Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Anarchy in the News

One small benefit of terrible things happening throughout the world is that I can write something about them (hopefully something short, otherwise I'm stuck editing and researching for days).

But it's rare that events are so illustrative, bringing light to flaws in political philosophies.

This is not one I usually deal with, but let's address Anarchism.

Fun, right? A lot of utopian political philosophies require some kind of self-organized system, without the benefit of a state. The basic idea behind anarchy is not simple violence, but the premise that people will organize spontaneously.

More specifically, that the community can and will handle problems independently, even problems normally dealt with through governmental intervention. It is a very nice idea, and if you survey a dozen teens, you'll probably find one that can explain the benefits in more detail.

Occasionally, this idea is tested.

Yesterday, in the Brazilian city of Vitoria in EspĂ­rito Santo, the police were striking due to poor wages, or no pay. I was skimming when reading about the causes, but the reason isn't really the point.

What is far more interesting were the consequences: Residents saw actual Purge-styled chaos, "thugs" (not my word choice!) randomly shooting at passersby, looting, and plenty of good old-fashioned murder. Readers with a more prurient interest may do their own search for security footage and cell phone recordings, I will not be linking them here.

And lest we be tempted to say that this is a function of the general lawlessness and cultural instability of Brazil, there have been other examples. I want to draw the reader's attention to the 1969 Murray-Hill riot in Montreal (also caused by a police strike).
"Montreal is in a state of shock. A police officer is dead and 108 people have been arrested following 16 hours of chaos during which police and firefighters refused to work. At first, the strike's impact was limited to more bank robberies than normal. But as night fell, a taxi drivers' union seized upon the police absence to violently protest a competitor's exclusive right to airport pickups. The result, according to this CBC Television special, was a 'night of terror.' Shattered shop windows and a trail of broken glass are evidence of looting that erupted in the downtown core. With no one to stop them, students and separatists joined the rampage. Shop owners, some of them armed, struggled to fend off looters. Restaurants and hotels were also targeted. A corporal with the Quebec provincial police was shot and killed at the garage of the Murray Hill limousine company as taxi drivers tried to burn it down."
Steven Pinker's quote on the matter is also instructive, though I have to say that the most charming thing about the Canadian incident was a group of angry cab drivers deciding to burn down a competing limousine company.

The Brazilian army has since been brought in to restore order, to the applause of the people living there.

I don't have too much else to say about this at the moment, though I suspect I will remember the sound of people cheering at the sight of army trucks for quite some time. Human beings are consistently not well behaved when left to their own devices, and we forget this at our peril.

No comments:

Post a Comment