Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Aaron Kinney put up a post about this post at Anarchy in Your Head titled, “Anarchy, the New Atheism”. After reading it, I felt compelled to comment that Anarchy has been around for quite a long time as a non-government philosophy, and has a rich history of its own. Aaron’s reply to that comment got me thinking, never a safe thing to do. This is the part that set me off and writing:

“Now that atheism has begun achieving mainstream acceptance, and anarchy, while increasing in popularity, has not yet achieved mainstream acceptance, anarchy is accordingly the new atheism, just like atheism was the ‘new gay.’”

I kind of understand what you're saying Aaron, but I think there is additional social chemistry to consider. I've been struggling with how to express this concept, along with it's implications for a long time.

There is a way of looking at things that says, once one battle has been fought and won, another can take its place, or take its turn. There is another way of looking at things that says, everything always emerges before its time, and then persists as a wave form of peaks and valleys until some final integration takes place. I think there is a combination of these two models. There are too many variables to accurately predict how that combination will play out in any given situation, however. One is inspired by others' successes. If there was no conflict, no resistance, no prejudice or fear, any given organized movement for social justice would be unnecessary. Society would merely acknowledge the disparity and adjust. Unfortunately, human history has been dominated by those who are most insane.

It’s often said that the Women’s Rights movement was an outgrowth of the Civil Rights (ethnic flavor) movement of the 1960’s. It set an example tactically. To say more is to ignore the ongoing social pressures resultant from such events as the Woman’s Suffrage movement, and the employment demands of World War II, and the subsequent peacetime reversal of the demand for both laborers and heroes from all segments of society. The caste system and segregation could not reestablish itself. The barriers were already coming down. The Movement was in essence a large group of people with one primary message: “NOT FAST ENOUGH!” The secondary messages are, “We’re not going back” and, “those trying to shove us back can fuck off”. The Women’s movement, the Gay Rights Movement, the demands for equal treatment from groups like atheists, anarchists, etc., etc. are all The Civil Rights Movement.

There is a pattern to the way these issues present themselves. It is a combination of the size of the population affected, and the degree of oppression (per capita) to which they are subjected. Women represent a larger population than African Americans, but there were factors that made the affronts to the smaller group more egregious. There were no Jim Crow laws on the books that made it an offence not to discriminate against women. Then too, if you write out all these groups in set notation, they all have overlapping subsets. The woman’s group was further fragmented because, until the 1970’s, single-income families were common. Career housewives did not encounter wage discrimination in the workplace, or the glass ceiling. Laws discriminating against the rights of women to hold property, vote, smoke, or gamble had already been erased. Meanwhile, The Americans of African descent were being redlined into ghettos, and generally being denied the opportunity to have even one breadwinner in a family that could reach his or her full potential.

There is also a third factor that is even more basic to human nature. Robert Heinlein said, “There are two kinds of people, those who want to be led, and those with no such desire.” What he didn’t say in so few words, is there are some in the latter category with a strong desire to lead others. Some of those provide necessary direction and expertise, others ruthlessly exploit this desire in some to be led. These are the self-serving megalomaniacs, ruled by emotional and financial greed, and leading mainly by use of fear. Unfortunately, there is a confederacy of interests that are served by this model, and selfishly but effectively work to maintain this as the status quo. Humans are easily organized into hierarchies, having lived and bred, and having been subjected to them since the prehistoric time of the alpha male.

In one respect, Anarchists have more in common with the failed Marxist movement than with atheists or gays. Black Americans, women, gays, and atheists have all taken a turn on the Civil Rights stage, demanding equal treatment and equal rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” under the law. Marxism and Anarchism demand a revolution in government, hopefully not a violent overthrow. In any case, these philosophies present an alternative, not a system that can co-exist with the bastard-Capitalistic Republic disguised as a Democracy that we live under in the US. As Winston Churchill once quipped, “"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." If anyone ever does get a social anarchy off the ground, I’d be interested in seeing how far it flies before becoming corrupt. Not in my lifetime, I think.


At 8:32 PM, Blogger Pixelation said...

I definitely think that there's a psychological link between atheism and anarchy, but I think the general thrust of your argument is correct and that Aaron is reaching too far and generalizing too much.

Good read.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H. L. Mencken.

Well thought out posting (as always) but I have an unbridled dread of anarchy because the vast majority of the great unwashed are NOT Platonic Philosopher Kings.

Sheeple are a lot of work. Even if they look cute and cuddly, they're accident prone,a bit thick, and will wander off without a second thought if someone is watching over them.

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice blog bro...

At 5:07 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

pixilation: You're probably right, but it's said that Libertaianism is Anarchism for wimps.

donn: Yes. I never rely on the kindness of strangers, either.

ornaments-3d: Thanks. Re. your site.... um?

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Rita said...

I dislike anything that reeks of arrogance. You breakerslion do not.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...

handmaiden: I don't know what exactly prompted you to make that comment, but I take it as one of the best compliments I could ever receive. I grew up in a poorer section of a wealthy town, and went to school with arrogant children with a sense of entitlement because of their parents' wealth and accomplishments. Since I would not acknowledge their superiority, we did not get along. The experience gave me a strong aversion to the arrogant.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't any statement of yours That prompted that comment.
But, the gist is that there are ways that people express their views & philosophies that come across as arrogant or basically, "You're an idiot if you disagree with me." (It is particularly noticeable during an election cycle.) You don't come across that way.
Anyway it's a little beside the point of the post. (Which is very good, BTW.)

I am digesting your post & reading the link & also boning up on my Emma Goldman, so I can give you a coherent reply. Because it is an interesting subject.

BTW, thanks for the "google map" link. I'm really enjoying it. Excellent humor.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in a poorer section of a wealthy town, and went to school with arrogant children with a sense of entitlement because of their parents' wealth and accomplishments. Since I would not acknowledge their superiority, we did not get along.The experience gave me a strong aversion to the arrogant.

Funny how we do weird things in such cases, like marrying one of them....



Post a Comment

<< Home