Personal Anarchy: part I (What it's not)
“A Conformist is a man who declares, "It's true because others believe it" - but an Individualist is NOT a man who declares, "It's true because I believe it."
An Individual declares, "I believe it because I see in reason that it is true.”
― Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
Politics is downstream of culture, culture is downstream of the individual.
Anarchy has existed as a political idea for centuries, however, long before it’s modern lingual conception (roughly translating to: without rulers), many historical figures taught and lived by it. I believe that a great many people who claim to espouse anarchy as a political philosophy fail to embrace it individually. Doing so they embody a form of hypocrisy, essentially building a sandy foundation for the broader world they wish to create.
Many religious figures, from Buddha to Jesus Christ and secular characters like Diogenes the Cynic or later Lysander Spooner, generally lived and emulated a philosophy centered in peaceful living, non-aggression, and personal responsibility; though differing somewhat from each other, they showed incredible and “ahead of their time” anarchic tendencies in the ways they were recorded to have lived. Even ancient works of art dating back as far as 467 BC show individuals defying supposed leaders of civilization for their own values and purposes. A play called “Seven Against Thebes” talks about a man turning his back on the rulers of a city he lived in without shame or apology.
These people and Ideas have, in my opinion, been looked at through the distorted looking glass of authoritarianism. There’s a prevalent, and understandably so, idea that one man knows best what is ideal for his fellow man. Even prevailing in many so-called anarchic philosophies and communities the idea of a universal and enforceable morality prevails to varying degrees, which inevitably indicates greater degrees of rulership, whether subtle or outright. I say this because history is riddled with one particular contradiction: that people should do what they believe is right, but also that others should do what you believe is right; and this “should” oftentimes translates as “must be forced to”.
True anarchy speaks for itself in abundance throughout all of human life; anarchy is the logical deduction of self interest. As long as man is motivated by logical self interest, he is an end in himself. To value anything, including human life, is to act selfishly. For value is intrinsically subject to individual preference; all human choice hinges on this fact. Despite morality or prescriptive ideas for what’s “best”, self interest drives all human decision. While morality, I believe, does play a vital role in a man or woman’s life, individual preference exists outside and before it, and is in fact, moralities predecessor. True anarchy, undefiled, is to live one’s life for their own beliefs and desires; for themselves.
“Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.”
― Ayn Rand.
This however begs the question of “what if someone’s own desires counter your own?”. To this I would bring up the contradiction that exists here, for either one or both parties involved: Self interest is just that, the interest of the self. Nothing you want is made more or less important outside of your own mind simply because you want it. To desire that your wants are above those of another and ought to be brought forth over theirs is forfeiting your own self interest to that of one more powerful or resourceful than yourself. You are entering into a contradiction wherein you acknowledge, whether consciously or unconsciously, the value of your own autonomy while simultaneously disregarding the very idea of personal preference for another; essentially creating or feeding into a loop of legitimized aggression and a continual zero-sum game. Essentially, you are living a crumbling lie.
In opposition to this, is a mutual respect for individual autonomy; both your’s and others.