In Defense of Property

The point of interest that I am trying to formulate here is the question of environment.  I think that in order for individuals to be happy, there has to be some control over their immediate environment – a space where they can control who enters and who doesn’t, so that they are not overwhelmed by someone else’s ideas and abilities, threats of encroachment, domination.  They justifiably want to control their own emotional responses and focus their own thoughts, protecting their own agency and development.  When bombs are dropped, forcing danger and anger and aggression into one’s space, threats to life and loved ones become overwhelming.  So the anarchist-individual would perhaps ironically seek to control forceful other in order to protect his/her individual space.  When such an individual becomes isolated to the point of indifference and lack of response to the needs of others, others become more insistent and escalations can occur.  The redirection is that it is perhaps someone else’s responsibility to offer a hand to the drowning victim, to perform CPR on the heart of the loved one who has stopped beating, indeed, to pull the 200 children off of a sinking boat.  Is it an encroachment on individual freedom for someone to have needs that require assistance from others?  In such a formulation, does anarchy-individualism not defer to questions of responsibility, with every individual having certain expectations and roles in a society?

Anarchy is not to be reinvented here.  Our most primitive origins were probably anarchic for millennia before government was present.  The idea that we cannot function without government is not to be taken for granted.  Indeed, animals in the wild and nature do not have representative governments.  And yet, many do have social structures that allow them to interact, and most do have an innate territorial defense.  Somehow, unless nuclear weapons are exploded into their environments, or oil and pesticides are dumped in their backyard, they make it work.

Is government a human disease that evolved parallel to some human drive?  I’m somewhere in between Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s savage and a social contract.  On a fundamental level, it depends, I think, on what the individual values.  We organize as groups for the protection for our children and vulnerable ones.  If we live in an environment with nature and animals, we strive to protect their environment, too.  To the extent that government mirrors this human drive in the individual, it is perhaps seen as compatible and enabling – a desirable thing.

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