Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who's Afraid Of Anarchy?

The following is a fairly typical dictionary definition of anarchy.
1. a state of society without government or law.
2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
4. confusion; chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

Interesting. Let's compare the above definition to that of a very similar word such as, monarchy. (Same source.)
1. a state or nation in which the supreme power is actually or nominally lodged in a monarch. Compare absolute monarchy, limited monarchy.
2. supreme power or sovereignty held by a single person.

Notice the difference? In the case of anarchy, definitions 2. and 4. are not real definitions of the word. Or, if they are, then why are not similar statements made about monarchy? For example:
3. abuse of power due to the absence of accountability in government.
4. parasitism, oppression; enslavement or subjugation of humanity.
See what I mean?

If we analyse the words, we find that the common suffix: archy, means rulership. The different prefixes refer to the type of rulership: "an" means without; "mon" means one. This simple analysis should reveal the spuriousness and manipulation contained in the second and fourth definitions of anarchy.

This sort of thing reminds me of the media manipulation leading up to the latest war with Iraq. Bush made a number of televised speeches in which he repeatedly mentioned Iraq and 911 in close temporal proximity. Bush swears he never actually said that Iraq was responsible for 911, but many who watched those speeches came away believing that Iraq was involved in 911. Although there was no real connection between the two, a connection was created through simple association. The same technique is being used when ideological interpretation is incorporated into the dictionary definitions of words.

I'm aware that the accepted meanings of words change somewhat over time due to usage, but surely there's a limit to how much political baggage can be officially attached to them. If anarchy is, by definition, a state of chaos and social turmoil, then we no longer have a word to indicate freedom from government in the absence of these features. If you don't understand why this matters, I would recommend reading, or re-reading, Orwell's "1984", with particular attention to it's appendix, "The Principles of Newspeak".

Most people have a very definite mental image to go with the word "anarchist". Something like this:

Right? These guys are not anarchists. They are just assholes. Sometimes they are revealed to be cops. Compare the above, with this photo of actual anarchists:

Note the absence of all-black clothing and kerchiefs over our faces. (Yeah, that's GodIAm and I.) The majority of real anarchists are decent and socially responsible people. The reason they are anarchists is because they do not recognise the right of any government to claim ownership of them. Also, it is because they trust their neighbours more than their rulers. My neighbours are mostly mind-controlled and dumb as rocks, but they fall short of actual evil. If the government were to fall, I can't picture any of them arming themselves to the teeth and embarking on murderous, destructive rampages. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the government, who actually are armed to the teeth and engaged in murderous, destructive rampages.