Rich Man’s Anarchism

‘Mere mobs!’ repeated his new friend with a snort of scorn. ‘So you talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question. You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the barons’ wars.’

This quote kept doing the rounds on Twitter the other day. Posted by @DorianLynskey, it is a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday which has subsequently been shared over 1000 times.

But there is no insight here.

Anarchism is a philosophy that repudiates servitude in all its forms. It says little that it might attract those who have never served at all. But that is not to say the rich are naturally outside our social infrastructures. No, they produce them! Because the rich wouldn’t be rich without someone to rule over.

The rich aren’t anarchists, then or now. Look at the response to one man’s mention of taxes at the Davos summit. An anarchism that only cares about injustices for the rich, at the expense of all others, is not anarchism. It’s yet another example of neorandianism.

The rich are fascists who want to have their cake and eat it.


Update: Nyx with some Nietzschean wisdom:

I’d counter aristocracy is about class, but decadence is about spirit.

As Nietzsche says, there is indeed a decadence of societies. But it vacillates. It neither adopts a linear course nor a continuous rhythm: it procrastinates. Or instead, there is a procrastination of decadence that is a part of decadence. On the one hand, decadence acts (obviously in its kinship with nihilism) as a destruction of values, notably of the value of truth; and, on the other hand (which is a movement contemporaneous with the first), it works toward the establishment of “new” values. Thus, we have a panicked and pathetic nihilism, for which nothing has value anymore, and an active nihilism that responds: nothing has value anymore? too bad, let’s continue in this direction. The latter is on the side of destruction. The former is the return of faith, the recurrence of an obstinate belief in the unity, totality, and finality of a Meaning. Therefore, the value of truth, which is certainly displaced, nonetheless persists through the discourse of science and its reception.

[via Vast Abrupt]

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