In part 1 of this series, exploring the question “Why…?” I will be explaining my own personal reason for the question “Why Anarchy?” The series is intended to illustrate my own personal and individual reasons why I subscribe to the various philosophical schools of thought regarding a particular belief, or position I hold. Later “Why…?” segments will look at Capitalism, Voluntarism, Agorism, Trans-Humanism, and other philosophies. As a mortal human being, I reserve the right to change my mind regarding various beliefs and philosophies, especially as I receive new insights, or become privy to new facts. The only principles I am ultimately wedded to are Truth and Liberty. Anything else is welcome to change. That said, these essays, as much for myself as for anybody else, are really just an exercise in determining my own philosophical underpinnings and foundations for my own beliefs. Think of it as my own version of Descartes’ famous epistemological reductionism where he coined the famous conclusion “ergo cogito sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.” In a previous essay, I added one line to it, which was “I am, therefore I am free.” It is from this point that I begin this exploration. If you enjoy this, please leave a comment below. Also, please consider doing a similar exercise for yourself, if you haven’t done so already. I think it’s of the utmost importance that people who have subscribed to certain beliefs examine the philosophical foundations of those beliefs. As Socrates himself once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
So let us live.
In the few years since deciding the label “anarchist” most accurately represented my own political philosophy, I’ve learned of other, powerful, confirmatory and congruent philosophies as well, that have helped to grow my own anarchism further outside the political realm. In other words, I may have started as a political anarchist, but ultimately, my own brand of anarchy has stretched beyond solely politics. It has rooted itself into the very core of my being, and it has branched into other areas of my personal beliefs, such as religion and theology, metaphysics, and even science itself. And what I have found most profound is – and I freely admit this – while I was already an anarchist when I discovered these other things, I wasn’t trying to read anarchy into them. What I mean by that is, I am not working from a position of confirmation bias (at least not knowingly), but rather, I’m an anarchist, and I found some other things that sound awful anarchistic as well. And if they are more comparable, rather than contrasting, then I adopt those beliefs too. And in that fashion, I have built for myself a suitable and satisfying web of truths. I liken this journey to a spider’s web because a spider builds the web one strand at a time. That one strand is enough for the spider to traverse, but incapable of catching flies. It is only after more strands are added that the spider has a place to live, grow a spider family, and catch some dinner, too. When that one strand becomes a web, it can carry more weight, contain more flies or spiderlings. That web becomes a foundation with the strength to prosper. This is how it was for me when I embraced anarchy. I realized that anarchy is that first string. And that with the addition of other strings, or philosophical schools of thought, I could create a web that could catch more truth and understanding, hold greater weight, and withstand greater winds of critique. I want to reiterate, this is how it has worked and continues to work for me. This may not be anyone else’s path, or method. Nor is my way the best or only way. It’s just simply my way.
Also, and for a better understanding, it’s not only that I adopted other beliefs that seemed to cohere with anarchy, but that I saw some of the very truths of anarchy itself being presented elsewhere too. Think of it as philosophical diffusionism, to borrow a term from Archaeology. And those other philosophies add strands to my web of truth, as well. And like a web, these strands flow in and out of another, connecting at various points to other strands. These connecting points represent some of the more interesting places that anarchy and these other philosophies intersect, complement one another, and give strength to the overall web. And I’ll explain what these other beliefs and philosophies are in other “Why…?” explorations.
So why anarchy?
The etymology of the word has changed over time, but I subscribe to the view of anarchy in its most basic, and original form. The word anarchy comes from the Greek word anarkhos, meaning “rulerless.” An, meaning “without,” and arkhos, meaning “leader.” So anarchy means “without a leader,” or “no ruler.” For me, the original and basic definition is critical. I am not born into this world with a leader, or ruler. There may be leaders or rulers. But they weren’t born leaders or born rulers. They were people who later became them, either through involuntary conquest, or voluntary support. But if there are no natural leaders, then it is our very nature, from the moment we take our first breath, to be leaderless. It is our state of nature, so to speak. So when I say I am an anarchist, one way I mean that is in a very naturalistic, and metaphysical kind of way. It is our state of nature. It is the nature of reality, for me. And I believe this to be so for others, but I’m not going to argue on behalf of anybody else.
Because of this, literally every form of governance (except one, which I’ll explain) we’ve seen in the history of mankind is the antithesis to this natural and metaphysical view that we get from anarchy. It doesn’t matter if it is monarchical rule with a king or queen, or democratic rule by “the people,” or communistic rule with a strong centralized government – these are, at the end of the day, rulers of me minus the natural right to be so. So as an anarchist, there is one – and only one – kind of rule that I accept – self-rule, or self-government. That is rule of me, by me, for me, and explicitly none else. Just as none are my natural ruler, so too am I no such thing for anybody else. So I can, in no uncertain terms, advocate for the rule for anybody else, be that through the involuntary conquest of violent communism, or the voluntary support of a constitutional republic. At the end of the day, no matter what political system or style of governance you are using, you are either being ruled, or acting as a ruler. This goes against our very nature, I believe. And against the nature of reality itself. To do this is to invite great unhappiness, suffering, and destruction. Granted, unhappiness and suffering are not reasons to be anarchists. It is simply the effect of going against this cosmic nature, and something to be aware of.
And I believe history to be on my side with this, too. Small government conservatives must concede that no government in the history of governments was ever small. Certainly, none have ever ended small. The nature of the leviathan is to grow, always, until its inevitable collapse. It doesn’t matter which empire you speak of, either. It has always happened. And it will always happen. Again, to go against nature is to invite destruction, unhappiness, and suffering. Sure, governments have paved the way for good things to come about – new technologies, medicines, scientific discoveries, etc…but that isn’t the nature of government. That is simply something it has allowed to happen because the discovery either fortified it, or helped it to grow. No, much like the terrible argument that says you can have a lot of regulation and still have functioning capitalism, like in many European countries, these discoveries didn’t necessarily happen because of government – but in spite of it. Remember, the function of government isn’t to reveal new truths, or discover, in and of itself. Only to grow itself, in power, size, and scope. So any good government may have done, or seems to have done, has occurred only as a means to an end. Which was not the discovery itself, but to create trust in government. Thus, allowing it to grow more.
The only true “small government” is self-government. And as Henry David Thorough so famously quoted, “the government which governs best, governs least.” And the least governing entity, that which is smallest, is the self, or the individual. We are our own “communist dictator,” “our own king or queen,” or “our own constitutional republic.” And none else. And we for none else. Our lack of justification doesn’t come from a lack of capabilities, or qualifications, or divine heritage. Our lack of justification is simply the result of nature. We are not born better or worse than anybody else. We are all the same in our rights. My anarchy is egalitarian in nature. And if none are better or worse, then none are fit to rule, or fit to be ruled. This is my anarchy. This is my answer to the question “why anarchy?” And it works for me. It is my path, my way…There is much more to this idea, but I think this will suffice for now.
What is your way? What does your Anarchy look like, and why? Please leave a comment down below, or on Twitter, and let’s discuss.