Your Saturday evening meditation
The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. But what is the essential meaning of money? Money attracts because it gives us the means to command the labor and service and finally the lives of others — human or otherwise. Money is power. I would expand the Biblical aphorism, therefore, in this fashion: the root of all evil is the love of power.
And power attracts the worst and corrupts the best among men. It is no accident that police work, for example, appeals to those (if not only those) with the bully’s instinct. We know the type. Or put a captain’s bars on a perfectly ordinary, decent man, give him a measure of arbitrary power over others, and he tends to become — unless a man of unusual character — a martinet, another petty despot. Power corrupts, and as Lord Acton pointed out, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The problem of democracy is the problem of power — how to keep power decentralized, equally distributed, fairly shared. Anarchism means maximum democracy: the maximum possible dispersal of political power, economic power, and force — military power. An anarchist society consists of a voluntary association of self-reliant, self-supporting, autonomous communities. The anarchist community would consist (as it did in preagricultural and preindustrial times) of a voluntary association of free and independent families, self-reliant and self-supporting but bound by kinship ties and a tradition of mutual aid.
“Theory of Anarchy,” from One Life at a Time, Please
by Edward Abbey
(Henry Holt and Company, 1988)