The New York Post noted yesterday that even a local cop disapproved of the arrest of an East Hampton art gallery owner who had the audacity to hold a wine and cheese reception for Hamptons art aficionados without having a liquor license. The crowd booed and derided the cops — who of course said they were just enforcing local laws — as they cuffed the defiant sixty-seven-year-old owner, Ruth “Vered” Kalb, in her gallery-hipster spectacles and took her away.
Now, this strikes me as one of those incidents — like a lot of the cases of intrusive government noted in the old-fashioned anarchist magazine The Match — that should just cut across ideological divides and unite everyone not simply in thinking “That sounds excessive” but in thinking “Government is complete bullshit, and we were not born to be slaves to these uniform-wearing goons.”
I mean, you know how I see it, as a libertarian — let the harmless art people consume their damn wine and cheese, just as all activities that inflict no damage on the bodies or property of others should be allowed. But how exactly do rightists and leftists — you know, that 90 or so percent of the population that thinks my philosophy is crazy — evaluate such a case?
•Do mainstream conservatives ask themselves whether wine and cheese consumption is more mainstream than, say, reefer at a dice game and thus permissible?
•Do paleoconservatives ask themselves whether wine and cheese consumption is part of the traditional local art scene in East Hampton?
•Do liberals, noting the cops’ comments about equal enforcement of the law, ask themselves whether letting the gallery off might be unfair to previously-arrested drunken hippies and other fringe figures in the area?
•Do leftists ask themselves whether the art was “outsider” or “radical” enough for the cops to constitute oppressive enforcers of bourgeois society (are they especially concerned that the place had some gay scenes on its walls)?
•Do greens want to know how the grapes were raised?
How about just reacting with outrage based on the timeless principle that humanity was not born divided into those destined to be ridden like enslaved animals and those booted and spurred, ready to do the riding?
Government is nonsense, and no “town meetings” or any other morally-irrelevant little rituals of supposed legitimization East Hampton went through before deploying its goons, no matter how popular, can make it right (contrary to what either conservative majoritarians or leftist social-democrats might claim, gussying up the principle “We outnumber you and have guns” with the democratic-era claptrap meant to distract us from the obvious fact of some people physically bossing around others).
Sometimes it’s the little incidents that put it all in perspective, and I’m just not sure I can pretend to respect non-libertarian positions at all anymore. But I promise I’ll stay civil, even when the conspirators in violent oppression, red, blue, or green, don’t deserve it one bit.
It’s things like this that make a man an anarchist…and make an anarchist a beatnik.
ADDENDUM: This being the fortieth anniversary of riotous May 1968, that beatnik reference will have to suffice as my soixante-huitard homage — but aren’t the users of force the real weetards?