IN RESPONSE TO “The Price of Precious” October 2013

This letter was submitted but never published (surprisingly they only published 3 letters in response to the entire October 2013 issue in February 2014, which is odd as they usually have 2-3 pages of letters)

The word “anarchy” has been misapplied in “The Price of Precious” (October 2013). The context implies a meaning of “destructive chaos.” Unfortunately such misuse of the term is rather common. It rests on the faulty premise that without external force applied to a group of individuals, it necessarily follows that the social structures of those individuals must necessarily degenerate into a state of dystopian chaos. On the contrary, the eastern Congo has not plunged into anarchy (without a ruler); rather, it has plunged into the exact opposite (many rulers). The destructive chaos ensuing from this state of affairs is a direct consequence of the violent competition for dominance among these rulers. Stated differently: if there is conflict over who gets to rule, then by definition that is not “anarchic” derived conflict.

“Anarchy” properly defined is the absence of those who would presume to unilaterally assert a right to rule over a set of people (typically those that happen to reside within an arbitrary geographical boundary). When the boundaries of such groups overlap, then destructive conflict ensues. Therefore, were such groups not to exist (a state of anarchy), then it would not be possible for such conflict to arise. Indeed, if we examine history we find that virtually all wars are the result of non-anarchist territorial governing rights disputes. An anarchic world would be a more peaceful world.