The anarchist's burden… 
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The anarchist's burden…

The anarchist's burden…

By: James Babb

Should we stay and fight for freedom, even when those around us seem unaware and unwilling to address the root problems of society?
In the classic fable of the "Blind Men and an Elephant," each blind man feels a single part of the elephant, like the tail, side or leg. One man detects a wall, another a rope, another a large column. They then compare observations and learn that they are in complete disagreement about the nature of what they have experienced. When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, he not only informs the blind men about the elephant, but also informs the men that they are blind.
Progressives, conservatives, etc., often perceive problems the way the blind men perceive the elephant. Conservatives may see the problems of taxation or market regulations. Progressives may see problems like drug prohibition or police abuse. The burden of anarchists is similar to the sighted man. Not only does he get the whole picture, but he must confront the others about their blindness. How can you explain sight to someone who has been blind for life?
Every fan of FreedomsPhoenix has heard the slogan "Freedom's the answer. What's the question?" To anarchists (principled libertarians, voluntaryists, leave-me-alone-ists, whatever you call yourself), this is undoubtedly true.
While statists struggle with endlessly complex solutions, on top of solutions, on top of solutions, anarchists have seemingly simple answers that happen to be correct every time: more personal freedom, more choices, more competition, less coercion, less violence. The non-aggression principle is the key to solving so many problems, that anarchists can be easily resented by those engaged in the complex mental gymnastics required to justify their statism.
Problem: War
Statist Solution: More war, sanctions, death, deficits, taxes, inflation, death
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Problem: Availability of Healthcare
Statist Solution: Massive bureaucratic cartel, eliminate choice, rationing, death
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Problem: Security
Statist Solution: Grope grandmas and children at airport, spy on everyone, suspicionless checkpoints, keep everyone scared.
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Problem: Drug Addiction
Statist Solution: Arm Mexican drug cartels, lock up brown people and hippies. SWAT raids in schools, shoot family pets.
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Problem: Helping the poor
Statist Solution: Steal money from everyone, outlaw private charity, keep people dependent, prohibit low value labor, limit new businesses.
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Problem: Economic depression
Statist Solution: Buy champagne with freshly printed dollars. Make up stories about a "fiscal cliff."
Anarchist Solution: Abolish the state
Notice a pattern? As anarchists, we know that freedom is the right answer for both moral and pragmatic reasons. We know that there is no product or service that is best produced with coercion. We understand that the freedom to choose is essential to human happiness.
As an anarchist, I regularly receive calls for help from people that encounter some problem with the state. It usually involves an arrest for a victimless crime, eminent domain property seizure, or some corruption in their town council. I try to help in these situations as often as I can. These are teaching opportunities. But it can be quite a burden. Sometimes we can help these victims of the state see the whole elephant. Sometimes we can't.
Early in the history of We Won't Fly, (a travel dignity webpage), one reporter identified co-founder George Donnelly as an anarchist in a newspaper. Quite a few people had negative comments about this. They said things like "I liked you for opposing the TSA, but if you're anarchists, Im out of here!" When a government hand is in your grandma's pants, perhaps it's time to consider anarchy.
At a recent peace rally, I saw a woman holding a sign with a message on each side. One side said "End the wars," the other said "Tax the rich." The inconsistency was lost on this poor woman, as it is on those Subaru drivers with bumper stickers of peace signs and Obama.
Consider all of the marijuana legalization advocates that think gun prohibition is a good idea. I know a man who had TWO medical marijuana clinics shut down by the Obama administration. He then endorsed and voted FOR Obama! Armed men with state badges had kidnapped this man and held him hostage for several years. He now supports a total gun ban. Presumably, only the gang that destroyed his life can be trusted to wield lethal force. If this view wasn't isolated, I would dismiss it as Stockholm Syndrome.
At a recent rally against police brutality, demonstrators had gathered to protest a savage surprise attack on a defenseless woman. One of the organizers was quoted in the paper as saying something like "We like the police. We respect authority. We just ask for better training." How many police beatings are required before it's obvious that a police monopoly is a dangerous menace to society?
A have a  "friend" on Facebook that I know through our mutual opposition to youth curfews in Philadelphia. Today, she wrote on her wall about the need for universal healthcare, because her sister can't afford medicine. I suggested that she put up a chip-in for donations and investigate why healthcare is so expensive. I was quickly informed that voluntary aid is "bullshit", I'm an "idiot," and that I support a "barbaric" philosophy. Of course, her philosophy of statism has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions, but I'm a barbarian for offering to help with MY OWN money.
Even Ron Paul, who has an extraordinary understanding of free market economics, has certain blind spots. Even though he knows prohibition doesn't work, he knows the advantages of market competition, and he understands the inherent rights of association and travel, yet he still advocates government restrictions on the movements of peaceful people.
As anarchists, of course we want to end the wars, end prohibition and stop police brutality. Our burden is to help the people in these causes without pulling our hair out. We need to remember to help the blind men perceive the full elephant. That elephant is the belief in a horribly destructive myth; the myth of legitimate government authority, the myth that violence and coercion can solve problems effectively.
Staying in the fight is a burden for anarchists, but the reward of seeing folks open their eyes to the big picture is worth it, even if it's rare.
James Babb is a Co-founder of We Won’t Fly, and a member of the Vote For Nobody Campaign (Anti-Politics.WS) 

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