Synthesizing Tyranny

Pace W.B. Yeats, mere anarchy is not loosed upon the world.  What we enjoy in this country, and to a large extent in most other Western nations, is a bit more complicated than mere anarchy.  It is, in fact, the unique achievement of the political genius of the modern era: what, in 1992, I called “anarcho-tyranny,” a kind of Hegelian synthesis of two opposites—anarchy and tyranny.

The elementary concept of anarcho-tyranny is simple enough.  History knows of many societies that have succumbed to anarchy when the governing authorities proved incapable of controlling criminals, warlords, rebels, and marauding invaders.  Today, that is not the problem in the United States.  The government, as any taxpayer (especially delinquent ones) can tell you, shows no sign of collapsing or proving unable to perform its functions.  In the United States today, the government works efficiently.  Taxes are collected (you bet), the population is counted (sort of), the mail is delivered (sometimes), and countries that never bothered us are invaded and conquered.

Yet, at the same time, the country habitually wallows in a condition that often resembles Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature—nasty, brutish, and short.  Crime rates have indeed declined in the last decade or so, but violent crime remains so common in larger cities and their suburbs that both residents and visitors...

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