Is Oligarchy the only Government?

I suggest you first watch this excellent video:

In case you cannot I’ll quickly run through its contents. The video describes five types of government: monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, republic and anarchy. However the video points out monarchy never quite exists as the monarch does not hold power by himself, he always has a clique of allies. So in fact a monarchy is an oligarchy, i.e. rule by a small group of people. The video does not clearly define anarchy. At times it refers to it as having no laws, other times as no government. In the end anarchy is dismissed as temporary at best. Democracy is called Majority Rule, which of course is not a good thing is the majority are stupid or selfish. Republic is seen as the best option, where the rule of law is ultimate, not the will of the masses. The republic is the middle way between anarchy and tyranny.

Sounds nice at a glance, and I really do like the video and think the people who made it are intelligent and earnest. However… let’s start with anarchy. Anarchy is the only form of “government” I see viable on a long term. Anarchy means “no ruler”. There is no king (or any modern interpretation of king such as a president or a prime minister) who can tell you what to do. Anarchy does not mean absence of rules. It is impossible for human beings not to have any kind of rules. Every family has some sort of rules, be they written or unwritten, strict or loose. Two flatmates sharing an apartment will have some rules, even if they do not write them down. “My stuff is in this cupboard, your stuff is over there.” “I take out the trash on even numbered days, you take them out on odd days.” People have rules. Most animals have rules. Wolves have their alpha male, they have the concept of territory. Bees have their system of society, and the dance they do to tell others where to find honey. The idea that anarchy is the absence of rules is preposterous, especially since the commandment against having rules is a rule itself.

It might be that anarchy has no laws, since I don’t really know what makes law so especial. All my life I’ve been hearing mumbo jumbo about the importance of law and its power. I can understand the concept of rules, or rather pacts and agreements between people, but laws, how are they different? Why should we hold them in high regard? Why does it matter is something is or is not a law? According to my understanding laws were first invented by kings in the ancient Mesopotamia to enforce their dictates on the subjects. It was to protect the property and sovereignty of the king, i.e. his right to pretend he’s better than others. I still fail to see the connection with morality and justice and law. To me it seems very much an invented thing. Propaganda the ancient patriarch used to make the subjects obey.

I don’t understand how law is somehow above human beings, especially since human beings made the laws. Does it mean the people who made the laws are superior somehow? In the ancient times they used to claim many laws came from God, which at least would give the law some authority, but the problem is, I and many others, do not believe in those gods the laws supposedly came from. In modern democracies/ republics the laws did certainly not come from any god, so why are they so special? I think the whole concept of law is archaic patriarchal propaganda. Sort of like fire and brimstone, but more refined.

If you argue that law is more like dharma. A cosmic law of harmony. Beyond the ideas of men, or even physics, it makes more sense. It might be the origin of law, which was corrupted over time into man made rules. Nothing cosmic or harmonious about them. Laws and rules can only work when everyone within the community knows what they are, understands them and agrees to follow them. In our society we have countless laws written in incomprehensible jargon that only lawyers can decipher. Also we are born into society and expected to agree to the rules, since we have little choice when we are young. This sort of law is tyranny.

So what do I think about the republic? I don’t see it as a viable option either. The author of the video used the USA as an example. Either have a republic or an oligarchy. Perhaps at some point they had a republic, I don’t want to get into that argument now, but now they certainly have an oligarchy. Their laws did not manage to save them. The Bill of Rights, the Constitution are nice pieces of paper. They have agreeable ideas, but that is what they are words on a piece of paper. They hold no power. When the people are free they have no need of any “rights” or laws granting them this or that. The greatest purpose the Constitution serves is that it can point out the various crimes already perpetrated by the ruling oligarchy. Mind you, it didn’t manage to stop them getting into power.

I would say if you want a government, it will eventually end up being an oligarchy. You might argue though, that it isn’t necessarily an oppressive oligarchy. If the oligarchy consists of strong, moral people their government might be so as well. Still sounds like a fairy tale to me.

I listened to Stephen Mehler’s interview on Red Ice today. He said something like (or his mentor Haqim had said) that things that are written down are never completely true. The truest teachings are always oral, not written in stone. In other words that which can be named is not the Tao. Writing down a few words can not give you anything or take something away. It can inspire or demoralize you at most.


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