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Nutshell Crackt {3}: Anarchy March 16, 2007 8:35 PM



THE perusal of Dr. Carus's article, "Freethought: Its Truth and its Error", in The Open Court of Aug. 6th, has impelled me to a parallel line of thought concerning a doctrine, a principle, less understood, more misinterpreted, both by enemies and followers, than even that much abused, much misunderstood, much misinterpreted principle of freethought; and, as is the case with the latter, the greatest damage proceeds not so much from the opposition of prejudice as from the profession of ignorance.

"Freethought,'' says Dr. Carus, "has arisen in revolution to blind obedience." It was indeed the great revolt against human authority over the action of the mind. It was not merely a negation; no revolt ever is: it was the assertion that the individual mind must think according to necessity, according to its own law. And this assertion rooted the negation of that authority which sought to interfere with the law, in the confusion-working effort to build all minds after one fixed pattern. Mark, it was the very fact that thought is not, cannot be, free, in the absolute sense, is not a thing of caprice "willing" to think this or that, but a thing of order constantly adapting itself to the relations of all other things, constantly progressing in the knowledge of truth as it fulfils the law of its growth— it was this which justified, nay, made at all conceivable, the revolt against "dressed authority,"— that is, God, that is— Priests! Here was a contradiction, or, as he would prefer to call it, an antinomy, to delight the heart of Proudhon; thought struggled for liberty because of its fatalism; conceiving the implacable authority of Truth, it denied authority; it would be free from men because it could not be free from self; with the light of a widening infinite in its eyes, it denied the supremacy of the Sun; "Come," it said, "you are great, but you are not all; do not think by your near shining, to shut out the stars."

Now this, precisely this, lies at the root of that doubly abused, misunderstood, misinterpreted word Anarchism. "Anarchism is negation," you say. True. Of what? The authority of rulers, precisely as freethought negatives the authority of priests. But why this negation? Because of the affirmation that every individual is himself, ruled by the fatalism of existence; within himself contains the law of right being, from which he can no more escape than sunlight can exist independent of the sun, and a "strict obedience" to which is necessary to that morality which Dr. Carus has called "living the truth": disobedience, in its stead, creating ever increasing confusion only to be wrought out and purified after many lives, the weary Karma of the race, and never wholly purged till the wronged law receives its recompense, — Understanding and Fulfilling. Hence this negation of "Archism," which would maintain a puny, false authority, denying the real one, hindering true order and progress. And the real anarchist can truthfully say to the Republican, "it is you, not I, who deny self-government." I say a real one, because as there are freethinkers and freethinkers, so there are anarchists and anarchists; and as I have intimated the greatest damage to either cause proceeds from the ignorant profession of them by people of whose lives they form no part. No real freethinker, comprehending the laws of racial growth, will for a moment deny the value of the creeds so long as they were the highest possible
conception of life; that is, while humanity yet remained below the creed; nor will he deny that until a thinker has risen above the creed, comprehending himself, realising that the laws of his mind's guidance exist with it, cannot be conceived apart, the one from the other; until this conception of right guidance from within has taken the place of the old idea of a law descended from Heaven, the freethinker will admit that such a mind is better left among the orthodox, than to become so poor an apology for a reformer, as he must become by throwing away his old beliefs, not replacing them with the faith of truth.

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 March 16, 2007 8:36 PM

So, the real anarchist, instead of maintaining as Prejudice would have it appear, the utter abolition of social restraint, the bursting of every bond which man by slow experience has found necessary to order, the inauguration of chaos, maintains, on the contrary, the higher principle that "every man must be a law unto himself," embodying in himself all the truth of the Codes, and denying their authority beyond this, because he realises this; knowing [with] the glory of the truth he holds he would maintain his freedom to reach out after that which is higher still, unknown but not unknowable. Anarchism is, in fact, the assertion of the highest morality; a conception of society without officials, police, military, bayonets, prisons, and the thousand and one other symbols of force which mark our present development; a dream of the day when "each having mended one, all will be mended." To him who has arrived at such a conclusion there is no morality in obedience to outward authority, neither in the observance of formulas; neither in doing what is writ in statute books; one is moral only so far as he (by long struggle it may, probably will, be) makes right his nature, — him. What then? Does he therefore deny the value, and the present necessity of Codes? Not at all. He would not, if he could, sweep them at once from existence, well knowing that as long as men are incapable of receiving the authority of "the inward must," they are incapable of living without statutes. Yet, Prejudice and Ignorance cry: "Anarchy is the destruction of the law." It is not the destruction of the law; it is the fulfilling of the law. It is the only logical outcome of freethought— the ripened fruit of which freethinking is the potent seed. A small seed, as Dr. Carus says. But it is a seed which was planted in hard soil, watered by red rains, and nurtured among jealous thorns. And yet the tree is scarcely blossoming, and still we dare to dream of that russet warm day of Autumn future when the promise of the seed shall be fulfilled: when every mind shall think according to its own law, and every life express itself freely, bounded only by the equal freedom of others, so finding the more quickly, the more surely, the truth which alone shall live.

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 March 18, 2007 1:39 AM

'The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.'

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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 March 18, 2007 2:11 AM

Principles of Democratic Structuring

Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of
'structurelessness', it will be free to develop those forms of organisation
best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should
go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of
organisation. But neither should we blindly reject them all . Some traditional
techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights
into what we should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to
the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with
different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use
for different situations. The 'lot system' is one such idea which has emerged
from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but it is usefull,
in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed
to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing
inherently bad about structure itself - only its excessive use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles
we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are
politically effective also:

1 _Delegation_ of specific authority to specific individuals for specific
tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks by
default only means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to
do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it,
they have made a commitment which cannot easily be ignored.

2 Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be
_responsible_ to all those who selected them. This is how the group has
control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise
power, but it is the group that has the ultimate say over how the power
is exercised.

3 _Distribution_ of authority among as many people as is reasonably
possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions
of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it.
It also gives many people an opportunity to have responsibility for specific
tasks and thereby to learn specific skills.

4 _Rotation_ of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held
too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that
person's 'property' and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the
group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does
not have time to learn her job well and acquire a sense of satisfaction of
doing a good job.

5 _Allocation_ of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a
position because they are liked by the group, or giving them hard work
because they are disliked, serves neither the group nor the person in the
long run. Ability, interest and responsibility have got to be the major
concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn
skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of
'apprenticeship' programme rather than the 'sink or swim' method. Having
a responsibility one can't handle well is demoralising. Conversely, being
blackballed from what one can do well does not encourage one to develop
one's skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most
of human history the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6 _Diffusion of information_ to everyone as frequently as possible.
Information is power. Access to information enhances one's power. When
an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves
outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming
an opinion without the group participating. The more one knows about
how things work, the more politically effective one can be.

7 _Equal access to resources_ needed by the group. This is not always
perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains
a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press or a darkroom
owned by a husband) can unduly influence the use of that resource.
Skills and information are also resources. Members' skills and information
can be equally available only when members are willing to teach what they
know to others.

When these principles are applied, they ensure that whatever structures
are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and be
responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority
will be diffuse, flexible, open and temporary. They will not be in such an
easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions
will be made by the group at large. The group will have the power to
determine who shall exercise authority within it.

Jo Freeman



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 March 18, 2007 4:59 AM

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 March 19, 2007 4:44 AM

More faults are committed while we are trying to oblige than while we are giving offense. ~ Tacitus   As people who reject the status quo, we are all critics. But most of us have learned how to critique badly, and so we either are, or are perceived to be, judgmental, dogmatic, sloppy, and ideological, as opposed to helpful, contextual and interesting.      Anarchist culture, to the extent that it operates on middle class white (protestant) values, is a culture of interpersonal niceness, with a mythology that tells us that people respond better to support and that support always looks like calm voices and careful communication, that good intent on everyone's part is not only essential but is always apparent. (If we are paying attention, we can all remember times when people have said sadistic things to us in a calm voice, and other times when people have hurt us needlessly from good intentions.) Sometimes none of the above is true, frequently it doesn't need to be true, and in fact we are hampered by the assumption that it is true. Not only that, but support and care look different coming from different people. Especially in a culture that has mixing of diverse peoples, it is inappropriate to expect that nice, support, or care, will (or should) always look the same. The homogenization of what support is supposed to look like increases as more and more people rely on and learn from therapists & people trained in formal institutions to interact with their clients in specific ways (ways that are considered neutral, but that reflect and promote values from a specific culture). And many times this increasingly narrow range of options means that our bottom line is departure, that is, the conflict resolution tactic that we fall back on more and more is the abandonment of the conflict, be it embodied in person, place, or situation. This tendency towards abandonment seems to increase how often and desperately people cling to the rhetoric of community. Community comes to be misunderstood as a place where everyone likes each other, where everyone agrees with each other; it could be better understood as a place where people appreciate what they like about each other and live with what they don't like, where there is enough of a buffer of size and variety to allow that and where, even if and when people leave, they don't disappear. If we broaden our range of conflict options, what do we have? Talking to people more, and more creatively, about our problems, and being engaged in other people's problems more and better than we are now. The necessity of being around long enough to see things through, and (if we travel) of coming back frequently enough, and for long enough, to maintain connections and information about what is going on. The need to become tougher people, who challenge each other emotionally as well as ideologically and ethically, who ask each other (and ourselves) hard questions including "how do we live with insoluble discrepancies?" The point of these hard conversations is to increase our ability to meet each other's needs in real life situations, from violence to arrest to drug use to child-raising to dying. What kind of support do we need to learn in order to become tougher (that is, able and willing to keep fighting for what we want when things are difficult)? Obviously there is not one answer for this. Just as obviously, we are all traumatized by this culture, and to the extent that we are explicitly and consciously outside of the mainstream, we get stepped on and beaten up. So being gentle with ourselves and each other is appropriate. But not always appropriate. The more monolithic the concept of support comes to be, the more proud or comfortable the role of victim, then the less likely we are to recognize our full range of options for acting in the world.  An appropriate toughness includes being able to avoid getting wrapped up in questions of intention. (Intention is too often brought up as a way to manipulate and deflect.) The ability to get something useful out of someone's critique does not depend on how well-intentioned the critic is. How many stories have we heard of people who were told they couldn't do something and were motivated to succeed by that resistance? How many times are we told that we can succeed by people who care nothing for us and merely want to sell us something? Anarchists have chosen to be against most things in this culture, have chosen to fight on most possible fronts. As part of that fight, we take on our deepest assumptions about what we are taught, about appropriate relationships to other people and the rest of the world. This requires being tough in a way that nice society doesn't teach us or support. How do we learn to be tough in the ways that we need to be? How well we are who we want to be is an issue of luck, which we can't do anything about, and of will, which we can.     A good critic is the sorcerer who makes some hidden spring gush forth unexpectedly under our feet.   ~ François Mauriac
Link * ' "Reincarnation is a story we tell; then in the end it is the story itself that is the reincarnation." "But I don't want that to end," she said. "No. And yet it does. This is the reality we were born into. We can't change it by desire." "...The Buddha says we should give up our desires." "But that too is a desire!" "So we never really give it up...What the Buddha was suggesting is impossible. Desire is life trying to continue to be life. All living things desire, bacteria feel desire. Life is wanting." ' ~ Kim Stanley Robinson

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 March 19, 2007 5:40 AM


SPEAKING OF EDUCATION Dialogues on diversity What are the current values and assumptions underlying our discipline? Which are explicit and which are hidden? What are their implications for education and training? How do they affect our choice of methods and what we teach? "Dialogues on diversity: Individual, organizational and epistemological." Perhaps the most important word in the title is dialogue, since the goal is to promote conversation rather than to debate issues, resolve controversies or develop policies. The purpose of [dialogue] is to engage our education and training leaders in conversations that exchange perspectives, experiences and beliefs about three kinds of diversity in psychology--individual, organizational and epistemological. Why these three? Individual, organizational and epistemological diversity The underpinnings of some of the most divisive issues in psychology stem from epistemological differences that have created different cultures within the discipline. We need to understand our epistemological roots and examine their implications for the creation of knowledge, education and education policy if we are to have any hope of addressing them successfully. At the level of individual diversity, there are multiple issues. Our goals for this [dialogue] are to examine some related to the teaching and learning process, to promote an exchange of resources and promising practices, and to facilitate skill development in faculty to host the difficult dialogues required in their roles as teachers, administrators, mentors and supervisors. At the organizational level, we need to understand the diverse groups of education and training organizations that currently exist and their relevance for centripetal/centrifugal forces in the discipline. Moreover, we need to appreciate the importance of inter-organizational relationships and the creation of community for psychology education and training if psychology is to reap the benefits of its diversity or to speak on matters of national policy with one voice. I recently re-read a 1995 paper from the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) titled "The Drama of Diversity and Democracy." Although the focus was on the crucial role of higher education in society, I was again impressed with its relevance for psychology and have re-formulated some of its major points in terms of our discipline as follows. Of special interest was the citation of John Dewey, the eighth APA president, that life-long education is essential to the development of "capacities for associated living." In that particular treatise, Dewey was speaking about the role of education in meeting requirements for life in a democratic society. Yet, it seems no less true for life within psychology, and for the preparation of future psychologists, to live and work competently in an inter-dependent, diverse and global society. The challenge for education of relational pluralism Similar to that for society, the challenge for psychology is one of relational pluralism, "wherein," according to the AAC&U paper, "we acknowledge, affirm and find strength in our singularities while at the same time maintaining connections with others in intersecting circles of community, large and small. This vision refuses dichotomies. It does not force a choice between assimilative homogenization or balkanized...entities.". Education has a crucial role to play in meeting this challenge. The academy has a long history of commitment to intellectual diversity. It has been a gathering place for pluralisms and is a privileged space for the exploration of ideas and the examination of inter-dependence. We need to better understand what it means for our discipline to draw on multiple communities that overlap, intersect and, at times, contradict, and the implications of that reality for the design of our educational practices and preparation of future psychologists. We must do more to meet the challenge of educating psychologists for relational pluralism in our discipline and the world. Our efforts to address diversity to date, while important, have often been narrow in terms of recruitment and retention, cultural competence, accreditation criteria, special services or curricula. Perhaps [dialogue] will provide an opportunity to broaden our perspective on diversity in psychology and to reflect on both the importance of education to diversity and the importance of diversity to education.    

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 March 19, 2007 6:03 AM

"WHEN ignorance reigns in society and disorder in the minds of men, laws are multiplied, legislation is expected to do everything, and each fresh law being a fresh miscalculation, men are continually led to demand from it what can proceed only from themselves, from their own education and their own morality." It is no revolutionist who says this, nor even a reformer. It is the jurist, Dalloy, author of the Collection of French law known as “Repertoire de la Legislation.” And yet, though these lines were written by a man who was himself a maker and admirer of law, they perfectly represent the abnormal condition of our society. In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says: -“There should be a law about parish roads.” If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile observance and insults one of them, the insulted man says: -- “There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon park-keepers.” If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn speculator argues, “It is protective legislation that we require.” Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labour, the politician in embryo exclaims, “We must have a law to put all that to rights,” instead of telling the workers that there are other, and much more effectual means of settling these things straight; namely, recovering from the employer the wealth of which he has been despoiling the workmen for generations. In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice. We are so perverted by an education which from infancy seeks to kill in us the spirit of revolt, and to develop that of submission to authority; we are so perverted by this existence under the ferule of a law, which regulates every event in life -- our birth, our education, our development, our love, our friendship -- that, if this state of things continues, we shall lose all initiative, all habit of thinking for ourselves. Our society seems no longer able to understand that it is possible to exist otherwise than under the reign of Law, elaborated by a representative government and administered by a handful of rulers; and even when it has gone so far as to emancipate itself from the thraldom, its first care had been to reconstitute it immediately. “The Year I. of Liberty” has never lasted more than a day, for after proclaiming it men put themselves the very next morning under the yoke of Law and Authority. Indeed, for some thousands of years, those who govern us have done nothing but ring the changes upon “Respect for law, obedience to authority.” This is the moral atmosphere in which parents bring up their children, and school only serves to confirm the impression. Cleverly assorted scraps of spurious science are inculcated upon the children to prove necessity of law; obedience to the law is made a religion; moral goodness and the law of the masters are fused into one and the same divinity. The historical hero of the schoolroom is the man who obeys the law, and defends it against rebels. Later, when we enter upon public life, society and literature, impressing us day by day and hour by hour, as the water-drop hollows the stone, continue to inculcate the same prejudice. Books of history, of political science, of social economy, are stuffed with this respect for law; even the physical sciences have been pressed into the service by introducing artificial modes of expression, borrowed from theology and arbitrary power, into knowledge which is purely the result of observation. Thus our intelligence is successfully befogged, and always to maintain our respect for law. The same work is done by newspapers. They have not an article which does not preach respect for law, even where the third page proves every day to demonstrate the imbecility of that law, and shows how it is dragged through every variety of mud and filth by those charged with its administration. Servility before the law has become a virtue, and I doubt if there was ever even a revolutionist who did not begin in his youth as the defender of law against what are generally called “abuses,” although these last are inevitable consequences of the law itself. Art pipes in unison with would-be science. The hero of the sculptor, the painter, the musician, shields Law beneath his buckler, and with flashing eyes and distended nostrils stands ever ready to strike down the man who would lay hands upon her. Temples are raised to her; revolutionists themselves hesitate to touch the high priests consecrated to her service, and when revolution is about to sweep away some ancient institution, it is still by law that it endeavours to sanctify the deed. The confused mass of rules of conduct called Law, which has been bequeathed to us by slavery, serfdom, feudalism, and royalty, has taken the place of those stone monsters before whom human victims used to be immolated, and whom slavish savages dared not even touch lest they should be slain by the thunderbolts of heaven.

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 March 19, 2007 8:09 AM

a brief young hegelian history of ideas Spinoza basically said that God was a Pan, i.e. that he could be seen as Nature, as "us". Thus, I and You are in a deeper sense identical. This was a theme later taken up by Schelling, one of Hegel's philosophical forefathers. The other forefather was Fichte. Fichte took up on Kant's split between Mind and World, and tried to unite the two. For Fichte, all was "Ego". Not yours or mine ego, mind you, but a general and all-pervading Absolute Ego. When some one looked at the world, he was really looking at himself. So both Fichte and Schelling tried to arrive at a unity, a non-dualism between Mind and Matter. What Hegel went on to do, was to declare both approaches to be still too "one-sided", trying to reduce either Mind to Matter (as in the case of Schelling) or Matter to Mind (as in the case of Fichte). For Hegel, Matter and Mind were both sides of The Absolute. In his synthesis, Hegel united religious thoughts as well as science. Philosophical development was the development through a dialectical process of Spirit. At least so he thought. His disciples divided into two classes: The Old Hegelians, who meant that with Hegel, philosophical development had come to an end, and the Young Hegelians, who insisted in some way that one should "apply Hegel to Hegel", i.e. use Hegel's methodology to go beyond Hegel. It is the latter who are of interest. David Strauss was the first to be noted. He used the method of Hegel to analyze the New Testament, and came to the conclusion that if God was such as theologists had spoken of Him, then it was patently absurd for it to be just one Christ. The New Testament Christ Jesus, he maintained, was no more than a metaphor for the real Christ, who was Mankind itself. Mankind was its own redeemer, for in its moral progress, the moral better would have to - and willingly did! - take the punishment for the sins of the old and morally inferior mankind. Ludwig Feuerbach followed up on this, with his declaration that not only was Mankind Christ - it was also God. This was argued in his "The Essence of Christianity" - rather well so, I think - from that God is known through feeling [i.e. intuition]. But if feeling was from God, would not then feeling have to be Divine? Through a series of clever arguments, Feuerbach leads us to that what we mean by "God" and "Divine" is exactly the feeling of it. Part of the argument goes that a God without predicates is an empty subject, which has no demand for our attention. Only through His predicates does He have such a demand. And those are exactly those of the feeling of Divineness we have for this "God". A further argument leads us to that this feeling is really our own and - says Feuerbach - our essence in Man. The reverence we have for God is really reverence for Man the species and essence in ourself. An important charge made by Feuerbach in another essay, on the reformation of Hegelian philosophy, was that Hegel had by no means gotten away from one-sidedness. Hegel had not taken into consideration sensuousness and the intellect. He had forgotten to tie down the Min of the "Phenomenology of Spirit" to the bodily, thinking person. It is this latter critique which Stirner follows up on. In "Stirner as Hegelian", Lawrence Stepelevich argues that much of Stirner can be understood as reading the Phenomenology with the new and improved view-point that [in] the "we" there is really the one and concrete "I". For Hegel, the Absolute is "the power of the negative", i.e. that which is not there in determination, but rather that which views and criticizes every determinate thought - i.e. the Subject. For Stirner, this critic, this "power of the negative" is the single consciousness - himself. This is what is meant by Der Einzige. But it is with Mind as something other than oneself that also the Young Hegelians take off. August Cieszkowski reforms Hegel's world history to fit better with the Hegelian form of philosophy, and divides it into Past, Present and Future. Cieszkowski argues that we have gone from Art (the Past), which was a stage of contemplating the Real, to Philosophy (the Present), which is a contemplation of the Ideal, and that since Hegel's philosophy was the summing-up and perfection of Philosophy, the time of Philosophy was up, and the time for a new era has dawned - the era of Action. But Cieszkowski made this call for action with the Mind seen as an Other. What else could result when the Action and the Will was in the Other, than a "should". Not an "I will", but an "I should". And the later Young Hegelians followed him up on that. Even for Feuerbach, the self was in the species, not in the single man. Thus came the call to realize one's species-nature. The belief that our "essence" resided in the collective gave - as it necessarily must - rise to a "shall" which you are not to dispose of at your will.

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 March 20, 2007 1:03 AM

Abstain From Beans
By Robert LeFevre — (1911 - 1986) In ancient Athens, those who admired the Stoic philosophy of individualism took as their motto: "Abstain from Beans." The phrase had a precise reference. It meant: don't vote. Balloting in Athens occurred by dropping various colored beans into a receptacle. To vote is to express a preference. There is nothing implicitly evil in choosing. All of us in the ordinary course of our daily lives vote for or against dozens of products and services. When we vote for (buy) any good or service, it follows that by salutary neglect we vote against the goods or services we do not choose to buy. The great merit of market place choosing is that no one is bound by any other persons selection. I may choose Brand X. But this cannot prevent you from choosing Brand Y. When we place voting into the framework of politics, however, a major change occurs. When we express a preference politically, we do so precisely because we intend to bind others to our will. Political voting is the legal method we have adopted and extolled for obtaining monopolies of power. Political voting is nothing more than the assumption that might makes right. There is a presumption that any decision wanted by the majority of those expressing a preference must be desirable, and the inference even goes so far as to presume that anyone who differs from a majority view is wrong or possibly immoral. But history shows repeatedly the madness of crowds and the irrationality of majorities. The only conceivable merit relating to majority rule lies in the fact that if we obtain monopoly decisions by this process, we will coerce fewer persons than if we permit the minority to coerce the majority. But implicit in all political voting is the necessity to coerce some so that all are controlled. The direction taken by the control is academic. Control as a monopoly in the hands of the state is basic. In times such as these, it is incumbent upon free men to re-examine their most cherished, long-established beliefs. There is only one truly moral position for an honest person to take. He must refrain from coercing his fellows. This means that he should refuse to participate in the process by means of which some men obtain power over others. If you value your right to life, liberty, and property, then clearly there is every reason to refrain from participating in a process that is calculated to remove the life, liberty, or property from any other person. Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others.

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 March 20, 2007 1:20 AM

The very term evokes mental imagery, and rightly so, of bloody tyrants massacre in the Katyn Forest, from statist dupes calling for more government power to "fight poverty" to Trotsky's bastard ideological grandchildren that are called "neo-conservatives." It has been a fig leaf for banditry and the ravening twin thirsts for power and blood. It has been the mantra of those who would conspire to realize Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian boot forever stomping on a human face. I'm referring to the other war — the Class War. Marxist doctrine held, in a nutshell, that the relationship between the common people (the proletariat) and the elite (capitalists) was a continu- ation of the master and slave relationship of ancient times — and that any means, regardless of how ostensibly evil it may appear, was justifiable in addressing that iniquitous inequity. With the meltdown of nearly all avowedly Marxist states in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the notion of a Class Struggle was supposed to be consigned to the dustbin of history along with the rest of the smoke and mirrors of Marxist ideology. There's only one problem, though — Marx's analysis of the world around him was partly wrong and partly right. Where there is truth, there is relevance. It is time for libertarians to dust off the notions of class struggle, class consciousness, and class warfare in order to place them within an increasingly sophisticated libertarian/anarchist ideological framework under the primacy of the Zero Aggression Principle. One flaw in Marx's thinking, you see, was his theory of exploitation. Libertarians recognize that there is nothing inherently "exploitative" in any genuinely voluntary agreement, such as agreeing to work for a wage. Likewise, there isn't anything virtuous in subtly coercing compliance with demands for labor to be performed on dictated terms, including wage rates. Where Marx was right in his analysis is that under State Capitalism (as opposed to a truly free market) there is an exploitative relationship between the moneyed interests and the common people. He misidentified the oppressor class, though. What is this actual oppressor class, you ask? The actual oppressor class is the "political class" as originally identified by the Frenchmen Charles Comte and Dunoyer over 150 years ago. By the "political class" it is meant those who draw their livelihood not from the Market, but from the State. The political class is the parasitic class that acquires its livelihood via the "political means" — through "confiscation, taxation, and other forms of coercion." Their victims are the rest of us — the productive class — those who make their living through peaceful and honest means of any sort, such as a worker or an entrepreneur. State Capitalism, which most confuse with a free market, is most prop- erly understood as a form of Socialism in a Hayekian sense of statist control. That is to say, it is banditry under guise of law. It would also be economically accurate to label it Fascism, Mercantilism, or Corporate Statism. Conversely, a truly free market (or Capitalism in the Randian sense of non-aggression minus Rand's own personal fetish for Big Business) would, I maintain, bear a striking similarity to the vision of anti-state socialists and distributists. ...Samuel Edward Konkin III's... class theory, Agorism Contra Marxism Theory — Brad Spangler Much work is needed but the projects have consequences no mundane work can provide: an end to politics, to taxation, to conscription, to economic catastrophe, to involuntary poverty and to the mass murder of warfare in the final war - society against Our Enemy, The State. Counter-economics provides immediate gratification for those who abandon statist restraint. Libertarianism rewards the practitioner who follows it with more self-liberation and personal fulfillment than any alternative yet conceived. But only New Libertarianism offers reformation of society into a moral, working way of life without changing the nature of Man. Utopias may be discarded; at last we have a glimpse of how to remold society to fit Man rather than Man to fit some society. What more rewarding challenge could be offered? Should you now have chosen the New Libertarian path, you may wish to join us in our "Triple A" oath and battle cry, or something like it, and renew yourself with it regularly: "We witness to the efficacy of freedom and exult in the intricate beauty of complex voluntary exchange. We demand the right of every ego to maximize its value without limit save that of another ego. We proclaim the age of the Market unbound, the natural and proper condition for humanity, wealth in abundance, goals without end or limit, and self-determined meaning for all: Agora. "We challenge all who would bind us to show us cause; failing proof of our aggression we shatter our fetters. We bring to justice all who have aggressed against any, ever. We restore all who have suffered oppression to their rightful condition. And we destroy forever the Monster of the Ages, the pseudo-legitimized monopoly of coercion, from our minds and from our society, the protector of aggressors and thwarter of justice. That is, we smash the State: Anarchy. "We exert our wills to our personal limits restrained only by consistent morality. We struggle against anti-principles which would sap our wills and combat all who physically challenge us. We rest not nor waste resource until the State is smashed and humanity has reached its agorist home. Burning with unflagging desire for Justice now and Liberty forever, we win: Action! Agora, Anarchy, Action! ~Samuel Edward Konkin III

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 March 20, 2007 2:40 AM

' "Capital"... in the political field is analogous to "government"... The economic idea of capitalism, the politics of government or of authority, and the theological idea of the Church are three identical ideas, linked in various ways. To attack one of them is equivalent to attacking all of them . . . What capital does to labour, and the State to liberty, the Church does to the spirit. This trinity of absolutism is as baneful in practice as it is in philosophy. The most effective means for oppressing the people would be simultaneously to enslave its body, its will and its reason.' 'Property, acting by exclusion and encroachment, while population was increasing, has been the life-principle and definitive cause of all revolutions... The downfall and death of societies are due to the power of accumulation possessed by property.' 'Communism is the exploitation of the strong by the weak. In Communism, inequality comes from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence.' ~ Pierre Joseph Proudhon 'We are convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice, and that Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.' ~ Bakunin 'Liberty without equality is only liberty for the powerful, and equality without liberty is impossible and a justification for slavery.'

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 March 20, 2007 6:05 AM

LIBERTARIANISM: BOGUS ANARCHY? Libertarianism is not anarchism, but actually a form of liberalism. To be more precise, the rapid industrialization that occurred within the United States after the Civil War went hand in glove with a sizable expansion of the American state. At the turn of the century, local entrepreneurial (proprietorship/partnership) business was overshadowed in short order by transnational corporate capitalism. The catastrophic transformation of US society that followed in the wake of corporate capitalism fueled not only left wing radicalism (anarchism and socialism), but also some prominent right wing opposition from dissident elements anchored within liberalism. The various stratum comprising the capitalist class responded differentially to these transpiring events as a function of their respective position of benefit. Small business that remained as such came to greatly resent the economic advantage corporate capitalism secured to itself, and the sweeping changes the latter imposed on the presumed ground rules of bourgeois competition. Nevertheless, because capitalism is liberalism's raison d'etre, small business operators had little choice but to blame the state for their financial woes, otherwise they moved themselves to another ideological camp (anti-capitalism). Hence, the enlarged state was imputed as the primary cause for capitalism's ``aberration'' into its monopoly form, and thus it became the scapegoat for small business complaint. More revealing, however, is why Libertarians retain the state. What they always insist on maintaining are the state's coercive apparatuses of law, police, and military. The reason flows directly from their view of human nature, which is a hallmark of liberalism, not anarchism. That is, Libertarianism ascribes social problems within society (crime, poverty, etc.) to an inherent disposition of humans (re: why Locke argues people leave the ``state of nature''), hence the constant need for ``impartial'' force supplied by the state. Human corruption and degeneracy stemming from structural externalities as a function of power is never admitted because Libertarianism, like liberalism, fully supports capitalism. It does not object to its power, centralization, economic inequality, hierarchy, and authority. The ``liberty'' to exploit labor and amass property unencumbered by the state is the quintessence of capitalism, and the credo of Libertarianism ne liberalism, all of which is the utter negation of anarchism. Within Libertarianism, Rothbard represents a minority perspective that actually argues for the total elimination of the state. However Rothbard's claim as an anarchist is quickly voided when it is shown that he only wants an end to the public state. In its place he allows countless private states, with each person supplying their own police force, army, and law, or else purchasing these services from capitalist venders. Rothbard has no problem whatsoever with the amassing of wealth, therefore those with more capital will inevitably have greater coercive force at their disposal, just as they do now.

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Listen, Marxist! March 20, 2007 6:18 AM

THE MYTH OF THE PROLETARIAT Let us cast aside all the ideological debris of the past and cut to the theoretical roots of the problem. For our age, Marx's greatest contribution to revolutionary thought is his dialectic of social development. Marx laid bare the great movement from primitive communism through private property to communism to its highest form--a communal society resting on a liberatory technology. In this movement, according to Marx, man passes on from the domination of man by nature, to the domination of man by man, and finally to the domination of nature by man and from social domination of such. Within this larger dialectic, Marx examines the dialectic of capitalism itself--a social system which constitutes the last historical "stage" in the domination of man by man. The factory serves not only to "discipline," "unite," and "organize" the workers, but also to do so in a thoroughly bourgeois fashion. In the factory, capitalistic production not only renews the social relations of capitalism with each working day, as Marx observed, it also renews the psyche, values and ideologies of capitalism. Marx sensed this fact sufficiently to look for reasons more compelling than the mere fact of exploitation or conflicts over wages and hours to propel the proletariat into revolutionary action. In his general theory of capitalist accumulation he tried to delineate the harsh, objective laws that force the proletariat to assume a revolutionary role. Accordingly, he developed his famous theory of immiseration: competition between capitalists compels them to undercut each other's prices, which in turn leads to a continual reduction of wages and the absolute impoverishment of the workers. The proletariat is compelled to revolt because with the process of competition and the centralization of capital there "grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation." But capitalism has not stood still since Marx's day. Writing in the middle years of the nineteenth century, Marx could not be expected to grasp the full consequences of his insights into the centralization of capital and the development of technology. He could not be expected to foresee that capitalism would develop not only from mercantilism into the dominant industrial form of his day--from state-aided trading monopolies into highly competitive industrial units--but further, that with the centralization of capital, capitalism returns to its mercantilist origins on a higher level of development and re-assumes the state-aided monopolistic form. The economy tends to merge with the state and capitalism begins to "plan" its development instead of leaving it exclusively to the interplay of competition an market forces. To be sure, the system does not abolish the traditional class struggle, but manages to contain it, using its immense technological resources to assimilate the most strategic sections of the working class. Thus the full thrust of the immiseration theory is blunted and in the United States the traditional class struggle fails to develop into the class war. It remains entirely within bourgeois dimensions. Marxism, in fact, becomes ideology. It is assimilated by the most advanced forms of state capitalist movement--notably Russia. By an incredible irony of history, Marxian "socialism" turns out to be in large part the very state capitalism that Marx failed to anticipate in the dialectic of capitalism. The proletariat, instead of developing into a revolutionary class within the womb of capitalism, turns out to be an organ within the body of bourgeois society. The question we must ask at this late date in history is whether a social revolution that seeks to achieve a class-less society can emerge from a conflict between traditional classes in a class society, or whether such a social revolution can only emerge from the decomposition of the traditional classes, indeed from the emergence of an entirely new "class" whose very essence is that it is a non-class, a growing stratum of revolutionaries. In trying to answer this question, we can learn more by returning to the broader dialectic which Marx developed for human society as a whole than from the model he borrowed from the passage of feudal into capitalist society. Just as primitive kinship clans began to differentiate into classes, so in our own day there is a tendency for classes to decompose into entirely new subcultures which bear a resemblance to non-capitalist forms of relationships. These are not strictly economic groups anymore; in fact, they reflect the tendency of the social development to transcend the economic categories of scarcity society. They constitute, in effect, a crude, ambiguous cultural preformation of the movement of scarcity into post-scarcity society. The process of class decomposition must be understood in all its dimensions. The word "process" must be emphasized here: the traditional classes do not disappear, nor for that matter does class struggle. Only a social revolution could remove the prevailing class structure and the conflict engenders. The point is the traditional class struggle ceases to have revolutionary implications; it reveals itself as the physiology of the prevailing society, not as the labor pains of birth. In fact the traditional class struggle stabilizes capitalist society by "correcting" its abuses (in wages, hours, inflation, employment, etc.). The unions in capitalist society constitute themselves into a counter-"monopoly" to the industrial monopolies and are incorporated into the neo-mercantile statified econnomy as an estate. Within this estate there are lesser or greater conflicts, but taken as a whole the unions strengthen the system and serve to perpetuate it.

This post was modified from its original form on 20 Mar, 6:19  [ send green star]

 March 20, 2007 6:26 AM

To re-inforce this class structure by babbling about the "role of the working class," to re-inforce the traditional class struggle by imputing a "revolutionary" content to it, to infect the new revolutionary movement of our time with "workeritis" is reactionary to the core. How often do the Marxian doctrinaires have to be reminded that the history of the class struggle is the history of a disease, of the wounds opened by the famous "social question," of man's one-sided development in trying to gain control over nature by dominating his fellow man? If the by-product of this disease has been technological advance, the main products have been repression, a horrible shedding of human blood and a terrifying distortion of the human psyche. As the disease approaches its end, as the wound begins to heal in their deepest recesses, the process now unfolds toward wholeness; the revolutionary implications of the traditional class struggle lose their meaning as theoretical constructs and as social reality. The process of decomposition embraces not only the traditional class structure but also the patriarchal family, authoritarian modes of upbringing, the influence of religion, the institutions of the state, and the mores built around toil, renunciation, guilt and repressed sexuality. The process of disintegration in short, now becomes generalized and cuts across virtually all the traditional classes, values and institutions. It creates entirely new issues, modes of struggle and forms of organization and calls for an entirely new approach to theory and praxis. What does this mean concretely? Let us contrast two approaches, the Marxian and the revolutionary. The Marxian doctrinaire would have us approach the worker--or better, "enter" the factory--and proselytize him in "preference" to anyone else. The purpose?--to make the worker "class conscious." To cite the most neanderthal examples from the old left, one cuts one's hair, grooms oneself in conventional sports clothing, abandons pot for cigarettes and beer, dances conventionally, affects "rough" mannerisms, and develops a humor-less, deadpan and pompous mien. One becomes, in short, what the worker at his most caricaturized worst: not a "petty bourgeois degenerate," to be sure, but a bourgeois degenerate. One becomes an imitation of the worker insofar as the worker is an imitation of his masters. Beneath the metamorphosis of the student into the "worker" lies a vicious cynicism. One tries to use the discipline inculcated by the factory milieu to discipline the worker to the party milieu. One tries to use the worker's respect for the industrial hierarchy to wed to worker to the party hierarchy. This disgusting process, which if successful could lead only to the substitution of one hierarchy for another, is achieved by pretending to be concerned with the worker's economic day-to-day demands. Even Marxian theory is degraded to accord with this debased image of the worker. (See almost any copy of Challenge--the National Enquirer of the left. Nothing bores the worker more than this kind of literature.) In the end, the worker is shrewd enough to know that he will get better results in the day-to-day class struggle through his union bureaucracy than through a Marxian party bureaucracy. The forties revealed this so dramatically that within a year or two, with hardly any protest from the rank-and-file, unions succeeded in kicking out by the thousands "Marxians" who had done spade-work in the labor movement for more than a decade, even rising to the top leadership of the old CIO internationals. The worker becomes a revolutionary not by becoming more of a worker but by undoing his "worker-ness." And in this he is not alone; the same applies to the farmer, the student, the clerk, the soldier, the bureaucrat, the professional--and the Marxist. The worker is no less a "bourgeois" than the farmer, student, clerk, soldier, bureaucrat, professional--and Marxist. His "worker-ness" is the disease he is suffering from, the social affliction telescoped to individual dimensions. Lenin understood this in What Is to Be Done? but he smuggled in the old hierarchy under a red flag and some revolutionary verbiage. The worker begins to become a revolutionary when he undoes his "worker-ness"...

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 March 20, 2007 6:48 AM

As I see it, either you believe in the right of the Individual to govern himself, which is the basis of Anarchism, or you believe that he must be governed by others, which is the cornerstone of all those creeds which should be grouped generically as Socialism. To me Man is manifestly destined to be master of himself and his surroundings, individually free. His capacity for achievement has shown itself practically boundless, whenever and wherever it has been permitted the opportunity of expansion; and no less an ideal than equal and unfettered opportunity -that is to say, individual freedom--should satisfy him. I accept Turgenev's saying that "human dignity is the goal of life," and consider all forms of slavery a refusal to recognise Man's dignity or native worth. At this epoch-making moment men stand irresolute, distracted by opposing counsels. It would be, indeed, more accurate to say that for the most part they squat, as they have squatted for centuries untellable, distrustful of their own capacity to think correctly, and believing that the solution of life's problems is the proper business of a few wiser heads. So long as this self-distrust prevails, so long as the ordinary individual remains unconscious of his proper dignity as the great thinking animal, slavery, in my judgment, will continue. The first essential business, therefore, is to awaken thought; to get men to look at things as they are; to induce them to hunt for truth. Whatever is not true, whatever cannot stand the test of investigation, should die. We are passing through a period of intense suffering, from which none of the so-called civilised countries is exempt. As I see things, however, it is not by any iron law of Nature that millions to-day are starving. It is not because the earth is niggardly, or because industrial development is backward, that grinding poverty, with all the mental and spiritual degradation grinding poverty entails, is still the almost universal lot. Poverty exists because, even to-day, the masses regard themselves as doomed to help-less-ness, and are well satisfied if some outside power gives them a chance to make a living. Yet Man is not naturally help-less. By his inventive genius he has now conquered his environment, and want and the fear of want are to-day unnatural and artificial ills. Thus, as I understand it, do Anarchists regard the social problem, and here our quarrel with the Socialists comes immediately into full view. To us the problem is not merely economic. We do not think that a certain stage of industrial development must be reached before men are ripe for freedom. Still less do we believe in the fatalistic dogma that by the necessary evolution of the present system the problem will solve itself. We hold that man is servile because he has been drilled into servility, and remains help-less because he accepts [this given] help-less-ness as unalterable. To us, therefore, the promotion of individuality, and the encouragement of the spirit of revolt against whatever institutions may be unworthy of humanity, are everything. We are rebels against slavery, and we understand that men will win their way to freedom only when they yearn to be free. For my part, I take the sombre view that Freedom's great struggle has yet to come. I see the masses caught in a net woven so cunningly that they do not sense their danger; trapped by the mechanism of a system they cannot understand, divorced from the control of their own lives by forces as impalpable as are the fancied deities before whom the Savage grovels. The Man of the People is thrown on the street to-day because the law of demand and supply ordains it, because the exchanges are topsy-turvy, because certain of his economic rulers calculate that they can make money by restricting production. He is the mere plaything of the speculator, and if he ventures to protest Government claps him into gaol as a disturber of the peace or hangs him as a rebel. That means unceasing discontent and, ultimately, Civil War. It is utterly unhealthy and unstable. It cannot last. Back of all this infamy stands always the Government machine; dead to all human sympathy, as are all machines; bent only on increasing its efficiency as a machine, and enlarging its power; organised expressly to keep things, in all essentials, precisely as they are. It is the arch-type of immobility, and, therefore, the foe of growth. It is the quintessence of compulsion, and, therefore, the enemy of freedom. To it the individual is a subject, of whom it demands unquestioning obedience. Necessarily we Anarchists are opposed to it. We do not dream, as do the Socialists, of making it the one great Monopolist, and therefore the sole arbiter of life. On the contrary, we seek to whittle away its powers, that it may be reduced to nothingness and be succeeded by a society of free individuals, equipped with equal opportunities and arranging their own affairs by mutual agreement.

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 March 20, 2007 6:57 AM

The Anarchist type of social structure is the industrial type, and for it the true industrialist, the working man, should stand. On the other hand, he who cries for more Government is declaring himself an advocate of the military type, wherein society is graded into classes and all life's business conducted by inferiors obeying orders issued by the superior command. That offers the worker only permanent inferiority and enslavement, and against that he should revolt. Man is, by the very essence of his being and by the quality of his natural gifts, too fine to be treated as an inferior. He is meant to be a co-operator, uniting with his fellow-creatures on a basis of equality and clothed, as a member of the human race, with equal rights. This is his proper due, and I am very positive that nothing less than this can bring us social peace. Here no compromise is possible, and if established institutions bar the way, Man owes it to his own dignity to abolish or model and re-model them, until they are brought into harmony with this fundamental law of life. Obviously this line of thought carries us far, and I desire to point out that it involves the whole future of our race. In our opinion, the man who thinks of himself as inferior, and is content to be classed as such, thereby becomes inferior; and it is by inferiority that civilisations are wrecked. By the Barbarian within their own gates they are destroyed, and the barbarism fatal to them is not the violence of the rebel but the growing inertia and cowardice of the ordinary citizen, who accepts life on the lower level because he lacks the energy and courage to accept personal responsibility and to lead the higher life personal responsibility demands. Thus the whole tone of the community's life is lowered; its vitality ebbs more and more; decay sets in and death ensues. We Anarchists are fully conscious of this appalling and completely established historical fact; and we hate the State because it deprives men of personal responsibility, robs them of their natural virility, takes out of their hands the conduct of their own lives, thereby reduces them to help-less-ness, and thus insures the final collapse of the whole social structure. The last seven years have shown conclusively that we are right. By no possibility could the hideous slaughter of the War have taken place had not the towering governments, which had been permitted to take all power into their clutches, previously reduced the mass to help-less-ness. There it still is held, and its State-created help-less-ness is still its most pitiful undoing. I still say to every human being: "Your first and most important business is to be master of your own life." I need hardly add that, in my opinion, Anarchism is at once the most destructive and constructive of philosophies, the uncompromising foe of the Barbarism now triumphant, and the architect of the Civilisation still struggling to be born.

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 March 21, 2007 12:05 PM

Liberty is not license.

  • Liberty means freedom from compulsion. It means being free to choose your own actions, make your own plans, and act on your own beliefs and values. If social chaos and disintegration do not concern us, then we may demand freedom alone. If, however, we wish to live a productive, rewarding life in a flourishing society we will affirm that in demanding liberty we agree to take charge of ourselves. Freedom from outside control merely leaves a chaotic void if not replaced by control from within.

  • The survival of liberty requires personal responsibility. A demand for liberty without responsibility will be futile: The tree of liberty is rooted in and sustained by the soil of individual responsibility. Without this connection our political institutions, for example, [can] become a means for the shifting of blame, for compelling others to fix our problems... As responsibility declines, the political system [may] grow[] increasingly oppressive and burdensome. Politicians [will] pass more laws ordering people what to do and how to do it.

  • Government agencies take over, telling us what we can eat, what vitamins we may take, what risks we may assume, what we can read and what we can paint and say. Eventually individual choice dries up and everything not compulsory is forbidden.

  • Once we have secured liberty, we face an open landscape of choice. If we do not take charge of ourselves we will soon find ourselves devaluing liberty. Choice can be confusing and frightening to those unused to it. It requires practice and commitment until it comes to feel natural.

  • What does personal responsibility involve? Responsible self-direction crucially involves rationality: a commitment to see the world as accurately as possible rather than believing what seems easiest. A corollary of this is self-control. Once we see what we need to do to successfully pursue our goals, we must firmly set aside incompatible desires and resist distractions. Being responsible for ourselves also implies the virtue of productiveness — creating values that we can trade for other values to sustain ourselves. The virtue of honesty is an aspect of rationality and means the refusal to deceive ourselves or others. Honesty involves taking responsibility for our role in any situation instead of avoiding it or shifting responsibility. Being responsible for our lives necessarily also requires perseverance and persistence.

  • If these and other virtuous qualities of character disappear from a society, liberty will also fall. [If we become] irresponsible people [,we] cease to value liberty and the challenges it presents. So, the persistence of liberty requires a widespread acceptance of personal responsibility. The converse is also true.

  • Americans have increasingly sought security over liberty. We have seen that liberty necessarily goes hand in hand with personal responsibility. Personal responsibility requires effort... [While] license means taking without giving, consuming without producing, and faking instead of facing reality. License has taken over from liberty in part because of the doctrine that there is no rational basis for values.

  • Without the liberty to choose our own actions and make our own choices, we lose the qualities of responsibility and virtue that make us uniquely human. Only we have the capacity to step aside from our urges and emotions in order to choose freely. Humans alone can choose to change their behavior. We alone can be responsible or irresponsible, virtuous or vicious.

  • Our nature allows and requires us to make conscious choices rather than programming us for automatic responses. As a result, persons form differing purposes and goals. Political and economic liberty [and responsibility] makes it possible for us to pursue these divergent ends. Without this freedom we find our choices constrained or distorted to fit the purposes of others. The more others force us to act for purposes not our own, the less able we will be to choose and pursue our own goals. If we are not allowed to exercise liberty and to learn from our mistakes, we will become infantile and dependent. Stealing our liberty inevitably leads to the destruction of our ability to direct our own lives. If we force a person to do "the right thing", we can have little confidence in the moral worth of that action. Why? Because we will not be able to tell whether that person would have done the right thing voluntarily. If they did it only because we compelled or coerced them, all we know is that they acted in a way that protected them from us.

  • Only freely chosen actions reflect our character.

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     March 21, 2007 12:13 PM

    If there were but a single man on earth, he certainly could have no masters, but the elements and the inflexible laws of nature.

    But political axioms, if not mere empty sounds, must have reference to a social state. How then, can men, exposed to each others power, and wanting each others aid, be free and independent? If one member of a society is free and independent, all the members must be equally so. In such a community, no restraint could exist, for this would destroy freedom and independence. But in such a state of things, the will of each individual would be his only rule of action, and his will would be supported by his strength. Force then would be the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, and the wills of the weaker must bend to the power of the stronger. A society, therefore, existing in a state of nature, if such a state can be supposed in which there should be no law but individual wills, must necessarily be in perpetual anarchy or despotism. But no such state of society can exist.

    The very act of associating destroys the natural freedom and independence of each member of the society, anterior to any compact limiting their respective powers and rights; for it is a principle, resulting from the very nature of society, independent of any mutual agreement for the purpose, that one individual shall not exercise his own power to another's prejudice. Of course, by the very constitution of society, the will of each member is restrained by the laws of general utility, or common good, the details of which are to be regulated by the supreme power. Whatever may be the abstract reasoning of men on this subject, the practice has been, and by the nature of man, must continue to be, that the members of a state or body politic, hold their rights subject to the direction and control of the sovereignty of the state. It is needless to discuss questions of natural right as distinct from a social state, for all rights are social, and subordinate to the supreme will of the whole society. Nor, without such a supreme controlling power over all the members of a state, can an individual possess and enjoy liberty.

    In the supposed state of nature, every man being free from the restraint of law, every man would be subject to the restraint of force, and of course would be a slave. Civil liberty, therefore, instead of being derived from natural freedom and independence, is the creature of society and government. Man is too feeble to protect himself, and unless he can protect himself, he is not free. But to secure protection, man must submit to the restraints of a sovereign power; subordination, therefore, is the very essence of civil liberty. Yet how often has the abstract, undefined proposition, that "all men are by nature free and independent," furnished the motive or the apology, for insurrection!

    ~Noah Webster, New Haven, 1802

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     March 21, 2007 12:16 PM

  • 'We must emancipated ourselves before we can emancipate others.'

  • '...[L]ack of freedom in actual life reacts on law and compels the latter to sanction the division of the citizens, who as such are free, into oppressed and oppressors.'

  • '"In order [...] that the state should come into existence as the self-knowing, moral reality of the mind, its distraction {distillment} from the form of authority and faith is essential.

    It is only in this way that the state... has achieved and brought into existence universality of thought, which is the principle of its form"

    Of course! Only in this way, _above_ the _particular_ elements, does the state constitute itself as universality.

    The perfect political state is, by its nature, man's species-life, as opposed to his material life. All the preconditions of this egoistic life continue to exist in civil society outside the sphere of the state, but as qualities of civil society. Where the political state has attained its true development, man -- not only in thought, in consciousness, but in reality, in life -- leads a twofold life, a heavenly and an earthly life: life in the political community, in which he considers himself a communal being, and life in civil society, in which he acts as a private individual, regards other men as a means, degrades himself into a means, and becomes the plaything of alien powers. The relation of the political state to civil society is just as spiritual as the relations of heaven to earth.

    In his most immediate reality, in civil society, man is a secular being. Here, where he regards himself as a real individual, and is so regarded by others... In the state, on the other hand, where man is regarded as a species-being, he is the imaginary member of an illusory sovereignty, is deprived of his real individual life and endowed with an unreal universality.

    Man, as the adherent of a particular religion, finds himself in conflict with his citizenship and with other men as members of the community. This conflict reduces itself to the _secular_ division between the _political_ state and _civil_ society. For man as a bourgeois [ here, meaning, member of civil society, private life ], "life in the state" is "only a semblance or a temporary exception to the essential and the rule". Of course, the bourgeois, like the Jew, remains only sophistically in the sphere of political life, just as the citoyen only sophistically remains a Jew or a bourgeois. But, this sophistry is not personal. It is the sophistry of the political state itself. The difference between the merchant and the citizen, between the day-laborer and the citizen, between the landowner and the citizen, between the merchant and the citizen, between the _living individual_ and the _citizen_. The contradiction in which the religious man finds himself with the political man is the same contradiction in which the bourgeois finds himself with the citoyen, and the member of civil society with his political lion's skin.

    This secular conflict, to which the Jewish question ultimately reduces itself, [is] the relation between the political state and its preconditions, whether these are material elements, such as private property, etc., or spiritual elements, such as culture or religion, the conflict between the general interest and private interest, the schism between the political state and civil society...

    "It is precisely the basis of civil society, the need that ensures the continuance of this society and guarantees its necessity, which exposes its existence to continual dangers, maintains in it an element of uncertainty, and produces that continually changing mixture of poverty and riches, of distress and prosperity, and brings about change in general."

    Civil society, in its opposition to the political state, is recognized as necessary, because the political state is recognized as necessary.

    Political emancipation is, of course, a big step forward. True, it is not the final form of human emancipation in general, but it is the final form of human emancipation within the hitherto existing world order. It goes without saying that we are speaking here of real, practical emancipation.

    Man emancipates himself politically from religion by banishing it from the sphere of public law to that of private law. Religion is no longer the spirit of the state, in which man behaves -- although in a limited way, in a particular form, and in a particular sphere -- as a species-being, in community with other men. Religion has become the spirit of civil society, of the sphere of egoism, of bellum omnium contra omnes. It is no longer the essence of community, but the essence of difference. It has become the expression of man's separation from his community, from himself and from other men -- as it was originally.{Imperical or spiritual?} It is only the abstract avowal o[n] specific perversity, private whimsy, and arbitrariness.

    This post was modified from its original form on 21 Mar, 12:17  [ send green star]
     March 21, 2007 12:19 PM

    The endless fragmentation of religion in North America, for example, gives it even externally the form of a purely individual affair. It has been thrust among the multitude of private interests and ejected from the community as such. But one should be under no illusion about the limits of political emancipation. The division of the human being into a _public_ man and a _private_ man, the displacement of religion from the state into civil society, this is not a stage of political emancipation but its completion; this emancipation, therefore, neither abolished the real religiousness of man, nor strives to do so.

    The decomposition of man into Jew and citizen, Protestant and citizen, religious man and citizen, is neither a deception directed _against_ citizenhood, nor is it a circumvention of political emancipation, it is political emancipation itself, the political method of emancipating oneself from religion.

    Indeed, the perfect Christian state is not the so-called _Christian_ state -- which acknowledges Christianity as its basis, as the state religion, and, therefore, adopts an exclusive attitude towards other religions. On the contrary, the perfect Christian state is the _atheistic_ state, the _democratic_ state, the state which relegates religion to a place among the other elements of civil society. The state which is still theological, which still officially professes Christianity as its creed, which still does not dare to proclaim itself _as a state_, has, in its reality as a state, not yet succeeded in expressing the human basis -- of which Christianity is the high-flown expression -- in a secular, human form.

    But, furthermore, the religious spirit cannot be _really_ secularized, for what is it in itself but the non-secular form of a stage in the development of the human mind? The religious spirit can only be secularized insofar as the stage of development of the human mind of which it is the religious expression makes its appearance and becomes constituted in its secular form. This takes place in the democratic state. Not Christianity, but the _human basis_ of Christianity is the basis of this state. Religion remains the ideal, non-secular consciousness of its members, because religion is the ideal form of the stage of human development achieved in this state.

    In the perfect democracy, the religious and theological consciousness itself is in its own eyes the more religious and the more theological because it is apparently without political significance, without worldly aims, the concern of a disposition that shuns the world{spiritual?}, the expression of intellectual narrow-mindedness{discernment?}, the product of arbitrariness{judgement?} and fantasy{imagination, creativity?}, and because it is a life that is really of the other world. Christianity attains, here, the _practical_ expression of its universal-religious significance in that the most diverse world outlooks are grouped alongside one another in the form of Christianity and still more because it does not require other people to profess Christianity, but only religion in general, any kind of religion. The religious consciousness revels in the wealth of religious contradictions and religious diversity.'

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     March 21, 2007 12:25 PM

  • 'It could well be argued for instance, that the militarist's desire to create order... is directly analogous to the scientists' desire to create order in the state of man's knowledge. The militarist creates order by creating laws of conduct for his fellows. The scientist creates order by discovering or formulating laws of nature.

    In the appropriate intellectual climate it may, indeed must, lead to creativity -- to the formulation of "systems and theories." The desire and ability to create order in one's environment is in fact one of the things that marks off man most strongly (though not entirely) from the lower animals.

    ...[I]n the sociology of knowledge... [it] show[s] that a false belief can come to be widely accepted as true, even if the evidence upon which it is based is fraught with methodological flaws. This happens where the false belief is satisfying to the believers or confirms their prejudices.

    The more humble view that ideology enters where knowledge is difficult or impossible leads to the necessity of acknowledging that others have a valid right to hold opinions other than our own.'

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     March 21, 2007 12:38 PM

    'Intellect annuls Fate.
    So far as a man thinks, he is free...
    The revelation of Thought takes man out of servitude into freedom.'

    'The man {or woman} of character, sensitive to the meaning of what he {or she} is doing, will know how to discover the ethical paths in the maze of possible behavior.'

    'The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.'

    'When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.'

    'We are so concerned to flatter the majority that we lose sight of how very often it is necessary, in order to preserve freedom for the minority, let alone for the individual, to face that majority down.'

    'It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people [on] another [, yet rather] that [those, too, whom the same,] [are now] enjoy[ing] the exercise of their [own] inherent natural rights. For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving in all occasions their effectual support.'
    `This is the essential content...; man is determined by himself to be free.' 'Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.'

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     March 21, 2007 1:14 PM

  • Encouraged by this success, and by the daily progress of that luminous and benign spirit of liberty which is diffusing itself throughout the world, and humbly hoping for the continuance of the divine blessing on our labors, we have ventured to make an important addition to our original plan, and do therefore earnestly solicit the support and assistance of all who can feel the tender emotions of sympathy and compassion, or relish the exalted pleasure of benevolence.

  • The unhappy man, who has long been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species. The galling chains that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart. Accustomed to move like a mere machine, by the will of a master, reflection is suspended; he has not the power of choice, and reason and conscience have but little influence over his conduct, because he is chiefly governed by the passion of fear. Under such circumstances, freedom may often prove a misfortune to himself, and prejudicial to society.

  • Attention... [to this], it is therefore to be hoped, will become a branch of our national police; but so far as we contribute to promote this emancipation, so far that [that] attention is evidently a serious duty incumbent on us, and which we mean to discharge to the best of our judgment and abilities.

  • To instruct, to advise, to qualify those who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty, to promote in them habits of industry, to furnish them with employments suited to their age, sex, talents, and other circumstances, and to procure their children an education calculated for their future situation in life--these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted, and which we conceive will essentially promote the public good, and the happiness of these our hitherto too much neglected fellow-creatures.

  • ~B. Franklin,

  • Philadelphia, November 9, 1789.

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     March 23, 2007 10:44 PM

    'Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation? For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the country?" Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.' 'Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.' 'My country, when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.'

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     August 01, 2007 9:02 AM

    Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.

    ~~~Bob Marley, Redemption Song
    Jamaican reggae musician & singer (1945 ~ 1981)

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