Social and Political Philosophy
16 November 2000
Writing on anarchism, in his Anarchism and World Order, Richard Falk states: "Given the established bankruptcy of statist solutions on the right and left, given the vulnerability of the state system as a whole to catastrophic and, quite possible, irreversible damage, and given the insufficiency of gradualist strategies of amelioration, the case for some variant of radical anarchism seems strong despite the inability of the anarchist to provide skeptics with a credible timetable." Falk speaks, of course, of the anarchist political tradition of thought, rather than of the bomb-throwing terrorists that are all too often associated with anarchy and anarchism by the general public. As a philosophy, anarchism may be summed up by the following: 1) unrestricted individual liberty, and 2) cooperation without government or rigid institutionalized hierarchies.
Going beyond anarchism having a "strong case" but lacking a "credible timetable", as Falk puts it, is it not possible that if we are to transcend statism, as Falk suggests is necessary (and perhaps even inevitable), the only possible alternative to statism is, however cleverly named or disguised, a form of anarchism? If one considers the devolution of national boundaries taking place worldwide due to advances in transportation and communications technologies, and the subsequent softening of nation-states' exclusive influence over their citizens, is not the eventual model towards which the world progresses one of statelessness, or anti-statism? If this is the case, then the only possible alternative to statism is by definition indeed some form of anarchism.
Those who are quick to criticize this are of two camps, those who misunderstand the meaning of anarchism as a politcal construct, and those who are of the opinion that statism as we know it is not in need of fixing. Both of these positions are fundamentally flawed, the former for obvious reasons (arguments based on faulty premises are themselves faulty). Those who hold the latter view are analogous to the proverbial ostritch who sticks its head in the sand; they fail to see or refuse to accept the decomposition of rigidly defined state boundaries in today's political climate. Were they to accept that statism itself is undergoing rapid and systemic upheavals on all fronts, the increasing number and forms of which belie their faith in the power of the state, they too would inevitably conclude that a (global) non-statist system is the only alternative.