Thursday, January 05, 2006

the cup of anarchy is half full

Over the summer I read Robert A. Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy; sometimes laughing, at times befuddled, however to a degree enlightened; or if I was to make a bad pun, illuminated.

Among other concepts, the one I find with lasting impression is R.A. Wilson's almost fanatical passion in deconstructing the illusion of having an objective definition of order and disorder. With his introduction to the erisian philosophy, I became acquainted with it's discordian scriptures.

Hence, to quote from the Principia Discordia:
The Aneristic Principle is that of APPARENT ORDER; the Eristic Principle is that of APPARENT DISORDER. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of PURE CHAOS, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.

With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us.

The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently.

It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept.

We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle.

Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.

DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.

The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion.

The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.
Hold on to that thought for just a second.

When one advocates for anarchy, the interlocutor he is trying to persuade will usually have already made up his mind about the subject; "Anarchy is equal to chaos, and chaos equals evil, thus using the transitive property, anarchy is unworkable and bad, QED".

The first thing I must object to is the conflation of the terms anarchy and chaos. When I say I desire anarchy, my definition of anarchy means that no one or no group has the legitimacy to initiate force or coercion against an individual. I am of course using anarchy in the original, and primitive sense; an - 'without' + arkhos 'chief, ruler'. That is all there is to it- anarchy does not advocate violent workers uprisings and a reign of terror upon landlords.

It can be fun; when you and your friends play a pickup game of basketball, that is anarchy. It can be mutually beneficial; when one participates in peaceful voluntary exchange, that is anarchy. It can even be romantic; when an individual finds love in others, that is anarchy.

Starting from there, I came to see present human existence in a, ahem, state of anarchy. Yes, even with nation states and governments, I still maintain that we have workable anarchy today. This is because anarchy is but the label of the grid I use to perceive the order of reality.

When I look through this grid, I see criminal gangs calling themselves governments, who are merely cruel parasites to the human race. (Yes, indeed parasites, because only criminals and parasites think in terms of Laffer curves, which is the government equivalent to a parasite not wanting to kill off its host.) Since my grid lacks distinction for so-called legitimate instances for initiated force, my worldview can be said to be more black-and-white, and simpler compared to the grayscale intricacies of the worldview of one who is less principled when it comes to the application of coercion.

But lets get back to the interlocutors' argument.

Secondly, I object to the conflation of the terms chaos and disorder. Chaos is the natural state of existence, which cannot be said to be inherently good nor bad. However to an individual, some formations of chaos are more useful than others, and hence more valuable and desired. What we call order is our mind creating a construct saying "I enjoy having nature patterned in this fashion, because I derive more pleasure from it being this way". Disorder is when we find that we do not like the formation of the chaos and we declare it displeasing or wrong.

Thus when we examine the claim that "anarchy equals chaos", it then appears to be quite benign in itself. Although it may appear as though anarchy lacks apparent order, this is only true when viewed through the grid called state. If there was then one thing I learned about this grid, it exposes the desire for societal relationships to be ordered on the basis of a punitive disincentives (which I think can be said to be Lockean analysis every bit as much as a Hobbesian one.)

So to conclude I would venture that there is no reason for an everyday anarchist to object to people desiring ordered lives; the main issue arises when a criminal group wants to effect their subjective determination of what constitutes order, and to impose that indifferent to the desires of other individuals.

Viva La Anarquia!

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