Well, no shit! No wonder this introduction seems eerily significant--it's the point on which I started this meager weblog last July. If you'd like to see a couple of posts on the matter, head back to the wild world of 2011.
"The Tipping Point" and "On the Violence in Norway"
Anyway, what brings me to this question again, of anarchy's response to violence, is a post Crow linked to on his page. On From Wine to Water, Ivan writes rather more eloquently than I recognized in my immediate response, over on Crow's weblog.
I encourage you to read the entire post, because its thoughts stand on its own. It poses questions any should be willing to answer.
Let me first glibly reply, in bold, to the rhetorical questions.
Is there some serious projection being done by anarchists? Yes. Are folks considering their own habits, desires, values, etc.; Yes. and the roles that government does and does not play in their own lives; Yes. and concluding from this that we’d all be better off without government—but failing to adequately consider the full diversity of people being governed? God, yes. Are violent criminals and street thugs, for example, out of sight and out of mind?
I can't speak for the anarchists whose comments Ivan has read, but the anarchish, libertarianisch folks I've known, absolutely are motivated by psychology and aesthetics. (Does this mark them as different from other people in terms of political affiliation? Not really.) Failing to consider the people being governed! Fuck that! There are heroes and there are scavengers, paragons and parasites. There's Mad Max, that's me, and then there are the pitiless ones who refuse to support themselves. And as far as violent criminals? Ivan, Ivan, Ivan. Libertarianish, anarchish folks think they're Mal Reynolds. They believe the best men win in gunfights. Maybe there are still some utopian anarchists. I've definitely seen a lot of that streak. But I also see the anti-heroic pretenders, who quaintly believe that lawlessness will be as respectful to their tender bodies as this grand veal crate we call society. Maybe some ignore the violent, the thugs. Others believe they will be swiftly swept away by the new order. I think both ignorance and swift dismissal are foolish, so that still leaves Ivan's point. What do we do about all the bastards?
Ivan goes on to grant the very important realities that violent crime is often unreasonably feared, and that fear of crime is often used by the powerful. He grants that economic circumstances, political history, and local culture all play their part. But he comes back to the question of how we deal with these individuals.
I’m just thinking about how violent crime is, in fact, a reality. And some violent criminals can only be stopped by force. And I’m glad that I don’t have to try to marshal that force myself.
Then I don't think you'd like anarchism, because that's what anarchism means, at least as I understand it. The modern, industrial or post-industrial state relies on division of labor. What is the cost of you not having to be a soldier part of the time? That someone is a soldier all of the time, for part or all of their lives. And this is not a response to Ivan but once again a response to others, friends or otherwise, who believe that their goodness must be pure: if you believe that anarchy will bring about a shortage of violence, then I want to see your math. All evil does not flow from the state. Much of it does, but much more may simply move through the state.
The state is a very efficient means of violence, but it is not the only means. And it is certainly predated by the individual tyrannies of rape, theft, assault, murder... Will they survive the state? Of course they will.
So let us say that we get to the point where anarchy is in hand, and we can no longer fault violence on economy and policy and the larger systemic woes of the state. I will say we have already won a great deal, but let's say we get there and we find that some people are still bastards. This will, of course, be the case, for there will always be someone who stops to ask, "Why shouldn't I take hers?" This isn't the poverty-as-envy shtick you hear from Republican uncles or the poverty-as-indolence you hear from same. This is actually a rather basic question but one which troubles all philosophies. All things being equal, why shouldn't we do as we please to others? After all, the war-of-all-against-all used as a cudgel by Hobbes is just as logically consistent as Kant's categorical dialect. Consistency works both for considerate people and for total bastards. So why the fuck can't I, under anarchy as well as law, do what I please and take what I like? Under anarchy especially, who's going to tell me "no"?
Whoever pleases. Whoever contests it. And whether fair or not, it'll either be respected, or it'll lead to revenge killings. It might lead to a war. Or it might not. You'll have some individuals form cooperative communities, some individuals handing their rights over to others, all in the name of security. This will happen again, because it has happened before. Or do you think we've really progressed since we lived in caves?
If you don't want to work in a field a little or split rails a little or slaughter chickens a little or practice your aim a little, then don't become an anarchist. But if you want Farmville excellence, unhireable specialization, styrofoam-backed meat, and to never smell cordite or blood while you wage war, then stay where you are.