Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Romanticizing Chaos

In this current issue of the St. Austin Review, there's an article by me in which I mention a leftist I know who's devoted to a notion of what he calls "anarchy". By this he seems to mean not mere disorder and chaos, but the destruction of centralized order, and in its place an atomized order; laws and rules decided from person to person, family to family, clan to clan. In other words, tribalism or what we currently have, say, in the streets of North St. Louis or areas of Mexico where drug lords have replaced central or local governments with their own decentralized rule. Of course it's a rule of brute force - but hey! It's decentralized.

In the same issue Dale Ahlquist reviews John Ferrara's book The Church and the Libertarian, and discusses the inevitable result of the libertarian philosophy, anarchy.

In other words, this bizarre idea of something called "anarchy" (which is technically not "anarchy" but relativism applied to the social order) is tugging strongly at the hearts of idealists of both the far left and the far right. The self-contradiction of anarchy, which serves for so much humor in The Man who was Thursday, is lost on them - meaning they don't get the joke of "organized chaos", nor do they see the folly and danger of an atomized social structure. Don't they realize that this is in fact not a revolution but an atavistic devolution, a return to the age old system of might ruling meek? Apparently not.

And foremost among these earnest defenders of what would amount to bully-ocracy are the far rightists of the Austrian School of economics, who have decided that "Distributism is for Dummies" and whose philosophy I deal with here. Note at that link the bizarre defense of anarchy in the comment boxes by the Austrian Schoolboy Keith. I try to enlighten him: "In your anarchy, there are many more laws than in our current system – there’s a set of laws for every clan – perhaps for every person; perhaps for every person for every day of the week or moment of the day ... You are like a choir director who abolishes all harmony and tells his singers to go off and find their own melodies."

But it does no good. For relativism is not just taken for granted; it is not just the default philosophy of the day. It is beginning to be loved and sought after, to be idolized and idealized. This is very dangerous.

The main social challenge of the 21st century may not be the threat of militant Mohammedism. The threat will not come from afar, crashing into us with airplanes. The threat will come from within, will spring up deep in the breasts of our children and the most idealistic among us, who will long for disorder, who will yearn for a radical individuality in society, because they do not believe there are any unifying social principles, and therefore anarchy equals liberty. Like the shooter of the Arizona massacre, they will believe words have no meaning and that nihilism bears fruit. And, as in Arizona, the fruit will be bloodshed - to the delight of some but to the horror of many, including those who are beginning to romanticize Chaos.

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