I have mixed feelings, though. Although ‘V for Vendetta’ is a classic graphic novel, and its warning against an authoritarian totalitarian regime is perhaps unfortunately timely, I’m kind of troubled about one of the major themes of the graphic novel.
I don’t wish to ruin the movie for anyone, but the main character V is trying to replace the crushing Norsefire regime with….anarchy. And he’s implementing this regime change by violent means. Anarchy is not described as chaos, instead it is rather sweetly referred to as “The Land of Do-As-You-Please”. But anarchy it remains.
Anarchism is a political philosophy, or maybe a political goal. Anarchists believe that any sort of authority, and most especially monarchs, oligarchs, representative democracies, and every other form of government, is unnecessary and should be abolished. Most anarchists go further than this, and suggest that every form of government is evil, and only dumb cattle would consent to being ruled.
Well, you might ask, if we abolish all government, who makes the rules? And who enforces them? The anarchists say “no one”. Anarchy would result in a peaceful and harmonious society that is based on individual self-determination and personal involvement. Anarchists believe that our social needs would be met by voluntary associations of individuals, rendering mutual aid, and governing themselves.
Which sounds like a marvelous idea. Just like communism sounds like a wonderful idea. If you had a group of saints and pacifists living together, it might work out just fine. But I doubt it.
This may be my own personal bias, but it seems to me that most anarchists don’t have a lot of stuff. People that have stuff tend to worry about people who would like to take away their stuff. And anarchy sounds like nothing more than a way to grease the skids toward a situation where people are taking the stuff they want away from the people that already have it. Now you might argue that Americans have too much stuff already, and we ought to lose some of it anyway. In which case, I suggest you send me an email with your home address, and I’ll come over to your house and decide how much of your stuff you should get rid of. I’ll even rent the U-Haul.
But I have another personal bias. I was a nerd in grade school. I got abused on a regular basis, by folks who enjoyed abusing me for no other reason than that they could. If you were an All-Star quarterback, you might not fear anarchy. If you wore glasses, had braces, and played clarinet in band, you have every reason to think that anarchy is a bad idea.
A friend of mine is an advocate of anarcho-capitalism. He is earnest in his explanation that in the absence of centralized government, various private insurance companies and private security forces would arise, each competing for our business, each enforcing a semblance of order for only as long as the citizenry tolerates it, driven by the free market. To which I reply, you want to replace a largely inefficient Federal Government with a profit-driven infrastructure? And you think this will be an improvement? Have you never heard of Enron? For-profit organizations are notoriously poor at self-regulation. Of any type.
Does this mean I don’t think our government could be reformed? Absolutely not. I think our government is fundamentally broken, primarily due to the fossilized structure of the two-party system. I would love to see the population rise up, and start voting for independent candidates. Or actually start voting on issues, rather than platforms. It’s possible that the efforts of the Bush administration to dismantle existing Federal safeguards to our lives and liberties might trigger such a response, but I doubt it. It will probably just result in a swing to Democratic control of the same fossilized system for a few terms.
But anarchy? No thank you. I’d like to hang onto my lunch money. Even if the spokesman is Hugo Weaving.