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Anarchist assumptions

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7/27/2015 11:36:29 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Noam Chomsky argues that power is illegitimate unless it is shown to be necessary, and that those hold power have the burden of proof to demonstrate they are justified in possessing it. Where this burden is not met, power should be abolished. When applied to government, Chomsky claims that because government has failed to prove that it is a necessary institution, it has no right to exist, and therefore should be dismantled.

Although the premise behind this argument is plausible on its face, the conclusion he reaches is nevertheless very childish. To begin with, what does it mean for a government to "prove" that it is necessary? Prove to whom? People inevitably interpret evidence in all sorts of ways. What would this proof even look like? No amount of evidence is going to convince everyone, because some people, like Chomsky, are uncompromising ideologues who don't have it in them to abandon their most cherished beliefs. It seems that those calling for a complete overhaul of society have the burden of proof to show that it will not end in disaster, especially when the vast majority of people think it would. In fact, most people, from what they have gathered about human nature, feel that government is necessary to maintain an orderly society. Just because an anarchist minority finds this evidence inadequate does not mean that government is unjustified in exercising power.