Or: Anarchist as freedom from custom – On Distinguishing Existential Anarchism from Marxism
I am radically individual. That is to say I am Jacob Hoppman first and foremost; not a Homo Sapien, an individual being generalized by nationality, race, class, astrology sign or favorite Backstreet Boy and certainly not someone first-and-foremost made in the image of a fictitious God. I have no urge to be insulted by saying that I’m in the image of a mad and immoral tyrant who is narcissistic or at-least displays the signs of Narcissism in the books that we are led to believe are divine and in the ways Christians, Muslims and Jews depict him as always expecting absolute and unfaltering worship by billions of people daily even though they are ignorant wretches – I use the term wretch to describe the poverty of their condition both economically and psychologically and not as an insult. You think an infinitely loving and wise God would grow sick of such endless praise rather than have the psychological traits of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, but evidently for the faithful such is not the case.
This is not to say that scientific abstractions are not valid, useful and meaningful. Our common humanity can be something spoken upon as a great sentiment for furthering kindness and reducing cruelty and proselityzation. For if we are truly unified in genetics – as we are – rather than through Mohammad or Christ than it is obvious that proselytizing is unnecessary for the true unity we share is that of our makeup and of our common ancestors as well-as to varying degrees moral sentiments and basic desires for happiness, love, fulfillment and purpose. The human condition is a real thing yes, but does not change the fact that I myself have a radically distinct and independent condition as the man I am. And that my consciousness while being completely material in nature is something phenomenologically distinct from all reductionist arguments just as my condition is unique despite it being formed relatively speaking exactly the same way as all other individual’s distinctive character and personality.
This in no way an argument for the ludicrous such as free will or an immaterial soul, rather it is claiming that while I am nothing but atoms, my consciousness is something that experiences itself and is in-a-sense radically distinct and yet attached to material operations of my body and the world around me. A machine might be nothing more-than silicon boards and wires and yet a conscious thing can arise from electronics just as (or similar to) its cousin and creator’s sentience in biology.
What are the ramifications of this? Well not only does it clearly undo religion, belief in a personal God, and Nationalism – which didn’t require much discrediting frankly – but Marxism, arguments for social curtailment of “self” and a type of Utilitarianism as-well. Marxism is entirely correct in its Materialism and Determinism: we are wholly material beings pre-determined by the laws of nature and how our own nature plays into these universal laws. However Marx fails largely to understand the scope and grandeur of man’s psychology and the essence of consciousness as not only a economic and social but existential or self-reflective tool once it has grown to the extent of truly being “consciousness” in the sense of sentience or philosophical self-awareness rather than the low level of reflection and awareness allowed to the lower-rungs of beings known as non-philosophers. Marxism fails to express the diversity of individuals and the complexities of human nature that result out of evolution or pure chance of happenstance. I am first and foremost myself.
Any system or ideology that imposes any attribution of self that negates the self or rules that negate the self – as-long as that self is not negating others of-course – is something that at-least to that extent is to be discredited. Ideology and science is in this nature “collectivist” or generalizing phenomena as sub-categories of abstractions of their attempt to understand the natural order; rather than exhibiting it as a radical individual which human beings are in the Existentialist sense. This is not to discredit science, only in those who have the obsessive compulsion to curtail all facets of all existence under a scientific framework. There are aspects of the human condition which can be understood in one sense scientifically but deeper understanding psychologically or viscerally is yet to be made. Just as we can in one sense understand the mechanics and motivations behind a dog, but are incapable of truly understanding what the experience of any other creature – even our fellow humans to the utmost extent – is like and may only make abstractions and comparisons from personal experience.
Where does Anarchism flow from this one might ask? Anarchism is the logical realization and understanding of Radical Individualism. If I own my body and mind above all other moral facts that can be uttered, than any State does nothing but betray this ultimate moral fact in the name of their morality and the moral or physical well-being of others. Those who pose an immediate physical threat to the life and liberty of others should be prevented from harming or preventing the free-action of others and if it is likely they will attempt to do this act again be put in a separate community where he will be unlikely to do this – this is not to say he should be punished. Punishment is the psychological malady coming from the irrational view of free will. Instead, those who have harmed or have proven to be likely to harm others must be placed in a separate community where certainly no one is obligated to provide them the maximal leisure society can provide, but they shall not be punished or treated as slave or beast of burden. Instead they shall be rehabilitated and more importantly treated as a free agent. That is not ordered about as an animal.
The State is naturally something that seeks to be higher than organic human relations – but anything posing to be higher than bare human relations is something that wishes to be deified and therefore is willing to use force to garner fear and “respect” in its citizens. Capitalism – to simplify – is the main fulcrum or motivation in most States throughout the world today, yes – the Marxist analysis – but religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism have also historically and today still use the power of the State and force in the individual homes of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus etc. to force obedience of not only law but enforcement of ideology and frame-of-mind – the very essence of a Totalitarian State. We also see how the State despite Marxists assumptions can take on a life of its own in Capitalist society. Though the rich are very seldom prosecuted and legislation routinely is made to serve the interests of the Capitalists rather than the common citizenry, the State prosecute anyone who is a threat to it. Let me clarify: a threat to it, not the lives of its citizens. We see this in Chelsea Bradley Manning and others being prosecuted for informing the citizens of the goings-ons of the State. We also see a version of this in police officers being beyond reproach despite dozens of cases of them murdering the innocent – or at-least innocent to the extent they did not deserve to die – because they are agents and dispensers of the Law and therefore are not obliged to follow every dot and comma of it as the populous are expected to.
One can argue correctly that a dictatorial nation like America does not in-its-self provide argument for Anarchism being correct over a more proper State, but this does not change the fact that the State and hierarchy is in its essence based on force and explicit control in “non-Liberal” States and propaganda, education of obedience and apathy and more implicit controls in Liberal ones. The State is nothing but the physical construct of force in the largest way possible in a universe without a personal God. There are of course smaller examples such as the family when one is small, but certain restraints are reasonable on a young individual due-to the nature of humans being biological and not consciousnesses that are fundamentally immaterial souls. The parents are responsible for their upbringing, education and fine-tuning of character, and a certain degree of non-physical force and coercion is necessary when one wishes to cultivate a young man or woman just as one must use shears to finely tune shrubbery so it may take on its fullest potential at-least in the eyes of the gardener.
An adult however is assumed to have received some education – of both the kind of cultivation and of trimming to subservience in any society where the Individual is not seen as the highest end and value – and is done developing neurologically though of course his psychological development is never done with as is his existential development in potential. Therefore they are to be deemed a “complete” and therefore wholly sovereign entity if Man is ever to be considered a sovereign entity – a moral author and force unto himself. From this point on one can only make attempts to reason or give incentive for a redirection or reconsideration of one’s course and no other forms of unwanted coercion will be allowed – unless of course it involves those who are harming or robbing the freedom of others to state the obvious. It is unjustifiable to force one man to sacrifice his freedom to theoretically liberate another man or one hundred men. Freedom is that one thing which is spared entirely from utilitarianism.
And speaking of utilitarianism, a component of it must be sternly argued against. Namely the logic that would have us curtail the individual into something not entirely free or himself for the utility of society. I of course am talking of the “Freudian” sense of us developing psychological mechanisms to have us adopt and follow customs and act and be as we otherwise wouldn’t all for the ease of public relations. That is not to say that there is typically a justification for rudeness, but we of course see a certain falseness and insincerity in daily reactions that is result of Man being curtailed to be a productive automaton rather than an independent freethinking agent of their own reasoning, motive and volition. This is not to discredit Consequentialism as long as it takes into account the absolute or non-negotiable aspect of individual rights into its framework. But Utilitarianism does seem to be the mentality of some forms of Populism and the motif of A Brave New World; that is, it does seem a tad Hedonistic and too easily appropriated into a motivation to curtail human nature into something servile to sinister interests as-long as most are contentedly ignorant that their lives are squalid and base, that others are suffering everyday and that a better life is better for both – or rather all – parties both materially and existentially speaking. But of course Consequentialism brings individual rights into account, because what else could consequentially create the desired ends but having all members of society being respected and deemed as ends in themselves? It is Deontology and Divine Command Theory that has us performing immoral acts out of duty that are detrimental and derisive to the common basic ethic most understand if they are honest with themselves; contorting us into unnatural beings that act in-regards to ideology, and ignore reasoning and conscience. I now will further explore the distinctions and unity of Existentialism and Materialism and then continue from there onto a version of Virtue Ethics that incorporates Existentialism and Materialism into it – though Virtue Ethics is essentially by its nature Materialist.
A short and potentially sovereign case for Existentialism, Materialism and Perspectivism.
There is the Existentialist and the Materialist – and I am both. For both provide essential insights and factors of truly understanding and knowing the human conditionally, both scientifically and viscerally or philosophically if you like. We are material beings, in-and-out; but the absence of a immaterial soul does not make our consciousness something that does not function as something apart from the material order in a way though it is intrinsically interwoven within it, could not exist without it and if one is a determinist – or rather if Determinism is true – then is a inevitability of physical law within it, at-least in our own Universe.
The Existentialist provides wisdom of human originality and authenticity in being, choice and ethics. That we are in-a-sense the summation of our actions and that we become more-or-less what we choose. For studies have chosen that volitional action and sentiment coming from an individual will be far-more effective in the make-up of a person than crass material incentives that the individual does not accept. That is, the Spanish Inquisition was quite ineffective in purging heresy and Atheism. It is because that those who wish to stamp out freedom of thought and the “sincere and impassioned being” and create a society of living corpses create economic incentives and indoctrinate youth into the Church, State and Capitalism before they can make a rational and informed choice as adults. This is why Governments brainwash children as do perverse Christian parents in proselytizing their children into the faith of God or State by never giving them an alternative or never acknowledging the diversity of thought in the world by shrinking the cultural and intellectual world of the child.
The Materialist however provides wisdom of our biological and some aspects of our psychological selves. That is that we are pre-determined beings by our nature and that most crime is not an act of “evil” as the Christian claims or an act of “radical freedom” as many Existentialists claim. Rather it is man as an economic and social being acting and being formed by his material circumstance, so that his Existential being will be molded but not completely “conquered” in-a-sense by his environment.
However the faults of taking a naively Existentialist route is to deny Materialism and human nature; to take a crass Materialist outlook is to deny that consciousness is radically distinct from all other features of existence in its complexity and its capacity for reflection and inwards directed change – or rather neurological Internalism in-general. That is that we are pre-determined beings, but just because our choices are entirely chosen for us does not obliterate the significance of choice psychologically, consequentially and fundamentally, that is to say on the fundamentals of who we are and how we judge and view others.
Both the Existentialist and the Materialist have wisdom to show and advice in how we should reform society to make something resembling an ideal one. Though they appear and if taken either to their “radical” or absolutist positions are contradictory we must accept elements of the bare essence and ramifications of both if we are to both understand what is to be and be truly human.
Religion is the ultimate form of evil and stupidity largely because it ignores both Existentialism and Materialism – the State being a secular version of religion, faith and the herd instinct. It ignores that we are radically ourselves first-and-foremost rather than children of any god or gods, and it posits that we have some type of immaterial essence and “radical freedom” while being chained to the dictates and loyalties of a Creator that puts us in a stifling position of un-freedom. The State also views the individual in social terms for the more scientific state and in-terms of loyalties and obedience in-regards to the more Nationalist or ideological State. Though individual freedoms are respected to varying extents depending on the country and specific administrators of the State they are freedoms that the State views as giving or “allowing” in the individual out of leniency, tolerance or beneficence rather than freedoms that we fundamentally have in our person that the State simply acknowledges and respects and nothing more. And of course all States to varying degree ignore material nature in the governance by focusing on punishment rather than rehabilitation or mere separation of violent elements of society from the innocent – America being the prime example. Drug laws, religious laws, laws on sexuality or discrimination of individuality of any kind, these are laws that view the citizen as a subject to Rule of Law, rather than Rule of Law being something that exists to be decided by reason, implemented justly by the people and for the benefit of the commonwealth. The proper existence of laws is to respect individual rights and to aid the prosperity of the citizenry, not control the citizenry who are conditioned to serve corporate interests and the State as we see in much of the world.
This understanding will only be absolutely internalized and acted upon in Anarchist society; that is to say, decentralized society. One could theoretically make somewhat sound and intelligent arguments for Capitalism and Government in abstraction. But one will always be ignoring the effect that centralized amounts of wealth, power and decision making have on the populous at-large the most obvious of which is lack of intellectualism and apathy. Most people will only desire to understand the world and sciences if they are expected to, and in the world of Capital and Government dominance there is no need for the average citizen to know hardly anything; quite the contrary, business tycoons and government officials spend massive amounts of time and resources to ensure the continued ignorance and docility of the global population.
Only fools with no understanding of human nature believe that the State or even worse Capitalism or religion can be used to bring about a world of universal peace and prosperity; that the State first-and-foremost cares about its citizens. The State fundamentally is concerned with one thing above all else and that is its power. That is to not speak naively and say that all Governments want to take all rights away from all citizens or take over the world, such actions would be completely unnecessary and largely unproductive. Instead the State’s main self-designated purpose derivative of its nature is the insurance of its existence from ignorance just as Capitalism ensures itself from apathy and selfishness. Once systems and ideologies of control (the main three of course being State, religion and commerce though it can also be seen in micro social organization) have made the individual passive and dependent psychologically, then there is no need to curtail the rights of the individual for the being is question will no longer act or be in its fundamental essence an individual and will be unable to act outside of the institutions framework of morality, purpose, value-judgments or as a sovereign being at-all.
However, if the average man and woman are expected and required to take part in their community while living their life fundamentally as a individual, they will desire to know all there is o know and explore all there is to explore in terms of tastes, temperaments and sentiments. The human condition is vast with things to examine externally, discover internally and experience in the realms of both the public and personal worlds of reality and humanity. It is only social conditioning and fear of pain, anxiety and failure that makes us small.
To attain both this unity and selfhood we must make what Stirner calls a unity of associations, rather than a society. With society comes social restraints, but association is always voluntary and done for some form of rational self-interest even if it comes in the form of charity. There is of course great reservoirs of natural flowing kindness and brotherhood and these feelings can be molded and increased to overflow and wash away most of the hardships, indignities and injustices of this earth if we as one people merely act for the interdependent safety and progress of us all. This is a radically different notion of rational self-interest than posed by Ayn Rand for example. This version of self-interest – which I don’t mean to argue is the form of self-interest Stirner was explicitly arguing for – is one that is more a form of Virtue Ethics in the health and well-being of the individual rather than selfishness as it’s understood as petty and apathetic to human suffering. For as we forget the plight of others we put a plight of small mindedness and rationalization unto ourselves and in doing so denounce empathy and reason. Also as argued on the Utilitarian point, Society conditioning you for its needs while association conditions you and frees you for the fullest and widest expression of your essence. Free Association has no concept of moral duty or common bondage – cooperation is ideally in-regards to moral psychology done entirely out of sympathy and empathy.
Stirner’s Nihilism of course must be rebutted for Anarchism to have any legitimacy. Stirner was a brilliant and completely original thinker and I have much more to read of his; however a unity of “ruthlessness” is in no way the grounds of anything approaching an ideal society and is Anarchy rather than Anarchism. Anarchy is the lack of organic order and rampant Nihilism, destructive Hedonism and devastation. Anarchism is the critique of the moral legitimacy of the State and any centralization of wealth and power as well-as the alternative of a Stateless society where Direct Democracy is practiced and laws are passed based upon reason and utility not the interests of the wealthy or the State. So in-this-sense Stirner is an Anarchist in the derisive sense of contemporary understanding, not the philosophical sense which in no way is to discredit him as a philosopher.
To quickly refute Nihilism: all living things have a good and bad in-regards to its health and its traits towards its life, health and the wellbeing of the species’ community which in many examples is necessary for the life and utility of the individual as seen in Man. That is to say, traits that when practiced increase the utility and enjoyment of its life and the lives of those around them – if the organism can experience enjoyment or appreciation of existence. That is not to say that some conflict of interest and traits that are double-edged swords are not inevitable, but those facts alone does not discredit the notion of morality just as a three-armed infant being born that is human does not discredit the conventional notion that a human being is in its typical form a two-armed being. The most-likely inevitability of men competing for the affections of a woman does not discredit the notion that people can work together and ultimately increase their shared utility by the understanding of Virtue Ethics which is essentially a form of Consequentialism that focuses on traits rather than actions and wisely so since the source of our actions is largely our consistent traits formed by the synthesis of genetics and upbringing. Also the fact that a genius will not perform well doing mindless and menial tasks as Schopenhauer points out, does not mean that intelligence cannot be a virtue. Height for example could be deemed virtuous in being a sign of health; but this is not discredited solely due-to the situations of being unable to fit in small spaces and having one’s head knocked off if one is standing up in a limousine and a overpass unexpectedly passes over (though not completely).
The main distinction between Anarchism and all other forms of Socialism is its absolute dedication to egalitarianism, freedom and radical individuality as well-as (as result of this and simply the absurdity of it) a repudiation of the Social Contract Theory. All forms of Socialism that involve the State involve a society where one must abide by laws that curtail one’s freedom that one can only appeal via democratic sentiment and by a corrupt process of such (if it can even be called democratic) in the form of Representative Democracy. Under the reason and ethics of Anarchism however, Man can freely disassociate with others at any moment, in any fashion or to whatever degree he chooses as long-as the individual does not choose to harm others or perform actions that directly harms the health of others. I am an Anarchist who believes in smoking bans in public places as ridiculous as that sounds. Though I believe that a move towards a society free from such vices is really the way to go in-regards to freedom though of course what I speak of is not prohibition. There is a difference between making Heroin illegal, and creating a prosperous and intelligent society that would never once consider doing drugs as dangerous and awful as such substances that plague our societies and communities. There is only a minor step in logic to go from removing the hard drugs through education, economics and overall desired variables for living to removing all vices through the same fulcrum. If people choose to produce their own drugs on a minor scale this will always be allowed; however, regulations for them will need to be strict just as regulation for drinking and operating vehicles or potentially dangerous machinery must be strict. Laws have their place in society, and I truly believe that if anyone understands this truth, the factuality of Rule of Law’s purpose and implementation it is the Anarchists. For what have we seen on this planet given all other alternatives? Only bloodshed, slavery of the body and mind; only degrees of Fascism (or rather Statism) and warped perceptions coming from the need to rationalize a State and state-of-being that should never be similar to the psychic consequences of rationalizing for the existence of a God that doesn’t exist. Or to quote Senator Roark from Sin City, “once you have people saying what they know in their hearts ain’t true, you got them; you got them by the balls.” There does seem to be a statistical coupling of those who are existentially genuine in who they are and those who are individualistic in their character and politics.
Hopefully we’ll see more-and-more individuals who represent Nietzsche’s Ubermensch or Stirner’s man of Ego who can’t control his appetite in-terms of constantly being a being of yearning and growth, striving and striding. For having individuals show the path as independent-minded intellectuals have done for centuries is the best chance we have of having the road to a Stateless society of both reliable moral choice and freedom (Requiring and consequentially aligning with both Existentialism and Materialism) be lit for us, as-to not walk rudderless or on a conveyor belt, blind or backwards, in the dark.