1997-05-15 - Re: Rwanda and “anarchy”

Header Data

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Message Hash: 89eeef82823ac2d3ba771597714dbb029135222d0e1b6ba812223c9825c4420e
Message ID: <19970514172033.01446@bywater.songbird.com>
Reply To: <337A3314.1B990EE4@disposable.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-15 00:33:26 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 08:33:26 +0800

Raw message

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 08:33:26 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re: Rwanda and "anarchy"
In-Reply-To: <337A3314.1B990EE4@disposable.com>
Message-ID: <19970514172033.01446@bywater.songbird.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Wed, May 14, 1997 at 02:48:04PM -0700, Rich Graves wrote:
> Kent Crispin wrote:
> > On Tue, May 13, 1997 at 08:21:13PM -0800, Tim May wrote:
> > > Rwanda (or Ruwanda, or...) is a _very_ poor example to pick, as this was
> > > not any kind of anarchy such as any of us have ever advocated. Rather,
> > > Rwanda was a near-textbook example of one tribal faction (Hutus or
> > > Tutsis) coming to power and inititiating a pogrom against the rival
> > > faction (Tutsis or Hutus).
> > > 
> > > Calling this an "anarchy" is comparable to calling the pogrom by the
> > > Third Reich against Jews, gypsies, cripples, and others an example of
> > > anarchy.
> > 
> > Nonsense.
> > 
> > "anarchy n. the absence of government or control, resulting in 
> > lawlessness. 2. disorder, confusion" -- Oxford American Dictionary
> > 
> > Which part of that would you say didn't apply to Rwanda? 
> I would say "none." Tim is essentially correct. Ironically, we know he's
> correct thanks to the United Nations and Judge Goldstein's International
> Criminal Tribunal, which Tim would oppose. (The answer to bad government
> is more government?)
> Jean-Marie Higiro was Rwanda's Minister of Telecommunications. He saw
> the radio turn into a tool of totalitarian propaganda. The killings were
> encouraged and organized by the government. He was there.
> Lindsey Hilsum was the only English-speaking reporter in Rwanda when the
> killings started. She described the situation as "anarchy" because she
> did not understand the language or the political situation. She later
> retracted that story, and spent several more months in Rwanda and
> Burundi documenting what really happened. She eventually testified 
> before the ICT on what she saw. I think she's a really cool person.
> Raymond Bonner joined Lindsey in Rwanda later. You might recognize his
> name -- he's the guy who was fired by the New York Times because the
> Reagan Administration didn't like his reporting on human rights
> violations in El Salvador.
> Gilles Peress is a French photojournalist who documented the genocide in
> Rwanda both for himself and for the ICT.
> I met these folks and browsed the relevant documentation, recordings,
> and photos on April 11th. I believe them when they say it was planned.

It appears you have better data than I.  Still, even if it was
planned, there appeared to be a widespread breakdown of civil
authority.  I remember reading an interview with a woman who killed
her neighbors children -- that interview could have been faked, of
course, but I find it hard to categorize her behavior as part of a
government plan.

> Blaming it on "evil government," though, is ludicrous. There was quite a
> lot more going on.
> If you want to look at anarchic chaos, try, maybe, Albania, or Los
> Angeles
> after the Rodney King verdict. But even in those cases, the violence had
> specific targets for specific reasons. It wasn't unstructured anarchy,
> and it didn't last long. For all the press, there were few deaths in
> either case.
> > In fact, the correlation between anarchy and war is very strong, for
> > obvious reasons. Perhaps that is why most intelligent people don't
> > consider anarchy a desirable state of affairs.
> There is no such thing as anarchy, and there never will be.

I actually view this statement is strong support for my point of view,
so I hate to argue against it.  And certainly anarchy in the sense of 
"crypto-anarchy" is just an oxymoron.

But I could raise a semantic quibble or two...I think that anarchy (in
the sense of a breakdown of civil authority) is actually relatively
common in wartime.  The fact that there may be higher level plans or
strategy by governments does not mean those governments are in

Human beings are fundamentally social/political creatures, and their
behavior is always conditioned by their social/political environment. 
It is my impression that when the "anarchists" on the list refer to
"government" they mean something more than the general
social/political environment every human lives within.  I personally
cannot discern a clear dividing line between "government" and

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent@songbird.com			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55