Laina Farhat-Holzman expresses what it is like to find oneself, and in this case a civilization, in an irreducible contradiction and paradox. Do the humanistic ideals of “free” and “fully” informed citizens of democratic nations have value beyond the symbolic gesture or being used as an ideological justification for various systems of domination and exploitation? This is a real dilemma that Western Civilization has wrought. As Baudrillard put it somewhere, ‘we have painted ourselves into a corner…but there you are!’
It is doubtless that the comfort and predictability of our day to day lives ought to be enhanced by trust, civility and social solidarity. Groceries at the market and a “daily newspaper” are nice benefits and who wants to rock that boat? Mr. Assange apparently.
Why? Because he is some kind of raging “Anarchist” intent on nothing but mindless and hateful destruction? He does not follow those “rules of the road that govern driving” that Laina holds as a metaphor for ‘good civilization’. ( In the U.S. over 37,000 died on those roads last year.) I was taught that the rules of the road were honesty and openness and the “trust” was that you and I could be trusted with the truth. We all knew that governments and corporations are full of liars and deceitful self promoters. Now we have evidence that it is all of them. I can at least “trust” that I am being lied to and kept out of the loop.
I do not know what is meant by calling Mr. Assange a “devout anarchist”, other than its obvious intent as an insult. Mr. Assange’s alleged “anarchism” is tied immediately to Al Quaeda and some international “anarchist movement”? Is this the truth or just another cover story? The thinking about anarchism here needs clarification..
Al Quaeda and the ideal society they propose as exemplified in Sharia Law is the antithesis of anarchism. It is utter totalitarianism. They are very clear about the “rules of the road” and who is in charge of the “truth” and what exactly you need to know. They seem to feel the same way about their rules as Laina does about hers.
The state of anarchy that exists in Somalia does stand in stark contrast to my “mid-western’ sense of order. This state of anarchy is not the product of mad bombers and destroyers acting out their hatreds of governments and tyrants or deep anarchistic philosophical commitments. Philip Kaputo is well read as a testament to the ramifications and lingering wounds left by European Colonialism. Living in a “state of anarchy” does not require any anarchists nor does it require any personal commitment to anarchy. In this sense it merely indicates that a system or systems of a state organization are lacking or ineffective.
Anarchism deserves better. Leo Tolstoy, Peter Kropotkin, Michael Bakunin, Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Murray Bookchin and the first President of the ISCSC, Pitirim Sorokin, who declared himself to be a “Conservative Christian Anarchist”, are but a few of the anarchists that have contributed much to political and social thought and to civilization in the most constructive ways. Here we may actually find a “devout anarchist”. I do not think there is a bomb-tossing, hate filled destroyer in the bunch. Certainly not Sorokin!
The contradictions found in late modern societies are not to be escaped by dialectical maneuvers. More challenging is the rapid and continued growth of global electronic communications that can guarantee journalistic oversight as promised by the Fifth Estate. On one hand, these information networks have been used by the state and by markets to ‘manage’ the people by making personal secrets and private information their domain. On the other hand, these same networks make keeping public secrets more difficult and the people less agreeable. It is not even possible to ‘clamp down’ or shut it off. Maybe governments will have to learn to be honest and open or we will have to acknowledge that it is a scam and we are the dupes. We painted ourselves into this corner.
And please don’t kill the messenger, if for no other reason than to avoid the irony of becoming what we hate: anarchists. Before we get Mr. Assange and “…locking him up for good” maybe we would want to know if he broke any laws. As of this morning he is not charged with any crime related to Wiki-leaks here or in any other jurisdiction. Here he would continue, in a civilized way, to be innocent until proven guilty should they trump up some charges, and still has the right to a trial and a defense before being locked up “for good”. If this is the progrom of the anti-anarchists, it is part and parcel of what needs to be exposed. I will stand with Sorokin as a Conservative Christian Anarchist and always support the demand for public’s right to know and be suspicious of states and nations as the notorious liars that they are.
By Richard Cronk