Friday 19 July 2019

What is true about anarchism?

There was a period in my early adulthood when I tried to 'be' an anarchist. Somehow it seemed to me the only coherent way to formulate my radicalism. I had begun as a socialist, but could not make sense of any of its variants, and anarchism was the purest and most extreme version I could imagine, so I took it to that level and had nowhere further to move.

Yet on the other hand, the political formulations of anarchism were nonsensical and extremely dull! And attracted some of the worst of characters.

Yet again, something drew me to something about the idea. I discovered what this was when, as an evolutionary psychologist, I studied the information about human ancestors. That they were believed to be simple, immediate return, nonpolitical, animistic hunter gatherers - spontaneous anarchists.

Such societies lacked politics because they relied on the spontaneous organization of the extended family.

I recognized that much of our alienation and angst was due to us having been "designed" for this anarchistic life.

The picture was amplified by recognising, from Owen Barfield, that 'animism' was actually original participation; when we were immersed in the spiritual world of the Gods.

This provides the answer, I think. Anarchism is an Ahrimanic materialist distortion of the abstracted politics of the spiritual (romantic) hunter gatherer life we instinctively crave.

But what we actually Need, since consciousness has evolved and history is irreversible, is final participation by which we consciously choose that which was spontaneous and involuntary. We return to the spiritual world in thinking.

Such reasoning seems to entail that a return to simple familial forms is desirable and should be chosen - it may also tend (over time, incrementally) to be imposed by the collapse of civilization.


Matthew T said...

I am sure that by anarchism you mean "abolition of control" and not whiskered men with bombs...

James Higham said...

Think we all go through a Rik Mayall phase.

Matthew T said...

In any event, leaving quotes from Tolkien's "Letters" aside, I have been fascinated by Anarchism as a political phenomenon for a long time. I have never been able to figure out just if, or how, it actually *was* a serious political movement, although it seems to have been, around the turn of the 20th century.

Certainly it is true, as Tolkien wrote, that "the most improper job of any man is bossing other men." Indeed "bossing" is one of the most "bent" things about our world.

Bruce Charlton said...

MT - I suppose I am saying that the anarchism as a 'political phenomeon' is a self-contradiction; but perhaps rooted in the desire not to have 'politics'; but for life to become (again) a spontaneous thing, and organisation to emerge spontaneously from loving interactions with the family and neighbours. Typically, political anarchism failed to appreciate the need for love, by taking it for granted and extending it beyond reality