Alan Watson, anarchy, attorneys, chaos, crime, education, evil, freedom, Golden Rule, government, J.R.R. Tolkien, law, legal theory, libertarians, life, Natural Law, Natural Rights, Perrin Lovett, philosophy, political science, politics, UGA
Some years ago I landed in what for me was probably the perfect legal position of employment. I took a job out of law school as a law clerk with a Georgia court. Law clerks review case file, do research and make recommendations to their judges.
My tenure went far beyond the norm. I was afforded the opportunity to wear many hats – each of which fitted me perfectly. I was able to indulge in a great breadth and depth of research with some publication to boot. I was granted the more prestigious title of Staff Attorney. I was also a registered lobbyist, working occasionally in pursuit of projects concerning the judiciary. I even filled in a few times on the bench.
Gravitating naturally towards research and writing and having almost total freedom with my time I began to explore additional opportunities of academic nature. My great interest is in freedom in and out of legal and political systems. I am a theorist. I learned towards some hybrid between legal theory and political philosophy.
The American Bar Association views a J.D. as the equivalent of a PhD for teaching purposes. Most non-law schools hold a different view. I realized I might benefit from another, specialized graduate degree. My choices as I saw them were either a Master of Law or LLM (in law a Master’s degree comes after the doctorate – yes, backwards) or a PhD in poly sci.
My school of choice, based on both reputation and logistics, was the University of Georgia. I had my own strict criteria concerning any entry into these programs.
The only LLM program in the world which interested me was at UGA. It was a directed study of comparative legal theories under the esteemed base master of such philosophy, Dr. Alan Watson. The only PhD I would consider was in political theory or philosophy and, with a concentration in natural law and libertarian/anarchist views.
I demanded, or would have, freedom to explore my own paths. I also included teaching experience as a must have.
My quest never got very far. In short order life dictated I abandon my beloved job and move to a less than desirable locale, practicing less than desirable law. Thus began my professional “downfall.” I ended up, for a brief time, a miserable prosecutor. When I could no longer stand that I entered private practice. Several were my shinning moments but I never regained even a shadow of my former fit and happiness.
Everything happens for a reason. Today, through my writing, I am finally able to pick up where I left off nearly a decade ago. This time, it’s my way on my own by necessity. One, I doubt there is any organized poly sci department in America which would or could house me. That’s fine – times have changed. Today we have YouTube and Udemy. Two, Alan Watson retired and took with him the last vestige of true legal study in the country. Again, I’m on my own. Autodidact or die …
I visited Watson’s office a few times back the. It was my intention to interview him and to be interviewed myself to check compatibility. Per my usual laziness I always showed up unannounced. He was never in. I have never met the man. Perhaps that all was a sign. My little daughter did accompany me on one visit – we had a great time – as such the trip was anything but a waste.
The political science department did receive me for an arranged visit. I toured the facility and we had a good discussion. There was a real chance things might have worked out. Nearly all the faculty members were “liberals” but they seemed to tolerate my extremism rather well. They were open to my ideas of a very loosely structured curriculum and my desire to teach while I worked. They also deemed an attorney in the department a plus. But, as I said, life intervened.
On my afore-mentioned tour I passed many faculty office doors. Many were closed. One was covered in signs and stickers. One of the stickers read: “Anarchy is better than no government at all.” That stuck in my jumbled mind. I think I used it as a title once …
“Anarchy” has various meanings to different people. Of late the term has been used to describe somewhat disruptive protestors of modern socio-economic life. These, to me, appear more like pro-communist or anti-capitalist activists than anything else. Communism is in my mind the polar opposite of anarchy. Then again, I don’t have a monopoly on the word. I suppose this crowd is descended from the mad bomb throwers of yesteryear.
Tolkien, a hero of mine, described his own political philosophy as anarchism. The specifically rejected the bomber disposition; rather, he merely wanted to leave others alone in exchange for equal treatment. This position is as close to my own as any.
Anarchy and “no government” as the door sticker alluded are often used synonymously. However, I don’t think they are one and the same.
Many consider anarchy the equivalent of chaos. To them it is the complete absence of any controls, political or societal, and could only lead to pandemonium. Their views are understandable. For 10,000 years we have been trained to accept some degree of authority outside of ourselves and over us. As society has evolved (or fallen) government and society have also become synonymous. They are not.
One can speak of the American or French or Japanese cultures and traits without the slightest regard for their respective governments. Government did not create the beauty of the natural world. Nor does it bring happiness to small family gatherings. Though they might claim otherwise, politicians had nothing to do with the development of symphony, football, pizza or the quiet enjoyment of an evening cigar.
Anarchy does represent a form of governance. It is one that stems from the natural freedom of association between civilized people. Heavy-handed policies, tactics, and laws are most unnatural. Too many repeat the phrase “government is a necessary evil.” At least they acknowledge the evil but the institution is just that – evil but unnecessary.
Think of anarchy as “Golden Rule” government. Each affords the other respect and vows not to violate the other’s rights and freedoms. Anarchy is freedom. Freedom is happiness.
Yes, not all people are civilized. Criminality is a continuing cost of original sin. Somewhere in time someone postulated the state’s main purpose was to protect the good people from the bad. History shows this premise is a total failure. Governments are typically the worst violators of freedom and dignity. They also have the nasty habits of coercing decent people into supporting and paying for their depravity and of criminalizing private attempts to disrupt real criminal activity.
In the absence of such retarded controls the free would be able to – individually or in concert – using their strength and conscious – shame, disrupt, or terminate undesirable elements.
Other things government is supposed to do, but which it can’t do well and did not invent, are better left to private cooperation. Roads, schools and defense are all possible without state intervention. And they all predate government.
Many a good, libertarian man I know have said to me (almost in desperation) “you have to have some government!” No, I do not. I have reached a point where I am content to manage my own affairs and relations. Perhaps they real mean “they have to have government.” They don’t. It’s the conditioning of 10,000 years at work which convinces them otherwise.
Anarchy isn’t better than no government. It is the best government.
Note: I realized upon finishing this one that it’s as much about me as my pet philosophy. The two seem intertwined. Funny. I don’t care much for structure and tend to live out a life of personal anarchy. I have to admit that for all the foibles it works out pretty well.