Power, resilient communities, and anarchism

(AFP photo: Members of the Lords Resistance Army, accused of hacking 45 civilians to death in Uganda on Friday.)

DJ Mitchell posts about power and why atrocities occur by those wanting it or trying to hold on to it.

The killers call their causes by different names: religious purity, ethnic pride, security, or freedom. But behind the words, it all boils down to power: who has it, who wants it, and who is willing to kill to get it or keep it. And it’s no longer armies battling each other as it was a few decades ago: as Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Keating observes,

“In time of war, one is now safer in the military rather than remaining a civilian, since non-combatants suffer a much higher proportion of casualties than soldiers.”*

But what, Mitchell says, if there was no centralized power to grasp and we lived in resilient communities instead?

Unrealistic, you say. Yet 4GW pioneer John Robb (no Lefty) says it’s our nationalism that makes us vulnerable. He prescribes “a wholesale reinvention [of] networked communities”— not a top-down government, but a self-reliant cellular structure that weathers shocks and has no power to take away.

This sounds quite a lot like the vision of some anarchists. Interesting that Mitchell, who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and Robb, an ex-Special Forces military theorist, have arrived at territory where anarchists have been for decades. Anarchism, of course, is not the absence of order or mindless bomb-throwing, but is quite a lot like what resilient communities would be.

War, data, and communication have already moved beyond the centralized model. Examples of decentralized business and agriculture abound. How long will we insist that our centralized model of government, be it republic, socialist, fascist, religious, or other, is the only way to do it?