Following on from my article “Celebrities Speak Out“, here’s more from Woody Harrelson on the need for government in an age where politics is seemingly characterised by corruption, greed and increasingly deny people their rights. Do we need “leaders” who act unaccountably, against our best interests, or would anarchism be a better alternative?
I know many of you are probably thinking that this is just a dumb celebrity story, but this is actually a pretty big deal. Whether we like it or not, a celebrity, any celebrity embracing a message that is counter to the mainstream is going to make that message more palatable to the general population, because unfortunately we still live in a world full of followers.
The idea of anarchism is turned on its head, both in public schooling and the mainstream media. It is associated with violence and lawlessness, when in reality it is a philosophy that accepts that all aggression against people and their property is immoral. Thanks to the media and the education system many people associate anarchy with chaos. With that being the case, it is a huge victory that someone within that media establishment is actually contradicting this misinformation.
Recently actor Woody Harrelson shared his thoughts on Obama’s wars and questioned the legitimacy of government itself in the latest issue of Details magazine:
DETAILS: You’ve said that playing a cop has made you more sympathetic toward the police. Did playing Steve Schmidt in Game Change make you sympathetic to Republicans?
Woody Harrelson: I like Steve Schmidt. But I tend to not like politicians, because it’s a subtle form of prostitution. Or maybe not so subtle.
DETAILS: So you dislike Democrats as much as you dislike the GOP?
Woody Harrelson: It’s all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who’s going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry? People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. Corporations like Grumman are so powerful that—I don’t know, is this the kind of s— we want to talk about? It’s making me depressed.
DETAILS: Do you want to get more involved in politics?
Woody Harrelson: No. I don’t believe in politics. I’m an anarchist, I guess you could say. I think people could be just fine looking after themselves.
The interviewer immediately changed the subject.
“Government” is another one of those words that mean a million different things to a million different people, but when examined objectively it becomes apparent that organizations of this name always maintain a monopoly on the use of force over a given territory. This common characteristic is shared by all organizations claiming to be government, regardless of social structure or cultural customs. With that being said, to define governments as anything other than violent gangs that claim ownership over other human beings, is euphemistic and dishonest.
Most of us grew up surrounded by a false definition of the word “government” just as we were surrounded by a false definition of the word “anarchy”. We have been told that the word “government” is simply the structural form that a society takes, and the system of organization that groups of people establish for themselves. This may be one of the most deceptive linguistic tricks to be used since the dark ages, as it implies that structure and organization will cease to exist in the absence of institutionalized violence and central planners. Since all governments share the common characteristic of establishing and promoting institutionalized violence, we can safely say that when organization and structure is present in a peaceful atmosphere, “government” should be nowhere to be found. In other words, when there is peaceful structure and organization in a society, there is anarchy, but when a society is organized on a basis of threats and acts of violence, there is government.
One of the most pervasive misconceptions in our culture is the idea that “government” has anything to do with the structure or organization that we see in our society. This is one of the primary reasons why people have such a difficult time considering the very real possibility of a world without the organization known as “government.” When someone suggests that we simply do away with this unjust and unnecessary organization, they are typically met with some very negative reactions from whoever they may be talking to. This kind of conversation typically ends very quickly because both sides have completely different ideas of what the word “government” actually means, making it very difficult to find common ground.
If we attempt to examine government from an outsider’s perspective, we would see a world where people are grouped into two different categories, those in government and those not. At face value, we can see that these two groups of people have completely different standards and expectations, even though they are the same species and have the same basic needs. Looking closer, we can see that these different standards and laws are not neutral, they are very much benefiting those in government at the expense of those who are not. The most important discrepancy to mention here is the fact that those in government have a license to kill anyone who happens to disobey them.
Pointing out this fact is vital in understanding the true relationship between those inside of government and those outside of government, and that is the relationship between slave and master. If someone has the right to initiate the use of force on you if you disobey them, you are essentially their property. If you don’t believe me, go on over to Google and type in “slave definition,” and the first definition you will find is the following: “A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” Now, doesn’t that sound a whole lot like the relationship between people inside government and people outside government? If you can force people to do things against their will, then you are treating them as if they were your property.
However, if you ask any random person on the street to define “government” for you, they would probably give you the story that they were taught in government school. You know, the one about how government is the backbone of civilization, and the means by which people in the community come together for mutually beneficial projects. Well this may sound good, but it isn’t at all true, because the government is comprised by a miniscule fraction of the population, and they would not be able to provide anything at all if it wasn’t for the resources that they forcibly extracted from the rest of society. Therefore, it is safe to say that all functions that are currently being carried out by the organization known as “government” could actually be better served by individuals in the community working together for common goals. Voluntary trade, charity and other peaceful methods of interacting would create a far better society than the one that we see today, which is filled with violence and forced associations.
It is not a new thing for people to confuse government with culture and have the misconception that without a central planning structure, everything that makes a society great would vanish. This fact was recognized by some of the more radical “founding fathers” of America, including Thomas Paine. In his most famous literary effort “Common Sense,” there is a section called “Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.” In this piece, Paine discusses the difference between government and society.
“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”
His statement is as true today as it was during the first American Revolution. Culture, society and security are absolutely capable of continuing in the absence of a central control system.
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