March 20: A Study in Anarchy

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We talk, every now and then, about the A word, and whether or why the
general public is scared of it.

Yesterday, I think, was a good example of why many people fear it.

In reality, we live (as every society does) on the edge of anarchy
anyway. Realistically, there aren't enough police to prevent everyone from
breaking the laws; if a large enough group decides to engage in illegal or
simply antisocial behavior, there's no real way to stop them.

Yesterday, tens of thousands of people shut down downtown San
Francisco. Police were helpless to actually stop them; the crowds would
shut down an intersection and then leave for another one before the police
could arrive. This group - representing less than 10% of the city's
population - caused great disruption and inconvenience in ripple effects
felt by everyone in the city.

Whether the protestor's actions were moral or effective is an interesting
discussion for another time. The fact is, in an anarchy, morality is not a
consideration for things like this, since *all* actions are as legal as any
others. Some may get you punished by your peers, but there is no law.

This kind of spontaneous mob imposing its will on other people, whether
they like it or not, is the kind of event that the general public
associates with "anarchy". This is a fear we have to understand and accept
when trying to argue the benefits of limited government.

Now, the fear may not be rational. I think these mobs are as likely under
Brownarchy as under anarchy; in either case, a fear of punishment (by cops
or neighbors) is the main check on an action like this, and when a cause is
important enough, people will take the risk. But the fear is nonetheless
real, and we must appreciate that.

- --
Polls by CNN, CBS, and Knight-Ridder show that most
Americans now assume the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi.
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