More than an artist or artisan, I consider myself a revolutionary and anarchist. So I’ll start by defining those terms. By “revolutionary” I do not mean revolutionist (i.e., a person who advocates or takes part in the overthrow of an established political system). I mean a person who advocates and takes part in the overthrow of tyranny – and not just any and every tyranny. Hell, tyranny infects the whole world. Who has time for that?
My revolution is above all personal. The Personal Revolution begins by recognizing the fact that self is the only entity one can truly, utterly control and that the contest to establish absolute self-control is the most difficult warfare anyone can wage. Self-control is thus the only sort of control with which anyone really need be concerned. The operation is a lifelong campaign during which many battles usually are lost, though hopefully not the war. The strategy consists in scrutinizing oneself and striving to develop whatever promotes personal and public good while suppressing everything that fails.
It means recognizing and overthrowing the tyranny of the body and emotions by the will and power of the mind, subjecting them to reason. It means recognizing and overthrowing the tyranny of the mind and reason by the will and power of the spirit, subjecting them to faith, hope, and love… even silence. Finally, it could mean recognizing and overthrowing the tyranny of deceitful and deadly otherworldly forces, subjecting them to the spirit of truth and life, or perhaps overthrowing every concern about the existence of such forces. Later I intend to discuss more thoroughly these aspects of the revolution. For now, it suffices to have defined the sort of revolutionary that I am. I am my own worst enemy, oppressor, and primary opponent. My endeavor is to defeat personal tyranny and achieve spiritual liberation.
Political dimensions are incidental and auxiliary to the larger revolution, but the strategy similarly consists in scrutinizing political concepts and developing whatever promotes personal and public good while abandoning whatever fails. Notice I said “abandoning” this time, not suppressing. For me, the result has been a rejection of statism in acceptance and endorsement of anarchy. By “anarchy” I do not mean chaos. I mean the sort of political autonomy achievable only in a community established by unanimous free consent in which no one presumes to lead anyone else. Communities with clear leadership can coexist alongside leaderless communities, especially when community leadership is sustained by perpetual approval from the membership. However, politically speaking, anarchists prefer leaderless affiliations, the term anarchy deriving from the Greek anarkhos, meaning “without a leader.”
After investigating various societal structures, I surmised that only two human communities are natural. The first is the family, which is the building block of the second, namely, any society freely constituted by all of its members. I don’t think patriarchy or matriarchy is natural to the family, but natural authority within the family is shared between the sexes and exercised according to age and wisdom. Freely constituted societies, by contrast, can take many forms. For example, a musician freely joins a band or “society of musicians.” That band might make decisions democratically, or the members could entrust some, most, or all decision making to a bandleader. As long as each member freely consents, the band is a natural society. Church is another example. A Christian might join a hierarchically structured authoritarian community like the Roman Catholic Church or a more egalitarian body like the Congregationalists. As long as consent is unanimous and free, the church is a natural society.
Similarly, a State could be natural if constituted by unanimous free consent. Unhappily, history knows of no such State. The U.S. Declaration of Independence asserts that “Governments are instituted among Men,” but says nothing of governments instituted by the free unanimous consent of an entire adult population. The U.S. Constitution further claims to have been ordained and established by “the People of the United States,” but certainly not by all people located within the territories claimed by the United States, whatever the designation “United States” was or is construed to mean. In fact, the Constitution goes on to make claims for “Posterity” with no concern for obtaining Posterity’s consent.
Returning to the Declaration, it proclaims that civil governments “deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The word “governed” used in connection with “governments” (plural) implies that no civil government is thoroughly egalitarian or fully participatory. All civil governments presumably involve “governors” as distinct from “the governed.” Most importantly, if the “just powers” of civil governments derive from the “consent of the governed,” then whoever dissents while hemmed in on all sides by civil governments testifies that such governments exercise unjust powers. As an anarchist, that is precisely my testimony. I think secular States and civil governments are artificial societies that are inherently unjust.
Thomas Paine famously said that “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” I agree that even the best civil government is evil. If human history proves anything, it is government’s essential wickedness. But at no point in time has anyone demonstrated that a civil government is necessary for the common good. Civil government does appear necessary to the egotistical ambitions of a certain class of maniac. That’s about it. Thus, I say that civil government, even in its best state, is an unnecessary evil. However, I don’t advocate or participate in the overthrow of civil government so much as I advocate and participate in its desertion. Civil government is rather like a pit viper. Deadly and despicable, yes, but it occupies itself primarily with rats, toads, and other snakes. Leave it alone. Walk away.
At this time, I have been a pilgrim in the world for forty-eight years. Never once have I had recourse to the police. Never once have I dragged anyone into court. I can’t think of anything government does or claims to do that private citizens can’t do as well or better. I don’t vote. My policy is to avoid government as far as possible and to encourage others to do likewise, mostly by example. When it comes to paying taxes and fines, I submit. I tolerate and submit to the blatantly bad local, state, and federal governments to which I was born subjugated, while exercising my natural right (not “constitutional right”) to criticize and dissent from the same. I support citizens’ use of every right, freedom, or so-called “privilege” available under these bad governments to agitate for improvements, but I remain skeptical that there could ever be any such thing as “good” civil government. Better civil government, probably. Good civil government, never.
In my view, better civil government would not constitute a vast “system” claiming “powers” for itself. Better civil government arises only in communities instituted by unanimous free adult consent in which individuals either participate equally in the direction of affairs for their mutual benefit or willingly entrust a modicum of leadership to specific others for specific purposes. Consent at all times should be free and perpetual such that coercion never attains. Because I cherish such “anti-government” opinions and operate independently as far as possible, I must be a revolutionary and an anarchist. But listen, Mr. Magistrate, whomsoever ye be: don’t flatter yourself that your civil government commands my attention or energies so much that I’m involved in any rebellion against it. Your government sucks, truly, and it can fuck right off. However, it appears that fucking off is what most government types do best. So all I’m really saying to anyone committed to such a fiasco is, carry on if you will. Who am I to judge?