if you are not an anarchist then what govt do you like?

An organizing principle that serves to differentiate the several political philosophies in vogue is illuminated by first noting that only total anarchists are totally against efforts by humans to organize communities via government, and then asking each person or group WHICH kinds of government are unacceptable or acceptable?

Myself, being a fan of the US Constitution, I would propose that the key to answer this question systematically and pragmatically is in that document. The basic genius of the constitution was not to say government is bad (the libertarian bent) or that government is good (the liberal bent), but rather, to say that what the various arms of government should be doing is watchdogging the other arms of government.

But I jump to my answer before formulating the problem.

On the “right” of the political spectrum (whether in Alexandria, Virginia or Alexandria, Egypt) the question is mostly dodged. It has been stodgily dodged by the big-gun conservatives like Prez Raygun, and it is being ignorantly dodged by the current crop of hayseed conservatives who eschew all thinking as well as government. But someone should ask (and the liberals seem too dazed formulate the question) WHICH forms and agencies of government are approved by the tea-partyists and the libertarians?

Are they truly anarchists, saying ‘no’ to all interventions by authority in search of social order? If so, then shouldn’t everyone admit that, and use the appropriate label. Those calling for no government should not be called ‘conservatives’, but should be called – accurately – ‘anarchists’. Those who truly believe that private behavior and free markets are capable of regulating social order without government should not be hiding their extremity under superficially noble terms like ‘libertarian’. If you think we can keep up some degree of utopia without government, then admit that you are really an ‘anarchist.’

On the left (if that has meaning), the same question could be revealing. Was the genius of the American constitution expressed in any statement that government was the answer to problems? Was there an eagerness to multiply arms of government to address the multiplying needs of citizens and states?

Therefore, I propose that a more accurate term for what we understand as ‘liberal’ should be ‘governmentist’. A milder and more impractical form is the ‘legalist’. The governmentalist says if we have a problem make more government, and the legalist does not commit to more government but insists that passing laws is the way to go. Of course they are siamese twins.

In the middle lies a position that is not married to government (law) and not married to anarchy. Instead, it states (as any rational reading of the US Constitution will reveal) that government is necessary but can’t be trusted. So the form government should take is watchdogging – resulting in separation of powers, checks and balances.

This suggests a litmus test for a thinking citizen of any chosen philosophy to apply to more proposed government. Will that additional arm of government serve to watchdog those in power, and curtail any centralization of power, or not?

A generalization of this principle of social management, applicable to institutions other than government, would be to ask “Does this institution provide checks and balances against the power of others, and are checks and balances in place against abuse of power by each?”

Without key questions being asked, we will continue to see politics (from Sacramento to Kabul) swirl around in a maelstrom of money with no clear constraints.

So if you are not an anarchist, then what government do you like? Come on. Don’t avoid the question. Fess up.

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About mrsorenson

all over the place
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5 Responses to if you are not an anarchist then what govt do you like?

  1. koan911 says:

    I’m definitely an anarchist, so there, I’ve gotten that out of the way.

    Forget libertarians, but do note they do fall into two camps, (“there are two kinds of libertarians”): you’ve got yer anarchist libertarians, and yer got your limited-government libertarians. I recently learned a euphonic term for this latter camp: they are “minarchists”. Yay.

    Government[al]ist, if you like. They are often also called, “statist”. They support the state.

    A very good post.

    This one is pertinent: the American Form of Government.

    • mrsorenson says:

      Koan911. Thanks for the reply. I was hoping, not to offend you of course, for a reply from some tea-partyists like Palin or O’Donnell. But they have their hands busy with less philosophically substantial activities, like fundraising.

      The link you indicated “The American Form of Government” reflected a particularly BAD American form of single-minded rhetoric. Some ideas were in there, but how the ideas were presented was fascist. What I mean by that is this: When discussion complicated things, insisting that all others must accept your simplification is usually a sign of inability to think about the whole. MY way of thinking about the political spectrum is one way. Hopefully when I offer ways of thinking (like the suggestion that the US Constitution is essentially about watchdogging) I am not saying it is the ONLY RIGHT way. Yet by contrast, the first thing this video (WHY video? Why not write it down clearly without all that ambiguous and manipulative and superficial imagery-nonsense??) does is TELL ME what the REAL political spectrum is, and even imposing a red-circle-with-a-line-through-it with a negative squawkey noise to emphasize that the RIGHT answer is right and what others think is wrong.

      The philosophical and political fact is (duh, look around) I could and you could and lots of politically savvy people could divide up the political spectrum in many ways. In my post, I did in order to make my point my way. I think it was not unreasonable, and worked to highlight an aspect of government that is often overlooked. In another post, I will do it another way.

      So when I was told in the American Form of Government video that there is only one way to analyze THE spectrum, I saw no need to continue.

      Finally, k, I think I smell a pose. You are not an anarchist, but you said that for effect. If some thughead in your neighborhood burned a cross or a swastika or a crescent moon on your front lawn, you would call the cops. If a teacher slapped your child, you would not go shoot that teacher to teach her (him) a lesson, but rather you would expect the bureaucracy and law to handle it much more effectively.

      My emphasis – as you noted – was on terminology, which is often crappy and should be more revealing. One of the reasons I don’t like “statist” for what is typically called the American left or liberalism is that the term “statist” has associations with totalitarianism. The liberals (are there any in America?) are really not totalitarians or statists. Instead of insisting that the state take power in any issue, they rather propose government led initiatives. Trusting government to initiate or solve problems is the key attitude of the liberal (Dennis Kucinich, Hubert Humphrey, FDR, and even Ronald Reagan). But that does not MEAN these people are in favor of government CONTROL of the areas of society or business that pose problems.

      Is the difference too subtle for the current dogmatic political scene to grasp? There are many, as you know, who not only cannot grasp it, but will adamantly and vociferously refuse that it exists. Thus you get people living in their own tea-party minds calling anyone left of Sarah Palin a “socialist”.

      A liberal might say, there are poor kids getting the shaft from society who don’t have enough to eat everyday, so we should use government resources to help feed them, in the interests of future health and social order. On the same issue, a statist might want to take these children out of their homes and put them in camps. Big difference.

      thanks

      • koan911 says:

        No offense taken, pardner. You did state quite clearly, “total anarchists can sit this one out”. 🙂

        Well, ah’m gonna give those purty gals, Palin and O’Donnell, 72 hours to ‘fess up something profound here — if they can.

        Meanwhile, ah’m gonna be cleanin’ and loadin’ mah big guns. Then ah’m ridin’ back inter town…

      • mrsorenson says:

        Come on. Keep up. What ya doin, brewin?

      • koan911 says:

        Trouble’s a brewin’… Yessir, you got that right. 🙂
        ‘Ll see you, Bart, high noon, Tuesday.

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