Kevin O’Leary’s rich guy moaning on CBC Radio this morning was only made tolerable by Armine Yalnizyan telling him to pack up and leave if he’s so unhappy. While she was advocating a kind of socialism, it is closer to my primitive anarchist heart than O’Leary’s tiresome libertarianism.
I remember discovering anarchism in high school. Not the way you probably think–with a bunch of wannabe radicals–but in a grade 11 history class on revolutions and political reformations in europe. I was particularly captivated by Russian revolutionary and social anarchist, Mikhael Bakunin.
What I find most compelling about anarchism is the simplicity of it. Social anarchism maintains that we have a responsibility to act for the overall good, not just our own. In theory, our government is a social democracy tasked with looking out for the common good, but I can’t help but resent the amount of money and creativity wasted on useless beauracracy and petty forms of policing.
How much money would be freed up to actually help lift people out of poverty if we stopped paying tens of thousands of social workers to police those requesting welfare? Let the taxation system deal with the cheats and frauds and let social workers provide support to those who want and need it. It would take far fewer to do much more useful and satisfying work.
A government is useful and important when it reflects a collective will to do what is best done collectively: hospitals, schools, etc. Unfortunately, as some gain authority, they feel less need to justify their actions to the collective and bureaucracy sets in, becoming its own purpose.
Food banks are a great example of this mess. They appeared in response to the 80s recession and to gov’t assistance freezes. They were a temporary solution born of concern for our neighbours and frustration with government failure. They worked for a while, but seemed to encourage further gov’t cutbacks. Fast forward to Christmas 2015 on the CBC, where we have the premier and mayor urging people to give to the food banks. WTF? Voluntary concern for our fellows? Then what do we need the government for? Do your job, or shut down and let us do it.
Two separate systems that are supposed to deal with poverty and they both fail. It takes plenty of staff to fail though. We can and must do better. It’s on all of us. Government at its best is simply our collective will. When government sucks (and it frequently does) then we must hold it to account. We are what matters, and corporations and money merely tools. Let’s put them all back under our control.
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Or at least trust someone who feels the same responsibility. And there is the heart of human existence.
We are each responsible to each other. I love you all, even if some of you bug the pants off me. Call me if you need something, or want to hang out. Or go dancing. Definitely call me if you want to go dancing.