Using Violence to Stop Violence (on TV)

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I was reading through the Bangkok Post and came across a letter to the editor complaining about the amount of violence on the Thai television networks. That is quite fine. It is reasonable to write to the newspaper about what you see as a local issue. However, he suggested that the government not allow certain types of shows to be aired during certain hours. While some might see this also as a reasonable measure, Anarcho-Buddy exists to ask people to look at things critically.

Basically, what is implied by any government mandate is the use of force; i.e. violence. In order to make a ban against TV shows during certain hours effective, the government will have penalties for any network that chooses to disobey. These will typically be in terms of fines. But what happens if they choose not to pay any fines? The usual recourse to this is being arrested and put into a cage. And if one physically resists being put into a cage, they risk possibly being shot. Hence, we come to this conclusion: all government laws are enforced at the barrel of a gun.

And this was the irony I saw in this situation. This man, concerned about what his child watches, wanted there to be less violent programming on TV. I would assume that he would also like there to be less violence in society generally. But what it seems most people have failed to realize is that government is violence. Everything it does is through violence or the threat of violence (otherwise taxes would be called donations). If we really want to reduce the amount of violence we must reduce the State.

I am not claiming that all violence would then go away, for that would be utopian. I would rather be a realist, which I don’t think is necessarily opposed to idealism. Why not have as our ideal the least amount of violence possible? Wouldn’t the most realistic way of achieving this be getting rid of the supposed “legitimate” violence of the State? Max Weber defined the state as the entity which claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given geographical territory. We would really be utopian to expect that someone granted such a monopoly would not abuse it.

So, if this were a “Dear Abbey” letter rather than a letter to the editor, I would make the following suggestions. First, realize that all government action is backed by violence or the threat of violence, and in asking it to ban more non-aggressive behaviors you have increased the amount of violence and supported its legitimacy. I hope that this realization would lead to a radical change in how one relates to the State. Second, maybe suggest a good book for your little one to read or some other activity than watching TV. Have your wife help you in this regard. I think your child will be better for it and I hope this is practical.

Thanks for reading.

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