A Note to Principled Anarchists

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Open Letters


Robert Higgs
makes no bones about it: "The state is the most destructive
institution human beings have ever devised — a fire that, at best,
can be controlled for only a short time before it o'erleaps its
improvised confinements and spreads its flames far and wide."

As an anthropologist
about to celebrate my 76th birthday, my great interest
has been social evolution. It is clear to me that the state is a
social pathology. It has infected the world, due not to some innate
nature of society, but to the insufficient development of the institution
of private property as we make the transition from self-sufficient
bands dependent on kinship recognition to a world society integrated
by contract. We suffer a deficiency disease — a deficiency of authentic
social organization — which is something time will take care of.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel is not that
long, provided we survive the dangerous near term. Meanwhile, we
endure our growing pains.

Voting is but
one of the means by which the state maintains a fiction of legitimacy
by co-opting its citizens into the political organization, thinking
thereby they are self-governing. I have no illusion that voting
or any other political mechanism or "reform" will change
the trend of the state toward self-aggrandizement that Higgs describes.
Voting is normally counterproductive.

Then why this
letter? Obviously I have decided to vote in the coming election,
or I would not be writing this. There is one and only one reason:
Ron Paul promises to withdraw all troops and stop the physical and
spiritual carnage on all sides in Iraq. People are dying
in this moment. An enormous percentage of the homeless in this country
are war veterans whose ability to live productive lives was shattered
by their battlefield experience. More Vietnam veterans have died
by suicide, it is said, than were killed in action in that war.
Human life is too precious to waste this way.

True, the United
States government under Ron Paul will continue all of the things
governments do. That is its nature. I see no chance of "returning
to the Constitution" under Ron Paul or anyone else; for that
is not government's nature. But Ron Paul promises to stop the altogether
unnecessary deaths in Iraq, and based on his demonstrated character,
I believe he can and will.

20, 2007

MacCallum [send him mail] is a
social anthropologist living in Mexico, where he played a key role
in the economic development of the pottery village of Mata Ortiz.
He wrote The
Art of Community
and edited and contributed to The
Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development
in the Horn of Africa
(Red Sea Press, 2005).

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