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+1 vote
Proudhon is the thinker I agree with more than any other I know of.

I've always been content to live my own values quietly in my own little sphere of existence, but with all the political stuff going on I started speaking up. When I say something, and say I'm an anarchist, people who know more about it than me say I'm not an anarchist and not a mutualist. That I'm just an idiot.  That should not be unsettling, since I've never really cared for ideological classifications and never sought to fit into any political-type group. But out of pure curiosity and in pursuit of the pleasure of meaningful discussion, I'd like to find a few informed but not-snobby individuals who can help me organize and articulate my thoughts; figure out if my thinking can be associated with any respected thinkers or groups of thinkers, or if I'm just a lone ranger.

Does anyone have a few questions that, based on my answers, can serve as a sort of identification key?
by (600 points)

dot: "i don't think it's especially revealing to talk about how we're different. syrphant pretty much came on here already clear on being quite different."

perhaps. but i often feel compelled to respond to "happiness is" and "that is not important" and other absolute type of statements, especially when my experience varies greatly.

Dot is just being open-minded.

Funkyanarchy: excellent, excellent points. You've totally hit on the problems I have communicating my thoughts. The apparent contradictions you highlight are not uncomfortable in my mind: they are resolved in a synthesis that I have extreme difficulty describing. I just don't have the vocabulary or definitions to talk intelligibly about the truth I've discovered. That's why my recent decision to speak up has only been frustrating. That's why, if I am to speak up my original question is of urgent importance. Other people, more skilled in language than I am, have undoubtedly seen the world as I do. I've always laughed at "isms" but now I see their value: If I can find a respectable established "ism" that accurately corresponds to my own ideas I can use the words good writers have already used to say the same thing I want to say. I can say "yeah .... what he said."  Otherwise, in the eyes of others, I'm just sitting out here on the moon. My words, intended to provoke serious thought just get ignored, snubbed or at worst they provoke hostility.  I can either shut-up and return to my plants, or try to aquire the tools and materials to contribute to participate effectively in a very exciting social battle that has reached a potential turning point. What I'm seeing in the world right now is a huge surge in populism -- Trump, Bernie, Brexit, ISIS -- all boiling down to an attempt by large numbers of people (a critical mass?) to overturn a demeaning system they can no longer endure.

Only... they don't know what they really need, so they are being manipulated. Lack of knowledge is being abused. Most humans will remain half-dead and half-worthless in the struggle for the continuation of life in the universe unless they are led to truth by people with sincerity, empathy and the awareness that anarchy is the only satisfying social order.  And I have a feeling this is a moment in history when the voices of anarchists can matter. So I'd like to add mine to yours.

Just so you'll take me seriously when I respond to others' questions on this site, let me try to respond to your points. Whether or not you agree -- yet -- with my ideas, it is important to me that you not dismiss them outright. I'm not joining your group simply as comedy relief (although I will try to keep it light).

Absolute morality and higher duty. Yeah, I can't deny their existence. It begins with this statement: The existence of life is "good." Therefore, to support life and defend life from forces that would destroy it are "right" actions.  There you go: how describe this any way other than absolute morality and higher duty?  Its existence seems to be confirmed because plants and microbes -- much wiser than humans, having been around much longer and quite capable of passing information down through the generations -- largely act for the continuation of life rather the continuation of their own individual lives.  That's just obvious and I'm not going to go into the multiple observations that have led me to this. Not relevant to this particular forum. Suffice it to say that "to contribute to the continuation of life is morally, ethically right; to work against its continuation is morally, ethically wrong."

I'm not sure anthropomorphism is stupid. I would say that thinking humans are somehow more alive than plants is anthropocentric. I hate arrogance and try to resist any self-centered tendencies in myself. I guess it depends on how you define life.  Think about this: an earthquake; a body falls to the ground; if it gets back up without external cause it is alive. It is the difference between a tree and a wooden chair. Same matter but one influences its own movement, the other is entirely dependent on external forces for movement. At least that's the way I see it, and to see it otherwise would leave me with no free will and therefore no meaningful answer to the ethical question "what should I do?"  If this question is moot... no, I can't accept that. I totally refuse to accept that. I will insist to the end that I can respond to external signals in ways that cannot be predicted purely with mathematical formulas of laws of physics.

So the answer to the question "what should I do?" is somehow going to be "what supports/defends life."

Does this call for altruism or supporting the life of others more than the life of oneself? I don't think so, because I'm a part of it as much as anything else. It is also not utilitarian "greatest good for greatest number," because as groups of collaborating things grow larger communication breaks down and the group breaks apart. The size of life or the quantity of living organisms is by no means the best assurance of its continuation. Small things and members of small groups have the flexibility to adjust rapidly. To be important to the continuation of life I have to be in small groups. Others in groups I'm not part of will just do their own things in their own groups.

A group take on unique personalities and are capable of action on a different scale than the action of any of its members. So it is not really a "group" of individuals at all. It is just another individual living organism. I deal with all living organisms as equals. I will not submit to the will of any collective "person." I will exchange value with it on equal terms.

That's why, naturally, my morality leads inevitably to anarchy: If I give up ANY of my ability to move of my own free will I give up part of my life -- I give up part of life. I am capable of movement and my options of action are entirely unique because nothing else has ever before been in this place and time and never will be. That includes any collective "persons."  They have their own things to do; I have mine. If we both have a duty to support life, we both have a duty to empower whatever life-forms we encounter, including ourselves, as long as that life-form is doing the same (if not, empowering life entails weakening its attackers).
Bringing it round to economics: Can you see how self-willed action = life = liberty = labor? And that the "value" of this labor is a purely subjective judgement of its level of positive contribution to the continuation of life?  Doing things for oneself has very little value because the death of the life of the individual is very short. Selfish action that contributes to your life at the expense of others does not really add to the chances of life to continue any longer than your own life.

Symbiosis is what works. It is the only thing that works in the interest of the continuation of life. That is: division of labor, specialization and exchange of value. The value of one's labor, therefore is determined not by oneself, but in the exchange. Commerce -- the exchange of the fruits of labor -- is how we find our places in symbiosis, to maximize our value, to contribute to the mission we all share. Living things helping each other live. Life = self-willed movement = liberty = labor. The value of all these synonomous things each individual is capable of is determined by another living thing through exchange: "I'll give you this mu

So you see the two meanings of value are indeed one-and-the-same to me. All the value of any life derives from its labor; value is related to the contribution to the continued existence of free-will in the universe; symbiosis is the only way to contribute in a purely positive manner; value is related to one's effective participation in symbiosis; that involves specialization and exchange; value is the subjective judgement of the other trading partners; receiving this signal from the other, and driven to matter, and applying reason, the individual continues or adjusts his self-willed actions to be certain that his/her life has meaning. Whatever holds back this circular striving to have value to each other is morally bad, as it weakens life.  It is a struggle. A struggle to empower me to empower you to empower me to empower you and you and you to empower others.... to fight for the continued existence of free-willed matter. Because life is good. It's support/defense is right. Period.

Anything working against this -- whether indifferent non-living pheonomena or actual living organisms that are either selfish or altruist -- should be set right by someone or something. Can I contribute to that setting-right effort? I have my doubts. But the moral code of Spiderman is "with great power comes great responsibility."  Duty to empower... The internet has empowered us all to empower others, dammit !

Whether or not you agree with any of this, I ask you try to see that it is a coherent, consistent philosophy, worthy of being taken seriously in the current social context. At least, you can try to see that our respective ideas lead in the same direction. Until I can find an articulate thinker to fall back on, I have to ask for some allowance in definition of terms.

Sorry this is so long and messy. Frankly, if you made it this far you are incredible.

ok - here are some things that i responded to, since we're going there.

you don't like arrogance, which is cool, but you talk about people being "led to anarchy." as i have said before, this gets to one of the crucial issues with anarchy for me at least, which is that i believe in autonomy and that people know themselves best, and i also think that i know a better way to be in the world. those two things don't go together. yet here i am.

next point: there are people who claim urges similar to the ones you describe, but in the name of themselves and their own joy, rather than in the name of morality or duty. you seem to take empowerment from your frame of this as something universal, rather than personal. which seems like the religious part to me (i think F@ probably already said that, but sometimes different words are helpful?). i for one am suspicious of people thinking that they know the way i should live. see my first point...

ps:i really sympathize with looking for people who know how to say things i already think.

pps: f@, i was just complaining about the brief expressions of only disagreement. going into the particulars is more interesting, although i continue to think that head on is easiest but not necessarily the most educational.


i definitely appreciate your serious attempts at explaining yourself. and i definitely understand the difficulties of finding words to express your thoughts/feelings/etc.

i do think i understand where you are coming from, at least to a reasonable extent. your perspective simply does not resonate with me at all. i think there was a time that i probably would have been less critical of it. but since you originally asked about where your views fit in an overall anarchist perspective, that is the basis from which i critique it. i find much of your perspective contrary to what i think of as anarchy.

the fact that you make it clear that "value" (based on "labor" etc) is your defining aspect of life and freedom (i'm short-cutting there), combined with your continued assertion that absolute morality and higher duty are the driving forces (by your account, for all of life), confirm that i have not misunderstood you - at least not by too far. your acceptance and submission to external forces (morality and duty, at minimum) - and your idea that one overarching set of ideas apply to all of life equally - are primarily where i find an irreconcilable difference with anything i can think of as anarchy.

i have no doubt your various ideas have a consistency for you. from my own anarchistic perspective, while they may well hold a consistency within the sphere of your world where they exist, they do not seem consistent with my own anarchy. but again i point out - that is just my own thinking. i speak for nobody but myself.

i give you props for your efforts in this discussion. but it is unlikely we will ever agree. i am fine with that. i have no illusions about some single, "consistent" worldview being correct for everyone. perhaps others here (or passing through) will engage with you more meaningfully. i don't think i will be able to do so any more than i already have.

1 Answer

0 votes
interesting. as far as i can tell, you don't fit neatly into any of the tendencies that have been clearly demarcated. your reliance on extra-human systems points to an anti-civ path, while your focus on entrepreneurial (yeesh, can't even type that word) relationships and your distaste for collectives point towards mutualism (i know least about that tendency, so there might be a more particular piece of that terrain that fits you better than the m word), and obviously your "individual points of self-awareness" is individualist, but that doesn't have to be in conflict with either the anti-civ or the mutualism (which do tend to pull away from each other). you embrace morality, which argues against egoism, but not individualism (as i understand the difference).

(another way to address this question would be for you to comment on some questions or answers on this site. we all might learn something.)

edit: have you been to ?

he's wonderful and thoughtful. maybe you're a shawnian!
by (53.1k points)
edited by

Not so sure about Krotopkin anymore. perfect approach but he appears to miss the conclusion. Just because, like all those anarcho-communists, he seems to think the focus should be on meeting material needs and wants of consumers; whereas I say that's crap and the focus should be on labor and its value.

Reclus doesn't look very interesting. The Rhizome concept does not appeal to me since I have a sort of hegelian kind of reasoning. Surfing around I tested my feelings in Deep Ecology again -- no way. I hate "oneness," I hate the idea that we are all connected in any way that might be relevant to our existence, and I hate the idea that humans are bad and nature is good.  Never liked Thoreau, Emmerson or Muir anyway.

Thanks for the tips though. I will go on to read Krotopkin, and try to keep in mind that he was writing in a context where scarcity was more of a problem than obesity, homelessness more of a problem than consumerism.

Between Krotopkin, Spooner and a re-read of Proudhon I've got plenty to read for now !   Let's stop this conversation !! Please! I feel like I'm in a hot-dog eating contest and can't hold in another bite !  Please, no one respond to this question anymore. Anyone have a problem with me, we'll take it outside. To some other question.
i think you've just been bit by a radioactive spider
Syrphant: we may never agree on worldview, but you seem like someone I might enjoy hanging with for a beer and a laugh.

I have prepared and uploaded this schematic diagram of my worldview in hopes of getting some good discussion out of you. This is pretty much my whole entire worldview -- the way things are. All my more practical ideas flow from this.  Would really enjoy a vigorous attack on this diagram.


syrphant, that diagram is completely repetitive (even within itself), and provides exactly nothing new on your perspective from what you have expressed here in words. it simply reiterates your views that i already find problematic:

property, labor (especially as equal to life), products, exchange, value, specialization, etc. a perspective completely rooted in (mass-based) economics. i want no part of it.