The passionate anarchist who screams “Down with the system.” while throwing a molotov cocktail at a riot control officer believes that he is calling for anarchy when he as well as the officer in front of him may ALREADY be living in anarchy. Is it possible that what we think of as social order is actually a myth, and what we would commonly perceive as chaos exists to uphold a more stable structure of order than we can even comprehend. It all comes down to words.
Language is so frail that we often break it without knowing and continue prance around with leaky symbolism dripping truth from our phrases. Such is the case with terms like wild, freedom, and anarchy, these are all words that carry substantial connotations but we don’t necessarily use them correctly. A common fallacy is the conflation of the three into one idea or logical sequencing that some how one leads to the other when that could not be farther from correct.
So lets start with freedom, the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Easy enough concept to grasp right? But when we think of freedom on the context of society we immediately see why the concept of freedom does not fit. Now we will come be back to freedom but hold this question in the back of your mind for now, How can we be free within a framework that is specifically designed to hinder thoughts and actions deemed uncivilized, dangerous, or threatening?
Another thing we have to consider is this notion of humanity as a whole and what we regard as acceptable behavior. We are not thought to be wild, because that would mean giving in to all of our basic urges. It is expected that we subjugate our basic instincts to our intellect in pursuit of enlightenment or knowledge. Through out so many religions we are asked to forego basic pleasures for the chance at higher reward in the afterlife or elsewhere. This depravation of our animality is what is known to separate man from beast. Again we find a contradiction, if we were to completely deny our basic instinctual programming it would be to deny what drives us to desire not only sex, companionship, and acceptance but also food water, and shelter and as we more closely approach enlightenment we also more closely approach death. It would seem that the human paradox is actually more of a human compromise. Be animal, but not too animal, be enlightened, but not too enlightened.
Since we have a foundation for freedom and an understanding of what it might be to be wild we can look at our third and perhaps most sensitive subject. Anarchy, is a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws, according to Merriam Webster. Under this, there is no safety from the violent whims of our collective and conflicting desires. If something is wanted, it is taken unless it protected. Even this respected dictionary uses the world wild in the definition of anarchy. So let us go back to wildness for a moment.
Wild, there are many definitions, but the first is this , living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated. Nature is significant here because if things that occur in nature untamed are wild, and the freedom is the condition of being unrestrained then the meaning of wild and free are quite similar. But this also means that society is designed to keep us from being free. This is of course why the passionate anarchist is throwing the molotov in the first place as he see the inability to be a member of society and also be free.
If you are still here with us lets us go back to anarchy. Darwin, was one who is heralded as being able to point out many “natural laws” many of these laws we tried to replicated in the development of our societies such as natural selection and so forth. But one thing we missed is that none of the natural laws need to be upheld by by the members living within their system. That is to say, there is no one enforcing natural laws, in fact, that is the very stipulation that makes them “natural”. These are laws of the wild that are as inalienable as freedom. So how could it be that inalienable laws need to be enforced or protected? The definition of anarchy clearly states that it is the absence of laws but if natural laws are inalienable then is a state of anarchy not impossible? If freedom is the condition in which we might find ourselves most fit to be, why would we allow for any of those freedoms to be taken away?
None of this is new, many would say we trade freedoms for safety. A safety afforded to us by our mutual agreement to work collectively for the benefit of the majority. This would be the very very structure the passionate anarchist defaces when throwing his cocktail. The question we find lying underneath this all is whether we are safer at the mercy of our societal laws that must constantly be fought for and upheld, or if we would be safer at the mercy natural laws that are part of the fundamental framework of our life itself, that have existed before we our existence?
If natural laws are inescapable and inherently upheld, and our societal “laws” must constantly be protected and enforced would that mean that they are of an inferior quality or not fit to deemed laws at all, and are instead simply “rules” meaning a governing set of principles that are meant to keep us on a straight path just as a physical ruler is a straight stick used for the same thing.
If we were to pull all of these frail definitions own in to one simple a simple phrase it might go something like this:
Society is a system of rules designed to keep us within a particular set of straight paths, and kept from deviating into the wild. Freedom however, is a natural state of unstrained movement that will perpetually be at odds with society as it seeks to be untamed. Anarchy is the state of being without laws, but may be impossible given that natural laws are inherently inescapable. Our acceptance of societal rules as laws is a fallacy given that societal rules are not inherently upheld and need to be enforced invalidating their position as law.
Could it be that given the above phrase, the only place anarchy could actually exist is within society, as society is governed my rules NOT laws and so we are only as safe as our ability to uphold those rules? Compare this to living in the wild, in a state of freedom, which is supported by inalienable natural laws that do not need to be upheld.
Words are quite frail indeed.