Anarchy vs. Barney Fife

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If you ever fell victim to the prejudice that people today are smarter and more intellectually sophisticated than the people of the 1st or 13th centuries, you need only ask your friends and neighbors about the terrifying word "anarchy" to prove to yourself that our generations are just as stupid and foolish as any others. Even mentioning the word with a straight face is bound to put your acquaintances on edge, which is remarkable in itself. But, once they recover their senses from hearing the word pronounced out loud without a clap of thunder following on its heels, they will usually offer an argument against anarchism that rivals in its sheer stupidity any arguments that the flat-Earthers ever gave in antiquity.

It usually goes something like this: Human nature is so intrinsically evil and depraved that, without cops walking the streets, judges locking up potheads, and politicians buying hookers and crack in Washington, the entire world would devolve into a horrifying bloodbath. Murder and rape would run rampant as soon as the "criminals," (that is, all of us, as per our shared evil nature), got word that the police were no longer in the business of shooting, beating and incarcerating them. Virtually everyone and everything would be killed or destroyed in the ensuing mayhem. Cannibalism would probably even reappear for the barbaric survivors of the initial anarchic bloodbath. That’s right, cannibalism.

So, as you can clearly see, the fragile fabric of society is held together ultimately by the simple police officer, whom we all take for granted, and whose life is spent deterring the innumerable "criminals" out there from butchering one another, like you and me. Without police officers, given human nature’s intrinsic depravity, life would indeed be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

The sheer stupidity of arguments along the lines that human nature is so totally depraved that society would devolve into cruel chaos in the absence of police officers is almost difficult to fathom. One can forgive the flat-Earthers of yesterday for not being gifted enough in astronomy and mathematics to determine that the giant hunk of rock they stood on is spherical, but how can one forgive the people of today for thinking that that guy wearing blue polyester with mustard in his mustache in the corner of the deli is the very linchpin of human society? How can one forgive an intellectual error as large as the one that presumes that you and I would probably fight each other to the death if it wasn’t for that woman with a mullet and a radar gun under the highway overpass? How will future generations be able to comprehend an intellectual error as large as the one that holds that our very lives and our entire civilization hang oh-so tenuously from a 56-inch braided duty belt?

If our lives and fortunes were indeed dependent upon protection from a handful of people swaddled in hideous blue polyester, mankind would have long ago lost them. If human nature were truly as depraved as these arguments would have us believe, then the chubby blue line would long ago have been annihilated by its vastly numerically superior criminal adversaries. No "criminal" worth the name would be deterred from committing his favored atrocities by a small group of lightly-armed fat people, whose national reputation is tied inextricably to the donut. To even suggest that this 300 million-strong horde of savage, would-be criminals are kept at bay only by some irrational fear of blue polyester is so asinine that it makes the flat-Earthers look like geniuses by comparison.

This intellectual error is all the more inexcusable in America, where the population is armed to the teeth with high-powered rifles, pistols, and shotguns. If the American population were truly as depraved as this argument would have us believe all people are, then its bloodlust could hardly be contained by a few pudgy men and women carrying small caliber pistols. The thought is as laughable as would be an argument to the effect that the hardened and rifle-toting farmers of Mayberry were deterred from slaughtering one another by Andy Griffith and his slow-witted sidekick.

On another level, moreover, arguments to this effect are deeply insulting to people like you and me, for they insinuate that you and I are savage beasts that are only kept in check by those enlightened and portly souls who populate the local police force. Unlike those ultra-civilized "public servants," you and I would like nothing more than to cut each other’s throats, if only the peace-loving police officers of the world weren’t holding us back. The truth, as anyone with eyes in America should be able to tell you, is precisely the reverse, since police officers and soldiers are often the most depraved perpetrators of the very crimes they claim to "protect" Americans from. The police are people just like us, after all, even if their waists are often larger, and they are capable of the same brutality as any other people.

There are some intellectual errors that one can excuse, or at least understand. The people of antiquity could not see that the Earth was round, so one can understand that they did not grasp that seemingly obvious truth There are other intellectual errors, however, that are so idiotic and so self-evident that they smash to pieces any sense of superiority we might be foolish enough to entertain over other peoples. Such is the magnitude of the error of dismissing the sublime idea of free-market anarchism by assuming that the geniuses in blue keep us savages from killing each other.

Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.

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