I used to be an anarchist. Years ago at an event organized by the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies (boo and hiss now if you’re on the left), I heard a talk by John Hasnas, a law professor, in which he talked about competing legal systems. Then I read the pro-anarchy book by David Friedman (son of Milton), which you can download for free from his web site if you like.
Anarchist views are widespread within libertarian circles. Academic economists including Peter Leeson and Bryan Caplan (both at George Mason) advocate it. One of Caplan’s students who used to live in Colorado started up an anarchy-friendly social group. One of Caplan’s friends, Mike Huemer, a philosopher at the University of Colorado, wrote “The Problem of Political Authority,” the second half of which outlines an anarchist society.
Colorado statutes explicitly ban “anarchistic and seditious associations” (18-11-203). However, the statute associates anarchy with sedition and “the use of sabotage, terrorism, physical force, violence, or bodily injury” to pursue political or social ends. Libertarian anarchists would deny that anarchism, as they understand it, has anything to do with the use of such force. The aim of anarchism in that sense is to peacefully replace state use of force with voluntary associations.
I’m not an anarchist any more. I basically agree with Arnold Kling, who predicts “if we somehow find ourselves in anarcho-capitalism . . . some predator organization would emerge that would overwhelm the anarcho-capitalist protection agencies, one by one.” Libertarian anarchists think anarchy means decentralized order; I agree with the traditional critique that anarchy brings chaos.
So why am I talking about a fringe theory that almost no one takes seriously?
The horseshoe theory
With the election or nondemocratic selection of various self-declared socialists to the state legislature, I have been thinking about political horseshoe theory, which proposes that the “far-left” and “far-right” often resemble each other. Jean-Pierre Faye noted the similarities between the fascists and the Communists—something I have also discussed. The theory has broader applications.
Political anarchy is a theory you find both on the “far right,” with anarcho-capitalism, and the “far left,” with various forms of anarcho-socialism or anarcho-sydicalism.
Critics of policing also find themselves playing horseshoes. Years ago when I hung around the pro-gun Tyranny Response Team, one activist in that group absolutely hated the police. He thought the police to be inherently corrupt and should be abolished. His “far right” views on the police are indistinguishable from the “abolitionist” views of various “Democratic Socialist” legislators such as Elisabeth Epps.
Other elements of the “right” also embrace the language of abolition. History professor and Ayn Rand advocate C. Bradley Thompson forthrightly calls to abolish public schools to achieve the “Separation of School and State.” Two prominent conservative Colorado politicians, John Andrews and Tom Tancredo, signed the proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. Turning to the issue of abortion, Dave Williams, currently the leader of the state GOP, sponsored a bill titled, “Abolishing Abortion in Colorado.”
Left and right converge to blame Israel
Another way that “far left” and “far right” often converge is in their anti-Semitism. I’ve written about how newly appointed legislator Tim Hernández initially blamed Israel for Hamas’s attacks and apologized and condemned Hamas only after facing considerable political pressure. Many of Hernández’s “Democratic Socialist” comrades continued to blame Israel and even call for the annihilation of the state of Israel. Such attitudes among the “far left” are comparable to views among neo-Nazis.
Although the details differ, religious-right Republican legislator Scott Bottoms (who misses no opportunity to disparage LGBTQ people) joined Hernández in blaming Israel for the attacks on Israelis. During a sermon (Bottoms also is a pastor), Bottoms baselessly speculated that “our government and the Israeli government knew this [Hamas attack] was about to happen,” Jason Salzman reviews. Bottoms thought this was plausible because of “how corrupt bureaucratic leadership is in both Israel and America.” This sounds a lot like the “blame America first” conspiracy mongering about 9/11.
As 9News reported, Bottoms also asked Jesus to “use” the Hamas terrorist attacks on Jews “as an opportunity” for “the Jewish people to realize” that Jesus is “the savior, the redeemer.” The notion that God might “use” brutal rape, torture, and murder to induce the victims to accept Bottoms’s preferred religious beliefs is repugnant. Bottoms also wondered aloud whether the attack might be “a sign of the coming rapture,” 9News reports.
A reasonable observer might wonder whether Bottoms or Hernández tried harder to find a silver lining in Hamas’s attack on Israel or to find a way to blame Israel for it.
I enjoy throwing real horseshoes as much as the next person. But, as recent events illustrate, the game of political horseshoes can become a contest of whether “left” or “right” comes off as more creepy and despicable.
Ari Armstrong writes regularly for Complete Colorado and is the author of books about Ayn Rand, Harry Potter, and classical liberalism. He can be reached at ari at ariarmstrong dot com.
Our unofficial motto at Complete Colorado is “Always free, never fake, ” but annoyingly enough, our reporters, columnists and staff all want to be paid in actual US dollars rather than our preferred currency of pats on the back and a muttered kind word. Fact is that there’s an entire staff working every day to bring you the most timely and relevant political news (updated twice daily) from around the state on Complete’s main page aggregator, as well as top-notch original reporting and commentary on Page Two.
CLICK HERE TO LADLE A LITTLE GRAVY ON THE CREW AT COMPLETE COLORADO. You’ll be giving to the Independence Institute, the not-for-profit publisher of Complete Colorado, which makes your donation tax deductible. But rest assured that your giving will go specifically to the Complete Colorado news operation. Thanks for being a Complete Colorado reader, keep coming back.