the Warlord Question
A Dialogue on
Governmentalist: Do you not see the error in your reasoning?
Anarchist: What error would that be?
Governmentalist: Namely, that if anarchy were ever to be established, it should soon find itself gobbled up by the nearest warlord or dictator.
Anarchist: I have heard the argument before, but please, humor me and elaborate what you think of it specifically.
Governmentalist: Well, without a government, the people would have no way to protect themselves. If the people tried to resist an invader, they would flee before the discipline and training of a professional army. Even though they had anarchy before, now they are doomed to the most brutal and authoritarian of slavery.
Anarchist: What makes you think that this warlord would necessarily enslave the people?
Governmentalist: It has been the trend of all previous warlords. Instead of consuming his victims like a cannibal, the warlord has found that they can get more from their conquest by slavery. They have the right to dispose of the prisoners any way they wish. It is only self-interest that they would establish themselves as eternal rulers over the dominion of these people.
Anarchist: What kind of form do you imagine this slavery will take?
Governmentalist: The easiest and simplest to implement for those with more strength than intellect. They will use basic, chattel slavery, and instead of deeds, they'll use shackles as a restraint and whips as an incentive.
Anarchist: Do you think that this type of age can go on forever?
Governmentalist: No, it certainly can't. Just as the once-free people fell to subjection, the government itself must teeter and totter from forces opposed to it.
Anarchist: And what are these forces?
Governmentalist: Externally, there is always the fear of conquest by other warlords. But internally, there is the threat of the people. While foreign powers gain material comfort by conquest, slaves gain freedom by revolt. The threat of an outside force is intermittent. The threat of the people is perpetual.
Anarchist: Cannot the government simply repress any uprising, as easily as they conquered the people to begin with?
Governmentalist: In a battle with another warlord, there is no partial victory or partial defeat. There is life or death. And, it is just as possible for the consequences of society to lead to the people overpowering their dictators, just as such consequences originally led to the reverse. In the struggle with the common people, though, government is capable of retaining itself, if it can be assured of enough support.
Anarchist: How might such a brutal and cruel human being go about gaining this support?
Governmentalist: It will convince the public by making references to the other warlords. It will tell the people that there is no choice except between the ones who dominate you. They will inscribe on their temples, 'A master of war is as essential to society as breathing is to a body.' First, they will be given a history that tells them things can be no other way. And second, they are drawn to their current ruler. Why risk the possibility of another ruler, when a citizen does not know the temper of a new master? Why risk supporting a revolution, when the most certain thing a citizen knows is that they can better their position by supporting the tyrant?
Anarchist: So, then, it is opinion that the government seeks, and through propaganda that it wants to achieve it?
Governmentalist: It must retain its strength through opinion. Originally, its power was through war, but this only guarantees the lives of the prisoners. To guarantee their duty, their obedience, their submission, one must convince them that it is to their benefit. Or, at least, the warlord must convince enough of them to defend and protect the establish ruler. There are always shackles, though they evolve into new forms like police officers, prisons, and borders. And, there is always the argument that the ruler improves the lives of the people, though it has evolved from spoken word to written word to radio to television.
Anarchist: Of what degree do you imagine the warlord will use to establish and maintain the opinion of their servile people?
Governmentalist: Anything and everything. In the beginning, it must have been speech alone that gained the dictator favor among their own people. In its most modern form, it must mean the press, the universities, and an economy that offers material benefit for personal submission.
Anarchist: My friend, have you not been following your own arguments along this whole time?
Governmentalist: I have only been trying to describe Anarchy as it might happen naturally.
Anarchist: But everything you've described sounds like the origins of every single government on this planet. You choose the state, not because it is better than any other warlord, but because in anarchy, you believe that you need to fear a new state establishing itself. You are inflicting the wound yourself, because you think it will hurt less that way than to be healthy and fear a possible wound.