EPISODE REVIEW: Alphas: "Catch and Release" (Episode 7)

Jim Stiles
Jim Stiles's picture

According to Wikipedia, "Anarchism has been variously defined by sources. Most often, the term describes the political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy, while others have defined it as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations." During this episode, two guest actors played roles where the second definition of anarchism was operative in either the characters' speech, as by the non-Alpha welder, or in the character's actions, the genius Alpha played by Summer Glau (River Tam on Firefly).

In the United States, two basic strands of Anarchism predominate. The first, predominant strand, is anarcho-communism. Again, according to Wikipedia, anarcho-communists advocate "the abolition of the state, markets, money, private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need'". The second, less prominent strand, is anarcho-capitalism. Wikipedia defines anarcho-capitalism as "a libertarian and individualist anarchist political philosophy that advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty in a free market."

While Summer Glau's character in this episode was a highly productive person who exchanged her inventions and other intellectual property for money and the freedom that money can provide, the culture and rhetoric of the anarchist characters in this episode was suggestive of anarcho-communism. Hippies and punks are the dominant cultural manifestations of anarcho-communism in the modern world, and the dress and mannerisms of the anarchist characters in this episode could have been obtained from a cursory inspection of press photographs of the recent demonstrators against G-7 conferences. This dichotomy between rhetoric and action was the result of simple ignorance on the part of the screenwriter. The person credited with the coining of the term anarcho-capitalism, the late Murray Rothbard, was not a well known figure but should have been.

In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts, and all other security services would be provided by voluntarily-funded competitors such as private defense firms rather than through taxation, and money would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. According to anarcho-capitalism, personal and economic activities would be regulated by the market and private law rather than by government. Persons with the natural scientific and mathematical talents as Summer Glau's character and her character's daughter would prosper in an anarcho-capitalist society. Unfortunately, the two end the episode in Toronto, Canada as if there was some mysterious force preventing the NSA from calling their socialist counterparts in Canada and requesting an arrest and extradition.

WILL CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERTARIANS LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Yes, especially those who are interested in the theoretical underpinnings behind man's relationship to the state. Libertarians would also appreciate the abysmal ignorance of Libertarianism demonstrated by the screenwriter.

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