Pace W.B. Yeats, mere anarchy is not loosed upon the world. What we enjoy in this country, and to a large extent in most other Western nations, is a bit more complicated than mere anarchy. It is, in fact, the unique achievement of the political genius of the modern era: what, in 1992, I called “anarcho-tyranny,” a kind of Hegelian synthesis of two opposites—anarchy and tyranny.
The elementary concept of anarcho-tyranny is simple enough. History knows of many societies that have succumbed to anarchy when the governing authorities proved incapable of controlling criminals, warlords, rebels, and marauding invaders. Today, that is not the problem in the United States. The government, as any taxpayer (especially delinquent ones) can tell you, shows no sign of collapsing or proving unable to perform its functions. In the United States today, the government works efficiently. Taxes are collected (you bet), the population is counted (sort of), the mail is delivered (sometimes), and countries that never bothered us are invaded and conquered.
Yet, at the same time, the country habitually wallows in a condition that often resembles Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature—nasty, brutish, and short. Crime rates have indeed declined in the last decade or so, but violent crime remains so common in larger cities and their suburbs that both residents and visitors live in a continuous state of fear, if not terror. The most obvious sign of what would normally be called anarchy is the immigration invasion. By some serious estimates, no fewer than 11-to-13-million illegal aliens now live in the United States, most of them from Mexico or Central America. The Mexican government actively encourages this invasion and, as the press recently reported, even provides to its own citizens a guidebook on how to carry it out. Our government does nothing serious to stop the invasion, to apprehend the invaders, or to deter the aggression that the Mexican state is perpetrating. The invaders—as residents of Arizona, where some 40 percent of illegal aliens enter the country, constantly complain—threaten the lives, safety, and property of law-abiding American citizens; depress wages; gobble welfare; and constitute a new underclass that is an object of demagogic political manipulation by both American and Mexican politicians. (The illegals in this country cannot legally vote, though that does not necessarily stop them, but they remain voters in Mexico, and Mexican politicians now routinely campaign for their votes inside the United States.) The federal government invaded Iraq, although Iraq never harmed or threatened us, but it does virtually nothing to resist the massive invasion (and eventually the conquest) of its own country and the deliberate violation of its own laws by Mexico.
What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny.
One example of the coexistence of anarchy and tyranny must suffice. On January 9 of this year, a man named Mustafa Mohammed, a Somali immigrant, was arrested at the retirement home in Alexandria, Virginia, where he worked, for repeatedly slashing the faces of the residents. Some six elderly residents were injured, one with a broken neck and another requiring 200 stitches. Mr. Mohammed, the alleged perpetrator, has been in trouble before, for a violent altercation committed while working at a local pharmacy. When some other workers made fun of him, he began hitting one of them, a fellow Somali immigrant, in the face. Charges against Mr. Mohammed were dropped after his victim declined to testify (“because other members of the Somali community begged him not to go forward,” as the Washington Post reported). It is understandable why the prosecution went nowhere, but why did Mr. Mohammed wind up with a job in a retirement home?
At the same time when the police, courts, and Somali community were dealing with Mr. Mohammed, the Washington police were engaged in more serious business. They were deploying yet another four hidden cameras in the District of Columbia to catch speeders. Despite earlier assurances from the District government that the purpose of the cameras was public safety, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams acknowledged in authorizing the four new devices that “the continued processing of District tickets and the collection of District revenues” were the reasons for them. Since August 2001, similar hidden cameras have raked in the tidy sum of $63 million for the District.
Under anarcho-tyranny, the control of genuinely dangerous elements like Mustafa Mohammed is put on the back burner. The real problem is how to squeeze money out of ordinary citizens who will not complain, will not fight back, and will not start slashing people in the face.
Anarcho-tyranny, of course, is not confined to the United States. In Western Europe, by some estimates, there are some 800 people now imprisoned for what can only be called “thought crimes”—for violations of the laws of various countries against racial “defamation” (usually, using racial or ethnic epithets and slurs), denying the holocaust, complaining about immigration, talking about racial differences, and even criticizing non-Western religions. Last December, British police arrested two leaders of the anti-immigration British National Party—Nick Griffin and the BNP’s founder, John Tyndall—because hidden cameras (not for speeders or for collecting revenue but for spying) had recorded them saying unkind things about Islam. Mr. Griffin reportedly called it “a wicked religion.” The West Yorkshire police boasted that they had deployed a team of officers for the Griffin case “five days a week, ten hours a day.” As Rod Liddle, a reporter for the London Spectator, commented in an article about the case:
Now at this point in the article, a really good journalist would tell you how big that team of policemen was. And how much the investigation had cost the taxpayer. And also cross-referenced it with how many burglaries, muggings, etc., had been carried out in the West Yorkshire area from July to 12 December. Especially unsolved ones. But I haven’t been able to find that stuff out: the police won’t tell me. But let’s just remember: a team of police officers, five days a week, ten hours per day.
Just as hidden financial interests were the immediate reasons for the deployment of traffic cameras in Washington, there were hidden political reasons for the round-up of Mr. Griffin, a Cambridge-educated lawyer who was planning on standing for Parliament in the constituency of David Blunkett, then home secretary in the Blair regime. The Home Office, as the Spectator article made fairly clear, seems to have had more than a little to do with the Griffin bust. Mr. Blunkett, Mr. Liddle suggests,
wished to placate New Labour’s enormous Muslim constituency which has been querulous of late, partly over the war against Iraq, partly over the arrests of suspected Muslim terrorists here in the UK. What better way to do a bit of placating than round up the ghastly racists of the BNP?
But pragmatic motives like wanting more money for government or muzzling political rivals are not the real motors of anarcho-tyranny. Nor is the simple calculation of many law-enforcement personnel that speeders and red-light runners do not usually shoot back. Only real criminals do, so it is much safer to get tough with the pseudocriminals than with the real ones. But these and similar cases are merely instances of how essentially corrupt politicians and administrators exploit the anarcho-tyrannical system for their own immediate gain or use it to avoid doing the often dangerous and difficult jobs they are supposed to do. What really drives the system is the revolution of our time, the internal onslaught against traditional identities and values that is usually termed the “culture war.” When we think about which laws are enforced and which are not, this becomes clear.
The laws that are enforced are either those that extend or entrench the power of the state and its allies and internal elites (the police, the military, the bureaucracies, the teaching and brainwashing class, the tax collectors, the professional social engineers whose business it is to design and implement the revolution, etc.) or else they are the laws that directly punish those recalcitrant and “pathological” elements in society who insist on behaving according to traditional norms—people who do not like to pay taxes, wear seat belts, or deliver their children to the mind-bending therapists who run the public schools; or the people who own and keep firearms, display or even wear the Confederate flag, put up Christmas trees, spank their children, and quote the Constitution or the Bible—not to mention dissident political figures who actually run for office and try to do something about mass immigration by Third World populations. Such dangerous elements are the main targets of the tyranny part of anarcho-tyranny.
For that matter, they also happen to be the main targets of the anarchy part. The laws that do not get enforced are those that protect such elements and their families and communities—laws against immigration itself as well as laws that are supposed to protect ordinary citizens against ordinary criminals. In the revolution, you see, the ordinary criminal, as well as the illegal immigrant, is at least an honorary member, if not a full-fledged officer, of the revolutionary class, like Karl Marx’s proletariat or Herbert Marcuse’s countercultural college students and hippies. By contrast, common hoodlums who commit rapes, robberies, and murders serve as the de facto field troops of the culture war, and it is hardly an accident that there is now a growing movement to extend the vote to those criminals unlucky enough to have landed in prison. Having served the revolutionary elite well, they deserve a promotion.
Anarcho-tyranny, then, is not just a deformation of the traditional system of government nor a symptom of “decadence.” The state today is perfectly capable of enforcing laws against illegal immigration and catching and deporting the illegals who are already here. It is also entirely capable of catching and imprisoning or executing the killers, rapists, and robbers who continue to haunt our streets and neighborhoods, just as it is entirely capable of catching speeders and red-light runners. The conventional conservative explanation of such “failures” on the part of the state, as the result of “weakness of will” or something, does not wash. The state and those who control it clearly have the will to enforce those laws they wish to enforce. The state does not “fail” to enforce the rest; it has no intention of enforcing them nor any desire to do so.
Anarcho-tyranny is entirely deliberate, a calculated transformation of the function of the state from one committed to protecting the law-abiding citizenry to a state that treats the law-abiding citizen as, at best, a social pathology and, at worst, an enemy. Having captured the state apparatus, the anarcho-tyrants are the real hegemonic class in contemporary society, and their function is to formulate and construct the new “culture” of the new order they envision, a culture that rejects as repressive and pathological the traditional culture and civilization.
The conservative misunderstanding and mischaracterization of anarcho-tyranny as “decadent” or the result of “weakness of will” (or, alternatively, of “relativism” or “nihilism”), in fact, only helps mask and consolidate the system’s real purposes and functions. As long as those who recognize that there is something at all wrong with the system think it is only a kind of glitch—the result of corruption, typical bureaucratic inefficiency, or decadence, etc.—then they will think it can be “fixed” through conventional political means. Just kick the bums out and elect a new set of good honest Republicans and movement conservatives who read National Review, and all will be well. They will enforce law and order and beef up the border patrol. Everything is OK.
Of course, everything is not OK, because anarcho-tyranny is the system itself, not just a problem in the system, and one important reason it has been able to triumph and lock itself into power is that it depends on the very passivity and conservatism it instills in the population it rules. The population it is enslaving does not need to resist like the violent criminals the anarcho-tyrants refuse to control, but it does need to be willing to act like the citizenry of the real republic that anarcho-tyranny has subverted and displaced. Only if the serfs are willing and able to assume the tasks and duties of governing themselves rather than merely to endure whatever their masters hand down to them will the twin anarchy and tyranny that the current system imposes begin to crumble. “Who would be free,” wrote Lord Byron, “himself must strike the blow.”