Monday, July 15, 2013

Rule of three


By Bill Kraus

There are at least three categories of anarchists at work in the halls of state capitols and in Washington, maybe more.

The most extreme and smallest are the pure anarchists. Their goal is to have governments simply go away. A surprising advocate of this idea was Karl Marx, who is best known as the founder of what we call communism. His theory was that full public ownership of everything would eliminate the need for a ruling body known as government. He allowed as how the route to this utopian objective would have to go through totalitarianism which would eradicate private property. As we all know, no one has gotten through this transitory phase, and now pure anarchy is in the hands of people on the other side of the spectrum. They are not making a lot of noise about where they want to go. They are not making a lot of progress either. What they are making is a lot of trouble.

In a recent column about the rocky road to immigration reform, the NY Times's David Brooks pointed out that those who oppose it will destroy the Republicans' chances of ever coming back into power. Pure anarchists don’t care. In their world all avenues to power, including the parties, are expendable.

A more prevalent and populous anarchistic group is those who want to destroy the government because they believe the government is trying to destroy them and things they value. The extreme example of this phenomenon are those who believe that 9/11 was orchestrated by or on behalf of the government itself so the government can become more powerful and evil than it already is. The levels of this fear-driven sector go down to, and maybe are exemplified by, the 2nd amendment fanatics who believe that the government wants to take away their firearms so that they will no longer be able to defend themselves from a governmental abrogation of their rights starting with their right to bear arms.

Other people with other fears harbor anti-government fears for other reasons. The politics of paranoia? Sort of.

The most prevalent and populous anarchists are those who think the government is too big, too incompetent, too softhearted, and too everywhere. Their complaints start with surly clerks at the drivers license windows and run through the whole regulatory structure. They decry the creation of a servile dependent 47 percent of the population who not only take the earnings from the hard working and redistribute them to the unworthy but botch the job of governing generally while doing these counterproductive things. They want the government to defend the shores, deliver the mail, and stay out of their lives.

This is the least fearful or utopian but most susceptible group. Their grievances are often real. Their belief in the rectitude of the private sectors’ ability to do everything better is strong if uninformed.

All of these sectors add up to a minority of the population.

So how did so many of them get elected to office and how have they been able to paralyze the system?

One of the ways they got elected was by riding a widespread wave of discontent accompanied in many instances by fear. These are turbulent times. Large, intractable problems confront us at every turn.

It is a challenger's dream. All one has to say is, "I am not him or her and I can do better." Are there two more vivid examples of this electoral strategy than the stories of races for a Wisconsin seat in the U.S. Senate in the last couple of decades? I doubt it.

Paralysis comes easily to legislative bodies. If cluttering the agenda with inflammatory social issues doesn’t do it, there is always the fall back that it has always been and always will be easier to stop legislation than to pass it to rely on, combined with the procedural barriers of super majorities, caucus consensus, filibusters, points of personal privilege.

It is almost miraculous that anything got done before the rise of the anarchists made a complete train wreck of the process of governing this flawed, unruly democracy.

It did. It no longer does.

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