George Walford: Of Governments and Gardens

Quentin Crisp wrote How to Become a Virgin. Whether he would call himself an anarchist we have no idea, but he has come up with a phrase that hits off, with grace and economy, the relationship between government and anarchy: “The function of government is to create a walled garden in which anarchy can flourish.” This is not what anarchists hope and work for but it does express what has happened so far. The opportunities for living the anarchist life, and for propagating anarchism, have grown as government has strengthened.

In the headless primal communities, ruled rigidly by custom and ritual, only one way of life was open to those of each sex and age. Government brought the beginnings of flexibility. It centralised the power of the community and in doing so limited it; under government private people have less freedom to interfere with each other than they had without it, and this helps the minorities. Whatever may happen in future, advanced civilisation, just because of the restrictions it imposes, has offered wider freedoms to the unorthodox, anarchists among them, than did the tribe, or the village and small-town societies.

See also: Of Governments and Gardens from Angles on Anarchism (1991).

from Ideological Commentary 42, November 1989.