Within certain contexts, I’m quite a fan of anarchy. I believe relationships should be driven out of values and mutual respect, and hence not need rules. The point at which humanity moved away from anarchy, required a government, was when our social groups became too big to be supported by social relationships. (Ponder, Dunbar’s number?)
Depending on how you define anarchy and government, anarchy doesn’t exist. Other primates don’t have a formal “government”, but there is still a distinct form of leadership, a distinct social order through which things function. It emerges out of the social relationships within the troop, which is small enough for everyone to understand how things work. That is what I refer to, when I refer to “anarchy” in the positive sense of the word. Am I an anarchist?
As an idealist, I’d wish we could all build strong enough social bonds, and operate within the contexts of good relationships. Out of the values that come out of relationship, we would not need laws or contracts. There is much to be said about striving towards this, but it needs to start on the relationship front: I feel you cannot promote anarchy, you can only promote good relationships. With a solid enough base in good relationships, an anarchic way of being would flow naturally.
But being more pragmatic, we need laws and guidelines to keep people from being selfishly unfair to one another. Our interactions are too broad, businesses deal globally, and the internet enables social interactions between polar opposites that have no relational base on which to build. Thus we need laws and guidelines to keep the markets fair and friendly. Am I a free-market capitalist and libertarian?
And now the bit in which I become excessively verbose and ruin the original intent of the post:
Could that be we be realistic though? (Pessimist?) Many humans are driven by greed. Free markets and capitalism turn into a new religion, within which you find the usual diversity of believers. There are compassionate elite that have humanitarianism as guiding principles. But you have enough people that are selfishly greedy, driving capitalism in a direction of purely selfish survival-of-the-fittest-bottom-line. The blind hand of an economics/business-based selfish replicator then guides the future, in a direction not necessarily beneficial to humanity, only beneficial to the-bottom-line. And I fear this blind hand, this blind authority.
It brings about the “natural order” of things, in which there are always the haves, and the have-nots. And the American dream, in which anyone can make it if they try, still looks like something of a myth to me. Especially outside of America. And also inside America. Hello the current economic climate. I’m sure completely free capitalism is unsustainable. One piece of evidence confirming this is the existence of antitrust laws / competition laws. But I go further.
The capitalistic system is great at generating wealth, but terrible at distributing it well. In South Africa, the new status quo has promoted a couple of formerly-poor to newly-rich. There were a couple of opportunities for a couple of new members of the wealthy elite (where in 2000 the top 10% is blessed with 44.7% of the income/consumption while the bottom 10% must make do with only 1.4% – CIA World Factbook) – but past inequalities are really tough to overcome.
I believe in the value of life. Digress for a moment: that is kinda a leap of faith, and I’m quite serious about it: I’ll attempt evangelise and convert anyone to the faith. But like all faiths, it also has great diversity within it, in terms of what kind of life is valued and what life is not, and this diversity is unavoidable. Diversity is unavoidable, because it is the very essence of life. Back to the point: within this value-of-life belief, I believe in the value of human life.
So… idealistically (remember I remain a pragmatist), I’d love for everyone to have something of an equal opportunity. I would love it if we could eliminate the cycle that lets one person’s mistakes end up cursing his generations after it. Access to a good education, access to good healthcare, things we can do to work together to help ease the pain of existence: disease and illness, reality, life, is a cruel mistress that acts without much discernment. You could just have really bad “luck” in life, due to the complex interactions of everything around you. So I believe in doing what we can to help.
In short, I’m concerned that capitalism concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital – and does so in unfair manners. So that makes me a bit of a socialist?
Back to the original intent of the post
All that said, I still think the most fundamental grass-roots drive should be to promote good relationships. While socio-economic concerns and government is something we can vote on (yay the power of “vote”), in the end, government remains a handful of people contributing top-down, while millions can contribute from the bottom-up by us focusing on relationships.