Monday morning quarterbacking by the government,” Kelly said.

Faulcon, who resigned from the department shortly after the storm, was arrested at his home in Houston. Gisevius, Bowen and Villavaso surrendered at FBI headquarters in New Orleans.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said prosecutors will ask for all four of them to be detained.

Some of the defense attorneys bristled at the arrest of Faulcon.

“They really didn’t have to do that,” said Frank DeSalvo, a lawyer for Bowen. “Nobody is going anywhere. We’ve never thought about doing anything other than face these charges.”

Kaufman and Dugue weren’t arrested. A date for the men’s initial court appearances wasn’t immediately set.

The indictment claims Faulcon shot 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who had severe mental disabilities, in the back as he ran away on the west side of the bridge. Bowen is charged with stomping and kicking Madison while he was lying on the ground, wounded but still alive.

His brother, Lance Madison, was arrested and charged with trying to kill police officers. He was jailed for three weeks and released without being indicted.

Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso also are accused of shooting at an unarmed family on the east side of the bridge, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others.

All six officers are charged with participating in the cover-up.

Dugue retired from the force earlier this year. Kaufman has been on paid sick leave.


Related posts:

  1. National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Weekend Recap 05-09-10
  2. U.S. Border Patrol “Sorry” After Beating Man to Death While in Custody
  3. Did Hitler Inspire the U.S. Post-9/11 Tribunal System?

Catherine Bleish Debunks the SPLC – FEMA Camps

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 03:51 PM PDT

From Don’t Tread on Cat

By Catherine Bleish

Do you trust the research of the Southern Poverty Law Center?

I used to, but after I began publicly questioning their ties to the Missouri information Analysis Center (see testimony here or an article I wrote here , I found myself being character assassinated by their organization. In fact, because of their seemingly deliberate attempts to smear my character, I have had people making statements about my intentions that are anything but true. I believe in peace, I advocate peace, and I am not blind, I know that our government is committing acts of violence against peaceful people everyday.

Does the Southern Poverty Law Center want to protect the violence of the government?

Could they want to do this because they make money by training our law enforcement communities how to identify potential threats?

This will be the first article in a series debunking the research of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Today I will debunk the Southern Poverty Law Center’s research on FEMA Camps by proving beyond a reasonable doubt the following two points are true:

1. Some members of the federal government are advocating the creation of long term emergency management facilities (“FEMA Camps”)
2. Their intention is to build these facilities on existing military bases.

I believe this series of research will prove that the Southern Poverty Law Center is indeed trying to demonize and marginalize people who are trying to prevent a very real tyranny from descending upon what is left of our humanity.

From the SPLC recent article of FEMA Camps:

“A fear that the federal government will concoct a pretense for declaring martial law and confine patriotic dissidents to concentration camps — a conspiracy theory that goes back decades and was especially prevalent during the militia movement of the 1990s — is spreading as the country experiences a surge in groups on the radical right.”

You can see here that the Southern Poverty Law Center is attempting to marginalize those who are concerned about the potential for massive political roundups in these United States. Immediately they associate them with the militia movement of the 90’s (they frequently compare this ideology with people like Timothy McVeigh) and accuse them of being “conspiracy theories”.

Now, did the SPLC do any research to see if the US government is actually planning to build FEMA camps on military bases? Or did they jump right to demonizing someone they perceive as incorrect?

It seems to me that they did not do the research, as there is not one mention of the very real HR 645 National Emergency Centers Establishment Act introduced into the US legislature in January of 2009.

Here is your proof that someone, particularly one Representative from Florida, is considering and / or advocating the creating of National Emergency Centers: and that someone is a part of our UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Here’s a direct quote from the text of the bill:

(b) Purpose of national emergency centers.—The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure—

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2) to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

And it gets more interesting:

(b) Minimum requirements.—A site designated as a national emergency center shall be—

(1) capable of meeting for an extended period of time the housing, health, transportation, education, public works, humanitarian and other transition needs of a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster;

(2) environmentally safe and shall not pose a health risk to individuals who may use the center;

(3) capable of being scaled up or down to accommodate major disaster preparedness and response drills, operations, and procedures;

(4) capable of housing existing permanent structures necessary to meet training and first responders coordination requirements during nondisaster periods;

(5) capable of hosting the infrastructure necessary to rapidly adjust to temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance needs;

(6) required to consist of a complete operations command center, including 2 state-of-the art command and control centers that will comprise a 24/7 operations watch center as follows:

Now, I have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Southern Poverty Law Center is dead wrong on this issue – it is not a conspiracy theory, it is a reality, and the information is spreading because it is real, not because of a “surge in groups on the radical right”.

From their recent article on FEMA Camps:

“Many of the purported detention camps are supposedly on military bases around the country, including some that are closed. The radical-right conspiracy theorists say that nearby railroad tracks and aircraft runways near many of these sites are proof there are FEMA camps in the vicinity, because this is how prisoners will be easily moved. “

While I cannot argue for or against the theory that these facilities have already been created, I can argue that there are plans to create Emergency Management facilities designated for long term residence and for said facilities to be created on existing military bases. It is reasonable to assume that if the legislation is in the pipes, some facilities would anticipate their transition and begin to prepare, it is not uncommon for situations like this to occur.

The creation of a DHS Fusion Center in every state was DHS policy in 2005, but only received legislative backing in 2007 through the 2007 9/11 Implementation Act. If the DHS fusion centers were up and running before the legislation passed, it is reasonable to assume this could happen with the set-up of DHS FEMA Camps.

Interestingly enough in the text of the bill, you will find that they DO indeed intend to build FEMA detention facilities on existing military bases. Here’s a direct quote:

“To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers on military installations.”

Here’s another:

“(a) In General- In accordance with the requirements of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations.”

Here’s another:

(1) CLOSED MILITARY INSTALLATION.—The term “closed military installation” means a military installation, or portion thereof, approved for closure or realignment under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (part A of title XXIX of Public Law 101–510; 10 U.S.C. 2687 note) that meet all, or 2 out of the 3 following requirements:

(A) Is located in close proximity to a transportation corridor.

And another:

(d) Preference for designation of closed military installations.—Wherever possible, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall designate a closed military installation as a site for a national emergency center. If the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense jointly determine that there is not a sufficient number of closed military installations that meet the requirements of subsections (b) and (c), the Secretaries shall jointly designate portions of existing military installations other than closed military installations as national emergency centers.

In fact, there’s an entire section of the bill dedicated JUST TO how the designation and transition of existing military bases controlled by the DOD to emergency centers designed for the long term care of whoever they have there controlled by the Department of Homeland Security (who now also runs FEMA). That is pasted at the bottom of this blog.

(e) Transfer of Control of Closed Military Installations- If a closed military installation is designated as a national emergency center, not later than 180 days after the date of designation, the Secretary of Defense shall transfer to the Secretary of Homeland Security administrative jurisdiction over such closed military installation.

My point is simply to show that the quality of research conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center is not only lacking in substantial quality but shows signs of deliberate political profiling against peaceful and legitimate dissent.

My next blog on this issue will simply be a publication of my email dialogues between myself and Heidi Beirich, the director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center. These emails will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Heidi Berick is NOT researching the facts, rather attacking peaceful dissenting ideas.

So, Heidi Beirich – now that you refuse to speak to me, I hope you don’t mind me defending my name and work publicly :) Good luck defending yours!


Related posts:

  1. Video: Catherine Bleish Sets Austin City Hall Straight on Fusion Centers
  2. Far ‘Right’ Wingers Napolitano and Paul on SPLC Enemies List
  3. Obama’s H1N1 National Emergency Declaration

Another Liberal Blind Spot

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 11:59 AM PDT

From The Future of Freedom Foundation

by Jacob G. Hornberger

In another sign that liberals are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing popularity of libertarianism, a liberal named Daniela Perdomo has gone on the attack against libertarian John Stossel at, one of the major liberal (or “progressive,” as many liberals now label themselves) websites. In an article entitled “Is John Stossel More Dangerous Than Glenn Beck?” Perdomo has revealed a major blind spot within the liberal mind.

As I have pointed out time and time again in my articles on the minimum wage, liberals have a blind spot when it comes to economic understanding. Or to put it bluntly, when it comes to the field of economics, they have a woeful ignorance, and it is that ignorance that prevents them from recognizing the terrible harm they do to the poor, especially racial minorities, with such statist programs as the minimum wage.

In her attack on Stossel and libertarianism, Perdomo reveals another blind spot: the propensity to view a defense of freedom of choice as an endorsement of the bad, immoral, dangerous, or irresponsible choices that people end up making when they’re free to make choices.

What set Perdomo off was Stossel’s recent criticism of anti-discrimination laws. Like most other libertarians, Stossel argued that freedom entails the right of a bigot to be a bigot, including in the operation of his retail establishment.

What Perdomo’s blind spot prevents her from seeing is that one can defend freedom of choice as a principle without endorsing the wrongful choices that people make. To paraphrase Voltaire, we libertarians don’t agree with racist or bigoted choices but we will defend the right of people to make them, just as our defense of Nazi sympathizers to express their views in a public march in Skokie, Illinois, didn’t mean that we were endorsing their views.

Here is what Perdomo says about Stossel: “While he can make racist statements as well as the rest of them, he couches his particular brand of hate in his passion for libertarianism.”

Does Perdomo point to any racist statement or any expression of hate by Stossel? She does not, and the reason she doesn’t is because she can’t. Stossel didn’t make any racist statement or statement of hate. What Perdomo is essentially saying is that when a person calls for freedom of association on the basis of race, he is automatically, by virtue of taking such a position, guilty of making a racist or hate-filled statement.

Now, is that not ridiculous or what? That’s what passes for serious analysis within the liberal mind. That’s what comes from the 12-year-sentence in public (i.e., government) schools, where the mind is molded into conformity, memorization, and superficial analysis, stamping out any semblance of independent, critical thinking.

What’s really funny is that Perdomo combines her claims about Stossel’s “particular brand of hate” with his support for such things as “legalizing drugs, prostitution, abortion and assisted suicide,” which are typically liberal positions. In other words, she’s claiming that libertarianism, which shares some common positions with liberals, is a sinister way to sneak in the bigoted, racist, hate-filled right-to-discriminate position.

The reason this is so funny is because conservatives say the same thing that Perdomo and her fellow liberals say to libertarians with respect to such things as the drug war, prostitution, abortion, and assisted suicide. They have the same blind spot that Perdomo has on those particular issues.

How many times have libertarians been attacked by conservatives for favoring drug usage and drug abuse simply because we favor drug legalization? And the same for the legalization of prostitution, abortion, and assisted suicide.

The irony is that if one were to ask Perdomo whether she favors drug abuse, prostitution, abortion, and assisted suicide, she would probably say, “Oh no. As a liberal, I believe they should be legalized but that doesn’t mean I would endorse them.” The problem, again, is that her blind spot prevents her from applying the same principle to freedom of association.

Of course, this isn’t the only area where Perdomo and liberals have this particular blind spot. We libertarians see it all the time with respect to the welfare state. Whenever we call for the repeal, not reform, of such liberal socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, public housing, corporation bailouts, income taxation, and the like, and argue that people should be free to do whatever they want with their own money, what is it that liberals automatically say to us? They immediately exclaim: “You libertarians hate the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, and you would let them die in the streets!”

Again, they automatically jump to the conclusion that because libertarians favor freedom of choice in peaceful endeavors, they automatically endorse all the choices that people make.

An irony of all this in order to achieve a more moral, responsible, compassionate society, the worst thing people can do is use force to achieve it. It is through the widest ambit of freedom of choice that people are best able to achieve a higher level of conscience, consciousness, morality, and responsibility. Perhaps that’s what frightens statists, both conservatives and liberals, so much about libertarianism.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.


Related posts:

  1. A Statist Attack on John Stossel
  2. The Relevance of the Civil Rights Controversy
  3. The Liberal Fear of Guns

Debt and Our Economy: Still Relying on a Theoretical Crutch

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 09:35 AM PDT

From Profit Confidential

In 1965, things looked really good for Americans. It was the fifth consecutive year of GDP growth at rates over five percent. Car manufacturing blossomed at a 22% growth rate. Steel manufacturers reported growth rates of over six percent. Personal incomes rose seven percent on average in a five-year period and corporations’ profits grew 21%. It was the time of Keynesians (supporters of the macroeconomic theory of John Maynard Keynes), it was the end of “prosper or die” capitalism, and it was all about reaching for the American Dream. Still, two premises were needed to reach potentially everlasting prosperity. First, the government had to make sure it issued enough debt to supply the money; and, second, über-smart people had to be the ones spending it.

Followers of Keynes believed that government intervention was the single driving force behind the good times in the 1960s. Keynesians seemed to be in all the right places in Washington,judging by their blind acceptance of Keynes’ teachings that implied modern economy does not necessarily reach top efficiency on its own. It is possible to raise the level of economic performance only through government intervention and influence.

In 1965, Keynesians believed the main factor driving the prosperity was the government’s ability to borrow money, assuming that deficit spending assured growth. And, as for repaying that debt, well, why would the government not pay it off? After all, long-term debt is long-term debt. Just as companies find it prudent to pay off their long-term obligations, so do the governments.

Incidentally, what Keynesians chose to ignore as one of the growth-driven consequences were President John F. Kennedy’s tax cuts, introduced only three months after his assassination in 1963, which effectively lowered marginal tax rates from 20% to a whopping 90%. As a result, there was one more growth-driven consequence — 16% higher incomes in only two years.

Regardless, in 1965, the overwhelming belief was that, as long as Washington followed Keynesian principles when devising the nation’s economic policies, the principles alone were bound to produce extraordinary growth and the stable price environment. It seemed that Keynes’ principles alone delivered 1965 as the fifth year in a row, and the best in modern U.S. history. With such results under their belt, Keynes’ ideas became the new bible for many

In 1965, one of Keynes’ delusions that dominated economic thought the most was that the government is much better equipped to spend money more efficiently and more productively than its citizens are. This delusion seems to be offering the same crutch to this very day.
During the recent G20 summit in Toronto, Canada, the world’s most influential governments had an opportunity to deal realistically with real problems. They should have promised to cut their deficits in half in the near term and to stop generating more debt. Instead, the so nicknamed “Toronto Consensus” has asked, not even mandated, that these governments merely slow down their speed of debt creation; although, at any speed, many appear to be heading straight into bankruptcy.

Furthermore, none of the G20 governments has promised to put an end to deficits. None has promised to eliminate its national debt either. All have pledged their reliance on economic growth and tax revenues to do all the heavy lifting. And no one talked about the
elephant in the room — that is, the combination of deficit spending and tax hikes, which mutually cancel each other out and only restrict the economic growth that everyone is so looking forward to.

I will call the Keynesian delusion the “Keynesian crutch,” conveniently brought out whenever decision-makers don’t know what to do. For example, stipulating that every dollar that the government spends will pay for itself automatically because it ensures profit in the long run is simply insane. Why? Because such reasoning assumes that the government has some sort of inherently superior decision-making abilities amply aided by a working crystal ball.

That was not true in 1965, and it is certainly not true now. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson used debt to pay for social programs at home and for the war in Vietnam. Today, President Barack Obama is literally doing the same thing, bailing out the economy by diving
head first into the abyss of deficits and still funding the war(s) abroad. Everything else remaining equal, if unemployment and prices remain on their treacherous trajectory, we could have only a dismal future to look forward to.

Referencing the year 1965 one more time, allow me just to say that the then Misery Index stood at 6.1. Some 15 years later, the Index rose to 20.7, while, in May 2010, it scored 11.72, although this reading may seem low only because we are currently fighting deflation, not inflation. However, if the price environment embarks towards inflated prices, we could be in for a world of pain that’s a whole lot larger.

Just one clarification for our readers: note that the Misery Index was introduced by economist Arthur Okun, who was an adviser to President Johnson, in the 1960s. The Index simply adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate under the assumption that, if both are worsening, economic and social costs are likely to increase, implying an overall deterioration of economic performance, and resulting in the Misery Index going up.

As one of Keynesian’s critics put it, “Now all that’s left of the Keynesian delusion is the debt, which is real, and the famous Keynesian premise that, in the long run, it doesn’t matter because we [will] all dead anyway.”


Related posts:

  1. Buffett Says Federal Debt Poses Risks to Economy
  2. America Will Pass $13 Trillion In Total Debt Next Tuesday; $397 Billion In Debt Rolled Month To Date
  3. Why Did the “Stimulus” Fail to Help the Economy?

What is Anarchy?

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 08:50 AM PDT


I have mixed feelings about the use of labels to describe philosophical views, whether of myself or others. It is difficult to avoid doing so because our efforts to understand and communicate about the world necessarily involve the use of words and words are, as Alfred Korzybski warned us, abstractions that never equate with what they are meant to describe. His oft-quoted statement that “the map is not the territory” offers a caveat whose implications for confusion are further compounded when addressing such abstract topics as political philosophy.

One philosophical abstraction that seems to befuddle most people is “anarchy.” To those challenged by complexity – such as radio talk show hosts and cable-TV “newscasters” who are convinced that all political opinions can be confined to the categories of “liberal” and “conservative” – the word anarchy evokes an unfocused fear of uncertain forces. Images of bomb-throwing thugs who smash and burn the property of others are routinely conjured up by politicians and the media to frighten people into an extension of police authority over their lives. “Disorder” and “lawless confusion” are common dictionary definitions of this word.

That there have been some, calling themselves “anarchists,” who have engaged in violence on behalf of their political ambitions, is not to be denied. Nor can we overlook the provocateuring occasionally engaged in by undercover policemen – operating under the guise of “anarchists” – to justify harsh reprisals against political protests. But to condemn a philosophic viewpoint because a few wish to corrupt its meaning for their narrow advantage is no more justifiable than condemning Christianity because a man murders his family and defends his acts on the grounds “God told me to do it!”

As long as a president continues to rationalize war against the Iraqi people as “operation freedom”; as long as the Strategic Air Command insists that “peace is our profession”; and as long as police departments advertise that they are there “to serve and protect,” intelligent minds must be prepared to look behind the superficiality and imagery of words to discover their deeper meaning. Such is the case with the word “anarchy.”

The late Robert LeFevre made one such effort to transcend the popular meaning of the word when he declared that “an anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do.” But an even better understanding of the concept can be derived from the Greek origins of the word (anarkhos) which meant “without a ruler.” It is this definition of the word that members of the political power structure (i.e., your “rulers”) do not want you to consider. Far better that you fear the hidden monsters and hobgoblins who are just waiting to bring terror and havoc to your lives should efforts to increase police powers or budgets fail.

Are there murderers, kidnappers, rapists, and arsonists in our world? Of course there are, and there will always be, and they do not all work for the state. It is amazing that, with all the powers and money conferred upon the state to “protect” us from such threats, they continue to occur with a regularity that seems to have increased with the size of government! Even the current “mad cow disease” scare is being used, by the statists, as a reason for more government regulation, an effort that conveniently ignores the fact that the federal government has been closely regulating meat production for many decades.

Nor can we ignore the history of the state in visiting upon humanity the very death and destruction that its defenders insist upon as a rationale for political power. Those who condemn anarchy should engage in some quantitative analysis. In the twentieth century alone, governments managed to kill – through wars, genocides, and other deadly practices – some 200,000,000 men, women, and children. How many people were killed by anarchists during this period? Governments, not anarchists, have been the deadly “bomb-throwers” of human history!

Because of the disingenuous manner in which this word has been employed, I endeavor to be as precise in my use of the term as possible. I employ the word “anarchy” not as a noun, but as a verb. I envision no utopian community, no “Galt’s Gulch” to which free men and women can repair. I prefer to think of anarchy as a way in which people deal with one another in a peaceful, cooperative manner; respectful of the inviolability of each other’s lives and property interests; resorting to contract and voluntary transactions rather than coercion and expropriation as a way of functioning in society.

I am often asked if anarchy has ever existed in our world, to which I answer: almost all of your daily behavior is an anarchistic expression. How you deal with your neighbors, coworkers, fellow customers in shopping malls or grocery stores, is often determined by subtle processes of negotiation and cooperation. Social pressures, unrelated to statutory enactments, influence our behavior on crowded freeways or grocery checkout lines. If we dealt with our colleagues at work in the same coercive and threatening manner by which the state insists on dealing with us, our employment would be immediately terminated. We would soon be without friends were we to demand that they adhere to specific behavioral standards that we had mandated for their lives.

Should you come over to our home for a visit, you will not be taxed, searched, required to show a passport or driver’s license, fined, jailed, threatened, handcuffed, or prohibited from leaving. I suspect that your relationships with your friends are conducted on the same basis of mutual respect. In short, virtually all of our dealings with friends and strangers alike are grounded in practices that are peaceful, voluntary, and devoid of coercion.

A very interesting study of the orderly nature of anarchy is found in John Phillip Reid’s book, Law for the Elephant. Reid studied numerous diaries and letters written by persons crossing the overland trail in wagon trains going from St. Joseph, Missouri to Oregon and California. The institutions we have been conditioned to equate with “law and order” (e.g., police, prisons, judges, etc.) were absent along the frontier, and Reid was interested in discovering how people behaved toward one another in such circumstances. He discovered that most people respected property and contract rights, and settled whatever differences they had in a peaceful manner, all of this in spite of the fact that there were no “authorities” to call in to enforce a decision. Such traits went so far as to include respect for the property claims of Indians. The values and integrities that individuals brought with them were sufficient to keep the wagon trains as peaceful communities.

Having spent many years driving on California freeways, I have observed an informal order amongst motorists who are complete strangers to one another. There is a general – albeit not universal – courtesy exhibited when one driver wishes to make a lane change and, in spite of noncooperative drivers, a spontaneous order arises from this interplay. A major reason for the cooperative order lies in the fact that a driving mistake can result in serious injury or death, and that such consequences will be felt at once, and by the actor, unlike political decision-making that shifts the costs to others.

One may answer that freeway driving is regulated by the state, and that driving habits are not indicative of anarchistic behavior. The same response can be made concerning our behavior generally (i.e., that government laws dictate our conduct in all settings). But this misconceives the causal connections at work. The supervision of our moment-to-moment activities by the state is too remote to affect our actions. We are polite to fellow shoppers or our neighbor for reasons that have nothing to do with legal prescripts. What makes our dealings with others peaceful and respectful comes from within ourselves, not from beyond. For precisely the same reason, a society can be utterly destroyed by the corruption of such subjective influences, and no blizzard of legislative enactments or quadrupling of police forces will be able to avert the entropic outcome. Do you now understand the social meaning of the “Humpty-Dumpty” nursery rhyme?

The study of complexity, or chaos, informs us of patterns of regularity that lie hidden in our world, but which spontaneously manifest themselves to generate the order that we like to pretend authorities have created for us. There is much to discover about the interplay of unseen forces that work, without conscious direction, to make our lives more productive and peaceful than even the best-intended autocrat can accomplish. As the disruptive histories of state planning and regulation reveal, efforts to impose order by fiat often produce disorder, a phenomenon whose explanation is to be found in the dynamical nature of complexity. In the words of Terry Pratchett: “Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. Chaos always defeats order because it is better organized.”

“Anarchy” is an expression of social behavior that reflects the individualized nature of life. Only as living beings are free to pursue their particular interests in the unique circumstances in which they find themselves, can conditions for the well-being of all be attained. Anarchy presumes decentralized and cooperative systems that serve the mutual interests of the individuals comprising them, without the systems ever becoming their own reasons for being. It is this thinking, and the practices that result therefrom, that is alone responsible for whatever peace and order exists in society.

Political thinking, by contrast, presumes the supremacy of the systems (i.e., the state) and reduces individuals to the status of resources for the accomplishment of their ends. Such systems are grounded in the mass-minded conditioning and behavior that has produced the deadly wars, economic dislocations, genocides, and police-state oppressions that comprise the essence of political history.

Men and women need nothing so much right now as to rediscover and reenergize their own souls. They will never be able to accomplish such purposes in the dehumanizing and dispirited state systems that insist upon controlling their lives and property. In the sentiments underlying anarchistic thinking, men and women may be able to find the individualized sense of being and self-direction that they long ago abandoned in marbled halls and citadels.


Related posts:

  1. Immigration: Anarchy Worked
  2. Anarchy Isn’t The Answer
  3. Traffic Lights