Anarchy is Swallowing Up the Social Order
To use a term from Greek philosophy, the telos (purpose) of government has been misplaced. Instead of designing laws and methods to enhance the dignity and freedom of the individuals living in our society, the government has been designing laws and projects that are either (1) guided exclusively or primarily by utilitarian goals of the greatest good for the greatest number, or (2) by socialistic goals that government expansion is the greatest good in itself, or (3) by identity politics where the good of identity collectives is more important than the good of individuals.
But the answer is not more government programs, more government authority, or more emphasis on collective identity rather than individual identity. Rather, it is a government with a correct understanding of its purpose that is needed. The true conservatives have it right. We need to go back to our Christian biblical moral roots, and to checks and balances and federalism as understood by the Founders, as well as a more unwavering belief in free enterprise.
The above three purposes of government thus diverge from the founding values of the United States. The biblical/founding values are based on government’s existence to promote the well-being of the individuals living under that government, individuals as individuals, not members of a subgrouping according to sex, race, age, mental functioning, health, etc. Thus, there is a divergence between the path taken by government in recent decades and the philosophical premises of our society as built upon a foundation of biblical morality. This writer used the word “telos” purposely in the above first paragraph. This term taken right out of Aristotelian philosophy fits perfectly with biblical teaching. The holy revelations of God have given meaning to the idea of purpose in life that mere dependence on human reasoning -- the approach taken by the Greeks -- could never achieve.
Government in the name of order, control, efficiency, organization, the greatest good for the greatest number, solidarity, social justice, and safety is instead ruling over a society that is increasingly disordered, crime-ridden, unjust, and disturbed to an extreme. While violent crime peaked in the 1990s, today it is still more than double what it was in 1960.
A word that describes the direction of our acceleration through space and time is “anarchy.” Synonyms for anarchy are lawlessness, nihilism, mobocracy, revolution, insurrection, disorder, chaos, mayhem, tumult, turmoil. Instead of looking at discrete issues in our classic pragmatic way, is it not necessary that we revamp our thinking, see what society has become, and work through our issues as a culture in light of the general disintegration. Who is the only One who can bring hope to our fallen, desperate, disintegrating society and world?
Thus, despite increased government controls of everyday life in education, policing and citizen surveillance (don’t forget those traffic tickets based on surveillance cameras), and dictation of many aspects of everyday living, we do not observe increasing order. We observe increasing social anarchy. Let’s look at a somewhat truncated list of what we have endured and are enduring as a society. We have seen horrible onslaughts as follows: the Fort Hood jihad massacre, the Boston Bombing jihad massacre, the San Bernardino jihad massacre, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, riots in Berkeley, Ferguson, and Baltimore, cop shootings in Dallas and New York City, the Sandy Hook massacre, the Las Vegas massacre, the Texas church massacre, the Florida HS massacre, the Chattanooga recruiting station attack, and the jihad attack in Garland, TX against Pamela Geller.
We see anarchy further revealed by regular and frequent breakdowns of mass transit systems in metropolitan New York City and elsewhere and massive infiltration of our country by illegals (reminiscent of flooding in of Germanic tribes leading to collapse of the Roman Empire). The anarchy occasioned by mass illegal immigration is encouraged by sanctuary cities with the avowed policy of protecting illegals, even those with multiple illegal border crossings, from apprehension by ICE. Also, there is a drug use and abuse health crisis of epidemic proportions. Further, the family in America is also being ripped to shreds as the number of children born outside of the marriage bond was 5% in 1960 and is 40% for the last few years. This statistic does not include the children who are born into intact families, but are raised by a single parent as the divorce rate rises.
Thus, we see that the scope of government has grown and become more intrusive, but at the same time, anarchy seems to be racing forward at warp speed. The leftists seem to think that anarchy is growing because government, despite its growth, has not been growing big enough or fast enough. According to their thinking, growth in government power is the answer to anarchy. They think this partially for a good reason: namely, the purpose of a government is to protect the citizens from the bad people and from the wrong activities that threaten social safety, unity, and order. However, given the present size, scope, and cost of our government, it never seems to occur to them that governmental policies have been wrongheaded and guided by a flawed philosophy or purpose(s) for the past 100 years. Growth in government size and authority cannot solve or even reduce anarchy if it is in service to the wrong purpose.
When discussing socialism vs. free enterprise with a leftist acquaintance (who stopped speaking to me after I said I was happy with Trump’s victory despite some of his personality flaws) he was stunned when I suggested that perhaps it is time for the New York City subways to again be privatized. Perhaps that is the only answer to the filth, signal problems, breakdowns, delays, overcrowding, and surging fare prices? Could it be that people having to do their jobs in order to keep their jobs and make a profit for investors would actually incentivize improvements? Notice I said “again be privatized.” Many people are unaware that the subways of this great metropolis were once privately owned, and that the City of New York bought the two existing private lines in 1940. This was augmented by purchase of the transportation line on Staten Island in 1971 as well as various bus lines in intervening years.
Do we really need the vast apparatus known as the U.S. Postal Service? Literally 90-95% of the mail delivered to my home is in the category of “junk mail.” I have to buy trash bags in order to regularly get rid of it in the biweekly sanitation department pickups. Is the cost and delivery of all this mail worth paying all those mail carrier salaries, and buying and maintaining all the sorting equipment that is used in its dissemination?
We must face facts: anarchy exists. Government is creeping along, puttering along, with its bureaucratic successes, and by keeping a mere semblance of order. However, anarchy is the true MO of our era. Our present southern border controversy is not only a particular issue, but it is symbolic of the wider controversy over dealing with mergent anarchy. The leftist Democrats want bigger government but, at the same time, continued anarchy, and deplorables like myself want the anarchy to be acknowledged and addressed in practical ways based on classic American principles.
E.Jeffrey Ludwig teaches philosophy in New York City, and has been a contributor to americanthinker.com since July 4, 2010. He has published the best-selling book The Catastrophic Decline of America’s Public High Schools: New York City, A Case Study.