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+1 vote

For a while, I really wanted to write a book that would prove to the reader that the police don't actually protect people, speaking of police shooting statistics, the inability of police to really protect people, and the fact that the police spend most of their time giving out fines and citations and tending to other bureaucratic matters (as david graeber already points out in some of his writings).

But the main problem with this approach is the fact that people don't really want to have law and order for reliable protection, but for general stability and peace of mind very similar to the kind of peace of mind that alarm system companies advertise. The thing that cops, politicians, and other kinds of civil servants do effectively is to keep the society that we live in intact.  I see families as a repressive institution, but I strongly sympathize with why people want to start one.

Why should someone who's pretty content with the things that they have see "our" social system as something they want to do away with? For an example of why i find this contradiction problematic, I've read some eco-extremism writings (eco-extremism being basically a kind of green anarchism that advocates doing the most destructive and violent measures available to...) and they think of themselves as egoists and individualists, which I find to be pretty laughable unless you have a complete hatred for other people.

An additional question to this would be: to what extent is stability and safety and illusion?

by (2.4k points)
edited by

"Why should someone who's pretty content with the things that they have...?"

could you expand on what you mean by "the things that they have"?

because this part of your question resonates with me...i feel mostly content, but would like to do away with "the social system"... 

i don't know if i could answer "why someone should" want to get rid of law and order, but i could at least express why i do (despite my relative contentment).

by "things they have", i guess i mostly mean the material comfort that the social system can give people...for example, I like it that I don't have to work much for the food I have, but then again, i would consider myself lucky.

and i really like food...
okay, thanks. do you also mean (as an assumption of your question) that the more material comforts a person has, the less likely they'd want to do away with law and order? so for example, a person barely getting enough food and shelter for physical survival would more likely want to get rid of the systems in place than someone with lots of stuff, homes, money, etc.
well, i think that has more to do with someone's social attachments than whether they are rich or poor. I think someone who is both poor and has "mental illness" would be more likely to be excited by the fact that some sort of larger social breakdown was occurring, because they have no stake in the current society we live in. However, if someone was poor, but forced themselves to believe in such concepts as work in order to keep themselves doing it they would probably feel pretty upset if their money all the sudden became useless.

as for me in my situation, i get pretty excited when "bad" things happen politically (for example, when september 11 happened i more excited than anything else), but I still heavily depend on money to be able to stay sane and detach myself from people who would want to dominate and control me, so I would have to be pretty deeply dishonest to myself to actually align myself with some sort of anti-civ way of thinking...if that all makes any sense?

1 Answer

+1 vote
This will sound dumb, and probably is, but here goes: Any time "should" pops up we must recognize we have entered the realm of ethics. If there is no right/wrong beyond what human societies invent for themselves there is no answer to what any creature should want and therefore work towards. All we can do is shrug. If we reject the idea of universal ethics applicaple to all things capable of making choices (not necessarily capable of rationalizing choices made) we have no possibility of answering this question.

Because our species seems uniquely obsessed with reasons for things and has a history of inventing very wrong explanations for what we feel and do, I think we should question any lessons we get from other humans and let non-humans teach us what we should and shouldn't want and work towards.  In fact, to be even more certain we need to look beyond mammals - even vertebrates - because they are possibly too closely related to our own species to be trustworthy. I like to think of societies of plants, microbes and insects as the best model societies because, frankly, they've had much more time to get it right.

Personally I reckon we don't need to comprehend why some goals are more ethically right than others - we only need assume that non-reasoning life is generally ethical because it is not burdened by the psychological need to understand.

So it is in this frame of mind I attempt to answer your question: Content people should want to do away with law and order as it is today because this top-down way of organization has not been adopted by societies of plants, microbes and insects. Rather, these societies find stability via diversity, specialization and interdependence.
by (560 points)

I don't completely agree with your answer, Syrphant, but I like it. The point I would pick at (outside of possibly crafting my own answer), isthat I would distinguish what you are referring to as ethics, as more morals. I might be splitting hairs, but to my mind a person can hold ethics that are their own, and morals describe the universalized should that I at least take your answer to be addressing.

and for that reason, ingrate, i fine the whole idea of "being an anarchist" a little disturbing because it implies some sort of war against other people based on where you align your interests