Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Epistle to the Libertarians: Left (Anarchists) and Right (Randians, Conservative)

Chapter One
Historically speaking the bureaucracies that so many libertarians rail against are the product of population growth, the rise of cities, the rise of city-states, and the rise of territories (kingdoms, states, duchies, nations). As population and population density increased so have cities, "civilisations", city-states, states, and bureaucracies, bureaucracies of social control (the military, the police, education, and so on) and redistribution (religious bureaucracies, economic bureaucracies, political bureaucracies, and so on). Why? Because as Max Weber pointed out some hundred years ago, bureaucracies are most efficient and most effective at controlling increasing populations and collecting and redistributing the "goods" of large scale societies (pastoral, agricultural, trading, industrial) from the powerless to the powerful, from those opiated on religious ideology to those who engage in religious opiation (rulers as god's chosen and priests as his chosen helpmeets on earth), most efficiently and effectively.

Given these simple historical facts de-bureaucratisation is highly unlikely to occur in complex societies (nation-states) because de-bureaucratisation would require population decreases, the breaking up of mega economic entities like corporations into small locally based and locally operating entities, and the breaking up of nation-states with their mega-bureaucracies into much smaller units on the scale of Quaker meeting houses.

Speaking of the Religious Society of Friends, Quaker meetings are the only type of relatively successful libertarian organisation that has functioned relatively egalitarianly for hundreds of years that I know of. It must be asked, however, whether this religious group that came into the world in the 1600s just as modernity was emerging, functioned and functions because it exists within the modern economic, political, social, and cultural institutions that dominate the world and, in particular, dominate the Western world. It must also be noted, that Quakers constitute a very small percentage of the global and Western population and that their libertarianism itself may be a product of the wealth and culture that modern population growth and bureaucratisation has created.

So breaking up bureaucracies is rather a Sisyphean task, wouldn't you say? Given that we are, as Weber once remarked, trapped in the iron cage of bureaucracy the question we should ask is how to make bureaucracies function more effective and successfully to bring about greater justice and equality of opportunity.

Chapter Two
The social theoretical hallucination of many libertarians, left or right, that men were free before the imposition of the social contract or social compact is a myth. The earliest humans apparently lived in groups that hunted and gathered and goods were redistributed in these societies for the common good. And while there were and are inequalities in hunter-gatherer societies, mostly of gender and likely having to do with procreation, the cooperation and sharing in early human groups allowed humans to survive and procreate in a hostile environment.

Again the issue here should be about how to create greater cooperation and greater justice and equality of opportunity in large scale bureaucratic societies and between the powerful societies of the West and the societies they have exploited and continue to exploit for their benefit.

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