FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

The point of anarchism is to create a better society for everyone. To realize anarchism, many agree, is to do away with power. Why? Because gravitating towards power, hierarchy, and subjugation sullies our politics and makes the aims of anarchism impossible.

Of course, even an egalitarian society might give rise to leaders and dominion. And people can be ambitious; they might influence others in myriad ways and inspire hierarchy. In fact, Robert Michels’ “iron law of oligarchy” expounds precisely on this tendency.

But whereas anarchists are wont to do away with hierarchy and any power that would sustain it, others believe humanity is at its best because of an innate drive for dominance and success, and outcompeting one’s neighbors. Nor is this sentiment just a part of the cultural ether.

Notoriously, sociobiologists of the 1960s employed alpha male chimpanzees to validate claims favorable to social darwinism and other biological approaches devised to explain hierarchy among human societies. The science was supposed to shut the door on anarchism for good, but there were at least two problems.

One, Peter Kropotkin reminds us scientists are merely human; are the descendants of the haves instead of the have-nots; share the prejudices of their class; and/or serve the government. Two, anarcha-feminists altogether smashed the idea of arguing over “human nature.” They indicate such notions conflict with anarchism truly understood.

Given the circumstances that define, say, the US government’s ability to engage in national and international policy that drives migration to, and into, its borders, the question of power again arises, and so does the inclination to reduce state actions to blanket statements involving “human nature.”

One view is that the state is enforcing its borders and raiding businesses and homes not to stem any immigrants from entering the country, but to introduce ever greater precarity into the lives of those who reside among us and work jobs that help make the formal economy run (while contributing 11 billion dollars to the US economy each years). The goal here is to scare people away from their constitutional rights and to drive them underground.

Of course, this is not reflected in the gambit propagated by the powers that be. “We” have a choice, claim Donald Trump and Jeff sessions, the US can be a country with laws, or one without borders. Also, claims Trump, a nation without borders is not much of nation at all.

Anarchism provides a way forward for the rest of us who still care about creating a better society, not simply a country that demands borders and laws out of fallacious either-or arguments and tautological ruses. But to do away with the power that precludes a better society, we first must recognize that power for what it is.

When Sessions and Trump impose their immigration policies and practices on the rest of us, they seek to dominate us. Herein we find the power we ought to resist and abolish. It is, truly, a power that is prosecutorial against the most vulnerable.

And when Trump blames the Democrats for failing to cooperate, alleging they have forced his hand in separating children from their parents, he is seeking only to operate according to his own wishes, only to cooperate with those in compliance with his wishes.

Power is key here: Sessions and Trump seek dominion by exerting power over us. They get sufficient affirmation to justify their actions. Where? Among other examples, Fox News.

Additionally, the power to separate children from their parents, and to destroy families by way of law and border, instantiates yet another manifestation of the administration’s hierarchical leadership and coercive powers. Errico Malatesta described this coercive power of hierarchical leaders (i.e., “authority”) as the ability of specific individuals (e.g. Sessions and Trump) to “use social forces … the physical, intellectual, and economic powers of all” to make all conform and comply.

One countermeasure is to thwart ambitious leaders, or individuals, who strive to dominate the rest. As opposed to power, then, which we witness in the destruction of families at our border, anarchism gets expressed the in the successful, if short-lived, construction of spaces for solidarity, equality, and freedom, and the resistance to domination. Therefore, let us create (or multiply) such spaces and affirm them!

Anarchists understand hierarchy and the exercise of power elicits the worst in people, perhaps especially in the likes of Sessions and Trump, who are in positions of power and outwardly very ambitious men. So why on Earth should we submit to the kinds of laws and borders that further advance the power that Sessions and Trump enjoy and exercise in order to coerce the rest of us into conforming and complying with their ambitions? No actual anarchist will assent to this.

Kropotkin states, “Far from … imagining men better than they are, we see them as they are; and that is why we affirm that the best of men is made essentially bad by the exercise of authority.” Sessions and Trump hardly qualify as “the best of men.” Even so, with their exercise of authority since the 2016 election, we have great proof that rotten apples not only spoil the the bunch, but they also collect flies.

If we are to have political structures that shape our laws, then it is high time we horizontalize them. These structures must furthermore be egalitarian and consensual. Though it may not require an enduring optimism about human nature, our efforts to do away with hierarchy should provoke a wariness about the power detailed above. If not, we will not have to imagine a worst-case scenario too far off in the distance. Sooner rather than later, we will live it.

More articles by:

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail