Who Are the Anarchists?

anarchyI suppose the term “anarchists” seems quaint and representative of a 19th Century problem now far out-shadowed by today’s “terrorism.” But if you go back a read some of the literature dealing with anarchism, it sounds very much like what we imagine terrorism is today (at least what the right-wingnuts consistently describe to assure a continued level of fear in this country).

Let’s see what C. K. Chesterton has to say in his excellent (and often unintentionally humorous) treatment of anarchy titled The Man Who Was Thursday.

“Mere mobs!” repeated his new friend with a snort of scorn. “So you talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question. You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government.. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the barons’ wars.”

Does this sound true, especially in today’s world?

The opposite of “anarchy” is usually termed “fascism.” Are the rich oligarchs who are taking over the country anarchists or fascists?

anarchyIt seems to me that, no matter how much Chesterton’s passage reminds us of today’s Republican Party, anarchy has slipped down the social scale and now is the only way to combat the oligarchs. Of course, we speak of the one percenters as being fascists, but the number of ninety-nine percenters are certainly not all anarchists. I believe apathetic is a better description. But if I were giving advice to the oligarchs it might be to sleep with one eye open. You never know when the mob will caste off their apathy and rise up to claim their fair share.

 

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