Anarchism - order in democratic chaos

Susan Loone

Politicians hastily invoke the supremacy of the Constitution whenever their positions are challenged, or when the rakyat calls for a change which threatens to disrupt the current status quo or political balance.

Some may still be puzzled by all the brou-ha-ha accorded to the concept of Malay special rights. That to question its relevance, its existence, or to review its performance in contrast to the needs of our times can be a traitorous act.

Yes, it is a right enshrined in the Constitution but the constitution is not absolute nor is it from God. Simply said, it comes into being because we have utilised the power of our votes, voted-in some silly politician, who later debated a law in parliament, then have the majority pass that law.

Anarchist Peter Kropotkin said in the liberal monthly The Nineteenth Century (1887): ‘As to parliamentary rule, and representatives of government all together ... it is becoming evident that it is merely stupid to elect a few men and to entrust them with the task of making laws on all possible subjects, of which subject most of them are totally ignorant. It is becoming understood that majority rule is as defective as any other kind of rule."

Simply said, people have the power to change the constitution by legal or ‘illegal’ means. This is not to say that all ‘illegal’ means are bad.  If legal constitutes a general election every four or five years, the time and place determined solely by just one man in power, then everything else from that would be ‘illegal’, wouldn't it?

There may come a time when there is no choice but to use ‘illegal’ means, like sweet persuasion. Why? Because when that time comes, the bigger cause, the bigger need of society clamouring for change is so vital that if we can't change it by legal means and cannot wait for those four or five years, then people may want to do it via ‘illegal’ means.

However, it would be pointless to overthrow the government and replace it with an equally corrupt government or a less effective one. Anarchists believe it would be best to abolish all forms of government and start a commune of well meaning, comprising loving and free individuals, totally responsible for their own lives, totally free, unburdened by unnecessary laws of men, and totally unselfish in their actions.

Anarchist solution

"One must not think that democracy will always provide the best solution to problems, just because it is democracy," our Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said last year.

He said that democracy would lead to anarchy. He was asked about democracy and how much the people understood it.

In reply, he said  although the people could grasp the concept, many, including intelligent people, were ignorant of the details.

For example, he added, although the people have the right to express their feelings, that does not mean they can hold demonstrations as they please, as this would create instability and lead the country into anarchy.

There you are. Slandering anarchy. This is what leaders do when they fail to justify their rule.  This system of thought, anarchism, to many people, symbolises a society of destruction and disorder. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

In verity, anarchy is not about bombs, disorder or chaos. Nor is it about robbery, murder or war  each against all. Anarchy is not a return to barbarism or to the primitive state of man. It is about love and total respect for another human being. It is about love because when one defies the power to control the other, creation, expression and love will flow in abundance.

Anarchists believe that all kinds of authority or institutions to be oppressive, a  means to subjugate the individual, even if one argues that authority is necessary to maintain an organisation's social structure and institutions are necessary to preserve society.

In truth, what is necessary are not structures, hierarchy or authority but a highly motivated sense of purpose and a total, all consuming sense of belonging.

Absolute freedom

Doesn't all strength lie in the creativity and absolute freedom of the individual? There is no such thing as guided or limited freedom but there is such a thing as absolute freedom. Anything inferior to ‘absolute’ should not be called ‘ freedom’. For anything less is a form of imprisonment, only the degree of movement and sufferings waver.

Why is it  unthinkable that human beings could have absolute freedom? It is not freedom which leads one into criminal oblivion but that of social, psychological, emotional, sexual and economic depression. However, governments would prefer to justify the limitation of freedom by unjustified legislation.

But why must one have regards for rules and regulations, law and order except for those which benefit human beings?

In The slavery of our times, Tolstoy said: ‘According to science, legislation is the expression of the will of the whole people; but as those who break the laws, or who wish to break them, and only refrain from fear of being punished, are always more numerous than those who wish to carry out the code, it is evident that legislation can certainly not be considered as the expression of the will of the whole people’.

‘There is but one general characteristic of all these laws - namely, that if any man does not fulfil them, those who have made them will send armed men, and the armed men will beat, deprive of freedom, or even kill the man who does not fulfil the law,’ added the writer.

Those which benefit human beings are never rules and regulations, law and order but rather the elements of agreement, negotiation, discussion, consultation and sharing.  All the same, why must one be bound psychologically, socially or religiously by any sect or ideology or culture, if not to be regulated, as if one is some kind of machine or simply a cow within a herd led by an all powerful shepherd

Tyrannical governments

In the ever-changing face of history, one thing remains unchanged - all forms of governments are tyrannical. No matter what their ideology - communists or nationalists. Deng Xiao Peng in China was as evil as Hitler was in Germany, as Stalin was in Russia and Suharto in Indonesia.

They are tyrannical because they have the power to compel others to obey them simply by as Tolstoy said, legislation and there was no other way  to do this except by blows, deprivation of liberty or murder, in other words, simply through violence.

In order to perpetuate this organised violence, governments exist, a dictator is born, who in turn maintains his or her creator (the government) so that he or she can continue to thrive and control the world's distribution of wealth and power.

No doubt you will find what seems like chaos when anarchist groups are arrested during demonstrations and strikes, such as at the recent gatherings in Seattle which saw the groups protest against  globalisation and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

But so did students, religious people and others. And don't we all know that peaceful demonstrations turn ugly when the police disrupt the peace with their famous antics and instruments,  like the tear gas, water canons and beating up of innocent civilians?

Italian writer Orianna Fallaci in her book A Man described Greek poet, resistance hero and anarchist Alexander Panagoulis, condemned to death for attempting to assassinate dictator Papadopoulus in the 1970s, as saying at his trial, ‘I do not love violence. I hate it. I do not like political violence either. When it happens in a country where there is a free Parliament and the citizens are granted the freedom to express themselves, to oppose, to think in a different way, I condemn assassination with disgust and anger’.

‘But when a government is imposed with violence and with violence prevents citizens from expressing themselves, from opposing, even thinking, then the use of violence is necessary. In fact, it is imperative,’ he said. Indeed, democracy would lead to anarchy when people one day decide what they want is total freedom - in thought, speech and action. Will this not lead to a revolution?

Indeed, it will, said feminist anarchist Emma Goldman. ‘No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. People are either not familiar with their history, or they have not yet learned that revolution is but thought carried into action’.

Politicians all over the world fear this because it would only mean one thing - that they can no longer be in power.

SUSAN LOONE is a malaysiakini journalist.

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