Friday, November 04, 2005

I am a Pragmatic Radical Conservative Liberal

Bakunin – Anarchism

Until I read Bakunin I made no distinction between anarchy and chaos.  The image Bakunin describes is quite nice, everyone taking responsibility for their own actions, living off their own labour.  Liberty flowing from liberty, meaning by giving liberty (through rights, and education) to people it will ensure the liberty of everyone.  

I also think that it solves the problem that Berman raised about liberalism.  The case when there are some people who just don’t want to participate and you can’t argue them into participating.  Bakunin will simply allow those people who want to live like animals do so, and be treated like animals.  

Even as a Christian I would like to live in the ideal state Bakunin has imagined.  I have no problem with his proposition of de-establishing organized religion.  I think it might actually do the cause of Christ a great service.  Also, Bakunin has space for religion in the ability of free association.  

There is a parable that says what you sow you reap.  I think this is both the strength and the weakness of anarchism.  Bakunin envisions a society that sows liberty and will reap liberty, a person can’t be forced into liberty, and I think the liberty of this society while a form of liberty is a degraded form because of the social pressures and doing what is acceptable places control on liberty, also, the lack of personal responsibility.  This is the great strength of anarchism.  However, my contention is how Bakunin will get humanity to this state.  Through violent revolution, “a war of extermination is bound to erupt, with no quarter and no respite.”  This is not sowing liberty and responsibility; it is sowing murder and violence.  My prediction is that once the revolution is over peace will not reign, but chaotic warlordism.  

This is why I am a radical visionary and a conservative liberal pragmatist.  A bit of a paradox, but being a Christian, I am all about paradox.  My interaction with Bakunin has shown my radical visionary side (the more popular of the two).  Now to explain my conservative liberal pragmatism; first off, what is it?  It is someone, like me, who thinks that change needs to come slowly and be well thought out.  I think this must be the way because otherwise too many people get killed (not that a lot of people aren’t getting killed already).  Here is an example of a case of development.  There is a community that is starving to death, it is a horrible thing and we have to do something quickly to stop people from dying.  So what usually happens is a supply of aid is flown in and the crisis is averted, then they try to implement the “big fix” that is supposed to save the people.  All this happens in six months.  Well the big fix fails and Red Cross is back in five years with another emergency package of food aid.  What if we worked with them over the five years to identify their issues appropriately (ie. by asking them) and build off what they have already done?  Develop a relationship instead of being the saviour in a crisis and applying a project that worked wonders in another area, in another context.  The idea is that if we just sit down with the people and talk it through then maybe we will get somewhere, instead of wasting five years of the community just surviving.  

Marx and Bakunin saw a system that wasn’t working and envisioned a new system.  This is a job that is too big for one person, even for that person and his group of friends.  It is easy to criticize, but hard to build something new.  Lets avoid building something new and tinker with what we have got, and by the end of the process we will have something new.  It is a lot easier to build a car by replacing the old pieces with new parts, even adding new parts, but it is really hard to put a car together from a bunch of parts sitting in a box.  

I am conservative because I think we should work off the good things that are existing
I am liberal because I think we should talk to everyone about what is going on
I am pragmatic because I think we should think things through in their context
I am not a revolutionary because I think we don’t have the capacity
I am a radical because I think we can work toward utopia


defender_of_christ said...

Are you going to say that you are all these things (e.g., conservative, liberal, radical visionary) in the debate? I think you should focus mainly on the strengths of conservatism. Also, try to find good quotes from Bakunin's work when you defend on Monday.

Mr. Jeffery said...

I decided that I can't defend conservatism. What I liked about conservatism is actually liberal. Further, I don't agree with conservatism because of the second law of thermodynamics in secular terms, and original sin in theological terms. Chesterton wrote in "Orthodoxy" that if you have a white post it will eventually turn grey and get dirty, to keep it white you have to paint it every once in awhile. We have to be in a state of revolution, always re-interpreting the ideas so they will fit the context.

defender_of_christ said...

It's your choice.