If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Polaris has a post over on her blog, in which she finally comes out as a kind of uncertain anarchist.

In my period of sixth-form philosophy, I was an anarchist. Down with laws, down with Government, let the people be free, let the people work out their own ways of interacting and behaving. I still retain a bit of that, as I have never been much of a conformist, but I gradually moved away from an anarchist position as I felt it was naive. The world is much more complex than it allows for. The killer argument for me is that anarchy means, essentially, the rule of the strongest. Without laws, who protects the weak? Who ensures justice?

I'm a great believer in freedom, and I think we could cope with a lot more than our current masters allow us. But I don't think anarchy is the solution. Some compromises have to be made if we want our society to be better than the law of the jungle.

To be fair, Polaris admits she doesn't have many answers, and the piece is more of a rant than a considered judgement. But I have a strong feeling that, whatever the question was, anarchy is not the answer.

I am reminded of a passage from Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons. Sir Thomas More is arguing with William Roper about the use of the law:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

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