A Quest for Sanity
By Nick Ford
Originally written: 7//9/11
I always like to have a different username wherever I go. I’m not sure exactly sure why per se’ except that I like the feeling that there are many different sides of my personality that I’d like to show off. One of those is the fact that I think a large portion of this world is insane. Listen, I’m not saying everyone around you is getting ready to kill you or something but the fact that some people literally believe things that this authoritarian culture teaches them and that the government instills in them is two things that puzzle and worry me. At the very least the people who rule the society with an iron fist (and it IS an iron fist) are insane the people in power have so many disincentives to act rationally. They face little to no real scrutiny with a media that can legally lie to a public that is held hostage in cages and when it gets out of those cages can only go into other prisons to serve their corporate masters. Sure, you could try to start your own business but what are the chances of that working out? Unless it’s a long term idea backed by lots of planning, knowhow and plenty of collective pooling of capital what chance do you have against the currently insulated corporations? You’ll probably be Scratching By and there’s good reason for that. Again, this society is driven by insane people, the people in power in just ordinary organizations have these sorts of drives so can you imagine what the leaders have?
It’s a problem that not only has to do with information, calculation issues applied in different ways than most might think of at first but a problem of sanity. How reasonable is it to really expect that the political leaders will care about you when they claim to be so much higher than you are? When the culture is dominated by subjugation, exclusion and the remnants of things like slavery, apartheid, segregation, what sanity is there? And for more contemporary things the prison system may as well be continuing this. It’s crazy that people think that locking people in cages will make them behave better! Has it ever been such? Haven’t modern prisons only gotten bigger? More financed by the ruling class and CEOS? Less and less used for actually violent people but perhaps removing “undesirables” from “civilized society” and then having them reintroduced and have them become their own worst enemy?
Take the example of the black community, it’s been nothing but ravaged by the state for almost its entire existence. From the institution of state-sponsored slavery in US to state-sponsored segregation and constantly forcing the blacks to lose any sort of identity. This loss of self translates into chaotic and self-destructive behavior and makes for a heavily dysfunctional society. When libertarians argue that the non-aggression principle and violation of property rights are the only things that matter this is just one of many reasons why such an answer is unacceptable when discussing the prospect for individual liberty. It’s insane that blacks have literally started gangs because of this state and cultural alienation and have killed thousands of members of their own socially constructed race. After all it’s not just the state, the state may aid things like racism, sexism, etc. but these things also exist independently of the state and can be just as dehumanizing with or without it.
I think that the search for actual sanity is the real response we as anarchists should be taking, as a left-libertarian I think this means building the new society, culture and anti-oppression movement (not just state) within this decaying society we are a part of. Part of finding reason is trying to explain what that exactly is but more importantly showing them how it works. Education is a great tool and it’s one of my preferred tactics (as well as self-educating) but actually going out there building alternatives to the mainstream is something that also should be more focused on by anarchists.
I also think it’s insane to think you’ll win against the state in any meaningful way through violence. They have the guns and you may have guns of your own but unless you come packing some tanks and nukes I think you’ll be a bit outmatched when the iron fist of the state comes down on to you. It might not even take the police just to take you out and it’s not long until another person has been lost to the insanity of the state. I don’t want to see my fellow humans suffering, I don’t want to see them dying for a cause they believe in. I want to see them living for it! I want us all to live for the cause we preach so much in our lives, there’s no reason to starve in a desert if the state gives us some water other than pure insanity. Direct action is great, it can be violent or it can be peaceful but the anarchist should almost always side with the peaceful alternative. This does not mean that I think strict pacifism should be the key thing for the anarchist to keep in mind. Nor do I believe non-cooperation and such are the only ways out. In fact I don’t think there is one way to beat the state. There’s no X on the mark of the state that says, “smash here!” instead it’s up to us to expose the systempunkt’s that the state does have and that we do know about to the best of our ability.
More to the point on violence however, I think if and when the counter and alternative associations, institutions, organizations and so on outnumber the state ones we should certainly start defending ourselves from the police and so on. And even way before that (like now for instance) we should be building mutual aid networks and show solidarity among “anarcho-party lines” (more on that some other time…) to achieve what goals we want to see happen as soon as possible. I think self-defense against cops is required right now on more of an intellectual field than a physical one. You should inform yourself on how to interact with police, what works best for you and what seems to work on best with them. Saying, “fuck you pigs!” over and over might not be the best idea.
I think the internet is a fantastic tool to combat the state’s insanity. Besides just being a general catalyst for more organizations to spawn within the statist constructs and gradually get more and more ground it’s wonderful to have a convenient way to show solidarity. Things like Anonymous, Wikileaks, Anti-Sec and more have come together on just trying to keep government under control; now as anarchists we know this is folly. But they seem to be learning this as well as times goes on and perhaps eventually they’ll come around to our position. Until then we’ve got our media centers, we’ve got our alliances set up and we’ve got a growing movement that is aiming to educate students and there’s so much more going on. But we’re going to need ALL of this and more if we’re going to want to battle the insanity of the state and move towards a more sane society and culture.
Another reason why I’m harping on the sanity aspect of this whole thing is that the state, more than anything else is a mental construct more than a physical one. No, I’m not running the tired line that “government doesn’t exist!”. Instead I’m suggesting that we can and should think of government as an organization that claims a monopoly on violence in a given territorial area and manifests through the other monopolies this so called “protector of people” forms. The police, the courts, the teachers and so on are all manifestations of the state and it’s intrusion in society. But what I mean to suggest is that there is both an internal state and an external state, one that is manifesting in the ways I’ve suggested already but another that’s internalized. From this I think I can safely say that if the state somehow went away tomorrow people would just create another one. They wouldn’t want anarchism; they certainly haven’t embraced the ideas! And that’s the thing; the state inside of them so to speak convinces of them that the insanity they keep buying.
This isn’t to insult people who believe in the state, you believing in insanity isn’t going to make me stop me from treating you as a fellow member of the oppressed class or a fellow human being. It’s not going to make me call you insane night and day. It’s not going to make me “de-foo” you like some anarchists have suggested. Nor is it going to make me hate you, I’d find it a waste of time to hate you or anyone really anyways. No, instead what I’m suggesting is that this culture, this government has convinced you of insanity and that you believe it. If anything my real indictment lies with those who not only believe these but act on them and make it more possible to oppress people in large countable ways. That they keep people unemployed, scratching by, dying, hardly living, employed in jobs they hate, buying things they don’t need (materialism) and becoming disenfranchised with this beautiful world.
I’m not here to be overly cynical or overly optimistic but realistic. Anarchism won’t happen in our lifetimes despite what any organization tells us that but that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen or that such a goal isn’t worthy of pursing. The empire is crumbling with debt, wars; failing currency, blatantly corrupt leaders, and an authoritarian culture. With all of this it’s only a matter of time before things fall apart. And we as the anarchists have to be there with as many alternatives in hand and say,
“Look at what this insanity has wrought! Look at what it has given you! I suggest you try something new, try something sane, and try anarchism!”