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Columns and Articles by Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman

May 05, 2023

The New Anarchy (1 of 2)

Anarchy is a fascinating and recurring political philosophy. Anarchists do not believe in government. They believe that after the collapse of governments, the people will live their lives freely, take care of themselves, and eliminate evil from the world. Almost all revolutions (except for the one that founded the United States) follow the anarchist pattern.

The French Revolution in 1789 was supposed to bring about a brave new world in which people called each other "citizen" and everyone prospered. Prisons were emptied (there would be no crime) and the authorities of the past, the monarchists and Catholic clergy, were hunted down and executed. The "brave new world" never happened. Instead, France got a murderous fanatical leader (Robespierre), who was assassinated, and Napoleon, a general, who started as a dictator and finished as a new monarch. He failed to conquer the world.

The Russian and Chinese revolutions also began as anarchy and ended as dictatorships. They called their revolt "Peoples? Revolutions," but they were nothing of the sort.

The fact is that Anarchy doesn?t work, yet it continues to make societies miserable. Anarchists knows how to kill, but not how to build and govern.

The American Revolution was not based on this anarchy fantasy. It was modeled after democracies in ancient Greece and Rome, based on elections, rule of law, and governance of educated and competent men. Those republics worked for a while, but eventually reverted to the monarchy model, until a dazzlingly intelligent small group of English colonists in 1776 formed a new country, which has flourished until today.

Unfortunately, Anarchy never dies. It keeps trying. Our own country is in the midst of another anarchy fever today, fueled by a populist former president and soldiered by hordes of murderous anarchists who want to take down democratic government and replace it with a dictatorship and a "brave new world." Anarchist White Supremacist thugs even tried to kidnap Michigan?s woman governor, whom they planned to try and execute.

The January 6th insurgency of White Supremacist thugs, summoned by government-hating Trump, who had lost his reelection, actually tried to overturn a free and fair election and replace it with a dictatorship. They planned to murder as many elected officials as they could hunt down, including the Vice President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fortunately, they failed.

This sort of thing has happened before: anarchist attempts to sow fear and murders---but they ultimately fail. Periods of domestic peace follow, but then when social justice grows thin, anarchy threatens again. That is happening now around the world, including our country. These conditions are cyclical, however, and can be ended by returning to justice and good governance.

The April Atlantic magazine featured an excellent article called "The New Anarchy," which includes summaries of former anarchy fevers of political violence and accounts of how they ended. In the first decade of the 1900s, wonderful changes that offered world-changing inventions, such as the automobile, airplane, medical and scientific progress, and social reform, promised better life for everybody.
But there were other changes that were threatening: an arms race that boded war, and in Russia and China, violent revolutions that overturned ancient monarchies with a long history of social injustice.

In the United States, anarchy reared its head and both here and around the world, anarchists assassinated five world leaders at the turn of the 20th century: American president William McKinley, the French and Spanish prime ministers, the king of Italy, and the empress of Austria-Hungary, which began World War I.

Assassination was then the favorite publicity method of the anarchists: sowing discord and fear, and provoking even more pushback by governments. The more governments tightened police power, the more anarchists resorted to further violence, including a spate of bombings (much like the militant Muslim terrorists of our own time).

Part 2 of this column will provide more details on what anarchy has done, how it was brought to a close, and what social changes are needed to prevent more cycles of anarchy.

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Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of "How Do You Know That? Contact her at Lfarhat102@gmail.com or www.globalthink.net.