Foundations of an Anarchic Philosophical-Anthropology


Here I will propose a foundation in support of an anarchistic approach to reconstituting human community. But any effort to understand the possibility of such an enterprise begs a prior philosophical issue: “what does it mean to be human?”


About kulturcritic

With a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Sandy had a ten-year academic career, with appointments at University of Virginia and the Colorado School of Mines. He spent the next twenty years in executive ranks at several of America’s largest international firms, including Computer Sciences Corporation, Ernst & Young, and General Electric. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America, as well as parts of Eurasia and Africa. For the past five years Sandy has been living in Western Siberia with his wife and young child, teaching at the Pedagogical University and the Altai Institute for Law and Economics in Barnaul, Russia. Published works include VERONIKA: The Siberian's Tale (a novel), (Islands Press 2011) Apocalypse Of The Barbarians: Inquisitions On Empire (Islands Press, 2010), The Recovery of Ecstasy: Notebooks From Siberia (Booksurge, 2009), Recollective Resolve: A Phenomenological Understanding of Time and Myth (Mercer University Press, 1987), Ethical Decisionmaking Styles (Addison-Wesley Press, 1986), and Gandhi in the Postmodern Age: Issues in War and Peace (CSM Press,1984).
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16 Responses to Foundations of an Anarchic Philosophical-Anthropology

  1. jackwaddington says:

    Finally: I have been an anarchist since my 20’s having been influenced by several lecturers in London in the mid to late 1950’s. I began to then read as much as I could lay my hands on about, what it meant, how the notion came about, and who were the people able to make the conceptual leap to recognize the concept.

    The main question that is usually asked about what a system (or lack thereof) would be like. It is an unanswerable question since the nature of anarchy (no heirachy) is the total abolition of ‘money which in turn will dissolve all means for law and thence the use of government. It would then mean that each and every person (including children) would then do what they felt, instinctively desired,and needed to do to fulfill their lives, hence no-one could predict what that would be like. So the only answer to that one question is to say “I do not know nor does anyone else, but it couldn’t be as stupid, unfair, cruel, confusing and unjust as what already exist; whereby the lawmakers are for ever making new laws to manipulate the rest of us peons to do their bidding. In other words a sort of slavery … even for the ones that are considered the elites, and the lawmakers themselves”. Certainly everyone involved in the forcing those laws on the rest of us… known as “The Justice System” with Policing, prisons, and a military …that is anything but “Just”.

    However, there was a couple of thinkers (perhaps deemed philosophers) that tried to figure out “how, without a hierarchy, it would be likely to be brought about and hence continue” Namely: Karl Marx and Engels. The problem with the Marxian notion was that he was brilliantly aware of what was wrong with the system,. but unwitiingly re-created the very system that he was “all hell bent” on eradicating. Much as all ‘Revolutions’ do (the classic example being the French Revolution of the 18th century)

    The process of getting from the current system to it’s total eradication has to evolve, and the only way to allow that is when a “critical mass” of the population at large can make that conceptual leap (better phrased perhaps as “Crossing the Rubicon’). Hence, one might ask how to create that “critical mass”. My idea is for those that have made that conceptual leap to talk about it to as many people as possible. I contend that eventually more and more people will “catch on”, especially the young and that it could evolve slowly. Providing meantime, we don’t, in our collective stupidity ‘blow up’ planet up or, ‘over heat it’ to the point of the planet becoming unlivable in … for all living creatures,

    Jack Waddington

    • kulturcritic says:

      “It would then mean that each and every person (including children) would then do what they felt, instinctively desired,and needed to do to fulfill their lives, hence no-one could predict what that would be like.” I do not think this is quite the case, Jack.

      • jackwaddington says:

        Quote:- “I do not think this is quite the case, Jack.”. If you feel/think “this would not be the case;” it would be interesting to know what you might feel/think would be the case.

        It is my feeling that why all attempts by other anarchist have not been able to articulate (predict) what a state of anarchy would be like or entail, is precisely because they have TRIED to predict it. Marx, Engels, Lenin and a host of others spent volumes trying to do it, yet acknowledging that ‘anarchy’ by definition is without laws (rules). As I see it, it is a forlorn task having to account for unpredictable human behavior and not seeing human it’s entirety.

        We are a creature of feeling as are all others … however, we humans suffer from a condition first coined by Freud called “Neurosis”, being the pathology of feelings, hence we behave rather than operate from our instincts. It is my contention that:- if especially in early childhood, we are born with all this nature intact, except for those traumatized in gestation, there would be little need for anyone to dictate to any other, how to behave. I grant that this last statement need a little ‘getting ones arms around’.

        It is this very factor that I feel strongly, what brought about us humans (that are the only creatures that play dominating each other … most of it through the very means of control) that at some point in our evolution we contrived a means of exchange ‘barter then money’ as a means to permit that control.

        Alas, it is because we have been so brainwashed into believing that it is the “other guy” who needs controlling. Oh no!!! not me … it’s the the ‘other guy’ that is at fault: that we continue on this path of insanity with a system that is for ever stuck in a box (of it’s own creation) never able to see that 98% of it is totally un-necessary. I quote here a piece of wisdom from our very own William Shakespeare:- “It is not in our stars, dear Brutus, but in ourselves that we are underling”.

        However Sandy, I will/would be delighted to read your take on what your “case’ suggests.

        Jack Waddington

        • kulturcritic says:

          Unfortunately, Jack, we have lost the capacity to act ‘naturally.’ Hundreds, nay thousands, of generations have been programmed into forgetfulness. Re-vitalizing that intuition is an affair which we can only hope for after systemic collapse. But, in traditional cultures (i.e., pre-civilized consanguine groups), members of a band, clan or tribe, or even early Neolithic villages, did not just do as they pleased. There was custom guided by instinct. We have lost both in today’s world, and operate strictly upon moral law encoded in syllogisms.

          • jackwaddington says:

            Sandy: I agree that we are n now “operating strictly upon moral law encoded in syllogisms”, BUT I do not agree that ‘we have totally lost it in today’s world’ If that were the case I would be totally depressed and resigned to the insanity I see and feel around me. It’s not that I am all that optimistic either, since we are crazy enough to destroy all life on this planet … and maybe before the end of this century from the way I see us humans progressing both politically and with technology. I have written two books and my first was to show that there is a ‘way out’; not, I confess, discovered or devised by me. I did not have those kind of smarts, BUT there was a profound discovery made in 1967 that demonstrated; this is not so. However, for that discovery and the ensuing psychological theory that evolved out of it: to become hugely accepted, is perhaps our (humans) greatest revelation.

            I am not sure how that revelation might get a more universal consideration, but merely by the abolition of money and all forms of exchange; might, just might, create an an environment to see an opening. Sadly, perhaps not in my lifetime. But I will for ever keep on “banging my drum”

            Jack Waddington

            • kulturcritic says:

              money is only a symptom of the disease.

              • jackwaddington says:

                Sandy: “money is only a symptom of the disease.” Agreed, in-so-far that we created that symptom and therefore we could abolish it, and hence rid ourselves of that disease.

                Jack Waddington

                • Disaffected says:

                  We’re quite busy these days destroying the value of the current version of money, so you might get your wish soon. Although a new version will almost certainly be issued to take its place, albeit not everyone will be allowed access to it. That will likely represent the first serious “population control” measure. Issuance of a totally new electronic currency to a chosen few, and the severance of ties with the rest. And if you have to ask which camp you belong to, it will be the latter.

                  • jackwaddington says:

                    Disaffected: You may well be right, and if that was the case I have no doubt I would belong to the later group. However, I have had a notion for some time that the whole of the monetary system would indeed collapse and that total chaos would ensue all over the world, but out of that there would be a realization that with co-operation rather than our current (neurotic) competition … “voila” we could survive this. Perhaps not before the elites controlling the police and the military play some havoc until finally both the police and the military men go “Woah, wait a minute!!! hey, they as us or, we are part to them”, and then they drop their guns and batons and the elites will then run for the hills.

                    Meantime, I do feel that the political elites have thought through some of this and created contingency plans. If you just look around the economic system we are surrounded with; it’s falling apart, but as with the inveterate ‘little Dutch boy’ are sticking their fingers into the holes in the dyke, and holding their breath. Meantime, we plod on with an increasing number of the population getting depressed and wondering where such a terrible malady arises from. The information IS out there, but being taken little notice of by the medical profession … who in turn are trapped in their own box.


  2. northsheep says:

    Thanks, Sandy, for reconnecting me with Marvin Bram, a name I haven’t heard since he and I were graduate students at Rochester University and both involved in the radical critique of what I now call the knowledge business, and in particular the structure and content of higher education.

    In exchange, in case you may not know of him, I suggest the name of David Graeber, my favorite anarchist anthropologist. Like Bram, he draws heavily on the literature of pre-literate societies to build his vision. Graeber’s work ranges from political/cultural pamphlets to the first major contribution to anthropological theory in recent years. He was kicked out of Yale because he stole all the graduate students from the time-serving fuddyduddies in the department, and organized labor on the ivy league campus and in downtown New Haven in his spare time. When Charlie Rose asked him how he felt about having lost a coveted ivy league academic post, David laughed in his face.

    There seems to be growing consensus that a post-industrial society has a chance at survival needs at least to be decentralist (scaling up only via alliances among equals) face-to-face communities that are small scale, and use a medium of exchange that does not require interest-bearing debt.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Northsheep… I had no idea you studied with Marvin. I will tell him you dropped by my blog. Graeber seems interesting. I will check out more of him. I am still struggling with the concept of post-civilized anarchy. I am not sure how it will look. And I am not sure I trust some of the folks who speak in its behalf. LOL

  3. F. Elaine Anderson says:

    Derrick Jensen’s analysis of what we have become as a result of the forces that maintain civilization is, for me, an excellent starting point for the decolonization of our minds and bodies. Here we have some clues as to what most likely is not authentic humanness. But as far as attempting to define what our natural humanity IS before we have actually experienced it in anarchic freedom, is that feasible? Would answering the question of who we are not seem to be an existential process that will evolve as we go along re-wilding and re-tribalizing ourselves? I do suspect that the legacy of 100,000+ years of anarchy still flows in our veins (well, for some us anyway!) and I’m comfortable with taking action to reclaim that heritage while still shrouded in a certain amount of mystery and ambiguity.

    • jackwaddington says:

      Elaine: I might suggest reading Arthur Janov PhD especially his first book “The Primal Scream”. I feel here there would be a possibility to see how we might “experience it in anarchic freedom”. I suggest that he makes the case that it is feasible.

      Jack Waddington

      • youngbloodhawk says:

        Primal Scream is a wonderful book. In 1972 I read it and applied the technique to myself in the privacy of my room. It led to a great catharsis that went on for quite a while. Did multiple sessions that did serious damage to the bedrock of my repressed negative emotions. (fear, mostly)

  4. F. Elaine Anderson says:

    Arghh! Tried to download “complete article” twice — to no avail. Nothing but first few lines appeared which I took to mean you were just throwing the question out there – what does it mean to be human? Anyway, I just accessed the full article. Thanks for being who you are and saying what you’re saying.

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