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A letter to the youth: Do not be tempted by anarchy

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There is nothing to admire in anarchy. The youth, in particular, gets drawn to it because of the sheer disdain for rules and authority. Recent literature and movies, ‘Joker’ being one of them, also have an underlying theme that anarchy is the antidote to authoritarianism and plutocracy. Many believe that anarchy is mankind’s natural state of being. It is not. Our closest relatives in the wild, chimpanzees, have an elaborate social structure with alpha males to implement law and order. Unfortunately, it is unadulterated patriarchy. The ‘Jokers’ of the world are motivated to prove that the elimination of the state will result in a freer, fairer society. Pennyworth, however, sees through the high-sounding philosophy of Joker and says wisely, ‘some men just want to watch the world burn’. As all kids know, those who have lost (I refrain from using the word ‘loser’) have a strong desire to upset the board and walk away.

Anarchy is not the protector of the weak. It is the rule of the jungle. With no laws and security forces to protect the weak, they would be the first one to be preyed upon. Of all systems, anarchy favours the strong the most. Worse, anarchy favours those among the strong who are criminally minded. There can be no greater critique of it than Golding’s excellent work – ‘The Lord of the Flies’. Jack, who cannot be a leader in a world governed by reason and rules, breaks away to form his own band of ‘savages’, which ultimately seeks to silence anyone who talks about logic and justice. Piggy, who makes reasonable arguments, is murdered in cold blood and a worst fate awaits Ralph. The weak like Simon have no chance at all.

In ‘Lord of the Flies’, Jack and his gang breaks away from the leader Ralph, kills a sow, and offers it to the ‘Beast’ as an offering on a stick

Does a new order emerge from anarchy? Yes, almost always. Contrary to the third law of thermodynamics, entropy in such a system decreases. Disorder cannot sustain because social structures have to emerge where humans are involved. In a worst-case scenario, an anarchist state will develop into one where you have militia and warlords. The criminally-minded strong gang up together to rule over the weak. Or, you might witness the emerge of pseud-communism (the natural state for most communist states) – the resources are taken over by a group, but that resources are being shared is just an illusion. As communism is always centralised, the power rests with a few. The pigs in ‘Animal Farm’. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

There can also be a case where anarchy, if it starts as an anti-rich movement, ends up handing even more power to the wealthy. The militia has to be paid. The mobs can be bought. It is not that the mobs hate wealth, they just want it for themselves without going through the grind. They want the expensive stuff in the stores, but they want it now. The rich can buy the mobs, and the mobs would comply, as long as they are paid well. That is what has happened in most of Africa.

Lastly, will anarchy ever lead to an equitable society? Never. Social welfare programs can exist only in an ordered society. You have housing for the poor in the Netherlands, unemployment support in the US, and several social welfare schemes in the democracies of Europe. Communism promises equity, but by detesting the wealth creators, does not produce enough resources that can be shared with everyone. A movement in Cambodia that started with elevating farmers over doctors and teachers, with the latter being forcefully asked to work on farms, ended up with one of the worst genocides ever, leaving up to two million dead. The dictator who oversaw all this was the revolutionary Pol Pot, a Marxist-Leninist.

(Original Caption) Phnom Basset, Cambodia: Long lines of refugees are once again on the move here some 17-kilometers from the capital. Civilian men, women, and children are fleeing to safer areas due to recent fighting. Civilian casualties have been heavy in the fighting, and at least 20,000 war refugees have flooded Phnom Penh since the beginning of 1975.

Anarchy is often a psychological reaction that stems from underlying hate against the establishment. It is the stuff that teenagers are made of. It is a rebellion against the rules and the person in authority, without having a solution in mind. ‘Anything is right except what you are saying’. Anarchy is just rebelling without a cause. The youth is therefore naturally inclined towards it. But do realise that while it is okay to challenge the status quo (that is how most progress happens), inventors and visionaries always have a better solution in mind. Tearing down is the easy part. Even barbarians can do that. To build a Lighthouse of Alexandria on the rubble is what matters.

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