By Paul Hein
I believe it was Chesterton who remarked that Christianity had not failed; it had not been tried. And Ayn Rand described capitalism as the unknown ideal. I would like to suggest, in a similar vein, that anarchy has been tried, is being tried and is a universal success, but remains an unknown ideal. I'll explain.
Anarchy, I must point out, is not synonymous, at least in my mind, with bomb-throwing lunatics, or rioting in the streets. It is as placid as a pond, as peaceful as a park. There is nothing chaotic about it. It is certainly not the absence of government, but only of government imposed by strangers. The anarchist governs himself, based upon principles found to be enduring and valuable: the Ten Commandments, for example. Anarchy has been the basis of society, long prior to the existence of government.
Does your family have bylaws? Are there regular elections, or meetings for the sake of writing new laws to cope with new problems? Do family members regularly charge one another with violations of the law, and demand justice, as meted out by strangers? Not in my family.
Family members may disagree, of course, but these disagreements are worked out and eventually settled without recourse to written statutes or judges. No lawyers are necessary. God's law, we have been taught, is written on our hearts. We don't need to quibble about the precise meaning of words in laws because we all know, instinctively, what is right and fair, and what isn't. It is only when we leave the family that we encounter the world of legalisms.
As a physician, I am on the staff of several hospitals. All have staff bylaws. These are bulky multi-page documents, intended to deal with any and every circumstance surrounding a physician's staff privileges. Before being accepted on the staff, you must sign the bylaws and agree to abide by them. Indeed, one hospital even affixes to its signature-line the jurat that the signer will be bound not only by these bylaws, but by any additions that may be made in the future.
Astonishingly, this absurdity seems to provoke little reaction from the doctors. Perhaps that is because they realize that the bylaws don't mean anything anyway, but exist mainly to provide the hospital with justification for acting against a particular physician if his actions might be considered dangerous to the hospital. Strangers from hospital-accreditation, who, ultimately, control the purse strings, require them.
The laws of your local community, not to mention state and federal governments, are sufficiently numerous and complex that you cannot possibly know them, although ignorance of the law - an excellent excuse for any alleged lawbreaker-is considered no excuse by the lawmakers, who may profit from infractions. You manage your day to day activities quite nicely without reference to these countless regulations. Indeed, were you to consider them
prior to acting, you would be reduced to inactivity; they would overwhelm you.
In fact, the innumerable laws which are said to apply to all of us are out of our thoughts. That undeniable fact is, in itself, an excellent argument for anarchy. We have government, with its innumerable laws, but we function as though we didn't, because otherwise we'd spend more time pouring over the statute-books, and haggling over definitions, than doing our work.
Moreover, the government itself, though passing new laws with alacrity, pays little attention to them, at least where its self-interest is concerned. It does what it thinks it must do, and if its actions are prohibited by the laws, it ignores them. The proof of this is all around us. To wit: "No state shall make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender for debt."
That constitutional provision would virtually eradicate our economic problems; the government not only ignores it, but violates it. Actions not specifically permitted to government by the constitution are denied it. Nearly all of the government's actions are, by this constitutional standard, unconstitutional. Does anyone in Washington care? Do most Americans?
The written laws are tools to be used, when it is considered desirable to do so, against individuals and corporations, except the federal corporation, which ignores any laws it finds oppressive.
What keeps society together are not the myriad laws imposed by government, to be applied as needed; it is the law written on our hearts. The shootings at schools around the country have undoubtedly stimulated a new outpouring of laws, but there are already numerous laws prohibiting shootings at schools, or anywhere else. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is the relevant law, and it 's already written, though not taught. Indeed, it is forbidden to be taught in many schools. Therein lies the problem!
There is freedom in the law, we are told, but that is only true if it is God's law, not that of some strangers who call themselves government. Those laws bring slavery. Indeed, that may be their purpose.
Paul Hein, an ophthalmologist, is author of All Work and No Pay. His column, "Hein-sight," usually runs on alternate Fridays in Spintech.