Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chaos vs. Anarchy

The protests in Egypt reached a new level of violence yesterday, as 525 demonstrators were killed by government forces. The usually articulate Joe Scarborough erred this morning by calling the situation "complete anarchy", using "anarchy" when he meant "chaos".

Anarchy is "the absence of government". A state of anarchy can be chaotic as well, but it doesn't have to be. Chaos is defined as "complete disorder and confusion".

The irony of the reporter's misuse of the term is that the demonstrations have been basically peaceful up to now. It is only the *presence* of governmental forces which has led to the current bloodshed. In the absence of government, i.e., in a state of true anarchy, the situation would be much less chaotic.

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