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An exercise in abstracting the distinction between total agency and a complete lack of agency.
I've been interested for a while in a political Center which would be far more radical and removed from the 'centrism' claimed by moderate politicians of the establishment. The position I envisioned would be radical, not in its fusing of radical elements from both the Left and the Right, but in its reading and interpretation of history through the lense of an attitude of 'apoliteia,' along with emphasizing a theory of sovereignty designed for the projection of a configuration of society in which people could be 'freed from the political;' a phrase Marxists might suppose could only happen through a form of bureaucratic socialism as Zizek contends, Traditionalist conservatives might suppose could only happen through tribal culture and the family unit, and anarchists will resolve themselves to experience in some Fleeting Autonomous Zone.
Now, granted, each of these apolitical-political schemes might work for specific covenant communities, but the question remains, how do we get to this panarchial Garden of Eden in which radically different neighbors can share the same countryside without butchering and bombing one another? You've already gotten the question wrong if you suppose that your own favored form of sovereignty would be the best for every group.
There's a distinction between 'belieiving' you own yourself and actually doing so. That's why I've often contended that anarchism sounds nice in a vacuum, but everyone is accountable to someone else or has others accountable to them.
Anarchism means something different depending on who one asks. It literally means 'no rulers,' while many emphasize its antagonism to the idea of 'the state.' Some are too lazy when it comes to defining 'state' and others are probably too hard headed when it comes to defining 'rule.' Some anarchists think that power itself shouldn't belong to any one person and are therefore against all hierarchies and all forms of positional leadership. Others simply think that all manners of social organization are permissible insofar as they are not coercive. But then, many people can't seem to agree on just what constitutes coercion.
One man's war is another man's real estate. It may be simply that people who don't believe in property want your property, but it may also be that they don't care much about gradation or specificity. It could, perhaps, be better said that those who don't believe in property are over-extending their fear of becoming property. Reasonably, they might argue, rather, for an Autonomous Zone. Not blind to the fact that this zone might be claimed through legal measures, they might be willing to concede to its being a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). But just what is temporary autonomy? Are we talking about 3 minutes? The duration of a dinner party? The time it takes to cross the South Pacific by ship? A prison sentence?
One does what is within one's power to ensure that the autonomous zone is as autonomous as possible for as long as possible. It is only practical that this be accomplished with the voluntary effort of more than one person.
What separates a Permanent Autonomous Zone and a Temporary Autonomous Zone is only a relative matter. Only an insane person believes that an institution could last forever. The PAZ is really short-hand for what Hakim-Bey called the ‘Semi-permanent Temporary Autonomous Zone.'
That such a zone could maintain any degree of permanency implies that it willfully faces resistance to its autonomy from the outside. It doesn't matter if an outside force calls this impingement ‘invasion' or ‘the cultivation of free land;' those who inhabit that space will treat impingement from outside as an act of aggression.
It's not surprising that so many tribes and ancient cultures held war as a prime feature of their identity-it was what ensured their permanency and their autonomy (if not sovereignty).
In the modern world, war is often seen as something which will lead to mutually assured destruction. In the ancient world, they not only didn't have the technology to engage in such an outlandish, unreasonable kind of war, but they wouldn't have had any reason to even bluff-the territories were too small. Even empires were comprised of large clusters of neutral peoples within their perimeters.
But even if we were to get rid of planet-destroying weapons (perhaps through some ritual act, like launching them all toward a symbolically significant star), world peace is a sadly untenable goal. As long as there are human beings, there will always be violence. Weapons of mutually assured destruction are precisely a product of pacifism: the west believed it needed one final, all-consuming threat big enough to keep people from acting aggressively.
It doesn't work.
There has always been war. There will always be war. Wars will come and go. Invasions will uproot peoples and tribes and disasters will lead to endless dislocations and repatriations.
However, it is possible to fracture violence-to minimize it, to sap it of the ideological trappings which cause it to grow bigger than it needs to. It is possible to stay out of other people's wars, to organize mass self-defense and to pick our battles, so to speak. The non-aggression principle would only work if aggression were to exist in a vacuum. In truth, the aggression of past events ripples forward in an endless chain and will continue to do so forever.
Nothing is permanent in this life. As a sorry translation of a passage from the writings of Heraclitus would have it, ‘A man never steps in the same river twice.'
Nation states have offered us sorry excuses for Permanent Autonomous Zones. The state considers it real estate when they steal land out from under you. One must discover what one values and find like-minded people to protect it with you, since states are as temporary as everything else in life. Your union with this group of like-minded people may not be permanent, but whatever time you have together to defend it is good enough. Whatever you put into the world finds form and will always be a model for the future.
Perhaps one day we will forget the parlaimentary seating arrangements which occurred after the French Revolution, but until then, we have at least some psychological means of measuring the distance between Left and Right (no matter how absurd the distinction is at the end of the day).
Just what is meant when one speaks today of politics?
One of the fundamental problems anarchy poses in its most radical form is its insistence on the abolition of property in a world that has a fundamentally symbiotic relationship with property.
Many anarchists scoff at arguments that if there was no government, some other government would replace it. The reality is that a country abrogated of all government is then open to the world property market. An anarchistic people who refuse to recognize international currency exchange would be out of luck if they didn't choose to fight the new landlord. This amounts to a perpetual civil war, assuming that the anarchists in question remain intolerant of the state tenants coextensive with the expanding property of surrounding states. Violence is their prerogative, if they so choose, but fighting forever would, I imagine, get tiring.
What would then be required is some union or organization that could make contracts with the surrounding nation states. Some militia is then formed to protect from invaders, but sometimes the wrong people get shot. Courts are set up to determine how someone might be wrongfully shot. But then the courts get paid off in stolen tomatoes or whatever barter currency would exist, and soon, people start saying that the court needs to be accountable to someone else, and pretty soon, you have a government, in which everyone is accountable to someone else. If things get bad enough, someone is always appointed the leader or a despot takes advantage of the cracks in the system.
This is not to totally discredit anarchy, but rather, to examine why all free zones, no matter how long they lasted, either failed or adopted some model of overarching societal management. Also, the paradoxical border problem explains why most anti-statist movements have been socialist in nature--the free property of the inhabitants is maintained, not by abundance, but is traced by the borders of surrounding empires. Basic needs must be compromised reciprocally from within.
This reveals a more fundamental, ontological character in anarchy which its popular discourses rarely lend explicit enunciation. It is that anarchy could only function in its fullest terms if the whole world was anarchic.
But here's where it gets tricky: the world already is, always has been and always will be transcendantally anarchic, in that each nation organizes itself as it chooses at first, before making itself ever more reciprocally dependent on national defensive contracts which keep everyone from invading everyone else for as long as possible.
The world is already the laboratory. We already know what happens when large scale governance takes place. Perhaps the future will see the borders retract to such a degree that we can see them at the ends of our fingertips.