Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Short Note On Orwell's Description Of Himself As A "Tory Anarchist"

A note on the claim that Orwell's contradictory characterization of himself  as a "Tory anarchist" illuminates the truth of the peril of too much government, say, for instance,  socialism.   

I don't see the truth being revealed by the contradiction. 

The depredations of excessive statism, leaving aside statism itself, don't displace the vision of (say) Burkean Toryism, stable government changing incrementally, that slow bit by bit change to ward off the unforeseen consequences of too rapid and too much change at one time, and the related idea of maintaining an organic relation with custom and tradition, of keeping faith with the past and, so, making for an enduring, stable present and future. 

Or, even if your conservatism has a big libertarian inflection, there is still the understanding of the decidedly non anarchist need for limited government, which squarely contradicts the premise of anarchism, that states by definition are coercive and evil as they are marked by their monopoly over force. 

And in fact the monopoly over force is congenial with the night watchman role of the state, it providing security against violation from within and from without, those violations the condition of the state of nature, and security being the state's cardinal reason to be. 

Finally anarchism is at bottom incoherent, a mode of nihilism, or, maybe better, of political nihilism. And recourse to its language or to famous intellectuals who've clothed themselves in its tropes offers no illumination of truth.

Is what I think.

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1 comment:

  1. Beautiful coda, Maestro. Glad to see the qualifier, "excessive". Statism is the bogeyman for demagogues. The worst human calamities were due to weak not strong states. The fall of Rome and hiatus of civilization, the English civil wars, France's Reign of Terror, the Bolshevik Terror, the Nazis, the Japanese militarists, Mao and more, were made possible by weak, often reformist states. America exists today because its weak Confederation was quickly replaced by a strong state.

    We can debate about how much state is too much state, but I think it's more productive to discuss quality instead of quantity. Are universal healthcare and free education and "provision for the Common Defense" and insuring "domestic tranquility" (i.e. a police force that KEEPS THE PEACE), through the power of taxation, excessive statism? To some people they are. And those people a civil society has little use for.