In an age when the ego is proclaimed sovereign, the appeal of anarchism is understandable, especially given the spectacular corruption of the establishment. In the online-fueled furor of Ron Paul’s libertarian surge in 2008, young activists lurching from Campaign for Liberty’s inability to change anything were left searching for more. And, after the failure of the libertarian surge to obtain anything from Ron Paul’s less inspiring offspring Rand, the Daily Paul types clicked and googled around to find names like Larken Rose or Adam Kokesh (and now Ken O’Keefe – with veganism!), figures who proclaimed that their Lockean-rooted political logic dictated that the “small state” position was never enough.
The problem, so the story went, was precisely the state itself – a demiurge-like oppressor to be fought and obliterated so that the long-sought freedom of the individual could at long last flourish. Recognizing the absurdity of the left/right dialectic in American so-called politics, this line of reasoning contains some semblance of wisdom, yet it still operates on of a number of absurd presuppositions and flaws that merely condition this artificial tribe of anarcho-libertarian fellow travelers for the next stage of political carnival chicanery. As we shall see (and as Chris Kendall of Hoax Busters has perceptively noted), these movements appear to engineered to steer followers in a certain direction – yes, even anarchism.
Anarchism cannot be separated from its historical milieu, which, depending on how far back we venture, can extend to the origins of revolutionary movements in the West. Let us remember the Franciscan spiritualist movement of Joachim of Fiore, whose bizarre metaphysical historicization of the Trinity announced a coming “Age of the Holy Spirit,” characterized by an age of revival, piety and communal poverty, ushering in some version or preliminary stage of the Eschaton. From that point, medieval Gnostic sects carried on the revolutionary fervor – crystallized in the Munzter Rebellion in Germany – right into the radical leveling vision of the French Jacobins. What all these movements shared in common was their communal, collectivist aspects. The supposed revelation of the individual’s atomistic liberty was something yet to be divined (so the mythology goes).
Concurrent with these religious, political and social tremors was the onslaught of a revolution in thought – the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution – all of which were reflected in the revolutionary political and social Zeitgeist. The Declaration of the Rights of Man, (a Masonic document) of the French revolutionaries, purported to offer a list of “natural rights” accorded to the individual, and from the rotten soil of Rousseau’s notion “moral centrality of freedom” was spawned modern anarchism. Simultaneous with these developments were also their dialectical opposite – radical collectivism, such as what we witness in Hobbes’ Leviathan or Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of the Right (where the state is the march of God on earth). As I wrote previously on this matter – equally applicable here:
Even the Hermetica and the Egyptian accounts from the Memphite narrative, for example, include the idea that creation was spoken into existence by virtue of a divine Logos, yet ultimately, even in the Egyptian narrative, the overall principle, the ultimate Absolute, is not personal,
but an immaterial force. Thus, at the outset, we are presented with only two possible options for this question – is the Absolute ultimately (supra)rational and personal, or is the Absolute ultimately an impersonal, chaotic force? There are only two possibilities here, and once we consider this basic philosophical question, we can extrapolate Darwinism as clearly a manifestation of the second. Though most Darwinian adherents would be at pains to insist there is no ultimate guiding principle, the worldview still tends towards the notion of Forces of Nature determining. This determination, however, is ultimately irrational and impersonal, aside from the appearance of order, telos and design. (Note that I am not making a classical teleological argument, but a transcendental version of a teleological argument.)
But there are many, many more problems for positing ultimate reality or the Absolute as an impersonal force. If ultimate reality is impersonal and chaotic, then all localized events, phenomena and objects are also devoid of any ultimate meaning. Language, mathematics, logic, etc., are thus also annihilated as merely mental fictions, or at best some cosmic force we do not yet understand (yet still impersonal!). These servants of chaos and abyss are like a cartoon character, sawing off the limb he’s sitting on, to spite his opponent. If ultimate reality is impersonal, then the thread that links all facts, ideas, objects, patterns, etc., is not real. It is a fiction of man’s chaotic, impersonal mental chemical reactions. There is no order or pattern actually out there in external reality, and the so-called regularity of nature upon which science is built, induction, is merely a mental projection or interpretation.
All such ideological variants are manifestations of the central problem of Western philosophy – dialectical tension. For the revolutionaries and anarchists, the salvation and redemption of man’s temporal welfare must come through the radical independence of the many; thus the much hyped “voluntarism” principle of not impeding or infringing the “liberty” of another. Defined in political philosophy as negative liberty, the position offers no positive statements or understanding of what man is, what liberty is, or what these metaphysical claims imply (since it is based in the anti-metaphysics of the period), resolving itself to frivolous slogans and naïve atheism.
The notion of “freedom” presupposes metaphysics that must be justified, given the generally atheistic and materialist standpoint of most “anarchists.” Relentlessly hunting down the solutions for man’s ills in external and environmental factors, it is precisely the inner man that anarchism misses – slavery is not merely an external phenomenon. Denying all notions of external authority, anarchism, like Gnosticism, socialism, communism, fascism, etc., relegates all of man’s problems to some externally imposed order, be it the Demiurge, king, slave owner or corporate kleptocrat. Yet having proudly rejected all forms of authority (and God as the true authority), it follows that man’s perennial dilemmas can only be remedied externally. Since man is a temporal, higher animal of sorts, the best that can be afforded him is the most pleasurable physical state. Here anarchism is intimately tied to the Laissez Faire “free market” scheme proffered by Ricardo and Smith. (Ironically, these Scottish “Enlightenment” philosophers, so hailed by admirers of revolution, are the very wellspring of the ideology of our globo-corporate-superstate so dominant in the contemporary era.)
For “freedom” to be sensible, “man” as a concept has to have meaning, and there must be some ground for believing in his “dignity” and “rights.” Who or what grants these “rights?” Nature? But nature demonstrates a system of predators and prey, often with the weaker prey becoming the means by which the “fitter” members of the animal kingdom survive. Is that “natural” for human relations? On what basis does an anarchist (since 99% of them are atheistic, agnostic or materialists) derive these “rights?” Given that there is no God, why should any other being be bound by a wholly subjective anarchic voluntarism principle? At this point, the debate predictably devolves into the utilitarian “happiness principle,” by which we are magically supposed to a priori conjure the existence of this universal maxim. Yet what if the maximum quality pleasure I receive by enslaving another far exceeds the quantity of pleasure accrued by those who are not enslaved? On what basis does utilitarian ethics (long debunked as philosophic nonsense) navigate between these two options – quality or quantity of “pleasure?” One need only look to the laughable attempts of the British utilitarians like Bentham to concoct a hedonic calculation to measure it!
In a Spenglerian sense, it is also ironic that these philosophies have already passed us by, much like Dawkins’ crude arguments against theism are rehashes of 17th-century empiricist responses to equally bad “classical” apologetical arguments from Thomism. These philosophies have already made their grand debut, exited the historical stage and morphed into their more logical consequences (in the case of revolutionary philosophies, they have mutated into postmodernism, deconstructionism, nihilism, etc.). The naivete of the acolytes of anarchism is evident in just this fact: political philosophies, like ancient civilizations and states, rise and fall, and are not to be seen again. One can no more raise the actual Roman Empire in all its commanding prowess than resurrect any 17th century philosophy that has already died. Why is this impossible? Because the spirit of such movements already had been fleshed out into logical consequences. Ideologies, like the worldviews of individuals, ultimately work themselves out to become more and more consistent with their foundational presuppositions.
In the case of anarchism, the non serviam principle has thus worked itself out in the world historical as a purely negative model in its most extreme sense. Offering no positive philosophy or statement of anthropology on the human psyche and nous (and as the pre-suppositional ground of those, God Himself) or human ethics and aesthetics (beyond empty phrases like “liberty”), anarchism is an empty philosophy. Not only is it vacuous, it is also historically a weaponized philosophy, along with its revolutionary cousins, engineered for the weakening of some rival state by some a foreign power. Lest anyone doubt that, note that anarchism in our day is now being anchored to the intense fanaticism of veganism. Indeed, this example proves the point about what philosophy calls “epistemological self-consciousness” – that the principles of “liberty” and “voluntarism” are streamlining themselves into greater consistency. If we should not violently impede the liberty and well-being of our fellow-man, we should not impede the liberty of our Darwinian ancestors, the dear animals. In his globalist texts concerning the coming third wave era of technocracy, Toffler even posits the necessity of vegan propaganda for the success of the New World Order.
Might there be an anarchist who believes that they don’t have to be consistent with their principles, or that nothing else is implied in their maxim of “No state?” It’s quite likely. Even still, there is no reason beyond personal whim or an ad hoc claim as to why we should not consider the family or any other grouping to also be a tyranny (especially when 99% of the time anarchism is based on the same atomism or materialism of a Hobbes or a Bakunin). The point is dialectical – as Enlightenment offspring, collectivism or anarchism are simply placing the one and the many in tension. Most curiously, the classical theorists of both collectivism and anarchism all discuss their metaphysic. For an insight into the irony of the anti-metaphysical position’s obsession with metaphysics, consider the following:
Bakunin’s philosophy, one that combines the logic of negative dialectics with an ontology of evolutionary naturalism. Like Murray Bookchin, the philosophy that Bakunin expressed in embryonic form can perhaps best be described as dialectical naturalism. This philosophy is not a crude form of mechanistic materialism; something that is completely lost on his theological detractors in “Freedom”.
Illustrating the usage of these ideologies by bigger power blocs, students of The Great Game such as myself are well aware of the case of Joseph Conrad’s hints about MI6 and the use of anarchism in his famous novel, The Secret Agent. Michelle Steinberg comments:
Conrad’s story, though a work of fiction, is rooted in a real incident, the bungled bombing of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park, London in 1894, according to Martin Seymour-Smith, who wrote an Introduction in 1984 to one Penguin edition of The Secret Agent. According to Seymour-Smith, the facts behind the real incident, known as the “Greenwich Bomb Outrage,” were these:
‘A young man called Martial Bourdin was found in Greenwich Park, on a hill near the Royal Observatory `in a kneeling posture, terribly mutilated’ on the evening of 15 February 1894. There had been an explosion; Bourdin had set it off, and in so doing had killed himself. He had blown off one of his hands, and his guts were spilling from his body; he died in hospital very soon afterwards. . . . Bourdin had a brother-in-law called H.B. Samuels, who edited an anarchist paper. Samuels was in fact, like Verloc [the main character in Conrad’s book], a police agent and, again like Verloc, he accompanied his not very intelligent dupe to the park. Bourdin . . . in some way set off the explosive he was carrying, which was supplied by Samuels, acting as agent provocateur. . . . Anarchists were not responsible for the Greenwich Bomb incident; they were as frightened about it as they are in The Secret Agent.’
Anarchism, like all derivatives of the revolutionary philosophy, is grounded upon the notion of the metaphysical primacy of the many over the one. Whereas most statist philosophies, like that expressed in Plato’s Republic, for example, envision the people as embodying a vast man with the head symbolizing a king, emperor or philosopher-ruler, so in dialectical opposition the anarchist principle imagines some magical metaphysical primacy in the many. Ironically, even number theory itself shows there is no qualitative primacy given to “one” over “many,” as 1 possesses just as much “numberness” as 2, 3, 4, etc. In Orthodox Trinitarian philosophy, the one and the many have always been viewed as balanced, based on the equality of Persons in the Godhead. Thus, in the Church, the bishop is as much a bishop as any other, with no supreme bishop (Rome) to trump the rest. Good philosophy is based on good theology, where there is a balance of the principle of the one and the many. This is reflected in both religious and political life. Anarchism, with no divine authority in revelation or the supernatural, can only offer competing human opinions, leading to progressive disintegration.
Likewise, in Orthodox Imperial praxis, embodied in the symphonia, the State was to act in harmonia with the Church, each in their proper sphere. According to this philosophy, the Emperor was divinely appointed and a real authority, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies in Isaiah that kings and rulers would convert to serve the Messiah. The Messianic Age does not, you’ll note, result in anarchism.
Anarchism is based on the presupposition of non serviam, and in praxis, non serviam results in the obliteration of all metaphysical categories and groupings, including tribe, family, race and gender. Are these metaphysical impositions not also “tyrannies” of the Demiurge that must be transcended, since they limit “liberty?” Indeed, for the outworking of revolutionary philosophies, including anarchism, one need only look at the political and social discourse of our day, where the need to become post-human (transhumanism) is manifestly the logical outcome of anarchism and her revolutionary cousins. Cheeto-fueled online libertarians’ desire to proclaim non serviam is comical, as they are likely being manipulated by think tanks and intelligence fronts.