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If you could live in any time period as an anarchist, which would it be, and why?

+5 votes
What time period or place appears to be the most interesting according to your values?  Of course there's problematic aspects of the information that formulates our ideas of the past and this isn't meant to be an affirmation of anarcho-primitivism, just a fun thought experiment.
asked Jan 14, 2016 by selftormentor (840 points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
Ultimately, I can only answer: now. Now, where my desires spring forth and may perhaps form and make their appearance in the world; where the only possibility for joy in living opens sensuous veils, inviting me toward ever more intimate senses of this moment.

Sure, my dreams and thoughts may extend from now, 'back' as well as 'later' toward worlds ultimately uninhabitable by 'me' in all my ephemerality. Those will be the worlds of other lives, their thoughts and dreams.

Simply put, I feel it would betray any gratitude toward my own living if I were to desire another life not my own.

answered Jan 15, 2016 by AmorFati (8,720 points)
edited Jan 15, 2016 by AmorFati

i like your answer, af. though i question this:

" I feel it would betray any gratitude toward my own living if I were to desire another life not my own."

this is a thought experiment, an exercise in imagination. do you really find that to be a betrayal to your actual life? is imagining living in a different time/place really akin to desiring a life not your own?

Yeah, I think pragmatically it is the only answer, and well realistically.  How powerful it is to have all that one wants, it is the only option!

I was spending time with people, old and young, who were just on screens, screens all day, all night and I wonder what it is doing to their development and their character.  Particularly those that are really young.  Were people more of characters before tv?

"Were people more of characters before tv?"

could you elaborate on that, selftormentor? it sounds interesting to me, but not sure if i understand it. 

i know what you mean about people of all ages with two or three screens in front of them all day....of course, i sit in front of one now, but i feel far from attached to it as many people i know seem to.

selftormentor (and ba@): yes, the extent to which folks (of many ages) seem to be wed to their digital devices and screens, is alarming to me. i too wonder about the impact of this on their lives, and on the more generalized "state" of human existence.

i personally find it repulsive, but that may just be me showing my age. although i have been a computer user since the late 1970s, i have always seen computers (and the ensuing barrage of digital devices) as nothing but tools; not unlike a vehicle, a gun, a chainsaw, a drill, a hammer, etc. hard to imagine living my life so intimately tied to a single tool as such.

i personally find it repulsive, but that may just be me showing my age.

funky, yeah, people accuse me of showing my age (mid 50's) too when they find out i don't know how to operate a cell phone....

but i don't think age has anything to do with it. i worked as a computer programmer ("software engineer" in today's vernacular) for over 20 years, so like you, i worked with computers long before everyone had three or more in their home. in fact, my job in "technology" led me (in many direct ways) toward giving up much of it in my own life.

@ baa characters, such as more interesting, more weird human beings, with less monotony (screens as the normative thing to do) one behaves differently.  In addition the affect of a few kinds of personalities that are present on television.  I feel like the range is really small and what is presented as weird or unique is still dictated by the commodity. I mean this as a critique apart from the generally repulsive consumer driven values shown by characters.


funky@, of course, question away!!!

as you may have noticed in my comments elsewhere, i'm not a big fan of most thought-experiments and while they may be fantasy, i don't see them as being synonymous with imagination.  i perceive imagination differently than what's usually served up by the term these days.

most thought experiments i encounter simply perpetuate rationalism. which formulation of such doesn't matter here. for instance, ancaps and AP's exist in about the same boat. in AP's case, the loudest proponents actively seek to 'ground' their analysis in rationalism and see their 'solution' as a logical conclusion, which inherently contradictory to this supposedly anti-civ project, particularly one that upholds rationalism as its basis where contradiction remains anathema! rationalism is a product of civilized living; of distance from a living, pulsating, non-linear world.

in ancapism's case, such a distance is already un-problematic for its technocrats, and the removal of oneself from everyday living, much less socializing, might simply be an absurd case of solipsistic masturbation, if techno-modernity didn't itself indicate those directions already.

what i sense common in both is the presumption that our joie de vivre is conditional, causal and perennially deferred. and i don't for a moment feel the world needs more rationalism, but more joy and imagination.

in sum, the presuppositions of nearly all thought experiments i encounter shout far more loudly against joy/gratitude and imagination than do the stated formulations such experiments.

there are other, perhaps, deeper problems i sense, but i'll keep this from completely wall-o-texting.

edit typos and clarity

fair enough, af. i guess my engagement with thought experiments is different from yours.

i agree about a-p's using rationalism, just as every true believer (in rationalism, logic, the scientific method, etc). ideologues need "legitimate" support for their dogma.

i also don't dismiss "rational" thought as purely useless. it is merely another tool for my use in navigating and dealing in this insanity. many folks give it much more weight/value than other such tools (emotion, intuition, instinct, imagination, etc); i definitely do not. unless a given situation seems to beg for that kind of approach. regardless, i would not choose to jettison it from my arsenal, even if i had that choice.

i don't see rational thought per se as a result of civilization; i do see its idealization, idolization and elevation above all else as such.

'i don't see rational thought per se as a result of civilization; i do see its idealization, idolization and elevation above all else as such.'

funky@, i didn't mean to imply that our capacity for reasoning was a result of civilization. whether or not rational thought is or is not, i cannot tell, since it's a bit blurry (at best) to me as to what's meant when used. but, its idealization, ie rationalism, does seem to be a product of civilized living.

it's more that i sense certain distinctions between 'reason,' 'rational thought/rationality,' and rationalism that are beyond what many may consider 'mere semantics' or 'splitting hairs,' and which reach into context, and issues of authority, beliefs, values and morality...all of which play into the notion of thought-experiments (ex: a subtle employment of ceteris parabus).

af: i didn't mean to imply that you meant to imply...  :-)   i was just kind of letting my thoughts flow.

i think i get you re distinctions that could be significant, and how they could play out regarding authority, morality, etc.
+1 vote
i can think of 2 periods i would love to experience with my current perspective. and let me point out that i am definitely NOT a primitivist, though i do have strong affinity with much of green anarchist/anti-civ perspective.

1. it would be quite interesting to be alive during the timeframe when humans were transitioning from "pre-civilized" to "civilized" beings. perhaps there would be some accurate insights as to how and why that happened, why so many humans chose to embrace the path of mass domination and control. i know that a single lifetime would not likely be sufficient to gain the kinds of insight i'd like, but hey, this is a thought experiment, right?

2. i often have wished i was 10 years older than i am, so that i could have experienced the 1960s as more than a young child (i was born in 1960). i find that period particularly interesting in many ways, and i think the potential for breaking out of the typical modes of thinking, living and relating was probably at its high point in recent human history. and no, it's not about the drugs and sex. well, maybe just a little...
answered Jan 21, 2016 by funkyanarchy (12,220 points)