• Anarchy and Chaos in Black Communities

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    People often
    use anarchy and chaos interchangeably. They refer to civil unrest
    as “anarchy, total chaos.” As an anarchist of the anarcho-libertarian
    variety myself, naturally, this habit irks me. Anarchy is simply
    the absence of forceful authority. Chaos is disorder. The two things
    can coexist, but it may be shocking to some to find that the presence
    of the one does not imply the presence of the other. Nor does the
    absence of the one imply the absence of the other. They are neither
    unrelated nor equivalent. And the correlation between the two can
    often be surprising. This is particularly true among blacks.

    I grew up in
    a black, rural community in Mississippi. I have always enjoyed listening
    to the stories of the past from my elders. Many of them were relatives
    from other cities such as Detroit and Chicago. Others were local,
    or from other parts of the South. One common thread among their
    reminiscences was the notion that while things were in many ways
    worse, since there were legal barriers in place which limited black
    property rights, the neighborhoods themselves were safer than the
    surrounding areas. In short, blacks were endangered when they encountered
    law enforcement or people who had the support of law enforcement,
    since those things enabled them to use force against blacks without
    fear of retaliation or negative repercussions. Within those black
    communities in many areas, however, there was no law enforcement,
    unless they had been summoned. The day-to-day life of those blacks,
    so long as they remained within their own neighborhoods was essentially
    anarchic. The state was what was encountered when one left the neighborhood,
    be it for business or pleasure.

    Those neighborhoods,
    with their localized anarchy, were nonetheless orderly places. The
    communities policed themselves through ostracism and familial ties.
    There was little disorder within anarchy. Black-owned businesses
    served primarily black customers, unless the state intervened to
    prevent even that bit of freedom. Even during my own childhood in
    the 1970s, police presence in my community was an almost unheard
    of occurrence. Crimes and vices were handled among families and
    family members. Even though some people could be considered leaders,
    those leaders were followed voluntarily. There was no mayor who
    forced his edicts upon supporters and opponents alike. Each community
    was usually a little pocket of anarchy. The well-known negatives
    associated with involving oneself with a hostile state made self-governing
    a far better alternative. Consider, however, the situation today:
    Blacks often have far more frequent encounters with the state. Everything
    is regulated. There is little anarchy. From drug laws and house
    raids, which limit what a person can do with his own property and
    body, to welfare and subsidized housing, which allow a person who
    has not shown the ability to earn his own keep to remained housed,
    clothed, and well-fed without having to display character traits
    which are necessary to earn those things, the state is a constant
    intruder on the social order. And what do we frequently see in those
    areas now? Chaos. Disorder. Mayhem. Government.

    What
    afflicts many American black neighborhoods and communities today
    is not the absence of rules so much as the natural effects of rules
    forced upon the unwilling. In stark contrast to the more organic
    leadership of church and business leaders of past generations, modern
    “leaders” are most frequently bureaucrats or government shills who
    profit from government action. Since they profit from the state,
    they are naturally disposed to defend the state. This treachery
    is clearly on display when we look at how these so-called leaders
    endorse two things which are devastating to blacks nationwide: the
    war on drugs and welfare. When we look honestly at the actual effects
    of these two programs, we see a horror story of nearly unparalleled
    proportions. Illegitimacy is rampant largely due to the state’s
    subsidizing of irresponsibility. The high levels of violence in
    many neighborhoods is almost entirely the product of the barbaric
    war on drugs. Despite these things, the misguided, the foolish,
    and the downright evil continue to support both of these horrible
    assaults on property rights and common decency. Make no mistake:
    any black person who is in favor of the war on drugs is morally
    defective, mentally defective, or both. The argument for welfare
    is the common mistake of all socialists. There is no way to do evil
    and produce only good as a result. What these communities, and all
    others, need is the elimination of the false, imposed “order” of
    the state, and more of the unpredictable, natural true order of
    voluntary association. The state, by attempting to control the natural
    tendencies of humans to improve themselves and their own conditions,
    causes the very chaos it claims to prevent.

    This really
    should be surprising to no one. Most of us live in homes which are
    largely anarchic, yet which have less crime and violence than city
    streets, which are completely owned by governments. Far from bringing
    chaos, the anarchic portions of our lives are usually the most peaceful
    and orderly parts of them. So, when someone asks me “what do you
    want, anarchy?” I feel completely justified in saying “I can only
    hope.”

    April
    15, 2009

    Robert
    A. Wicks [send him mail]
    is a Unix administrator in Atlanta.

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