Here are a couple excepts from the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea that I always found amusing and interesting. I always preferred it to the sequel trilogy, Schrödinger's Cat, probably because I prefer weed, hash, LSD, and Rosicrucian sex magic, instead of cocaine and quantum mechanics. R.A.W. seems to oscillate from anarcho-capitalism to anarcho-syndicalism. You may have issue with a few of his definitions - he seems to use communism and socialism interchangably, in the latter case refering to what some could call State capitalism a la Stalinist USSR or post-1980s China where the State and the ruling party bureaucracy take the place of aristocrats/plutocrats/robber barons/private corporations in class antagonism and conflict, rather than Marx's distinction between communism and socialism referring to a future post-class society. He also seems to use the modern American perverted definitions of conservatism/liberalism rather than the classical definitions.
I've always loved the phrase "swords and shot were the original coins of transaction" in the section on property
I've always loved the phrase "swords and shot were the original coins of transaction" in the section on property
DEFINITIONS AND DISTINCTIONS
FREE MARKET: That condition of society in which all economic transactions result from voluntary choice without coercion.
THE STATE: That institution which interferes with the Free Market through the direct exercise of coercion or the granting of privileges (backed by coercion).
TAX: That form of coercion or interference with the Free Market in which the State collects tribute (the tax), allowing it to hire armed forces to practice coercion in defense of privilege, and also to engage in such wars, adventures, experiments, "reforms", etc., as it pleases, not at its own cost, but at the cost of "its" subjects.
PRIVILEGE: From the Latin privi, private, and lege, law. An advantage granted by the State and protected by its powers of coercion. A law for private benefit.
USURY: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group monopolizes the coinage and thereby takes tribute (interest), direct or indirect, on all or most economic transactions.
LANDLORDISM: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group "owns" the land and thereby takes tribute (rent) from those who live, work, or produce on the land.
TARRIFF: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which commodities produced outside the State are not allowed to compete equally with those produced inside the State.
CAPITALISM: That organization of society, incorporating elements of tax, usury, landlordism, and tariff, which thus denies the Free Market while pretending to exemplify it.
CONSERVATISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which claims allegiance to the Free Market while actually supporting usury, landlordism, tariff, and sometimes taxation.
LIBERALISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which attempts to correct the injustices of capitalism by adding new laws to the existing laws. Each time conservatives pass a law creating privilege, liberals pass another law modifying privilege, leading conservatives to pass a more subtle law recreating privilege, etc., until "everything not forbidden is compulsory" and "everything not compulsory is forbidden".
SOCIALISM: The attempted abolition of all privilege by restoring power entirely to the coercive agent behind privilege, the State, thereby converting capitalist oligarchy into Statist monopoly. Whitewashing a wall by painting it black.
ANARCHISM: That organization of society in which the Free Market operates freely, without taxes, usury, landlordism, tariffs, or other forms of coercion or privilege. "Right" anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to compete more often than to cooperate; "left" anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to cooperate more often than to compete.
Appendix Zain -- Property and Privilege
Property is theft. -- P.J. Proudhon
Property is liberty. -- P.J. Proudhon
Property is impossible. -- P.J. Proudhon
Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Proudhon, by piling up his contradictions this way, was not merely being French; he was trying to indicate that the abstraction "property" covers a variety of phenomena, some pernicious and some beneficial. Let us borrow a device from the semanticists and examine his triad with the subscripts attached for maximum clarity.
"Property1 is theft" means that property1 created by the artificial laws of feudal, capitalist, and other authoritarian societies, is based on armed robbery. Land titles, for instance, are clear examples of property1; swords and shot were the original coins of transaction.
"Property2 is liberty" means that property2, that which will be voluntarily honored in a voluntary (anarchist) society, is the foundation of the liberty in that society. The more people's interests are co-mingled and confused, as in collectivism, the more they will be stepping on each other's toes; only when the rules of the game declare clearly "This is mine and this is thine," and the game is voluntarily accepted as worthwhile by the parties to it, can true independence be achieved.
"Property3 is impossible" means that property3 (=property1) creates so much conflict of interest that society is in perpetual undeclared civil war and must eventually devour itself (and properties 1 and 3 as well). In short, Proudhon, in his own way, foresaw the Snafu Principle. He also foresaw that communism would only perpetuate and aggravate the conflicts, and that anarchy is the only viable alternative to this chaos.
It is averred, of course, that property2 will come into existence only in a totally voluntary society; many forms of it already exist. The error of most alleged libertarians -- especially the followers (!) of the egregious Ayn Rand -- is to assume that all property1 is property2. The distinction can be made by any IQ above 70 and is absurdly simple. The test is to ask, of any title of ownership you are asked to accept or which you ask others to accept, "Would this be honored in a free society of rationalists, or does it require the armed might of a State to force people to honor it?" If it be the former, it is property2 and represents liberty; if it be the latter, it is property1 and represents theft.
Seventh Trip, or Netzach (the SNAFU Principle)
"The most thoroughly and relentlessly Damned, banned, excluded,
condemned, forbidden, ostracized, ignore, suppressed, repressed,
robbed, brutalized and defamed of all Damned Things is the individual
human being. The social engineers, statistician, psychologist,
sociologists, market researchers, landlords, bureaucrats, captains of
industry, bankers, governors, commissars, kings and presidents are
perpetually forcing this Damned Thing into carefully prepared
blueprints and perpetually irritated that the Damned Thing will not
fit into the slot assigned it. The theologians call it a sinner and
try to reform it. The governor calls it a criminal and tries to punish
it. the psychologist calls it a neurotic and tries to cure it. Still,
the Damned Thing will not fit into their slots.
Appendix Teth: Hagbard's Booklet
" I once overheard two botanists arguing over a Damned Thing that had
blasphemously sprouted in a college yard. One claimed that the Damned Thing
was a tree and the other claimed that it was a shrub. They each had good
scholary arguments, and they were still debating when I left them. The
world is forever spawning Damned Things- things that are neither tree nor
shrub, fish nor fowl, black nor white- and the categorical thinker can only
regard the spiky and buzzing world of sensory fact as a profound insult to
his card-index system of classifications. Worst of all are the facts which
violate "common sense", that dreary bog of sullen prejudice and muddy
inertia. The whole history of science is the odyssey of a pixilated card-
indexer perpetually sailing between such Damned Things and desperately
juggling his classifications to fit them in, just as the history of
politics is the futile epic of a long series of attempts to line up the
Damned Things and cajole them to march in regiment.
Every ideology is a mental murder, a reduction of dynamic living processes
to static classifications, and every classification is a Damnation, just as
every inclusion is an exclusion. In a busy, buzzing universe where no two
snow flakes are identical, and no two trees are identical, and no two
people are identical- and, indeed, the smallest sub-atomic particle, we are
assured, is not even identical with itself from one microsecond to the
next- every card-index system is a delusion. "Or, to put it more
charitably," as Nietzsche says, "we are all better artists than we
realize." It is easy to see that label "Jew" was a Damnation in Nazi
Germany, but actually the label "Jew" is a Damnation anywhere, even where
anti-Semitism does not exist. "He is a Jew," "He is a doctor," and "He is a
poet" mean, to the card indexing centre of the cortex, that my experience
with him will be like my experience with other Jews, other doctors, and
other poets. Thus, individuality is ignored when identity is asserted. At a
party or any place where strangers meet, watch this mechanism in action.
Behind the friendly overtures there is wariness as each person fishes for
the label that will identify and Damn the other. Finally, it is revealed:
"Oh, he's an advertising copywriter," "Oh, he's an engine-lathe operator."
Both parties relax, for now they know how to behave, what roles to play in
the game. Ninety-nine percent of each has been Damned; the other is
reacting to the 1 percent that has been labeled by the card-index machine.
Certain Damnations are socially and intellectually necessary, of course. A
custard pie thrown in a comedian's face is Damned by the physicist who
analyzes it according to the Newtonian laws of motion. These equations tell
us we want to know about the impact of the pie on the face, but nothing
about the human meaning of pie-throwing. A cultural anthropologist,
analyzing the social function of the comedian as shaman, court jester, and
king's surrogate, explains the pie-throwing as a survival of the Feast of
Fools and the killing of the king's double. This Damns the subject in
another way. A psychoanalyst, finding an Oedipal castration ritual here,
has performed a third Damnation, and the Marxist, seeing an outlet for the
worker's repressed rage against the bosses, performs a fourth. Each
Damnation has its values and uses, but is nonetheless a Damnation unless
its partial and arbitrary nature is recognized. The poet, who compares the
pie in the comedian's face with Decline of the West or his own lost love,
commits a fifth Damnation, but in this case the game element and the
whimsicality of the symbolism are safely obvious. At least, one would hope
so; reading the New Critics occasionally raises doubts on this point.
Human society can be structured either according to the principle of
authority or according to the principle of liberty. Authority is a static
social configuration in which people act as superiors and inferiors: a
sado- masochistic relationship. Liberty is a dynamic social configuration
in which people act as equals: an erotic relationship. In every interaction
between people, either Authority or Liberty is the dominant factor.
Families, churches, lodges, clubs and corporations are either more
authoritarian than libertarian or more libertarian than authoritarian. It
becomes obvious as we proceed that the most pugnacious and intolerant form
of authority is the State, which even today dares to assume absolutism
which the church itself has long ago surrendered and to enforce obedience
with the Church's old and shameful Inquisition. Every form of
authoritarianism is, however, a small "State," even if it has a membership
of only two. Freud's remark to the effect that the delusion of many men is
religion can be generalized: The authoritarianism of one man is crime and
the authoritarianism of many is State. Benjamin Tucker wrote quite
Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression,
invasion, government are interchangeable terms. The essence of
government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to
control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the
nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it be made by one man
upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one
man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by
all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.
Tucker's use of the word "invasion" is remarkably precise, considering that
he wrote more than fifty years before the basic discovery of ethology.
Every act of authority is, in fact, an invasion of the psychic and physical
territory of another.
Every fact of science was once Damned. Every invention was considered
impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every
artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of
culture and "progress," everything on earth that is man-made and not given
to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man's refusal to bow
to Authority. We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the
first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant,
and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, "Disobedience was man's
The human brain, which loves to read descriptions of itself as the
universe's most marvelous organ of perception, is an even more marvelous
organ of rejection. The naked facts of our economic game are easily
discoverable and undeniable once stated, but conservatives- who are usually
individuals who profit every day of their lives from these facts- manage to
remain oblivious to them or to see them through a very rose-tinted lens.
(Similarly, the revolutionary ignores the total testimony of history about
the natural course of revolution, through violence, to chaos, back to the
We must remember that thought is abstraction. In Einstein's metaphor, the
relationship between a physical fact and our mental reception of that fact
is not like the relationship between beef and beef-broth, a simpler
extraction and condensation; rather, as Einstein goes on, it is like the
relationship between our overcoat and the ticket given us when we check our
overcoat. In other words, human perception involves coding even more than
crude sensing. The mesh of language, or of mathematics, or of a school of
art, or of any system of human abstracting, gives to our mental constructs
the structure, not of the original fact, but of the symbol system into
which it is coded, just as a map-maker colors a nation purple not because
it is purple but because his code demands it. But every code excludes
certain things, blurs other things, and overemphasizes still other things.
Nijinski's celebrated leap through the window at the climax of 'Le Spectre
d'une Rose' is best coded in the ballet notation system used by
choreographers; verbal language falters badly in attempting to conveying;
painting or sculpture could capture totally the magic of one instant, but
one instant only, of it; the physicist's equation, Force = Mass X
Acceleration, highlights one aspect of it missed by all these other codes,
but loses everything else about it. Every perception is influenced, formed,
and structured by habitual coding habits- mental game habits- of the
All authority is a function of coding, of game rules. Men have arisen again
and again armed with pitchforks to fight armies with cannon; men have also
submitted docilely to the weakest and most tottery oppressors. It all
depends on the extent to which coding distorts perception and conditions
the physical (and mental) reflexes.
It seems at first glance that authority could not exist at all if all men
were cowards or if no men were cowards, but flourishes as it does because
most men are cowards and some men are thieves. Actually, the inner dynamics
of cowardice and submission on the one hand and of heroism and rebellion on
the other are seldom consciously realized either by the ruling class or the
servile class. Submission is identified not with cowardice but with virtue,
rebellion not with heroism but with evil. To the Roman slave-owners,
Spartacus was not a hero and the obedient slaves were not cowards;
Spartacus was a villain and the obedient slaves were virtuous. The obedient
slaves believed this also. The obedient always think of themselves as
virtuous rather than cowardly.
If authority implies submission, liberation implies equality; authority
exist when one man obeys another, and liberty exists when men do not obey
other men. Thus, to say that authority exists is to say that class and
caste exis, that submission and inequality exist. To say the liberty exists
is to that classlessness exists, to say that brotherhood and equality
exist. Authority, by dividing men into classes, creates dichotomy,
disruption, hostility, fear, disunion. Liberty, by placing men on an equal
footing, creates association, amalgamation, union, security. When the
relationships between men are based on authority and coercion, they are
driven apart; when based on liberty and non-aggression, they are drawn
together. The facts are self-evident and axiomatic. If authoritarianism did
not possess the in-built, preprogrammed double-bind structure of a Game
Without End, men would long ago have rejected it and embraced
libertarianism. The usual pacifist complaint about war, that young men are
led to death by old men who sit at home manning beaurocrats' desks and
taking no risks themselves, misses the point entirely. Demands that the old
should be drafted to fight their own wars, or that the leaders of the
warring nations should be sent to the front lines on the first day of
battle, etc., are aimed at an assumed "sense of justice" that simply does
not exist. To the typical submissive citizen of authoritarian society, it
is normal, obvious and "natural" that he should obey older and more
dominant males, even at the risk of his life, even against his own kindred,
and even in causes that are unjust or absurd.
"The Charge of the Light Brigade"- the story of a group of young males led
to their death in a palpably idiotic situation and only because they obeyed
a senseless order without stopping to think- has been, and remains, a
popular poem, because unthinking obedience by young males to older males is
the most highly prized of all conditioned reflexes within human, and
The mechanism by which authority and submission are implanted in the human
mind is coding of perception. That which fits into the code is accepted;
all else is Damned to being ignored, brushed aside, unnoticed, and- if
these fail- it is Damned to being forgotten. A worse form of Damnation is
reserved for those things which cannot be ignored. These are daubed with
the brain's projected prejudices until, encrusted beyond recognition, they
are capable of being fitted into the system, classified, card-indexed,
buried. This is what happens to every Damned Thing which is too prickly and
sticky to be excommunicated entirely. As Josiah Warren remarked, "It is
dangerous to understand new things too quickly." Almost always, we have not
understood them. We have murdered them and mummified their corpses.
A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more
precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of "monopoly in the means of
production." Since man extends his nervous system though channels of
communication like the written word, the telephone, radio, etc., he who
controls these media controls part of the nervous system of every member of
society. The contents of these media become part of the contents of every
Thus in preliterate societies taboos on spoken word are more numerous and
more Draconic than at any more complex level of social organisation. With
the invention of written speech -- hieroglyphic, ideographic, or
alphabetical -- the taboos are shifted to this medium; there is less
concern with what people say and more concern with what people write. (Some
of the fist societies to achieve literacy, such as Egypt and the Mayan
culture of ancient Mexico, evidentially kept a knowledge of hieroglyphs a
religious secret which only the higher orders of the priestly and royal
families were allowed to share.) The same process repeats endlessly: Each
step forward in the technology of communication is more heavily tabooed
than the earlier steps. Thus, in America today (post-Lenny Bruce), one
seldom hears of convictions for spoken blasphemy or obscenity; prosecution
of books still continues, but higher courts increasingly interpret the laws
in a liberal fashion, and most writer feel fairly confident that they can
publish virtually anything; movies are growing almost as decentralised as
books, although the fight is still heated in this area; television, the
newest medium, remains encased in neolithic taboo. (When the TV pundits
committed le`se majeste after an address by the then Dominant Male, a
certain Richard Nixon, one of his lieutenants quickly informed them they
had over stepped, and the whole tribe -- except for the dissident minority
-- cheered for the reassertion of tradition.) When a more efficient medium
arrives, the taboos on television will decrease.